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

I am the Monkey on CMR's back.

January 2nd, 2011
7:41 pm

When your players do not respect the Head Coach, they will certainly never respect the University.
Does anyone see respect from players to Mark Richt?

DAWG with two bags over head

January 2nd, 2011
7:43 pm

No way Richt turns this around. Howdy Doody needs to grow a pair and fire him immediately. Another year of Richt just puts us another year away from being competitive.

The Liberty Bowl performance was a total disgrace to our university and our state. I drove 800 miles to see them kick two field goals? I will not attend another Richt-coached game. Hopefully many others will do the same. Withholding donations and leaving empty seats in Sanford Stadium is probably the only thing that will get our duffus AD to do what needs to be done. Certainly even Damon Evans would have fired Richt by now.

Snoop Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
7:43 pm

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

My mama used to say, “when you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”
That’s good advice for that dynamic duo of Adams and McCavity. Step up to the plate and do the right thing now. Another year of digging will leave us much more distance to get back to ground level. Richt is now the laughing stock of the entire college football community. He has absolutely lost all of those 5-star recruits that were hanging back till signing day thinking about committing to UGA.
Make the change now. Get a PROVEN HEAD COACH not a UGA football mafia bubba like Kirby Smart to accept the job with a blank check and those recruits might still sign with UGA. They will all be needed as true freshmen to avoid a losing season.
Until Richt is gone, the Bulldog Nation had better put some bags over their heads because Boise State is going to make us look like a high school JV team that we are–all on National TV.
Then, I want to hear from Howdy Doody and Snydley Whiplash Adams.

jojo's right

January 2nd, 2011
7:44 pm

Absolutely correct!!! After you get past the few 5 or 4 stars there is a HUGE decline in athletic ability. Look at the entire roster. We just don’t have the hosses we need.

Ben B

January 2nd, 2011
7:45 pm

If it’s not done, you have to assume they are incapable of doing it. I am surprised Richt has lasted this long.

Dawg 39

January 2nd, 2011
7:47 pm

Preseason I thought the Dawgs were a very talented team. Postseason I still think so. No one could tell that by watching the OL & the DL play. There are a number of coaches at UGA that are worse than Bobo. Can Richt turn it around? Not a chance. Does he deserve 1 more year? I believe that he does. Start a plan now to get who or what UGA needs for the long term. 2012 Is soon enough to completely revamp the entire football coaching staff.

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
7:48 pm

Have to disagree on the talent thing,there’s talent and depth aplenty.What it lacks is coaching.

Minnesota Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
7:48 pm

I’m tired of people like Rome dog knocking Richt beause of his faith. You can be a Christian and be a winner you knuckleheads! It’s not because he’s a man of faith that he’s had a losing season! I believe it’s the offensive line and the defensive line. If we get back that fundamental, we will turn it around. Go Dawgs.

NOBODYYOUKNOW

January 2nd, 2011
7:54 pm

Stats, Stats, Stats, Who cares about statistics. They are for LOSERS. Everybody was calling for CWM to leave last season. Well he’s gone and the defense is not any better. Now its BOBO. Fans it goes deeper that that. Look back when Stafford was QB and Moreno was running over people.The dogs were picked to be in the top 5 in the country. And yes some picked them to be no. 1 . Then they played UFA. It wasn’t even close. Then BAMA, they got humiliated. It looked liked they just were not prepaired for those very important games. I’ve never coached or played but I can tell when a team looks uninspired. And they look it!

dawgerbrown

January 2nd, 2011
7:55 pm

I want to believe Richt can turn it around. Has the man changed that much? When he first came to Athems he and the team had fire and passion. Now, he sounds almost bored when he talks to the camera. At least find him an image consultant. But if he wants to set the tone for next season, kick King off the team, get the attention of the players. If a student-athlete can’t be responsible enough to make his appointments and manage to complete a whopping 6 hours of academic credit, then, he doen’t deserve to be in the program. Too many other students are working 2-3 jobs while they and their parents sign for student loans and they are able to complete a full academic load each semester.

DAWG with two bags over head

January 2nd, 2011
7:55 pm

Howdy Doody McGarity says he gets it, but it’s obvious he doesn’t remotely have a clue if he thinks this coaching staff can do anything. And on top of all of this, our braintrust gets out of a easy game with Louisville to play Boise State! We’re going to get dismembered on national TV, then get our butts handed to us again by South Carolina the next week. The program is in complete disarray, with the inmates running the asylum. Instead of an apology, we get the same non-specific, hollow comments from our deadpan leader. Stop the madness now!

