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.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

561 comments Add your comment

Phil

October 4th, 2010
9:16 am

Cantondawg,

You on here yet?? You and those others Richt loyalists on here last week saying “No way we lose to Colorado”.

Have you woken up yet about Richt??

o and 3 in the SEC

October 4th, 2010
9:18 am

Even with AJ Green, they are still pretty good at finding a way to lose.

Phil

October 4th, 2010
9:20 am

We are 1-10 for the year.

1 win and 10 arrests.

?????

October 4th, 2010
9:20 am

Did we make up any ground in the SEC? We were undefeated in conference play this weekend.

Which way you going Billy?

October 4th, 2010
9:22 am

I’m with you Billy. Well, except for one observation. You are taking the Dawgs over the Vols. In fact, if you’re a betting man, I’d like some action.

SC Dog

October 4th, 2010
9:23 am

For our defensive brain trusts– Its third and long — their best play it to let the QB scramble and get the first down. How about not over pursuing once.

Red Panties

October 4th, 2010
9:24 am

Has Richt fired his wife as “water Girl”, I haven’t seen her on TV this year. I think Richt
is much better at selling Ford trucks, than coaching a football team. Richt was a good offensive coordinator at FSU, but he is totally out of his elimate when it comes to being responsible for the hold team.

marinedawg

October 4th, 2010
9:25 am

Been dawg fan for 60 years always optimistic even when a 4-4 season was best we could do.Now under this multi million dollar coaching staff it appears mediocrity carries the day. Time to get back to basics. Those looking at future pro football can see their draft prospects being way down on everyones list.If Georgia only beats the potatoes then cleran house and take a hard look at what we look for in recruiting. I would rather sign players with heart than high high school ratings.Why do they come to Georgia so unprepared for the SEC?

Ramblin Man

October 4th, 2010
9:27 am

I thought UGA was going to find a way to win that game and thought Murray was playing real good. Can’t fully depend on AJ, but I was surprised at the lack of attempts to get him he ball. Both GT and UGA are going to suffer defensively for probably the rest of the season in just getting used to the system, but I can’t for the life of me get the weak arm tackling attempts by both teams. If things don’t pick up for both teams good ole fashioned hate is probably going to determine which goes to a bowl and which team is watching one. No happy college football fans in Ga today.

Have you ever waited for a MARTA bus?

October 4th, 2010
9:28 am

The majority of players at UGA and including AJ Green are simply hanging out, waiting for a bus to stop and that would be the NFL bus. They are not really students, they have no money, so they have no social life like I did while at UGA and so, they wait on the one thing that captures their imagination …….the NFL.

The other night # 25 Cuff comitted one of his three? violations and he and Richt were “chatting” and when it appeared that CMR was getting angry, Cuff turned his back on CMR and walked off.See?CMR DID NOTHING WHEN HE DID THAT …………nothing. Picture Nick Sabin in that same scenario.

The kids have no rspect for CMR the COACH. The rest of the coaches are sub par for this level of coaching. Who knows about new D Coach Grantham. I suspect that if not fired, he will resgin by season’s end.

If Richt were honorable ……….he would ANNOUCE his resignation now. Then, the AD could go out and create some drama and enthusiasm for the new guy, instead of scrambling in December.

Fire them all.

UGA grad

wayne dawg

October 4th, 2010
9:30 am

you can lay it on bobo the defense or anything in between,but the bottom line is
SAVE THE SHIP ,FIRE THE CAPTAIN. richt has had enough of an opportunity to right. the
ship and has not been able to get it done. he has had 3 years plus and we are in worse
shape now than ever. if ever we need new leadership it is now.

Grady

October 4th, 2010
9:30 am

The Murray interception in the end zone was the bonehead play of the game.

Just like the Arkansas game, where Murray gets sacked to lose that game, he figured out a way to lose the game again, trying to be a heoro, instead of putting the ball in his teammates hands.

i warned you guys about this guy in the Spring. Nobody listened.

How’s 1-4 settling in with sackmeister interception machine leader Murray?

SKB

October 4th, 2010
9:33 am

I think Richt is a nice Christian guy, he should not be fired. I would rather have him than urban Meyers or Saban, those guys never mention their religion, u start to think they are atheist or Muslim. I would rather have Richt lose than join the immoral sides.

DamntheButcher

October 4th, 2010
9:33 am

I have told you idiots over and over. Richt is not going to get this mess fixed. Why do you idiots think he can correct it? This is the 3rd and I will spell it out for you THE THIRD down season in a row. Each of the last 3 seasons has gotten worse. You stupid fools act like this is just one bad season out of ten. wake up and smell the coffee you kool aid drinking idiots!!!!!

