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

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
8:27 pm

I’m an old fart, played, been watching football a long time,I know a poorly coached team when I see one and brother UGA is as poorly coached out of shape undisiplined CFB team as I have ever seen in my lifetime. I got a good (bad) laugh out of some of my gater fan friends down here when they watched a game with me and I called most (80%) of our offense for the whole game.If I can, you can bet your a$$ a good collage DC can, as they have been doing for the last few years.

big root

January 2nd, 2011
8:28 pm

Fire Mike Bobo and go to the pros for your next OC, strength & conditioning coach, & maybe start hitting each other in practice we might get a lot tougher and start looking for contact in games.Rambo,Smith,Hamilton & Boykin are all scared of contact and they can’t cover WR’s catch the ball on them all the time. Aaron Murray is not the answer at QB and get the players to go full speed on every play because Boise State Will Play Hard On Every Down Even Trick Plays

edumacated

January 2nd, 2011
8:29 pm

I think it’s all just to big of a mess to pin on one coach, technique, or philosophy. O-line can’t block, backs can’t break tackles, D-line is undersized, middle linbackers can’t get off a block to save their life, secondary is out of position constantly. Lets face it, our QB is talented, but he seems to get rattled at the worst times and is inconsistant ( that should get better with time though). It’s a big crap sandwich for sure. When was the last time the Dawgs did anything unpredictable? Instead, Richt is the poster boy of predictability.

Doug

January 2nd, 2011
8:29 pm

Give Richt the benefit of the doubt. He’s done this a few times already and had a top 10 teams nearly 20 times since 1985. If he doesn’t imporve the number of wins in 2011, make a change, but if he gets more than 6 wins, he’s fine.

Pawlie

January 2nd, 2011
8:30 pm

Get rid of Murray, put in a new QB, and you go 9-4 next year. No sweat Dogs.

LakeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:31 pm

Camden Mark…..I agree completely. Uga has talent. Just no coaching. Our recruiting has dipped the last two years and that might leave us a few players short of Bama or Florida, but we still have plenty of talent to win 9-10 games. However, if we keep this staff, not only will UGA not have the coaching, but the talent level will drop and the next coach will have a major rebuilding job on his hands. Unlike Richt, who was left with a lot of talent by Donnan.

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:31 pm

I really do, because when a coaching change is made you could end up like TENN –worse off now than they were. On the other hand, what had Pumpkin Man really done lately?? I hate to go through this again –and I really thought Richt could get things back on track, but after watching those pitiful Dawgs on Sat I really think the only thing we can hope for now is McGarity makes the right hire next yr. I really do believe Richt is on his last leg.

Chuck

January 2nd, 2011
8:32 pm

McGarity will lose all credibility if he doesn’t force Richt’s hand. If he refuses to dump Bozo, Searels, and any other of the under-achieving assistant coaches who are killing this program, Richt doesn’t deserve to be at the helm of this program. Florida hires Charlie Weis to run their new offense, and we won’t run Bozo out of here on a rail? That pretty much sums up the disparity in these programs.
I love Richt’s character, but it is time for a change–and NOT from within.

Brooksdawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:32 pm

Jay–I disagree. Look at the body language of the team after that field goal. Also–he doesn’t lose with a 100 yrd rusher–yet was pass happy.

the koolaid pitcher has run dry

January 2nd, 2011
8:33 pm

Orcel

January 2nd, 2011
8:33 pm

My prediction for UGA’s next coach: Urban Meyer.

After a year away from the game his health will return
and he’ll miss coaching and get tired of being a talking
head for ESPN.

The stage will be set. Look what Spurrier did for South
Carolina.

Lilburn Dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:34 pm

As I said before, Richt is not capable of fixing the problems of this team because he IS the problem. His initial teams had success because they had been coached by ‘old school’ methods before Richt arrived and played with heart and effort. Then after Richt had been here about 3-4 years all of these players had left and new players arrived year after year and assumed his mild personality. And it has continued. Richt made the statement that “who would have predicted the losses in this season?”. Well, he was the only one who could not see them coming.

