Take away A.J. Green and you have a team that’s good only at finding a way to lose

Blair Walsh is getting the call way too many times inside the red zone. (Associated Press)

Blair Walsh is getting the call way too many times inside the red zone. (Associated Press)

The past few weeks amid all the plugs for the Hilltop Grille in Athens on the Georgia football radio network’s “Bulldog Brunch” Kevin Butler has been lamenting that this year’s Dogs, specifically the offense, have yet to find their identity.

Unfortunately, I think he’s wrong. They have found their identity; it’s just not one that the Bulldog Nation wants to acknowledge:

This is a team that in the face of impending victory will find a way to lose.

It used to be if a Mark Richt team was within a score of the lead and got the ball back with 3-plus minutes on the clock, everyone (including opponents) had a fairly certain feeling the Dogs would prevail.

This year, they get the opportunity to win a game and you find yourself sitting there thinking, “How are they going to screw this up?”

I hate that.

Where once there was hope, now there’s mostly resignation. And the way they’ve been playing, you’ve got to wonder if that doesn’t apply to the players as well as the fans.

Sorry, the residual supply of optimism that has always fueled my Bulldog fandom is running a bit low right now. Chances are by midweek I’ll have talked myself into thinking Georgia stands a good chance of beating Tennessee Saturday and getting back on track.

But the reality is that even if they do get back on track, at this point about the best we can expect is a mediocre season.

At a birthday brunch Sunday (coincidentally at that same Hilltop Grille) I asked the assembled family members for revised season record predictions. The consensus was Georgia probably is looking at a losing record or, under the most optimistic scenario even remotely based in reality, a 6-6 record and qualifying for a bottom-feeder bowl. And we’re all die-hard fans. It’s gotten that bad.

Watching the game against Colorado again on video Sunday morning, I could see some slivers of justification for thinking the Dogs still can turn things around (all of which involve A.J. Green and Aaron Murray), but much more evidence that this is a team that just plain doesn’t know how to win, from the coaches on down.

A few random observations in that regard …

What sort of muddle-headed pregame planning possibly could have resulted in the way Mike Bobo opened up the game offensively? Starting Carlton Thomas, our smallest back, and insisting on trying mostly in vain to run him up the middle? Not immediately getting the ball into the hands of Green, your best player? The result: An appalling 15 yards of offense in the first 15 minutes.

Even Richt seemed to be wondering what was up with that when he said at halftime, “I don’t know what took us so long to get him the ball.”

For the evening, on the first-quarter possessions when Green didn’t touch the ball and the third-quarter series when he wasn’t in, the Dogs accumulated minus-5 yards and one first down. Never in my memory has a Georgia offense seemed so dependent on one player. …

And what is it with Bobo and the red zone? First-and-goal at the 4 and having to settle for a field goal would be bad enough if this were the first time we’d seen that sort of offensive impotence. But it’s become Bobo’s trademark. I don’t know if Richt taking over the playcalling would make any difference, but something’s got to be done. …

Every week, one defensive player seems to be positioned as the sacrificial goat for brainless play. Saturday, it was Vance Cuff, who got burned badly on a 48-yard Colorado pass and then, when they had seemingly settled for 3 points, got called for roughing the kicker on his third personal foul penalty of the night and gave the Buffaloes another shot at the end zone, resulting in a touchdown and the eventual winning margin.

But, really, it’s time blame for the Dogs’ defensive woes was assigned higher up. Stupid mistakes like Cuff made happen in a game, but too many of the flaws in Georgia’s defense appear to be the result of insufficient coaching and preparation. Todd Grantham is getting paid big bucks to fix what Willie Martinez wrought, and yet we’ve seen practically no improvement over the past four weeks. Each week, the opposing offenses offer up some basic play that the Dogs act like they’ve never seen before. And stopping third- and fourth-down conversions appears to be a foreign concept to the folks in the defensive meeting room. …

It’s been a long time since the outlook for a Georgia team was this dismal.

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561 comments Add your comment

1eyedJack

October 3rd, 2010
4:59 pm

This team is less than the sum of it’s parts.

Do You Think

October 3rd, 2010
5:02 pm

They could change the UGA nickname, mascot, to the Jawja Mules.

Cobb County has 2 mules for sale with all of the accessories.

LMAO!!!!!

Do You Think

October 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

It could be Dish Networks fault.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

Last time I checked, Richt’s NEVER had a single season since 1986 where he didn’t win at least 8 games. Sure, he might go 7-6 or even 6-6, like Saban had so many times over Saban’s career, but the chances of that happening are slim to none, since it’s never happened.

Rick

October 3rd, 2010
5:04 pm

At least your name matches your comments

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

Likew to see Logan Gray in the Wilddog formation in the red zone, will he run, will he pass?

Cheech & Chong

October 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

Mr. Anonymous Blogger,
We told you to stay out of our peyeote’…visions of grandeur is the main side effect.

...

October 3rd, 2010
5:08 pm

Anonymous Blogger, you are dumb. Saban has NC championships, Richt is awful. Quit sticking up for him.

bradley k.