Evansdawg

October 4th, 2010
9:34 am

I think we are purposefully losing all our games so we can beat the snot out of Tech and REALLY make them feel bad.

Brian

October 4th, 2010
9:35 am

If the AJC is paying you a nickel for your thoughts, that’s 5 cents wasted. I pray you’re not an alumnus……

Phil

October 4th, 2010
9:38 am

“Just like the Arkansas game, where Murray gets sacked to lose that game”

That was not Murray’s fault. That was the idiot Bobo’s fault by sending every receiver 30 yards deep on a 3rd and 4 play. Nobody was open and he didn’t have anybody to dump it off to. The blame goes to that buffoon Bobo on that one.

DawginLex

October 4th, 2010
9:40 am

Rambler,

I said state, not just UGA. Tech sucks too. That was my point. Alabama,SC and Florida and now Mississippi all have better college football than we do in GA.

redpanda

October 4th, 2010
9:45 am

for those of you trying to figure out how uga can win the sec east, you are fools. We just lost to MSU & Colorado, both were on the preseason 10 worst teams in college footbal list. Thee’s no sec title in our future, shut up already with that nonsense. Please fire CMR

Xenophon

October 4th, 2010
9:49 am

I’ve been warning you folks about Richt for several years now. It’s probably a good thing his team is 1 – 4 at this point so that the die-hards among you finally are beginning to see the light. I can’t explain why he has lost his touch, but he has…and it was evident to some of us years ago. Now it’s evident to the majority. So even if this is not the end of Richt, it is the beginning of the end of him.

redpanda

October 4th, 2010
9:50 am

SKB- please tell me you’re kidding. Hell, let’s get the Pope to coach our team, I hear he’s pretty christian. That has absoluterly nothing to do with winning football games.

robodawg

October 4th, 2010
9:53 am

On do or die plays, we find a way to die. With AJ, we finally started converting on 3rd down, but still aren’t very good at stopping the opponents on 3rd down. 3rd and long ought to be a defensive coordinator’s dream — but for us it’s just scary. Sacks are still too low — when we do manage to get in the backfield nobody can wrap up. And the players are out of position too much giving up those big plays. I don’t think speed or athleticism is the issue, I think we’re just playing dumb.

I don’t get it. Surely these guys didn’t forget how to coach. Belin’s LBs at Vandy were better, Lakatos’ secondary at UConn was better, Garner’s D line was better even last year. Maybe the transition to a new system really is that hard for our guys?

Offensive line remains a huge disappointment. One block could’ve prevented a fumble and kept us in position for a game winning field goal. And it makes me sick to see a sack or a run for a loss, and there’s one or two offensive linemen standing there watching it happen. The linemen are getting beat way too easy.

And this game, even our money placekicker missed. How many more ways can we find to lose?

Blackberry Cobbler

October 4th, 2010
9:56 am

I’m not happy with the state of affairs but I’ve tried really hard to strip the emotion out of the situation and give what I feel is an honest assessement.

The 1-4 record is very dissappointing, but…………..
FACT1: 3 of those losses would be wins if it were not for late game fumbles by Ealey and King
FACT2: For a RF, Murray has been outstanding. Yes, he’s had some indecisivness that has lead to sacks but offsetting that, his ability to scramble has created yards when there weren’t any. Matthew Stafford couldn’t do that.
FACT3: The defense is still learning. Most of the defensive problems are due to players being out of position.

I see the biggest challenges on this team as the OL underperforming and the DL being too small for the 3-4 scheme to work optimally.

I’ve been critical of CMR and Bobo and I hate to admit it now but in all honestly, I don’t see the problem as coaching. I see the problems as players performance.

DavidPandGA

October 4th, 2010
10:04 am

Dogs are in shambles at the moment, one thing will click as another falls apart. We talk about one player not having an effect on a win or loss, but with mediocre running back play, the dawgs wudnt’ve kept it close without A.J. And can anyone tell me where Durnham was? he seemed to be making more plays than Troupe, Brown, King, ext. We could’ve certainly used his leadership…….

Coachdawg 2000

October 4th, 2010
10:09 am

Forget about going 8-4 or 1-11. I just hope we can leave Sanford stadium winners on Saturday. I know that the old “take ‘em one game at a time” is cliche but that is where we are. Let’s hope that we can play hard and smart for 60 minutes. So let’s all show loud and proud Saturday and create a homefield advantage for the boys. GATA! You Silver Britches!

