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

RAID

October 3rd, 2010
5:35 pm

Changes must be made but I’m still not sure the defence is the total problem…Grantham deserves the benefit of the doubt just due to the lack of personell for this scheme just yet…..But the offensive play calling and EXECUTION leave much to be desired…..our problem is lack of offence….But to AM’s credit, he has been the lone bright spot……..

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:36 pm

Justin Houston is ahead of ANY Alabama LB in BOTH tackles for loss AND sacks. I’d say Grantham can coach ok since he’s outcoaching Nick Saban’s LB’s.

TheTaxJacket

October 3rd, 2010
5:36 pm

*** Nesbitt for Heismen ***

(((( 45 – 42 ))))

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

I think I hear the fat lady singing already…….. its over for this year…… lets bench all the seniors and junior which will opt out of the program and start playing the juniors/soph/freshmen that will be around next year….. we have nothing to lose at this point……. the so-called “experienced o-line” sucks….. bench’em all……. play the future…… there’s nothing left for this season except 5-6 more losses

Dawg 39

October 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

I promised no more comments this season but as Flip Wilson used to say “The Devil Made Me Do It”.
The entire Dawg Football Program Is at an all time low. Col. is not capable of scoring 29 points on many teams (31 against Hawaii) but our D made it look fairly easy. There Is plenty of blame all around. 60 plus years a Dawg Fan & I have never seen a Dawg Team play so far beneath their talent & potential. It is time for all of the coaches, including the position coaches, to admit that they are not getting the job done. Ironically CMB as QB coach may be doing the best job of all of the position coaches. I do think CMR will have 1 more season but that will do it. My optimism has been pounded out of me. “That’s All’ Folks”.

Dawggy Style

October 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

Hire Kirby Smart as our new head coach. He at least was smart enough to say no last year to avoid this looming Lost Cause. Bobo, Searels, Garner and Van Halanger have had a long, cushy stay in Athens but it’s time for all of them to go and steal someone else’s money!!!

Would not surprise me at all for former Florida assistants Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong to be on Greg McGarity’s short list come December.

guy

October 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

anonymous. you arent mathematically out of the sec east (though not likely at all), but if you think a 4 loss team thats beyond unranked at the halfway point in the season is going to play for the title you are so dumb. for real.

Dawg'em out!

October 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

terrible game, try to look a the positives. though so many blown coverages, and bad play calling all around. you wonder if the recruits are wrong and the coaches for the program. trying times in athens, looks like a change is coming… especially if tenn whips the dawgs, damn uga might get upset by the vandals too…. whats really going on?

murray county mystic

October 3rd, 2010
5:38 pm

Quote from Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated:

In all my travels, I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a fan base whose self-perception is so far from reality. Georgia fashions itself a national power in the vein of Ohio State, USC, et. al., based primarily off one glorious three-year run 30 years ago with Herschel Walker

pretty much sums it up…UGA fans always feel like ESPN is biased against them, shows the program no respect…welcome to the lunacy that is UGA football, Sports Illustrated….

sprouse27

October 3rd, 2010
5:39 pm

It’s positively criminal that given the resouces and talent available at UGA, that we are seeing such a disastrous season. To me, this disaster falls squarely at the feet of Mark Richt. He is the head guy,and he has no answers, nor seemingly any idea as to how this all this has happened. It’s one thing to have a down season, it’s another to field a team with this many problems. I’m tired of listening to the sportscasters talk about winning seasons of now long ago. The man can’t beat Urban Meyer and beating Nick Saban is just out of the question. Those guys have strategies for winning and make things happen. We just lose to them and whine. Enough. Get rid of Richt and bring a head coach that can manage something other than innane utterings that mean nothing.

Da'Quan Porchmonka

October 3rd, 2010
5:39 pm

Supes –

I thought the same thing, but you have to start somewhere. Better to get the kids you’re going to have for a few years use to the new scheme and bring new guys over time who are more suited to the scheme. I think Grantham is the right coach… Richt just have to give him the free reigns to kick these sorry sucker in the rear when they need it.

Same Same

October 3rd, 2010
5:40 pm

@ Supes, We’re NEVER in the 3-4 to begin with. The Defense has improved. The defensive backs are suspect. At least we are getting the other team to 3rd and long…if we could figure out how to get off the field, CTG would be the second coming of Erk. As far as the offense, we need an innovator, somebody that can adjust on the fly and take advantage of what the defense is giving us. Bobo is pretty much a robot in an all too human game.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:40 pm

Richt’s 41-4 when he gets 400 yards from offense, 37-2 when he gets a 100 yard rusher. King got 100 yards, offense got 400 yards+. That’s a move down the right path and will work 95% of the time. Bobo’s heading down the right path, improvement galore.