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
7:57 pm

The fire and passion left with VanGorder, along with the “D”

Gary

January 2nd, 2011
8:00 pm

2007 here’s what you had:
1- Great qb (hello Mason or Lemay)
2- 1 rb like Moreno (what up ealey)
3- excellent run defense (need some juco guys)

Scott

January 2nd, 2011
8:02 pm

Most problems trace to 1st year starter at QB, #11 Murray.

S.E. Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:03 pm

You know, I’m sorry, but Stacey Searles has demonstrated that he can mold a veteran line. He did that at LSU and his first year at Georgia. His job is to teach technique and what each man is supposed to do on any given play. He can’t help if his men can’t move the opposing man in front. That part falls on someone elses shoulders.

Mr. Singlinlington

January 2nd, 2011
8:03 pm

The series described above was not poor playcalling or poor personel choices Bill. They gave up on the drive after the sack. Gave up. If the coaches can give up…Why can’t the players?

Richt and Bobo need to find their balls again. What happened to the “No Huddle” that was one of the reasons Richt was hired in the first place? Oh it burned us once so it was shelved. It worked by keeping constant pressure on the other team.

The play calling and decision making in game displays no faith in players that those very same coaches recruited! W.T.F?

Jay

January 2nd, 2011
8:04 pm

Richt’s 43-3 when he gets a 100 yard risher at tailback.

Last 3 SEC winners won by running the ball well, as in 220 to 280 yards a game.

That needs to be the gameplan.

Stop throwing the ball so much, let’s change the identity and offensive strategy to what’s working.

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
8:04 pm

2007 what you didn’t have, coaching.That team had NC potential and our “coach’s” mucked it up.What a waste!

Big Harry

January 2nd, 2011
8:04 pm

THIS IS ALL RICHT’S FAULT:

He has shown no desire to work with this kids and move them forward, to mold them into better people and players.

He has shown a desire for “continuity” and I guess that means he feels its going to be okay to do more of the same except talk about it differently.

Goodbye Mark Richt – don’t forget to sell your house on Lake Hartwell when you leave…AMF!

Mr. Singlinlington

January 2nd, 2011
8:05 pm

Scott …did you watch UGA play at all this year?

James in Athens

January 2nd, 2011
8:06 pm

Next year UGA will be lucky to go 6-6. There will be plenty
of empty seats by Coastal Carolina which is only the 3rd game
of the season. Why wait– cut a deal to get Richt out and just
start over in 2011. Kick off the Kings, etc on the team now and
let’s get some guys in here that want to play for UGA… That
Miller Kid for UCF(Woodstock, Ga) grew up a Dogs fan but
our Coaches Im sure said he was too small– Our Coaches are
not good judges of people or talent. Give me a Kid with heart
and some brains(See David Pollock) and they will out play these
overrated 4 and 5 star players most of the time.

Jay

January 2nd, 2011
8:06 pm

McGarity and Richt disagree about whather the team gave energy & effort. It was a 4 point game, 2 terrific defenses, and Murray came up short again, but it wasn’t because the team lacked effort. Defense and special teams played great, offense just couldn’t convert into td’s.

rawdawg49

January 2nd, 2011
8:07 pm

Richt needs to go – hopefully by resigning, but if necessary he needs to be fired. He lost control of this team at least 3 seasons ago, and it is impossible for him to get it back. I was a huge fan of his; but no longer.

Scott

January 2nd, 2011
8:07 pm

Murray, in his 13th start, against the 50th ranked pass defense, can’t score a td, and throws 2 interceptions, 12 carries for 4 yards, and 6 sacks.

edumacated

January 2nd, 2011
8:08 pm

Everybody on here knows we are going to be forced to watch another train wreck next year. Nothing can change that. If Richt was capable of turning this around, then he never would have let it happen to begin with. It’s one thing to lose…..all coaches have bad years, but it is another thing to watch a team play with no heart or desire. The Bulldogs play like Richt looks and sounds, tired and disinterested.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
8:08 pm

Have to agree with an above post…King needs to be dismissed, we can’t count on him anyway, so start showing the players that you mean business…My opinion of this coaching staff unfortunately changed at the Liberty Bowl and unprepared we were…worst coaching job i have seen from my dawgs,,,it appears that not only do we lack the right coaches, but also the right players…I’m not going to give up, but unitl this team and coaching staff show me somthing i will doubt any success…i’m also worrid about recruiting right now, as this team needs some players….We have let alot get away and i’m afraid they saw first hand the coaching they would get at UGA…Of course the players that really believe in the dawgs will commit, but others i’m afraid are going to be afraid of what will happen with our coaches…Can you blame them…

Michael

January 2nd, 2011
8:11 pm

Review 2006, or 2001. Bad years for Richt. Followed them with amazing years in 2002 & 2007. He needs to go back to whatever he did there to turn it around so fast.