He is just not a very good coach overall. Period. He really isn’t. And his heart is just not in it nor is his mind. He seems lost and misplaced on the sidelines for the last few years. Like he really doesn’t want to be there. I think the desire for coaching is out of his blood now.

Why would A. J. want to stick around and be part of this same mess next year? He, no doubt, wants to dissociate himself from this mess.

If Richt is allowed to remain one more year, it will be worse next year and like the writer of the Macon.com sports article said……..if he remains then McGarity is only delaying what needs to be done and he will surely do it at this time next year. We’d all be better off if he would go ahead and rid this team of the entire coaching staff now. The sooner something is done that will enable this team to show improvement the better. Otherwise next year will be a repeat of this year if not worse.

joe taxpayer

January 2nd, 2011
8:34 pm

I’m not even angrey;I’m just indifferent. Really do not care until CMR is gone.

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:35 pm

Doug, I disagree. I believe 7 wins may not be enough — it will likely be an 8-win min next yr for Richt to buy himself more time.

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
8:35 pm

As I said earlier, think Bill Cowher would take a stab at coaching a CFB team.Wishful thinking

680 Belue

January 2nd, 2011
8:36 pm

You Richt haters nver threw a wet football in your life.. You know nothing about football. We were 10 plays away from being undefeated.

GODAWGS

January 2nd, 2011
8:37 pm

It is what it is and Stacy Searels, Mike Bobo and Marc Richt must go. And if McGarity doesn’t do it then he should be on the road as well. Richt couldn’t coach ants to build an ant hill!!!!!

dawgster

January 2nd, 2011
8:38 pm

@Jay…tell me of the following SEC coaches that would have settled for 3 when you are 4th and inches, inches on the 2 yard line….Saban, Meyer, Mullen, Miles(we all know the answer to that one), Spurrier…The players wanted to…what you tell them is ok show me what you can do, its on you…How bad do you want it…show me…sorry but i can’t agree with you on that one for several reasons, yes maybe somewhere else on the field or playing in a huge bowl game, but at 6-6 what’s the harm…on the 2 yard line, where if you don’t get it you have the other team backed up to their endzone and where anything can happen…but i guess when you are 6-6 you play it safe…just can’t agree, but you make good points…

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:38 pm

Orcel, I hope you are wrong, because Dan Mullen made Meyer look good. Look at FLORIDA’s offense since Mullen left –Heck, Mullen even beat FLA @ FLA with MUCH less talent from MissSt! Meyer got out because he knew he was in trouble.

big root

January 2nd, 2011
8:39 pm

power football. does UGA have a weight room we no they don’t have a OC or DC go back to a 4-3 defense your LB’s are to big and slow Morant,Smith,Washington,Robinson are all DE’s they should be played as such

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
8:40 pm

10 plays away against who?Colorado? No excuse for this demise.If I performed like this in my business I would expect to be fired

JB

January 2nd, 2011
8:41 pm

The next 72 hours will tell the tale in Athens….McGarity may not pull the trigger, but Richt can’t be isolated from National Chatter on what a complete joke this program has become Does he resign?….I got news for the folks defending him AS A COACH ( We all know he’s a great person), does your boss care what you did 4 years ago? 6? The answer is NO. This didn’t happen this year. It’s been a 3 year slide. The other SEC schools/fans are in shock he’s coming back.

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:41 pm

680 Belue, you’re funny. Unless you REALLY thought this 6-7 team was 10 plays away from playing in the NC, then you are stupid.

LakeDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:43 pm

Nightmare scenario: CMR wins 8 games next year with Florida being one of them and then wins the Gator bowl against an overmatched Big 10 team. The UGA administration sees “significant improvement” and extends Richt’s contract. Please, if CMR isn’t going to win 10 games next year and play in Atlanta, let him have another 6-7 season. I don’t think I can take another 3-4 years of Goof/Donnan mediocrity.

