Is Mark Richt capable of making the ‘changes’ he says are needed at UGA?

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Talking after the humiliating defeat to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl gave UGA its first losing season in 14 years, Mark Richt tried to buck up support for his program among the Bulldog Nation with this assessment:

“There’s reasons why we ended up the way we did. We’ve got to make changes. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.”

But then he added: “When you start saying ‘change,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean personnel. … It’s more of how we go about our business. We’re going to improve. We’re going to get Georgia where it belongs.”

Richt didn’t spell out the “reasons,” but since the only staff change he’s chosen to make is in the strength and conditioning program, you’ve got to wonder if the weight of turning around a program that’s been sliding for three seasons now is being placed on the admittedly sturdy shoulders of Joe Tereshinski.

Granted, strength and conditioning is an area where major improvement is needed. All season long, the Dogs have gotten shoved around on the line of scrimmage and have tended to fade in the fourth quarter.

But a whole lot more needs to be fixed than just strength and conditioning. And with the same coaching lineup in place that produced such underwhelming results this year, is it really possible to fix it all in the one season that Richt likely has to turn things around?

Sure, Todd Grantham’s defense might improve next year, though likely only with some fresh junior college linemen.

And a five-star running back would be a plus (if they can sign him). But that back would still be running behind a line coached by Stacy Searels, who has demonstrated no ability to mold even veteran players into a dominating force.

And then there’s Mike Bobo, a talented quarterbacks coach who as offensive coordinator can’t ever seem to sustain momentum, even when it’s handed to him.

Take Friday’s game, for example. The second quarter began with the Dogs, who were leading 3-0 and had just snagged an interception, completing an 18-yard pass to A.J. Green. This would have been the perfect time for Georgia to take control of the game.

On the next play Aaron Murray got thrown for a 13-yard loss on a naked bootleg where the defender sailed in unblocked. OK, hang that one on Searels’ group. But then on second and 23, Bobo has Murray hand off to third-stringer Carlton Thomas for short yardage. And then on third and 20 a screen pass is thrown to Thomas for no gain. Time to punt.

Carlton Thomas??!! This is the beginning of the second quarter and Washaun Ealey, the starting tailback, isn’t in the game? Is that a conditioning problem? Or in Bobo’s playbook does second and 23 call for handing the ball to your smallest running back? Did Bobo feel comfortable sitting on a 3-point lead?

Unfortunately, scenarios like that were all too common the past couple of seasons.

And then there’s the attitude adjustment that’s needed, on and off the field. Both kicker Blair Walsh and athletic director Greg McGarity called out the Dogs after the game for a lack of effort in Memphis. It appears a misplaced sense of entitlement has settled on a group of players who have done absolutely nothing to earn it. Caleb King, who apparently can’t be bothered to show up for court dates or academic meetings, has become the poster boy for a team that seems to be defined by its lack of discipline and dedication.

The big question hanging over the Georgia program right now is whether Richt and the staff he has assembled — and apparently is going to keep intact — are capable of changing that culture enough in just a few short months.

Most Dogs fans I’ve encountered over the past couple of days are skeptical.

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835 comments Add your comment

Dudley

January 3rd, 2011
12:22 am

Murray seems like a nice short little kid, but he just can’t play QB. Threw some more interceptions, got sacked half a dozen again, ran a dozen times again for 4 or 5 yards, couldn’t convert a 3rd down in the 2nd half, couldn’t beat a team with a winning record all season, oh well, he played his last. Goodbye #11, heard you’re tranferring to JUCO.

Walter

January 3rd, 2011
12:24 am

I remember back in 2001. Evereyboy wrote Mark Richt off.

Man, did he come on like a freight train.

2002? Remember that year?

Finished #3 in the country.

Jayson

January 3rd, 2011
12:24 am

Richt changed the culture mid-season.

Went from 1-4 to 5-2.

Case closed.

Billy

January 3rd, 2011
12:26 am

Mark Richt just had 1 bad season.

His only bad season at Georgia so far.

The other 9 were solid.

Happened to Urban Meyer too, Urban quit again.

Billy

January 3rd, 2011
12:27 am

Richt has 96 wins in 10 seasons, averages 9.6 wins a season, top 5 in the country there when it comes to winners.