Phil

October 4th, 2010
10:12 am

“I’ve been critical of CMR and Bobo and I hate to admit it now but in all honestly, I don’t see the problem as coaching.”

3rd and 4 against Arkansas. All we need is a 1st down, keep the drive alive and go down and kick a field goal to win the game.

Richt and Bobo’s thinking: Send everybody 30-40 yards deep and let’s throw the bomb, don’t leave Murray any options to dump it off.

My god people, wake up.

71 Dawg

October 4th, 2010
10:14 am

To Anonymous Blogger: Is that you, Coach Richt?

Red Panties

October 4th, 2010
10:14 am

Have you ever waited for a MARTA bus?

If this is true,

The other night # 25 Cuff comitted one of his three? violations and he and Richt were “chatting” and when it appeared that CMR was getting angry, Cuff turned his back on CMR and walked off.See?CMR DID NOTHING WHEN HE DID THAT …………nothing. Picture Nick Sabin in that same scenario.

You are 100% correct, Richt needs resign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tdawgg37

October 4th, 2010
10:18 am

Anonymous Blogger please get off CMR’s tip. Georgia won inspite of him not because of his great coaching. I for one still remeber the talent he inherited and how many big games he blew. M.R. won with Jim Donnan’s players. You can talk about what he did in the past all you want. Let’s face facts guy. We keep signing top 5 athletes but we play like a division II team. The Dogs are getting worse each year. They have no idenity or direction. Even if they finish 8-5, so what. Maybe you can be satisfied with an average or less than average team? This long time Dawg fan will not! Last year was not a fluke! It was a sign of things to come. It was and indication of how bad the football program really is. What should we expect from this team next year after AJ is gone? What will the rational be then? M.R. has taken this team as far as he can take them. Bobo is a joke! You can keep kissing your uncle’s tip all you like. M.R. has lost control of this team and has no idea how to build a winner! Time for new blood. Time for a new direction! Time for new coaches!

Coachdawg 2000

October 4th, 2010
10:19 am

Phil-
You should just go watch dancing with the stars. What killed us that we(players) made critical errors that lead to losses. But 2 of the fumbles are not the RB’s fault as much as the other team making great plays. Missy State absolutely destroyed Ealey on his fumble and Colorado hit Caleb at the handoff. Our O’line is the worst I’ve seen in 30 years of watching Georgia football. They are all wusses except for Sturdivant. They are NOT MAN ENOUGH to beat flag football team.

DavidPandGA

October 4th, 2010
10:27 am

Coachdawg,

I agree. The O Line was supposed to be our strong suit, what happened? Is freshman Murray not leading the big fellas, or lack of conditioning late in games hurting thier performance? Love to hear some thoughts.

Red Panties

October 4th, 2010
10:33 am

Does anybody else remember Richt saying at the start of the season, “I like what I’m seeing, we have a chance to very good”—–WRONG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That statement alone should get him fired, he has no idea what he’s is looking for.

Phil

October 4th, 2010
10:39 am

Coachdawg 2000,

While I agree that the players are under-performing, to blame everything on the players is not right. It’s a combination of both.

daddydog

October 4th, 2010
10:40 am

Credit team for being in position to win.Credit team for not having running back in, who has fumbled away 2 winning attempts. Discredit the team for on the last offensive play running a play that 97% expected. Discredit the team for not knowing the mindset of at this point the main thing is to protect the ball.
Come on Crowell, Drew, Wright, Rome, Dickson and lead the Resurrection of GA football!

Still@theBAR

October 4th, 2010
10:41 am

DawginLace Tech beat the SNOT out of Miss St the past 2 years so you can just get over that.

Lenny

October 4th, 2010
10:45 am

Time for Adams to get what he has wanted for the past couple of years, the coach Dooley hand picked to be fired. I would hate to see Mark go, but he has no control over this team and we have been a sinking ship for three years now. I believe Bud Foster, Charlie Strong or even the Ole Ball coach would be a great fit for the existing talent at Georgia. I know I said it Steve Spurrier as the UGA Head coach, that is an oxymoron! Think about what he could do with someone like Aaron Murray.

SCJack

October 4th, 2010
10:45 am

Just an observation from an old UGA alumnus who was 6 years old the last time UGA was this inept. In both the Spring and Louisiana game, Coach Grantham was very animated and very vocal to the point of our reading Army-like expletives spewing from his mouth at his defense. The last 4 games he appears to have either voluntarily taken Valium before game time or to have been directed by his superiors to tone down his gamesmanship. Not that strong talk always helps but I as a parent know that some of the time it’s all you have to express your critical points of view with your children….or players. Did I mention we’ve lost the last 4 games?

