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

Andrew

October 3rd, 2010
10:16 pm

I see the problem as Aaron Murray. I know people are hoping he finally gets a win, but keep hoping, Murray has a 1-4 record since he’s been in charge, Murray got Georgia off to the worst start in decades. Murray needs to sit the bench for a game and see what else we have in the QB position. Really, anyone can be better than 1-4. Gray, Mason, even a walk-on.

baddog99

October 3rd, 2010
10:16 pm

@ Barry what are you talking about? The freshman Murray is carrying the team!! Who doesn’t like him except for maybe thug Mettenberger??

K-Baby

October 3rd, 2010
10:17 pm

LTYMP – I disagree. There have been many of us for the last five years that have been very concerned with the lack of discipline and soft play. I, for one, am certainly not from the “winning cures everything” club.

K-Baby

October 3rd, 2010
10:18 pm

And that lack of discipline includes the off the field arrest issues.

Barry

October 3rd, 2010
10:18 pm

If Murray is carrying the team, at 1-4 record, he needs to be dropped.

FLA DAWG

October 3rd, 2010
10:19 pm

Murray is one heck of a talent and plays with more heart than most of the others combined.

The kid deserves better.

Sean

October 3rd, 2010
10:21 pm

Murray is not the problem. It’s the O line, plain and simple. The D has done moderately well considering teams are not putting a lot of numbers up to beat us. The Dawgs are beating themselves at this point with penalties, fumbles and a failure to convert 3rd downs. The Dawgs are better than this.

JRW7

October 3rd, 2010
10:22 pm

It’s not the player, it’s the COACHES! CMR has to go!

Lazoo

October 3rd, 2010
10:23 pm

What I’mtired of is hippocritical CMR. He talks about that play is their #1 running play and everybody knows he’s covering for Bobo. It’s time for a change and it starts at the top.

baddog99

October 3rd, 2010
10:24 pm

Because he needs an experienced (best in the nation??) o-line that will block for him and some experienced running backs that supposedly own the state to run the dang ball without fumbling! All the coaches at the beginning of the season said that they did not want Murray to be the hero just to manage the game and so far they have set him up in the hero spot almost every game. So far I believe he is delivering but the others aren’t living up to their expectations.

Carl

October 3rd, 2010
10:26 pm

Murray has had 34 rushes when he can’t decide who to throw to, and 12 sacks on top of that.

That’s a total of 46 negative plays, plus the 3 interceptions= 49 negative plays for Aaron Murray in the last 4 games, ALL LOSSES.

Take out those 12 negative plays a game at QB, with a guy like Gray, who can run for 10-15 yards if it’s not there, or Mason who makes decisions in split seconds instead of 48 negative plays, and Georgia’s 5-0.

Murray is the problem.

Y Town

October 3rd, 2010
10:28 pm

Georgia owuld have 4 or 5 wins if Logan Gray was playing QB. Sorry Murray fans, but 1-4 is proof, Murray ain’t got da goods and he got to go.

Lori

October 3rd, 2010
10:28 pm

Bill, you should be ashamed of yourself. Stirring up the fire CMR fires. How demoralizing to the team to see you jump on the bandwagon of a few disgruntled fans. It would be unbelievable to see UGA fire one of its most successful coaches and probably their best coach in history. Come on Bill! I expected better of you.

Let the young men play

October 3rd, 2010
10:29 pm

K-Baby—– you are the exception and not the rule. The last four National Champions have come from SEC programs. You are aware of the kind of character Tim Tewbo , Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and the RB that won the Heisman at Alabama have. They are reflections of their fan base . Is the UGA program a reflection of its overall fan base ?????

Shane

October 3rd, 2010
10:33 pm

Fumbles and penalties have cost us the games as of late. None of these are Murray’s fault. Yeah he has made mistakes (that’s to be expected from a rookie QB), but he hasn’t cost us the win in the 4 losses that we have.