Bama recruiting numbers

January 3rd, 2011
12:27 am

Phil,

Where ya at son? Cat got your tongue? Still googling to try and find one single Alabama football player who was cut after 2 years to make room for another player. Good luck with that oh foolish one. You’ll be googling all night to try and find proof of something that never happened.

Where did your coward azz run off to?

GALawDawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:28 am

I agree with most of what Phil says. Sure, it’s great to have a place to post our opinions and even vent a little about how the team has performed lately, but most of you (myself included) don’t really know enough about the intricacies of football (how it’s coached, how players respond, schemes and game plans, etc.) to have any real clue what you are talking about; you just regurgitate a bunch of crap you have heard and think sounds good. Of course, I have my own opinions about Richt, Bobo, Searels, and the rest of the team, but unlike most of you, I recognize that as a fan, my real place is to be there to always support the Dawgs through good times and bad, not to act like I’m some college football expert who knows all the problems and how to fix them. Every team has bad years; fortunately, UGA also has a lot of really good years, and I’m gonna be here for all of them. UGA will weather this storm one way or another and I’m going to always pull for them as hard as I possibly can…when we take another national title, it’s going to be sweet, but in the meantime, try not to freak out too much. It’s a game…my absolute favorite game to watch but still a game.

MT

January 3rd, 2011
12:28 am

Emmit

Just give it up.Get on the bandwagon for a new coach, Richt’s had ten years
he’s 2-8 vs the Baja Gators, his win total has gone down for four straight
years we have a losing record in the SEC E since 2006. Time for a change.
I like CMR, great guy, good character, but 2005 was a long time ago, and if you remember we back into the SECCG that year.

Billy

January 3rd, 2011
12:29 am

My oh my, just counted up the number of top 10 finishes Coach Richt’s had at FSU & Georgia.

18 times.

Man.

Peerless.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:29 am

Walter, Jason, and Billy- all the same person anyway,

Then go ahead and keep Richt. We’re all for you guys keeping Richt. Matter of fact go ahead and lock him up to a 20 year contract. We’re cool with that and fully support it.

Coach Dooley

January 3rd, 2011
12:30 am

I heard a college coach say this many years ago- “a typical southern football fan yells and screams at 19-20 year old kids playing QB for not being able to hit receivers 35-45 yards down the field. Then after having one or two too many during the game they leave the stadium and can’t find their car in the parking lot”. Lots of truth in that statement.

Gerald

January 3rd, 2011
12:30 am

Somebody please list all the coaches available that have averaged 9.6 wins a year in the SEC over a decade or more.

Michael

January 3rd, 2011
12:32 am

At least Richt didn’t quit like Meyer after adversity hit.

oldyeller

January 3rd, 2011
12:33 am

Hey question I agree you do not have to be a jerk to win football games, you just have to be a knowledgeable student of the game. I question CMR’s leadership quality’s regarding success. Nice guys always finish last so they say. I doubt that in today’s environment that even Bobby Dodd (the original nice guy, players coach), could keep pace with the current environment. Point is CMR needs to toughen up. Needs to make decisions regarding coaches. His staff consists of friends and good old boys. If you have the money hire the best and get rid of those who have failed.

Stinger

January 3rd, 2011
12:33 am

It’s so funny to read that Florida fans are trying to get Mark Richt fired. Don’t you think he is doing good enough on his own? Bring back Jim Donnan. Certainly don’t give it to that lard azz Grantham. He can’t run up and down the side lines without getting out of breath.

Ray

January 3rd, 2011
12:33 am

Ok, let’s get a new coach.

Somebody list here any coach in the SEC that has finished in the top 10 4 years in a row like Richt did at Georgia.

I’m sure it’s a long list.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:33 am

Gerald…Phil Fulmer.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:34 am

Billy,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Richt is a superb coach. Best one out there. Please keep him.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:35 am

Ray,

You’re absolutely right. Nobody is in league with Richt’s 4 straight top 10s. Better sign him up for the next decade before someone else gets him.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:35 am

Oldyeller….seem to work for Richt for 8 years…did all of this “nice guys finish last” thing just start happening in the last 18-24 months?

Colt

January 3rd, 2011
12:36 am

Dang, you guys got a coach who perty much has a top 10 team 75% of his 25 year career, and ya’ll ain’t happy? Wow. Talk bout spolied.

How bout you brainaches mention here all the coaches that have 18 top 10 finishes in the last 25 years like Richt.

We’re waiting for that list.