DawginLex

October 4th, 2010
10:46 am

Dawg in Lace?

what are you 5?

Ole miss would beat the crap out of Tech right now. Miss St would give them a run as well. You beat Weak forest on the last play of the game. Congrats.

You suck
We suck

That was my point moron.

READ

rincon dawg

October 4th, 2010
10:49 am

A. Murray is the best thing going for our team. He his a freshman and already outperforming Joe Cox. Heck he looks better than Stafford did.

Oh yeah support our boys. Say what you want about the coaches faults. Its more their responsiblity than the players.

rincon dawg

October 4th, 2010
10:52 am

Why do people keep saying Spurrier for Coach. He hates and I mean hates Georgia. He would never coach here and I never want him here so stop with it.

JB

October 4th, 2010
10:55 am

There is not the talent, depth, coaching talent or time to save this Administration I’m afraid.
Watch most successful coach’s around the country move new Assit. coach’s in and out of the program, tweaking the program, getting better. Assistant coach’s are the back bone. Mark “nurtures” these guys like family, good or bad…..He doesn’t have to the personality to get on or fire these guys, example Martinez. Bobo should be gone and Searles and the strength guy.
They all go down together I’m afraid.

McDawg

October 4th, 2010
10:55 am

no DL no OL==can’t win

DawgGoneFishing

October 4th, 2010
10:57 am

Let’s not forget that A.J.didn’t help this team at all for 4 games due to his “bonehead” decision.There’s enough blame to go around but his display of selfishness is too much.

McDawg

October 4th, 2010
10:59 am

fire the O-Line coach, get rid of Gardner, move BoBo to recruiting coordinator and give it one more year

Dawgs73

October 4th, 2010
10:59 am

It’s definitely not promisiing for the remainder of this season, but the larger problem is the overall direction of this program. This is not just a one year swoon, this has been brewing for at least the past 3 years and UGA is trending downward. Mark Richt is not capable of leading the Dawgs to a National Champioinship, and for those of you that believe that he will MAGICALLY become something he is not, you’re delusional.

As stated many previous times, it will take a National Championship calibur coach to elevate this program to be competitive in the east/Sec conference (due to having NC in Bama, Fla, & Lsu). It’s been time to wish Richt well and start searching for a new coach.

rincon dawg

October 4th, 2010
11:00 am

what happens when aj green goes pro next year? more losing
McDawg is 100% correct we were bigger faster than CU and got our but whipped in the trenches

rincon dawg

October 4th, 2010
11:03 am

time to pull all the redshirts off and see who has the heart that we so desperately need to win these games. open all positions on the line on both sides of the ball.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

October 4th, 2010
11:03 am

Well last week I put 4 keys in CMR losing his job, here is the updated list.

1) Lose to Colorado- check

2) Lose to Vandy and/or UK- Lets amend this
*** Lose 2 of 3 to UT,Vandy,UK
(This now looks like a very real possibilty)

3) Get blown out by UF

4) Lose to Tech

I did not like putting that out there then, but this looks like the writing is on the wall here. One issue already seems to be Grantham and the D. It is not working and he has a big buyout in his contract.

One final thought.. When they opened up the 2nd half, why was King not starting? He looked like Hearst in the 1st half, but then the staff didn’t start him to open up the 2nd half?

That to me, is once again another baffling move this staff continues to make.

James

October 4th, 2010
11:03 am

Bill-

you got a short memory.

Mark Richt has found a way to win over the last 9 seasons, 90 times, 1 of 7 coaches in college football history to get 90 wins in 9 seasons.

What planet have you been living on?

BillnJax

October 4th, 2010
11:05 am

“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.””

This is the problem we have at Georgia, CMR doesn’t know what’s going on. You would think that as a former Offensive Coordinator CMR would say “Hey, let’s get the ball to Green.” But that didn’t happen. No, we continued to run lame running plays up the middle where there are no holes. And then with the fumble, CMR says it’s a basic play but to me it looked like a flee flicker. We are in field goal range and we try a trick play. This is why Bobo has to go. CMR needs to call the plays from this point forward since he doesn’t seem to be doing anything else but walking the sidelines running his hand through his hair wondering what’s going on. Come on Coach do the right thing for the team and us fans. Get rid of Bobo.