Y Town

October 3rd, 2010
10:36 pm

Murray missed AJ for an easy wide open game winning td. Guy just can’t throw, and he can’t run.

baddog99

October 3rd, 2010
10:37 pm

Ok true freshman Mason has had one split second throw for a touchdown in a blowout of pitiful Louisiana-Lafayette and was going to redshirt if Mettenberger didn’t go. Gray does not have the arm Murray has else he would have been the man last year over Cox and beaten out Murray this year. Murray can’t decide who to throw to sometimes because our receivers can’t get distance between themselves and the defenders and our great offensive line and blocking backs are letting the defense knock his head off.

Shane

October 3rd, 2010
10:39 pm

And Cuff cost the Dawgs with that penalty that allowed a Colorado TD when it should have only had a field goal. Can’t pin the loss on Murray for the overthrow to AJ. There were many scenarios that created a Colorado win.

Nancy Pelosi

October 3rd, 2010
10:41 pm

What is all the whining about- UGA is doing just fine.

Y Town

October 3rd, 2010
10:41 pm

Murray lost the Arkansas game by getting sacked on 3rd down and holding onto the ball for 14 times for 13 yards.

Shane

October 3rd, 2010
10:43 pm

The D lost the Arkansas game by allowing Mallett to be wide open in that OT game-winning TD pass.

baddog99

October 3rd, 2010
10:45 pm

Murray got sacked on 3rd down in the Arkansas game because coach Bozo sent the receivers all down the field on a 3rd and 4 and didn’t give him any short options. Even the announcers in the booth couldn’t believe that one!

Sean

October 3rd, 2010
10:46 pm

It has been a team effort in the losses that the Dawgs have, it’s not just one player’s fault.

Ben Dover

October 3rd, 2010
10:47 pm

So how is that hobnail boot thing going y’all? I hope you take one up the ole poop shoot this week. GO VOLS and screw Larry Munson.

Hollywood

October 3rd, 2010
10:47 pm

I am a true blue GA Bulldog fan from time when I was a child cheering for Rex Robinson and the dawgs against Tony Dorsett & Pittsburg in the Sugar Bowl (We lost, but hey they were and still are my team!). However, over the last few years watching Florida with Steve Spurrier & Urban Meyer, and now Alabama with Nick Saban winning National Championships in a relatively short period of time, it’s time for a change like Auburn with Tommy Tuberville and Tennessee with Phillip Fulmer, bring in Kirby Smart, Will Muschamp, or Chris Peterson! Heck it doesn’t hurt to try and be the best, Richt is a nice guy, but he had his chance, time for a change!

layinlow

October 3rd, 2010
10:48 pm

Y Town, did Murray do you’re girlfriend in high school or maybe mom?

Fred in Conyers

October 3rd, 2010
10:50 pm

I’ve never understood how anyone – even an alumnus – could support and take pride in UGA’s football team. When you look at their history for the past forty years, how can anyone ignore Jan Kemp and the “remedial studies” scam, the Jim Harrick fiasco, the DUIs in the athletic office, the DUIs and other arrests of players, the #1 party school tag (i.e., the most drunk students), the suspensions and outright dismissals, the Fulmer Cup, and on and on?

As disgraceful and humiliating as it is, I don’t see many alums and fans demanding an end to this sordid activity. It sets UGA apart as the kind of school most people abhor, and it’s become an embarrassment to the whole state of Georgia.

Will it never end? Apparently not while Mark Richt is at UGA. Richt is perhaps the biggest hypocrite in the United States. But even with all the cheating and lawlessness that he ignores, he still can’t win the SEC.

So you’re paying him to be BCS champions, but he can’t even win his SEC division. So why do you pay him millions of dollars a year?

Just asking.

Mississippi Dawg

October 3rd, 2010
10:52 pm

Last in the SEC
1st in player arrests
Complete loss of control of the football program
No idea of why plays are called
No accountability on or off the field (3 personal fouls by 1 player in 1 game and no consequences)
Time for a change

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

Fire Mark Richt and go after the best coach money can by
It worked for Florida, Alabama, LSU

Shore up the ship for next season.

Lori

October 3rd, 2010
10:52 pm

Bill, UGA will not fire CMR. A big time donor told me this week that CMR has at least one more year. I hope he is right. I hope that UGA will not make a mistake that will have ripple effects for 10 years of rebuilding. If we fire CMR it will be sort of like the rebuilding that is taking forever at SMU. I don’t think the haters on this blog understand what sort of devastating impact firing one of GA’s best coaches ever will have on fans and team. Overwhelmingly the fans support CMR but the loud voices come from the haters and surprisingly–now from you Bill. I plead with you–Stop.