Ray

January 3rd, 2011
12:38 am

Saban or Meyer or Miles didn’t have 4 top 10 finishes a row in the SEC, but Richt did.

Any coaches with a better run than that in the SEC lately?

Carl

January 3rd, 2011
12:40 am

Tell you what/

When anyone here can name any coach who has more top 10 finishes over the last 2 1/2 decades than Richt, I’ll listen.

MT

January 3rd, 2011
12:40 am

Gerald

Somebody please list all the coaches available

You lay the big cash out there and you see who becomes available.
Georgia number two in football revenue behind Texas, If you want a great
coach you have to pay great money.
Bama fired Shula hired Saban played for NC in three years
Fl fired Zook hired Crier and played for NC IN two years
LSU hired Miles and played for NC in a couple of years
Auburn fired Tubby hired Chizik playing for NC NEXT week
It can be done.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:43 am

Hey…they are replaying the Liberty Bowl on ESPN 2 right now. UGA is winning!

GALawDawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:43 am

Also, for all the “fans” who say they will be boycotting UGA until a change is made, please leave the Bulldawg Nation and NEVER RETURN. GT could use some more fans – fair-weather “fans” are the absolute worst.

Coach Dooley

January 3rd, 2011
12:43 am

I will agree with Phil on one thing however. There are far too many fans on here who think they are football experts; who played football one year in Jr High; or tried out for football at their HS or played JV one year. Everybody watches football; and everybody has their opinions; but read some of the comments on here. Honestly!! I will guarantee you there are any number of college coaches that would have kicked the FG just like Richt did- and it has become a national disgrace on here that he did not go for it. Would I have preferred that he go for it-yes; but that is who he is as a coach; and alarge number of other coaches have that same mentality. So many experts in their own minds. Good Lord.

ugahedges

January 3rd, 2011
12:44 am

maybe it is time to contact tcu and talk to coach patterson

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:45 am

UCF…quarterback keeper up the middle for 7 yards. If UGA doesn’t start tackling, they are going to let UCF stay in this game. No, wait…no way UCF can hang with the Dawgs.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:46 am

Carl, Ray, Colt, Gerald, Walter, Jason, Billy- all the same person- you’re right. Richt is the best. You should just pay him a billion dollars and lock him up for the next 3 decades. He is the best!

MT

January 3rd, 2011
12:47 am

I remember when Richt was with FSU, there is no way, he would have ever
not gone for it on 4th and inches, after driving the ball over 90 plus yards.
I don’t anyone in the SEC ELITE right now, in the same sitution wouldn’t have
gone for it.He sent a message to his entire offense, “I have no confidence in you” and they played like it the rest of the game, Time for him to go.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:48 am

Anyone else watching the replay of the Georgia-UCF game on ESPN? I am.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:49 am

UGA shoving UCF players on the sideline…but not to worry about dirtly play…Sturdivant will show you all shortly how it’s done.

Coach Dooley

January 3rd, 2011
12:49 am

I think if you are so upset that you are bailing on the Dawgs until Richt leaves; then I would expect that we would not see your upset butt on here until they name a new coach. Why are you still on here/??
Don’t tell us what you are going to do- do it!!! Stop blogging-stop paying-stop going- stop wasting our time on here with your bellyaching. Go march on Athens.

DawginTX

January 3rd, 2011
12:51 am

It is clear now that Richt is nothing without a great coordinator. Let’s look at his tenure. The Georgia D under Van Gorder (2001-2004) failed to surrender 30 points even once, led the team to 2 SEC East Championships and another New Year’s Day Bowl. In 2005, the defensive holdovers seemed to hang onto CVG’s teachings, but began to fade at the end of the year, surrendering 30+ twice. In 2006, the defense got worse, and we had a freshman QB. In 2007, the team went through he first 7 games without any direction, but rallied the 2nd half of the year. In 2008, the team couldn’t handle the pressure and the defense wilted. 2009 and 2010 combine for 12 losses. The last month of the 2007 season seems to be the only time that Richt has gotten the most out of his team’s potential in the last 5 years. Is that month emblematic of what a reasonable person should expect from Richt? Or is it more like Coach Felton’s run in the SEC tournament the last few years? I have come to the conclusion that it is the former. And the time for changing coordinators is over. I have been in Richt’s corner until now, but he must go.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:52 am

Question,

What did sturdivant do?