But yeah, he’s more than capable, he’s already proven he can do it, twice, in both 2002 & 2007.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
8:12 pm

@S.E. Dawg…I agree Coach Searles has shown the ability in the past, but who gets the blame for this mess…the players, perhaps, our evaluation of talent, perhaps…we let a very good lineman from Clarke Central go to Tenn without even offering…what is the problem…we can’t seem to run block, of course some of that has to do with our RB’s, i will agree, but our O-Line and D-Lines are our problems..until that is fixed we will continue to see sthe same results…

Jerry

January 2nd, 2011
8:14 pm

Richt or McGarity couldn’t care less what a bunch of bloggers think about his skills. They have never coached an SEC team, they have never fixed a program, so they arn’t qualified to say, with any credibility, how to fix it.

AthDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:15 pm

After a VERY disappointing loss, a few questions come to mind:
1. Richt’s first few years he ran an energetic, no huddle offense. He then put it on the rack and has never implemented it again even occassionally to disrupt a defense or change the pace of a game. Why?
2. Football is a game of high energy, emotion and motivation. Players are now showing the same lack of enthusiasm that Richt is portraying on the sidelines. Sure, there is a time to be calm. The last 2 minutes before the half and before the end of the game are when you are to show the calming effect to your players. Otherwise, you need to be highly motivating, enthusiastic and energetic. Richtshows none of these characteristics before or during a game and it his teams have adopted that characteristic. I heard that Richt even told Grantham to “cool down his emotions” on the sidelines after the first game. Richt should run a business with his calm demeanor, but it is not what we need as a football team lacking fire and desire.
3. Coach Richts seems to throw in the towel before half time of every game when UGA has the ball back with less than a minute to play. 3 games come to mind…Kentucky, Auburn and UCF. Why wouldnt you utilize your excellent TE’s and WR’s with under a minute to play before a half? Running out the clock shows no motivation and a lack of aggressiveness that the other team senses. Where is the “finish the drill” in his attutude with time still on the clock before the half? Auburn sensed this and went for our jugular with an onside kick after we downed the ball with time left just before the half.
4. Where is some imagination and creative play calling like other SEC teams provide at least once a game. Ga’s playcalling has become so vanilla it’s like watching high schoo lfootball. We need a “change”alright. A CHANGE in playcalling, emotion, desire, enthusiasm, aggresiveness, motivating the players, coaching our players up and holding EACH coach accountable. This starts at the top.I’m sick of Richt being so vague. I personally want to know EXACTLY what changes this muti-million dollar program is going to make.

Vince

January 2nd, 2011
8:16 pm

Murray ha splayed his last game as a starting UGA QB, thankfully. So there’s hiope UGA fans. Lemay is terrific, and Mason owns all the records for QB’s in Georgia. UGA’s in great shape. Got a lot of confidence in Lemay, Mason, Ealey, T. King, Charles, Grantham, etc. Sic em’.

Georgia Saturdays...Built Smartcar Tough™

January 2nd, 2011
8:17 pm

“Call Katharyn”

*ring*….*ring*….

“Hello?”

“Hey, honey!….say, ‘GO DAWGS!’ ”

…..

…..

*snort*…..*click*

“Honey?”

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
8:17 pm

Michael..i agree Coach Richt has shown he is capable, but he seems to be different, can put my finger on it, but something just doesn’t seem to right….It took a call-in show lady to ask Coach Richt why he didn’t lead his team out to start the game…I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it shows leadership…I hate to say this, but alot of things with Coach Richt seemed to change after the end-zone celebration against fla in 07…Maybe i’m wrong, but the team is not responding to him or his fellow coaches…I hope he can correct it as i respect him greatly, and wish him the best, but right now there is nothing that this staff has shown me that makes me believe, but i will keep supporting the team…go dawgs

David77Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:18 pm

CMR needs to step and make changes like Dabo just did at Clemson! But I have NO reason to believe that CMR has the guts to man up and make the necessary changes!

Tony

January 2nd, 2011
8:18 pm

Great job Coach Richt, started 1-4, went on a 5-2 run to make a Bowl, good job. Best coaching job yet, to turn it around mid-season.

LakeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:18 pm

JohnnyCanada is absolutely right. CMR doesn’t know how to turn it around. He is just flailing around now hoping (praying?) for a miracle. I think he has completely lost the team. There is no focus or plan. The players receive no guidance on how to prepare like champions or really know what the team is trying to accomplish as far as their identity is concerned. Are they a hard-nosed physical team that bases their passing game off of the run? Or are they a throw it every down team? Is their goal to stop the run? Or is it to blitz every other play and cause turnovers? The team changes its approach from game to game or from quarter to quarter on a whim. Until the coaching staff decides what kind of team they want and then communicate it to the players, UGA can’t begin to start to implement a plan to get better. CMR has been feeling the heat for the better part of three years and hasn’t even began to turn it around. Odds are against it happening next year.

David77Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:19 pm

While Bobo is a good quarterback coach, he is NOT a good O.C.!

crusher dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:19 pm

This is a sad, sad time for UGA football. Something has to be done. It’s sad that our program has come down to this level. Something must be done and done now.

Ponte Vedra Dog

January 2nd, 2011
8:21 pm

crusher, you are right. It is just sad and pathetic. And it appears we will suffer through at least one more year of it.

Tony

January 2nd, 2011
8:22 pm

Bill-

this article asks the wrong question. The right question is: why did UGA go 6-7? The answer, is Aaron Murray. The question is, is Aaron Murray capable of making the changes needed at UGA? The answer is “No”.

Vince Dooley

January 2nd, 2011
8:22 pm

Hell NO !!!

Best Change would be to Can his sorry A$$ !

J Clay

January 2nd, 2011
8:23 pm

How bout those basketball Dawgs? Time to get out and support Coach Fox as I assume this will be his last year in Athens once we make the Big Dance….Big SEC opener against UK next Saturday…

Bill King is a.............

January 2nd, 2011
8:24 pm

Not no, but hell no. Its time to clean house. What a freaking embarrassemnet to our program and conference. Send Caleb King back to wherever in the hell he came from. Send Rambo too. Cornelius Washington came in at 7am on thursday morning when he had a midnight curfew. Only reason he didnt get in trouble is the coaches thought he had just gotten up early. And what a gutless call on 4th and 1 from the 2. Only reason i say keep Richt is to see if he can land Crowell. If he cant, fire his arse the day after signing day. Hire Skip Holtz

Sammy

January 2nd, 2011
8:24 pm

Bunch of wimps. Richt finally had a losing season and fans cry like it’s the end of the world.

25 years of coaching, 1 losing season, get over it, develop some expectations that have a sound basis.

Florida went 7-6. Texas had a terrible year. UGA went 6-7. All had a new QB.

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
8:25 pm

Jay…agree the dawgs need a gameplan…a running game would be great, but did you see this years results, although we gave up on too early many times…Again…i will say no SEC football program should have 4th and inches, inches that is on the 2 yard line and be afraid to try and get those inche…worst case is you give the other team the ball backed up to their endzone..Does Coach Richt have no confidence that his team can’t get a few inches…Would have changed the whole game in my opinion, but lets take the 3…you drive 95+ yards and are happy with 3 when you are 6-6 in the liberty bowl against UCF, who is a good team, but this is the SEC, you should be able to get a few inches from your O-line and you RB…

buzzBelle

January 2nd, 2011
8:25 pm

RomeDawg- This isn’t Georgia Tech where they settle for “moral victories”. At least Ga Tech HAS morals. If I were you, I would look at your own program instead of attempting to measure up to us – because THAT will never happen! Football isn’t just about the wins, its also about how you accept both wins and losses, and everybody sees how UGA handles both!

kIRK

January 2nd, 2011
8:25 pm

I GUARANTEE YOU MCGARITY WILL NOT FIRE RICHT THIS YEAR, HE’D BE AN IDIOT TO FIRE THE TOP 5 WINNINGEST COACH. HE’S NOT AN IDIOT.

BeachDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:26 pm

Jerry-

I agree completely that CMR or Mcgarity could care less about what a bunch of bloggers think but i bet McGarity cares a lot about getting my check and many of these other bloggers check by Feb 15. For me, if McGarity makes a change i will gladly writer the check. if not change, no check. That is how our voice can be heard…through our wallets because that is truly all they care about.

Brooksdawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:27 pm

HUGE DAWG FAN HERE—but Richt “can’t see the forest for the trees”. The players quit on him after he didn’t allow them to finish the drill.

Jay

January 2nd, 2011
8:27 pm

Richt made the right move on 4th and 1.

Georgia had lost all 6 games, where the other team scored first, it was important to get points, score first, build some confidence early.