Jiggy Smaha

January 2nd, 2011
8:44 pm

When Vince Dooley wanted to give Jim Donnan one more year, Michael Adams asked him “If we retain Coach Donnan, are we likely to be having this same conversation this time next year.” When Dooley admitted the answer was yes, Adams insisted that Donnan be fired.
It pains me to say it, but we will most certainly be having this same conversation next November.

GODAWGS

January 2nd, 2011
8:44 pm

Caamden Mark – you are right on. In the real world we have to perform at the level we are hired to do or we are out the door. Why not coaches and staff?

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:47 pm

Jiggy Smaha, Not sure how you got your quotes from Adams & Dooleys’ conversation… but I do believe we will be in this same spot next yr.

Randy

January 2nd, 2011
8:47 pm

http://www.gatorsports.com/article/20110101/ARTICLES/110109937/1153?Title=Muschamp-adds-2-retains-3-to-staff-Weis-confirmed

It seems Florida is still in the running for Kirby Smart.

Tuesday or Wednesday should be an interesting day for Georgia fans let alone Gator fans.

ugafan

January 2nd, 2011
8:48 pm

I to am a bit discouraged about how our team is playing, but firing Mark Richt is not the answer. I think Tennesse found out that they were to hastey when they got rid of Phil Fulmer, he led his team to a national championship and some sec titles, but people started getting ansy with him because he had a few tough years. The dawgs have had a few tough years but they will recover. What we need to do is stop fussin and start supporting our team and coaches. You don’t help a coach by putting unlimited stress and pressure upon him, you help him when you support him. He’s down. Don’t kick a man when he’s down. Help him up!

milledgeville dawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:49 pm

As a booster in football and basketball, I have always been a Richt supporter. However no more, we need a change. Lets go ahead and do it.

UGAgrad71

January 2nd, 2011
8:49 pm

I would rather see UGA recruit 2 and 3 star players with some fire and a desire to put on a helmet with G on the side. But then, if they aren’t “coached up” it does not matter how many stars they rated coming out of high school.

Camden Mark

January 2nd, 2011
8:49 pm

Jim was a pretty darn good coach, leave him outa this.Richts best years were with his players

dawg fans...really?

January 2nd, 2011
8:50 pm

Of course Coach Richt has the IQ and coaching ability to turn this around. Every great coach has encountered a rough patch in their legacy. Unfortunately most Dawg fans underestimated how a new QB and a new defense could limit the program’s success this season. The fact is most educated fans predicted that 2010 would be a rebuilding year for the Dawgs and that was before AJ’s suspension. Clearly there is a glaring need for a new gamebreaker at tailback. Murray is legit and he will have more than enough weapons to control defenses next year. I believe Mark Richt is the man to bring the next SEC title to Athens. I agree that he needs to re-install the no huddle offense. He needs to sign at least 5 or 6 of the remaining in state targets for the 2011 class. He has what it takes to win big at UGA.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
8:50 pm

By the way…..don’t worry. He won’t be wondering how to feed his family. He’ll ask them which Island they want to go to for 2 weeks to decompress. He’s got 5-6 mil in the bank and 5-6 coming to him.

dogcrapdog

January 2nd, 2011
8:50 pm

what the hell is that smell…oh gosh you stepped in dog crap

Richie

January 2nd, 2011
8:50 pm

it cracks me up that people have answers for everything wrong with the football program but the statium was half empty.If u want a new coach then come up with the 4 or 5 millon to pay the guy!!!!!!
I think not!!!!!!!!

gadawgs

January 2nd, 2011
8:51 pm

No he cannot fix it. He needs to be removed of his responsibilities immediately. Mr. McGarity I hope you listen and care what alums, fans and supporters have to say about the state of our beloved program. You need to make a change now. We have been on a downward trend for the last three years and one more year is not going to right the ship. This ship has sailed and we need a new captain.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
8:52 pm

Dawg fans…really…..It’s not that simple…….This team and staff have been coming off the tracks for three years. The problems are deep and complicated.

