Fan talk: Do Dawgs need to quit playing it safe in fourth quarter?

Mark Richt has said Georgia needs to be able to "put it away." (Associated Press)

Mark Richt has said Georgia needs to be able to "put it away." (Associated Press)

As the Dawgs prepare to travel to Nashville for the Vandy game, it’s time to answer some Junkyard Mail. …

Bob Leonard writes: Bill, we’re midway through the season (wow, seems like it’s just flown by) and I’m starting to be optimistic, which worries me since I normally like to under-expect when it comes to the Georgia football program. (Less heartbreak that way.) I think the defense has improved greatly and the offense looks really good in spurts, usually when Isaiah Crowell is in there. But Georgia still doesn’t look like a team that’s quite ready for prime time. What do you think’s missing?

The biggest thing that’s missing, I think, is the ability to put away even a lesser opponent in the fourth quarter. Of course, the situation has improved from last year, when Mark Richt’s Dogs were flat-out getting beat in the fourth because they were plainly out of gas. But the Dogs are still getting outscored in the fourth. Part of it is Mike Bobo’s desire to keep the ball on the ground, avoid an interception and eat up clock. And he’s certainly done that, with a fourth quarter drive against UT last week that ate up more than 8 minutes despite the Dogs ending up fourth-and-56 and with no points. Likewise, against Ole Miss there was quite a lengthy drive that produced no points. But there were also a couple of three-and-outs in the fourth quarter against the Vols and Richt himself noted after the game that puts more pressure on the defense and, “If we’re in that situation again, we’d better be able to put it away.” Bobo at times seems to be playing not to lose rather than playing to win. Down the stretch, that’s not going to cut it.

OkieDawg writes: When Georgia decides to run outside the tackles, they almost always run to the short side of the field which is normally to the left. The RB gets bottled up along the out of bounds and can’t really make any cuts. There are so many big bodies on the outside that there are just no running lanes and our backs run into their own blockers as often as the opponent’s defender. Crowell has the speed, if given the room, to run on the perimeter and turn up field with a couple of moves and make a long run. I know our strong side of the line is to the left, but there is a way to make that the wide side of the field. I really haven’t heard anyone else complaining about us running to the short side. Is this a legitimate observation/concern? And, if so, why do we do it so often?

I think two things are at play here. First, as you noted, Georgia’s offensive line is stronger on the left side, and that’s what running backs tend to follow. Also, though, in the Tennessee game, where Georgia’s penchant for running to the left was particularly noticeable in the second half, I think Crowell’s injured right wrist was a factor.

Allen Kennedy writes: Bill, what do you think about the attitude of the team? By that I mean, do we have the mentality to compete with Bama or LSU should we make it to the SECC. Does this team have the attitude, “Bring it on Bama,” or are they going to be like, “We made it here, we’ll be content with this.” I believe if [Todd] Grantham is more involved, we will dare them to get on the field with us. What do think, by end of year will the Dawgs be mentally ready for an Alabama?

I think you’re jumping the gun just a bit, what with four regular season conference games still to play, one of them in Jacksonville. But I do think this year’s team has a much better state of mind than last year’s. The fact that they didn’t let an 0-2 start derail their season is testament to that. If Georgia does manage to make it to Atlanta, taking on either Bama or LSU will be a daunting prospect, but assuming the team is healthy, I think they’d have good reason to feel up to the challenge.

BJOHNDAWG writes: Bill, Most people want to work at something they enjoy, but once they get home just want to relax and avoid talk of their job. While I know you are a UGA fan like the rest of us, is covering the Bulldogs as a job too much of a good thing and take the fun out of being a fan of UGA? For example, like debating UGA football with your friends and family?

Interesting question. Of course, I don’t actually “cover” the team in the sense that a beat reporter does. I get to write about the Dogs from the point of view of a fan, which is what I’ve been all my life. I also split my time between blogging and working as a story editor at the AJC, so I’m not focusing on UGA all day long. So, no, doing this blog hasn’t taken the fun out of being a fan and I still talk Dawgs with family and friends every chance I get!