Defense gave up too many points–needs to hold to under 20.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:40 pm

McGarity……DO YOUR JOB…… FIRE RICHT NOW…..MAN UP

Kwame Koon

October 3rd, 2010
5:41 pm

If we lose to Georgia Tech will this be the end of the line for Mark Richt? Yes or No.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:41 pm

Georgia IS a National power, has finished #2 in 07′, #10 in 08′. Top 10 in recruting, top 10 in revenue, top 10 in win %. Georgi’as over last decade a top 10 team.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:42 pm

HMMMMMM…… what a sad state of affairs…..so much potential……. so little leadership……its a shame

murray county mystic

October 3rd, 2010
5:42 pm

Kirby Smart was born in ALABAMA (Montgomery)…he’s a Bama boy; just mis-spent his youth in Clarke County. He’s waiting for Saban to leave (1-2 years top; the redneck nation over there will wear thin quickly) and the job is his in T-town. HE AIN”T COMING TO UGA, DUMMIES!!!

Dawg'em out!

October 3rd, 2010
5:42 pm

if your gonna look at he coaches out in cfb that are at smaller schools doing alot more. look at bsu/tcu, those coaches would come in and get more than they are getting now. though a kirby smart.. its gonna make georgia reach deep into the pockets. kirby is winning and has a NC winning resume, and looking at another….. how much is the program willing to invest to go out and get the best?

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:43 pm

Georgia is prime for the right individual to come in and turn this program around……he just hasnt arrived yet…….

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:44 pm

mike leach is available

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:44 pm

Bama showed that Florida is no good this year. South Carolina and Auburn overrated this year. We still got a shot at SEC Chp game.

murray county mystic

October 3rd, 2010
5:45 pm

Anal blogger – UGA is a middle-of-the-pack SEC school; the equal of Clemson in the ACC, Wisconsin in the Big10, OK State in the Big 12 (remember them?)…no more, no less. That’s why you have been on Fox this year…the SEC network is embarrassed by your play…

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:45 pm

im telling you….. the fat lady has sung…….. no bowls for uga this year……

DAWG with a bag over his head

October 3rd, 2010
5:46 pm

Kwame,

Sadly, I think we’ll have to endure CMR for another season even when Tech beats us. CMR’s boss appears to be spouting the party line about all those past “glories” instead of looking at the last 3 seasons.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:46 pm

tennessee beats georgia by at least 21 next week

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:47 pm

dont give up hope on the Richt firing…… if he continues this sprial….. no excuse will protect him…..

Bottom Line

October 3rd, 2010
5:48 pm

RICHT is 10-11 AGAINST THE SEC EAST post-2006. I don’t care how many times we beat Hawaii or Michigan St. in bowl games. Losing to the teams we play every year is not acceptable. We have an incredible amount of money for football and a lot of talent in GA. We MUST do better.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:48 pm

lets bench all the seniors and junior which will opt out of the program and start playing the juniors/soph/freshmen that will be around next year….. we have nothing to lose at this point……. the so-called “experienced o-line” sucks….. bench’em all……. play the future…… there’s nothing left for this season except 5-6 more losses

Dawgfan4life

October 3rd, 2010
5:49 pm

Ive been taking up for Richt for years. Its just simple. He is not the right man anymore. I love him, and i am grateful for what he has done. I got a list of names for the Head coaching job for yall…let me know what you think: 1. Jim Harbough! i think he can turn a program around like Saban did at alabama, but his carreer at uga wont be for long cause i think he wants a nfl job.
2. Boise States coach.. no reason just someone new and young.
3. Kirby Smart for obvious reasons.

DAWG with a bag over his head

October 3rd, 2010
5:49 pm

bugsquacher,

We can only hope.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:49 pm

Lets be positive. BCS bowl game is a realistic chance.

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:50 pm

we are 5 games into this season….. lets at least start preparing for next year……and get them some experience……

Donnie Darko

October 3rd, 2010
5:50 pm

Yes, they are excellent losers.

irrefutable

October 3rd, 2010
5:52 pm

has the holy roller quit yet?