Don't Tread on Us

October 3rd, 2010
10:53 pm

Serious Dawg fans need to start organizing and demanding that Richt be fired. Otherwise, sports writers will be asking the same question this time a year from now.

Richt represents mediocrity. Saban and Meyer represent excellence and championships. Richt simply isn’t in their class, nor will he ever be. Richt would have to be incredibly lucky to win the division, and the odds against him winning the SEC championship would be at least 50:1.

Those are the simple facts, and there’s no amount of enthusiasm or cheerleading or Top 5 recruiting classes that can get around it.

As they say in poker, “Read ‘em and weep.”

Burroughston Broch

October 3rd, 2010
10:53 pm

It will be cheap to fire Richt – he only has 3.25 years left on his contract at $2.8million/year. No wonder he is not motivated toward winning – he is set for life financially now, plus UGA will have to pay him nearly $9million to leave early.

srcdawg1

October 3rd, 2010
10:55 pm

irrelevant, what planet are you from? A J played as well as any NFL receiver this weekend. the man did what he is supposed to do. unfortunately he can’t defense too. he will go to the NFL before any player on the teams you mentioned. the DAWG’S are just 3 fumbles from possibly being undefeated. no excuses, that’ football. your stupidity makes me believe you must be a tech fan. down size your stadium again then maybe you will have a sellout. you only get that when an SEC team comes to Atlanta.

Lori

October 3rd, 2010
10:58 pm

“Don’t Tread on Us” Read this and weep…UGA will not fire CMR. That is a fact from inside sources. Due to new QB and new defensive scheme Richt has this year to put together nucleus of next year. He has to win 10 games next year to stay–but I think the chances are good. You must be a techie.

Ed

October 3rd, 2010
10:59 pm

“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.’”

As Ronald Reagan once said to Jimmy Carter in a debate, “there you go again.” Richt has made a habit of putting the blame on everyone except himself. You can bet the “us” meant Bobo. Newflash coach – you’re the boss. ORDER YOUR OFFENSIVE STAFF TO GET THE FREAKIN’ BALL TO GREEN. Call the damn play yourself if you have to.

Richt has been in a funk for a few years now. Time to snap out of it, coach.

Go Jackets

October 3rd, 2010
10:59 pm

UGA…We ruin this state.

Nick

October 3rd, 2010
11:01 pm

Aaron Murray has been awful in the 1st quarter. And if you look at his numbers in the red zone, he chokes. He completes UNDER 50% of his passes when he gets inside the opponents 40, McEleroy at Bama stays at 70% there. Murray just can’t handle pressure in the red zone. Some guys are cool, some choke.

Murray’s averaging 2 yards a carry, while King’s over 5 a carry, so why does Murray run the ball 13 times on 3rd down for -30 yards?

Hill

October 3rd, 2010
11:03 pm

You’d think Murray would have jumped on the ball after he handed the ball in the air, instead of to King. But he just say there and watched the Colorado guy recover his errant hand-off. Murray should have either audibled to a different run on that play, taken a sack, or scrambled, but you can’t try and hand the ball off when a guy’s breathing down your RB’s throat???

Lori

October 3rd, 2010
11:04 pm

Flood the Athletic office at UGA with letters of support for CMR, pass the word along on your email lists. Its time we stand up to the venom spewing bullies who are taking over these blogs with hate for our coach. Surely most UGA fans are not so short-sighted as to want CMR fired. So, lets go. 5,000 letters of support for CMR by weeks end. Anyone with internet talents lets start a web-page Keep Coach Richt. Don’t vote for the 10 year demise of UGA by stirring up hatred for our coach. Lets come to his aid, write cards and letters, overwhelm the AD’s office with letters of support.

Poison Arrow

October 3rd, 2010
11:07 pm

4 lost in 5 games. This team could go 4-8. Richt looks and sounds lost. If he is questioning his OC after the play, then it is his fault. If he doesn’t understand why Green didn’t get the touches in the 1Q, why didn’t he fix it???!?!!?