Jim from the Class of ’84 (still the best record of all UGA classes!) writes: Whatever happened to Leonard’s Losers? The old original is probably not around, but what happened to him? Wasn’t he a UGA man? I would read those picks every Saturday for the humor and his choosing of losers instead of winners. Has anybody else ever taken over the name and use?

Many football fans have fond memories of “Leonard’s Losers,” particularly in the South. Athens native Leonard Postero, better known as Leonard “Postosties,” was the voice behind the colorful hillbilly-styled college football prediction show, which at its peak was syndicated on something like 1,400 radio stations, including Armed Forces Radio. He also had a Leonard’s Losers column in one of the Athens papers and for a while published a weekly newsletter. Postero also provided the voice of his sidekick, Percy Peabody. He main claim to fame, of course, was picking the losers rather than the winners, but his offbeat nicknames for teams also were memorable. He usually referred to Georgia as the Red Clay Hounds. Postero died in 2001, and for a while the show continued online with Leonard’s “nephew,” but it ceased production in 2005 and the website is no longer active.

Pendar Khosravi writes: Bill, I just wanted to preface this message by saying that you truly are a damn good dog and that I enjoy the passion and emotion that you put into your writing in regards to your beloved Bulldogs. With this said, I have a quick question for you and wanted your opinion on a play call at the end of the UGA vs. UT game last weekend. With UGA leading 20-12, and having just recovered an onside kick at the UT 35, UGA opted to run the ball 3 times to run out some clock at the end of the game. We had gains of 1 yard, 0 yards and 4 yards on the first three downs, putting us at the UT 30 with the clock running down. As we know, coach Richt decided to punt the ball on 4th down and Drew Butler kicked his 4th down punt well into the end zone (I’m guessing to alleviate the concern for a punt return TD) putting UT at the 20 with :18 seconds remaining in the game. My question to you is why do you not attempt the 47 yard field goal in this situation? … If you try the field goal and make it, you’ve automatically won the game and don’t have to worry about hail mary’s or trick play touchdowns going for 80 yards in the last 18 seconds of the game and crazier things have happened (just look at Notre Dame). … Do you not agree that a field goal attempt to win the game would be more beneficial than pushing Tennessee back 10 more yards? Now I understand that there is always the risk of having the field goal attempt blocked and returned, but in my opinion going for the points and the win would have been the smarter move. What is your opinion on this play call?

Thanks! You’re correct that a field goal would have definitely iced the game at that point, but I think considering how little time was left on the clock, punting it into the end zone was the safest call. Had there been a couple of minutes left, a field goal attempt would have been the smarter move.

Casman writes: Bill, It seems like we are “thin” (not much depth) at a lot of positions, i.e. LB, DL, RB, and OL. Seems to be okay at QB, TE, and DB. If UGA has been recruiting correctly over the years, why are we so thin at so many positions? Or is that the problem, and how many kids do we anticipate signing this winter with all of the attrition over the last year?

A combination of injuries and players departing the program unexpectedly resulted in Georgia being ultra thin at several positions this season. And, yes, perhaps not enough recruiting in those areas the past couple of years. The OL is still thin, though with Chris Burnette and Kenarious Gates both semi-healthy now Will Friend can at least do some rotating. And the backups at linebacker have come on so strong that once Alec Ogletree returns the Dawgs will have a surplus of talent there. I don’t know exactly what the breakdown is of players Georgia is recruiting, but you’ve got to bet that offensive linemen and running backs will be in the mix.

Luke Ellington writes: As a longtime Dawg fan, I am ready for our next Uga. I really appreciate what Russ has done for our team and fans, but it is time for the next Uga to be introduced to us. I would like to see the next Uga as a pup and be able to watch him grow into our mascot. I understand there are a lot of things to consider when picking a mascot, but as a fan I think everyone would love to watch Uga grow up. Can you explain the process of picking the next Uga and is there a chance of Uga being a puppy and using Russ until Uga is ready for job? Great job. Go Dawgs! P.S. I can see Uga pup being introduced at halftime of the Auburn game.