ScreaminDawg

January 2nd, 2011
8:52 pm

They all gotta go…why waste next year.

Pawlie

January 2nd, 2011
8:52 pm

Good things the UGA AD didn’t listen to fans in 2006. Richt turned it around with a heck of arun in 2007, finishshing #2 in the country, proving every negative “fan” wrong.

I’d suggest the AD ignore fans who have no experience coaching a football team.

Chuck

January 2nd, 2011
8:53 pm

2 changes:
1- Give the football to Christian Lemay
2- Hand the ball to Ealey 57 times a game.

Ratsnake

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

When I watch other teams play (even bad ones), I see offensive lines moving people off the ball. In the past three years, I’ve seen our offensive line blow assignment after assignment. Every once in a while, I’ll see them really open up a hole, but for the most part our line has not gotten one bit better over the last three years…….and if your line can’t block, you’re not going to win consistently. Our offensive line coach (Searels) needs to be held accountable for this.

UGAKev

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

I was all for giving coach richt another year richt UNTIL that 4th and inches field goal friday. I understand that coach richt is going to be back next year and have accepted it but its hard to swallow the fact unless we grab all of the 5 star players like ray drew and isiah crowell on february 3rd and get a top recruiting class that we lacked last year, then its going to be maybe a 5 win season next season. Although I am believing now that coach richt will not get the job done for us anymore the only decision we have now is to ride out the storm and try to get this historic recruiting class. If we fired richt now it is too late to get a GRADE A coach we deserve so now we have to pray all those great recruits from georgia break towards us instead of alabama , auburn , tennessee, and Florida. If not, then Richt chances go down to about 5% next year of making it through the year. GO DAWGS!!!

SID

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

will be in the same position this time next year…..what should we do……in the meantime, the real tier one programs in the SEC are/have made necessary changes. Sorry to say it but UGA has fallen to tier 2 level in the SEC

Dawg89

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

That’s a negative ghostrider, the pattern is full.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
8:54 pm

TCU was impressive. I bet most of those guys were 2 and 3 star with a few 4 stars mixed in.
They WANTED to play football and win. Their coach’s gave them a chance.

boots

January 2nd, 2011
8:56 pm

There was a moment in the Liberty Bowl when we called time-out late in the fourth qtr. on defense. (Even though think the clock had been stopped when the CF player went out of bounds. Grantham was yelling at the defense and calling plays, but CMR stood there with a blank stare. No passion. I might be reading too much in to this moment, but I thought then (and still do) that it was symptomatic of our leadership – or the lack thereof.

Can Richt make the changes necessary? Weren’t we having this same discussion last year?

I am a big Richt fan. I really am. However, we have a tough schedule next year, and I don’t see where any new ideas are flowing out of the staff. If they had them, why weren’t they rolled out already? Why does it take the KICKER to call out the team for lack of effort. Why does Bobo get to skate when his play calling sucks?

Justin

January 2nd, 2011
8:56 pm

Richt’s avewraged 9.6 wins a seaoson.

That’s bad?

For real?

I HATE IT...

January 2nd, 2011
8:58 pm

ugafan, It’s not that Richt is a bad coach, but he has made several mistakes that have put GEORGIA where it is. First he hired Martinez as VanGorder’s replacement, and we all know how good VanGorder is (I think the Falcons are 13-3). Then he stopped running the offense (I think we all know how good of an offensive mind Richt is). He has also allowed someone (don’t think we can pin all of this on Gardner) evaluate talent, which that ’smoeone’ has done a very poor job of recruiting real FOOTBALL players. Our team is VERY undersized compared to ALA, SCar, AU, etc. It’s hard for a 5′8″ 180lb CB to tackle a 6′4″ 235lb WR. Do you think RIcht can fix these problems by next season?? I don’t.

JB

January 2nd, 2011
8:58 pm

Every player on that team will know that Richt will be fired next year. Doing the same thing and expecting different results will not work, because words and re shuffling the chairs on the deck won’t work in the SEC