October 3rd, 2010
5:09 pm

i pooted and it stinks

corkylovesbeer

October 3rd, 2010
5:09 pm

Dawgs are down but not out….will the dawgs be loud and proud…sat vs the vols

. . . Grady Jackson . . .*Barber Shop*

October 3rd, 2010
5:09 pm

It could get worse, Georgia is just not very good.

guy

October 3rd, 2010
5:09 pm

lolz. this is some kind of dream season for those of us who have been saying you guys had way too high of an opinion of yourselves.

just know that your suffering isnt in vain. it’s bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people.

whats the over/under on the number of days until uga beats a D1 team? can they get halfway through a season without winning one? priceless.

Geko

October 3rd, 2010
5:11 pm

Can switching to Geico for your car insurance save you 15% or more? Goes UGA lead the nation in arrests per win?

Supes

October 3rd, 2010
5:12 pm

Why is Grantham insisting on running a version of the 3-4 when UGA clearly doesn’t have the personnel to run it??? A good coach (and he came in advertised as such) adjust the scheme to best fit his players, not the other way around. Someone has to ask this question…why not run a more traditional 4-3 scheme until we RECRUIT the right players for his 3-4???

One more thing…people evaluating the talent need to stop looking at the 4-5 star ratings and get some 3 star players who are hungry, wanna be coached, stay out of trouble and are honored to be a part of the UGA football team. Give me a 3 star who maybe doesn’t have quite the talent but is willing and able and plays with heart and passion, and this program may turn around at some point. Instead we’ve accumulated a bunch of guys who on paper are good enough to win a NC, but on the field play like they are entitled to win just b/c of their natural God given ability.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:12 pm

Richt’s win % is 76%, Saban’s is 70%. Richt’s finished in the top 3, 2 times, so has Saban. Richt’s finished in the top 10 6 times, Saban 3.

DC from the Cowboys

October 3rd, 2010
5:14 pm

I agree with above poster. I’m not sure this new DC is much better than our previous coach.

Jacket Fan

October 3rd, 2010
5:14 pm

I didn’t come on your blog to gloat. Did you see the Tech game at all ? We were lucky to beat a Weak Forest team with their 4th string QB. I think both teams are mediocre this year, but I think because of Murray, yours will continue to get better. I see the Dawgs turning it around against Tenn and beating Tech, to save Richt’s job.
IMO, he is a good ( too good) man and coach, but has hired terrible assistants, and that responsibility falls on him. He will have to clean house, bring in another OC and DC, and be given one more year to turn it around. I think he deserves that.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:14 pm

Pete Carroll went 5-4 in the PAC 10 in 09′. Carroll’s a pretty good coach.

Jacket Fan,

October 3rd, 2010
5:15 pm

Enter your comments here

Einsteindawg

October 3rd, 2010
5:17 pm

Congrats on your win Jacket Fan, but who in their right mind would take our OC job, knowing Richt’s on the really hot seat?

VININGSDAWG

October 3rd, 2010
5:18 pm

We pay Grantham all that money for this defense. Arm tackling, the personal fouls, the total lack of discipline (on and off the field). This team has no leadership. We would be lucky to be 6-6.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:19 pm

Saban went 5-3 in SEC play 1st 3 years at LSU.

Coach Scott

October 3rd, 2010
5:19 pm

I’m blaming the UGA Sports Information Department. The team is in crisis communications’ mode – it’s time for there to be some answers – not because they are deserved (nope), but because it just makes sense to bring the boiling fan base into the rationale behind the thinking. The coaches are smart men – there must be a method to the madness – it’s time to get that critical message out there to the fan base and build continuity again. This isn’t rocket science.

corkylovesbeer

October 3rd, 2010
5:19 pm

enstein..i nominate…coach donnan as our new offense coordinator

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:20 pm

tcu’S Patterson went 4 WAC losses a couple of year’s ago.

Einsteindawg

October 3rd, 2010
5:22 pm

Good choice “corky”…how ’bout for recruiting coordinator, too?

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:23 pm

McGarity check list…….

fan base…. check
funding….. check
facilites…..check
player talent….check
boosters….. check
coaches……. hmmmm, lets start over

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:23 pm

Ealey, King, Murray, and Green, each had a run for 15 yards or more against Colorado.

Getting back the MOJO.