This man has already reached his potential and it’ll be all down hill now.

Time to get rid of Richt now and get someone that knows how to win the big one.

Jack

October 3rd, 2010
11:07 pm

How many games will Richt lose before he gives up on Aaron Murray? After a few more losses, maybe Richt will figure it out. You’d think after 4 losses in a row, Mark Richt might go, “Huh, maybe, jusyt maybe, we got a QB problem”, but Richt can’t seem to figure these type of things out.

bigdawg8

October 3rd, 2010
11:09 pm

Keep it up Lori! All these arm chair coaches on here wouldn’t last one season or one game if they had to deal with everything a coach has to deal with today. Right now the fire is refining our team and UT will be our spring board to start winning!!! Go Dawgs!!!

srcdawg1

October 3rd, 2010
11:09 pm

ben dover’ you can dog my dawg’s all you want. but what does an 85 year old legend has to do with with this. you must be kin to bill bates or is your uncle your daddy? well you are from tn that’s normal. MUNSON has nothing to do with the dawg’s lousy season. but, i will promise you this, my DAWG’S will spank your vol’s butt’s. you can take that to your uncle/daddy’s bank!!!

Y Town

October 3rd, 2010
11:10 pm

Murray missed TE Charles for a wide open TD too. Cost the game.

Lori

October 3rd, 2010
11:11 pm

Bigdawg. Join me in writing a letter of support to AD tomorrow and get 10 other fans to join but start with your letter. We are in danger of losing one of the greatest coaches in UGA history. Time for fans to take positive action. Flood the AD’s office with letters. Start in the morning. Lets go.

Ed

October 3rd, 2010
11:18 pm

layinlow, your 4:53 p.m. comment is on the money. If I hear someone blame an assistant coach again, I’m going cyber-postal. If Captain Smith had survived the Titanic sinking he could have hired Bill and others as P.R. consultants. Hitting the iceberg would have been the First Officer’s fault or anyone’s other than the Captain.

DawgGone

October 3rd, 2010
11:19 pm

I love UGA as much as anyone possibly can. HOWEVER…it’s time to face the facts….We are not good this year (for a number of reasons) and we are getting beat by teams that are better than us and who are playing better than us. It’s more than just fumbles. It’s penalties, bad O-line play, bad defense, botched punt coverages, etc. It is irresponsbile for true UGA fans to try to figure out how we weren’t beaten, but rather beat ourselves. Let’s get this fixed, get back to fundamentals, and have some class. It’s ok to say that the other team deserved to win. Go Dawgs!

col fot

October 3rd, 2010
11:21 pm

Georgia might have jumped from the frying pan into the fire with guy Grantham…he hasn’t shown me anything. The players look out of position and confused. They stop a simple running play and then give up 30 yards on the next. They look completely out of position almost every play and that is due to poor coaching. Florida and Auburn will put up over 40 against this confused defense. You can blame the fumbles and drops against the players, but not the poor coaching…especially on defense!

OldOldOl

October 3rd, 2010
11:26 pm

Coaches call plays and defensive schemes based on what they think their players can execute —- did you ever consider that perhaps Georgia’s players (especially on defense) just aren’t as talented as you experts think they are? This combination of lack of talent with what appears to be very little “want to” is leading to loss after loss.

Ed

October 3rd, 2010
11:29 pm

“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”

That’s a little harsh, murray county (and Mandel). Georgia did play for the national title after the ‘76 season, ranks behind only Alabama and Tennessee (by one) in conference titles, and is something like the 15th all-time winningest programs. Besides Herschel, Georgia has had players named Sinkwich, Trippi and Tarketon.

For years Ohio State had one real competitor for the Big Ten title. The other teams were awful, and every year the Big Ten champ (always either Michigan or OSU) got thumped by a Pac 10 team in the Rose Bowl. I’m not sure a comparison with Ohio State is that far off, and I would argue that in most seasons Georgia’s had the better team.

But there’s no doubt that Georgia and everyone else is below Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and probably Michigan. That’s the royal family of college football.

ivebeenworkingontheRR

October 3rd, 2010
11:29 pm

“Jim” Harbaugh of Stanford…., if you can get him,,,,