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:52 am

UCF just tied it up at 3. No worries…UGA has at least got another filed goal in them.

GALawDawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:53 am

MT, fact check: Richt is actually 23-17 against the SEC since 2006. Not great, but also not a losing record.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
12:54 am

Rest of the SEC…keep watching…you’ll see a textbook chop-block.

MT

January 3rd, 2011
12:54 am

Ray

Saban or Meyer or Miles didn’t have 4 top 10 finishes a row in the SEC, but Richt did.

Saban Meyers and Miles all have NC’s and if all goes as expected Chizik will
join that club next week.

RED DOG 77

January 3rd, 2011
12:55 am

I can hardly believe what I’m reading in these posts !……..I feel like I’m surrounded by complete idiots !…….Anyone, and that means you, Bill , that has a “real” grip on college football knows damn good and well the game [ or teams] in this case goes in cycles………Tommy Tubberville had afew down years at Auburn, and the AD went flying up to Louisville to see if he could shake Patrino loose………..after that embarrasment, the next year…….Tubberville went 12 -0 with his Tigers !………..How would you folks like to be Texas fans about now ? Or mabe UT……..Miami?………….College football is an up and down, cycle to cycle game……..But now that you have already judged coach Mark Richt a loser………You’ll probubly get your self fulfilling profecy…………When you stone throwers get rid of Richt, don’t say I didn’t tell you, it will take another three to four years for our beloved DOGS to get back on track !……..Richt could get it done alot quicker than that………But I’m afraid you morons won’t be satisfied until you nail him to the cross………..GO DOGS !!!!!…………Regards, RED

Coach Dooley

January 3rd, 2011
12:56 am

You’re beating a dead horse folks- not gonna happen. Greg McGarity will not fire Mark Richt this year.

Night all.

MT

January 3rd, 2011
12:56 am

GALawDawg

SEC E dude.Not the entire SEC.

Rest of the SEC

January 3rd, 2011
12:57 am

Question,

I remember earlier in the season watching Ben Jones run 10 yds down the field and dived headfirst into the back of the knees of a Miss state player who had stopped running. The state player had been whipping Jones and he was just plain tired of it.

In my entire life I had never seen such a cheapshot- a blatant attempt to take somebody’s knees out. And from behind also in a cowardly fashion. He should have been suspended for the season for that crap. Why he wasn’t is amazing. Just a 15 yarder penalty.

GALawDawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:57 am

Missed the “E.” My bad.

Cobb Dawg

January 3rd, 2011
12:59 am

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I give it two seasons and you can’t fool me a third. I won’t support the program next season with CMR at the helm. Great guy, lousy HC. Listen up Mr. McGarity. There are thousand$ and thousand$ more like me.

oldyeller

January 3rd, 2011
1:00 am

Hey question, I’m sorry, how many N.C. has St. Mark won in the past 8 years? How many top 10 recruiting classes has he had? He is now coaching one of the most talented teams in the nation and finishing with a loosing season. Nice guys always finish last is an old adage, maybe you are to young to remember.

My point is you have to surround yourself with winners (coaches) to be a success. My opinion is he is a nice guy but he is willing to forfeit success at the expense of friendships. There are too many good assistant coaches out there that could help turn this program around, that’s the issue. Surround yourself with the best, which the program is not willing to do. That’s the issue I have.

GALawDawg

January 3rd, 2011
1:00 am

Your right Rest of SEC…that sounds almost as blatant as that time Murray threw the ball, then Fairley lowered his helmet, sped up, and speared Murray in the small of the back for another 15 yard penalty.

MT

January 3rd, 2011
1:00 am

I didn’t tell you, it will take another three to four years for our beloved DOGS to get back on track !……..

Saban hired turn Bama around in one, played for NC IN THREE
Urban crier had FL in NC IN TWO YEARS
Chizik two years at Auburn, plays for NC MEXT WEEK.

Time to get on board, for a new coach a UGA.

Question

January 3rd, 2011
1:01 am

Rest of the SEC…you are correct. Also, in the UGA/TN game, a UGA defense lineman (don’t remember who), chop-blocked Montori Hughes, who had to leave the game injured right after the play.

It amazes me how UGA fans love to crucify others (Fairly for instance) for dirtly play, but turn a blind-eye to the fact that they have become chop-block U this year. Where is the outrage over the Sturdivant play? You won’t find it.