If you’re running down the checklist of things Mark Richt’s football team needed to improve from last year, many of the personnel needs seem to have been addressed and a new approach to strength and conditioning looks promising.
But what we won’t know until Georgia is facing adversity on the field is whether they’ll consistently play as hard as they can, something last year’s Dogs didn’t always do.
Richt talked during the offseason about how distressing it was to sometimes see his team outplayed and Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald recently followed up with the coach for specifics. “When you watch the film and you see another team played harder than we did, that’s sad, that’s my fault,” Richt said. “We had some games like that in my opinion. I can name one for sure and that’s the bowl game. It was most evident that game, maybe that’s the one in my craw and is the one I’m talking about the most.”
No argument there. But what I found really interesting was the response Weiszer got from Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who flatly said the lack of effort didn’t come from his unit. “It ain’t happened on defense. When you look at the Central Florida game, I thought the guys on defense were busting their tail. Now we didn’t finish the game the way that we wanted to, but to say that those guys outworked us, that ain’t right. That didn’t happen.”
Sounds like Grantham was calling out Mike Bobo’s offense as the laggards against Central Florida, which pretty much jibes with the way I remember that particular game, a low point for the program during the Richt era.
But that isn’t entirely a fair assessment of the 2010 Dogs. I can recall some times last season when the defense was guilty of arm tackling and diving at running backs’ feet, so you can’t pin the lack of effort completely on Bobo’s troops. In general, the 2010 team just didn’t seem to be the hardest working bunch ever to play Between the Hedges.
Richt’s right about one thing; ultimately, he’s the one who shoulders the blame. His teams have had a tendency in recent years to come out flat at times and to just plain not want it as badly as the opponents.
If the Dogs are going to turn things around — and turn down the heat under the head coach’s seat — that’s definitely going to have to change.
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