Donnie Darko

October 3rd, 2010
5:53 pm

Anonymous Blogger, what are you smoking?

bugsquacher

October 3rd, 2010
5:53 pm

final words for today…… the UGA fan base deserve more……. it is a crying shame….. everyone knows its the leadership….. we have the money, facilites, talent, support, ……. whats lacking is the leadership…… why is everyone dancing around the elephant in the room? Make the changes now,…….

clemcudtlhopr

October 3rd, 2010
5:53 pm

poetic justice, (justice), Ealey loses starting job because of losing fumbles last 2 games, then (poetic), fumble on strange looking play at the end of the game,no doubt loses this one for us. I don’t think Washaun should have been benched. CMR, I believe is letting the big shots influence his decision making.

Dawg_Mike

October 3rd, 2010
5:54 pm

I don’t know what to say anymore.

Pat

October 3rd, 2010
5:57 pm

I’ll be at the game next weekend showing my support for our team and our head coach as we will beat Tennessee. I hope Bulldawg nation will do the same.

lolwut?

October 3rd, 2010
5:57 pm

#1) Anonymous Blogger. The only stats that matter when comparing Richt to Saban is BCS Championships. Saban has two…..Richt has none……. Period.

#2) People who thought that it would be easy switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4, having a young QB, and had grandeur championship aspirations for this season are idiots. Thinking rationally about this, what made you think that you could dominate while turning over so many pieces at once?

#3) As an outsider, I find it sad that the Georgia fans have decided to treat the greatest coach in there history in this manner. Vince Dooley would of been a nobody without Herschel. Richt has been the most exciting, successful, and one of the longest tenured coaches in your underachieving history. It’s sad that he will never be able to prove it, b/c of the lynch mob your fan base has become. All he’s done is try to grant your wishes by changing the defense, getting a solid young arm to build around, and represent your University with class. Embarrassing IMHO.

Willie Martinez

October 3rd, 2010
5:58 pm

Told you it was not my fault!

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:58 pm

Ok, last 2 posts, 5:44, 5;49, were by same lone blogger, posting in fake ocnversation to himself on Bill’s blog, posing as me

Dawg_Mike/Donnie Darko/bugsquacher, could they all be the SAME PERSON, POSTING TO HIMSELF, HAVING A FAKE CONVESATION WITH HIMSELF??

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
5:59 pm

I’m out, time for dinner.

Joey

October 3rd, 2010
6:01 pm

Actually, Saban & Richt both have finished in the top 3 the same amount, they’ve had 2 great years, Richt in only 9 seasons, Saban’s been going at it a lot longer.

But in just 9 seasons, Richt has triple the top 10 finishes, and a higher winning per centage in the toughest conference.

Pretty good, when you’re crushing Nick Saban.

icedawg

October 3rd, 2010
6:03 pm

This is going to be a season that will be better off forgotten. It probably would not turn out any worse than if we forfeit the remainder of our games. The offense may not be running on all cylinders but it is at least scoring points and enough points in some of our losses to win the game. Again it is the defense that is deplorable and has been now since VanGorder left. TN played a game against LSU. They showed some spark. Without the monumental blunder at the buzzer they could have and would have won that game. If they bring that same kind of attitude and play into Athens next Saturday the Bulldogs will suffer another whipping. This season is a stinker and unless something drastically changes so will the next few years. It’s turning out to be a dog’s live being a dog.

UGAgrad71

October 3rd, 2010
6:07 pm

For all the rankings of the so-called stars on this team, somebody cannot coach “up” players. UGA, BAMA, FLA, AU, Tenn, ect recruit basically the same players. UGA has become the school where highly recruited players don’t progress. I know UGA is in the top two or three schools of having the most players in the NFL. I think that is more a function of great talent to start with, and little to nothing to do with whatever coaching they get at UGA.

lolwut?

October 3rd, 2010
6:07 pm

For the final time…..

Top 3, 10, 25 seasons do not measure success. Championships do.

Maybe that’s Georgia’s overall problem? Satisfied with being “almost” or “close” champions and not actually being one.

With that being said. I still think Richt will have more long term success than any other coach brought in to resurrect what he’s built (if the pitchforks would be put away).

Truth Hurts

October 3rd, 2010
6:10 pm

Bill

I could not have said it better myself

I will tell everyone the problem with Mike Bobo, he is from Thomasville,

I have done business in Thomasville for almost 10 yrs and most of them are arrogant people that cant be told nothing and act like the town of Thomasville is Beverly Hills

Keep running up the middle Bobo and you will be running up the middle to the unemployment line

Dogg Fan

October 3rd, 2010
6:10 pm

It could be worse. We have won one game.