Why the rush to judgment on 2011 Dogs?

Malcolm Mitchell's dazzling score proved to be too little too late, but what a play! (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

Malcolm Mitchell's dazzling score proved to be too little too late, but what a play! (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

The predictable happened Saturday night.

A Georgia program that struggled through a losing season last year got pretty soundly beaten by one of the country’s winningest programs in recent years.

A Top 5 team beat a team that somehow had sneaked into the Top 20 on the basis of a great recruiting year and residual respect from past glories.

Georgia fans booed and cussed Mike Bobo for yet another night of mostly predictable playcalling.

And the nattering nabobs of negativism, as Spiro Agnew might call them, immediately jumped off the bandwagon after just one game and started with the woe-is-Mark-Richt broadsides.

You knew that was going to happen, despite the fact that Boise State was favored over the Dogs and despite the fact that Georgia’s potential road to the SEC championship remains at least theoretically open despite the loss of the Old Leather Helmet trophy to the Broncos at the Georgia Dome. (The only way losing to Boise might impact Georgia in the SEC wars is if the injuries to a couple of key players Saturday night result in extended absences.)

But that’s the way the “hot seat” media scenario works. A “Dream Team” recruiting class might turn the heat down a couple of notches, but all you have to do is open the season with a loss — even a loss that most observers thought stood a pretty good chance of happening — and the “what has happened to the Georgia program under Richt?” storyline takes front and center again.

I’m certainly not here to defend Richt or Bobo. The downward trend of Georgia against ranked opponents over the past four seasons under Richt is undeniable. And despite the occasional deviation from the norm — Brandon Boykin coming over to the offensive side for a brilliant scoring reverse — Bobo fooled almost no one with what he was doing Saturday night, especially in the first half.

And while Aaron Murray played a little better in the second half, he mostly continued the slump that began in the Liberty Bowl and frankly didn’t show the amount of progress from his freshman year that most of us expected. He’s still standing back there holding on to the ball too long on third-and-long (thanks, Bobo) and getting sacked. He also was off-target on some key throws but we’ll give him that since he also had several surely thrown passes dropped.

Also, the line play was disappointing, both offensively and defensively, with Boise having the upper hand most of the evening. And Todd Grantham never did figure out how to defend Kellen Moore’s short passing game, whether the Dogs were in man-to-man or that extremely loose zone.

Yes, I had convinced myself Georgia could, under the right circumstances, beat Boise. And that might have happened had the Dogs played fully up to their potential, not made stupid mistakes, not gotten hit with some injuries — and if Boise had played a poor game. But they didn’t. Georgia still looked like a team in search of its identity while the Broncos played like a team that knows they’re good, something the Dogs are still dreaming about.

Still, as I was trudging back to the car Saturday night with my wife and brothers, we found ourselves doing something that ran counter to the general mood of the evening: accentuating the positive.

That long touchdown pass to true freshman Malcolm Mitchell was a thing of beauty, as he turned on the afterburners, catching the perfectly thrown ball from Murray in stride. That young man is going to be a Georgia football hero before very much time has passed. We also noted what a fine performance transfer linebacker Jarvis Jones turned in. And while tailback Isaiah Crowell’s debut was nowhere near Marcus Lattimore standards, he showed flashes of what is surely to come.

So if you want to throw up your hands and declare this another “lost” season on the basis of one game that Georgia really had very little chance of winning, go right ahead.

I prefer to think about the blur that was Mitchell as he literally blew past Boise defenders. The story of the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs still has many chapters yet to be written.

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814 comments Add your comment

True DAWG

September 5th, 2011
2:55 pm

Same ole bulldawgs Bill and they have like the 30th best recruiting everytime to our 10- IF we loose big to South Carolina- Lets PLEASE find some better coaches-the game has passed Richt and Bobo by!

Allen in Seattle

September 5th, 2011
3:01 pm

-Phuch Le` Duch-: Great dictionary vocabulary. But, exotic word play can not paint a better picture of ineptness, which UGA football has become. Keep it simple. They are awful.