The Skinny

October 3rd, 2010
5:23 pm

Here’s the skinny of UGA’s defense. If you keep playing the same players who do not show improvement from week to week, you will continue to get the same results. You have Ogletree who is better than Rambo, Hamilton, and Williams but you do not play him. I can understand if Ogletree is in the game and he made a misstake similiar to other guys because Ogletree is a freshman. The one thing Ogletree will do the others are afraid too is Ogletree will drop the boom on you. Ogletree dropped the hammer on the kickoff coverage and woke up everybody.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:24 pm

agnes scott called, the girls volleyball team is late from their game in Colorado yesterday, please send them home

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:24 pm

McGarity…… you wanted the Job! DO IT…. fire Richt today….. dont wait

layinlow

October 3rd, 2010
5:25 pm

Jacket fan, I’m a UGA fan with dish network and I did choose the Tech game to watch after BAMA started pounding UF. I agree that Tech did struggle to beat a weak opponent down to their 4th string QB but at least you guys found a way to WIN. Something our pathetic team can’t seem to do. Beyond this season I think Tech and UGA are in the same boat in regards to defense, both 3-4 with the wrong personnel. The only advantage UGA will have on offense over Tech will be a somewhat experienced QB. However, I now give you guys the edge at head coach. I fear this season will continue to be bad for both squads with little hope for next.

The Skinny

October 3rd, 2010
5:26 pm

UGA’s defense is not very good. Everyone is still blaming the hybird 3-4 scheme but you have player five games and the defensive play is getting worse each game. Tennessee is going to hang about 45 points on UGA similiar to last year. The defensive line is not blown back into the linebackers and secondary does not have the skills to recognize routes.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:27 pm

would someone in authority at Georgia MAN UP and stop this BS now……..

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:28 pm

enough is enough

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:28 pm

Georgia’s defense is better statisically than last year in:
total defense
scoring
pass defense
run defense

Georgia’s 2 sack leaders, Houston & Dent, have more sacks than the Bama LB’s, and this is Grantham’s 1st season implementing his system.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:29 pm

i would not bet the mortgage on winning the Idaho State game, much less any of the other ones left on the schedule……. would you?

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:30 pm

I see us turning this around. 7-6 or perhaps 8-5 and going to the SEC Championship game. With a little luck, we will win it all.

Willie Martinez

October 3rd, 2010
5:30 pm

Adios, suckers

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:30 pm

we definitely will not bet any of the other sec teams on the schedule

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:31 pm

Bobo called the Colorado game by the numbers.

Richt’s 41-4 when offense gets 400 yards or more, Bobo’s did.

Richt’s 37-2 when Richt gets a 100 yard rusher, Bobo did.

Bobo called an excellent game.

Taco Time in N. Ga

October 3rd, 2010
5:31 pm

You guys who are posting about still having a chance to win the SEC, please save a little of whatever it is that you’re drinking / smoking, it must be good stuff and I want some. This team has ZERO chance of anything decent this season because the Head Coach doesn’t really care anymore. That’s obvious. Does the staff not talk during games? How is it that Richt doesn’t grab Bobo tell him to RUN A PLAY FOR AJ GREEN IMMEDIATELY, he’s the HEAD FREAKIN COACH for God’s sake…that “I don’t know” business, boy, that’s a telling comment right there.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:31 pm

I think we have won our only game of the season……

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:32 pm

Hey Bill,

Some idiot loves me so much, they’re taking my name and making posts for me like the 5:30 one. Please ban them for life from your blog.

Corninmypooh

October 3rd, 2010
5:33 pm

As the head coach you can’t say at halftime “I don’t know why it took us so long to get the ball to A.J. Green.” For crying out loud you go up to Bobo and say “Get the f’ing ball to AJ” or I’m taking over the play calling right this second.” Richt won’t do it. Richt needs his wife to kick him in the balls just to see if he has a pair!

roughrider

October 3rd, 2010
5:34 pm

I hope we win one more game this season.

DAWG with a bag over his head

October 3rd, 2010
5:34 pm

The most telling quote from the game (or for the season) was CMR’s “I don’t know why it took us so long to get the ball to A.J.”. This says it all. The HC doesn’t have the sense or stones to tell to OC to run plays for the team’s best playmaker? Obviously CMR isn’t in control and it shows. Time to completely clean house.

Jacket Fan

October 3rd, 2010
5:34 pm

Anonymous Blogger, you know what they say about statistics, don’t you ??? I do, we’ve been in the position of taking comfort in our stats many times. It does help a little, I guess.

I Think

October 3rd, 2010
5:35 pm

Colorado bent your boys over and broke it off. Neutered dogs,,,no jock straps needed in Hickville for that football team.

WOOF,,,WOOF on that.

Richard Dawson

October 3rd, 2010
5:35 pm

Does anybody ever analyze what went wrong, or ask tough questions?

1. My dead grandma knew Richt would run it up the middle with 1:56 to go, setting up for another Walsh miss from longer range than his earlier miss. My dead grandma. Colorado called timeout and ran a defense that just destroyed that play. That led to a fumble. A bad offensive playcall that was so predictable that it was destroyed. Fault? Mark Richt.

2. How in the world do you decide to take a delay of game penalty from your OWN 45 before a punt? Butler, who is slumping badly, didn’t even punt the ball to the opponent’s 20. That is freakish. That is bizarre. That is STUPID. Fault? Mark Richt.

3. How do you commit a roughing the passing penalty when you held them on 3rd down? How do you commit a roughing the kicker on a missed field goal? Those plays were critical. Undisciplined, stupid football. Fault? Mark Richt.

4. Conclusion? FIRE MARK RICHT.