MADDAWGZ99

September 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

and you know its bad when UF fans come on your blog and try to write words of encouragement, this is an all-time low and you all are saying to give Richt more time let me give you something to chew on:
2010 Georgia 6–7
2009 Georgia 8–5
2008 Georgia 10–3
2007 Georgia 11–2
HE IS GETTING WORST DON’T YOU SEE, THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE HE IS NOT BOBBY BOWDEN OR JOE PA’. iF YOU DONT BELIEVE WHAT I AM SAYING LOOK AT THE RECORD IT SPEAKS FOR ITS SELF

Offensive Line

September 5th, 2011
3:18 pm

You say ‘Let’s give him time’. You clowns are the ones who kept Willie Martinez around 3 seasons too long.

Make some changes after the USCe game if not a better showing. Keep the damn helmets on your head or cut your hair. Too busy worrying about the dreads than player safety and you certainly cannot play your best when you are worried because your helmet is not attached to your head.

Pago Pago Dawg

September 5th, 2011
4:07 pm

How many offers do the UGA coaches get from other schools….NONE.
How many slap dancers/hip-hop dancers on the BS/BYU/Utah sidelines..NONE

DisappointedDawg

September 5th, 2011
4:09 pm

The coaching has become unreal. You have to wonder what the point of the work in the spring and summer was. Did they practice live tackling? Branden Smith looked like he wanted to throw his purse at the ballcarriers instead of hit them. The rest of the team struggled to wrap up. Zero sacks in 34 pass attempts? Why would they let the Boise receivers run free off the line against an offense completely dependent on timing and the underneath routes and with slower players? Grantham needs to take a serious look in the mirror after this one. They just looked unprepared for a full contact game.

On offense, the spread attack was a disaster. Our line is horribly fat and slow. The only chance we have to be successful is to line up in an I formation with Charles at TE and Figgins at FB and run it right at them and create some opportunities with play action. The fact that Bobo intentionally switched to an offense that requires our linemen to block quicker players in open space boggles the mind. There were several plays where none of our receivers were able to get off the jams of the Boise DBs and Murray had no time to wait for them to clear. Receivers that cant get open and a line that cant block make for a bad outlook for 2011.

wag

September 5th, 2011
4:26 pm

BoBo. The I formation you idiot. It was working and then you stopped. Why. Please! I can not take another year of this crap.

[...] were ready now to write fini to the Richt era; others took the tack I did in my postgame blog, that losing to the Top 5 team in the country in the first game doesn’t necessarily mean a [...]

Phil

September 5th, 2011
4:46 pm

My God Bill, did you watch the same game we did? I saw nothing positive come out of that game. In fact it reassured me that we will probably go 4-8 or 5-7 this year.

What has changed from last year to this year? NOTHING, that’s what. Same old crap we saw last year. The only staff change Richt made was the strength coach and you saw how that worked out! Our guys are terribly out of shape, they couldn’t keep up with the Boise players at all. They were so tired they couldn’t even get back to the line of scrimmage before Boise snapped the ball for the next play.

Same old horrible play calling from Bobo. The only time we used our speed to the outside was the play with Boykin. We never got Crowell to the corner. 3rd and 3 and Bobo is calling a 50 yard bomb just like the moron did last year. Did you Kellen Moore throw 50 yard bombs? No, he killed us with little dump off passes over the middle to keep drives going.

Penalties, bad tackling, bad blocking, it all sucked just like it did last year.

It’s not shameful to lose to Boise State, they are a top 5 team. But we looked just as horrible as we did last year.

Remember Richt saying that in the off season he was going to become a “Football Expert”? Well he gets an big fat “F” on his first test!!!!

godawg

September 5th, 2011
6:57 pm

Enter your comments here

bzzzz

September 5th, 2011
9:02 pm

how ’bout em?

Bill King

September 5th, 2011
9:15 pm

DAWG with two bags:

You come to a UGA fan blog expecting an “objective” viewpoint?

J Dawg

September 5th, 2011
9:55 pm

Wow unbelievable! 8 months and this is how much we have improved. Until we start recruiting linemen (both sides) like we do skill position players and concentrate on dominating the los this is what we can expect. Entire coaching staff receives F for game one

piermontdawgny

September 7th, 2011
1:38 pm

Billyboy…damn good story!