Sonny Seiler and his family provide the mascot and they choose the new Uga, who will somehow be part of the same bloodline. No word yet on when Seiler will unveil Uga IX, but the Auburn game seems like a likely choice. Last I heard, they were considering a pup who’s all white except for black around one eye. That would be a first for the Uga line, which has always been all-white, but Seiler seems less married to the all-white idea than in the past, and I actually think a Georgia Bulldog with a “black eye” would look pretty cool. What do you think?

Randy Brock writes: Why did they move the band out of the student section and to the end zone?

Athletic director Greg McGarity thought the band would be audible to more people in the stadium from the end zone, and he’s probably right. They just need to move the visiting band elsewhere (I’ve heard reports they’ll wind up in the old Redcoats spot next year) and move more of the student section around the band.

Bryan Grantham writes: Bill, I want to expand on the student ticket situation. The reason that UGA dried up the secondary ticket market was simple: Student tickets are at a reduced price and subsidized by student athletic fees. I was a senior in 2002 and on Student Government. That year, all upperclassman got tickets but there were only something like 1,000 tickets for the entire 4,000 person freshman class. Thus, not all students who wanted student tickets got them. This was because, in part, students were buying tickets just to scalp them. So, it was not UGA being miserly — it was actually a policy that students demanded. So, we worked with the UGAA to have the policy changed to make it harder for students to scalp tickets. The reason was because not every student who wanted tickets could get them. This worked great in 2002-2008 when the team was good and the demand exceeded supply for students. However, now, it leads to a half empty upper level student section.

Thanks for the background on the decision. I’m sure the Dawgs winning big on the field would take care of a multitude of problems, including student attendance at games.

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244 comments Add your comment

me

October 14th, 2011
11:04 am

Michael Carvell is the worst reporter ever for the AJC.

Newman

October 14th, 2011
11:12 am

Just block and tackle.

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:17 am

That would Be Mark Bradley. What a hack.

UGA Insider

October 14th, 2011
11:17 am

UGA 52 Vandy 10

UGA Insider

October 14th, 2011
11:18 am

gomdawg

October 14th, 2011
11:18 am

More Points scored better bowl game at the end, yes score as many as we can

UGA Insider

October 14th, 2011
11:18 am

UGA 13 AU 10

UGA Insider

October 14th, 2011
11:19 am

UGA 45 GT 31

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:19 am

Take the BOOT off the offense in the 2nd half. If you need help I am sure some UGA students can help.

Joey

October 14th, 2011
11:20 am

Our offense worries me to. Truthfully, though, if Walsh makes his FGs as he hs his entire career, our scoring would look much better, and we probably beat SC in overtime, as their offense struggled and our was on fire.

Richt/Bobo should keep the foot on the gas the entire game, with TDs as the goal.

UGA Insider

October 14th, 2011
11:20 am

UGA 21 LSU 20

It’s my birthday so I can still make wishes right?

MattDawg

October 14th, 2011
11:20 am

Yup we need to quit playing safe in the 4th… one day it is gonna catch up with us.

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:22 am

Until the Vandy game UGA didn’t have a TD in the last 13 second half possessions.

MattDawg

October 14th, 2011
11:22 am

UGA with a black eye would kinda fit our team.. Getting very little respect. We have been knocked down, but we are getting back up.

MattDawg

October 14th, 2011
11:23 am

Still@theBar did you mean the Tennessee game?

piermontdawgny

October 14th, 2011
11:25 am

love the “black eye” uga mascot idea…if the D keeps up their outstanding play, the “black eye” is a fitting metaphor…
Dawgs Roll Xtra Large
55-16

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:25 am

Yes the other team form Tennessee sorry.

DawginLex

October 14th, 2011
11:28 am

Vandy and UVA are both capable of giving our in state schools fits tomorrow.

Bobdog

October 14th, 2011
11:29 am

I hope the main factor on the selection of the next UGA is to pick a healthy pup. All white is probably preferable, but secondary after losing a couple prematurely.

Vance Duly

October 14th, 2011
11:33 am

Coach Bobo has been married to his playcalling habits for at least the past 2 seasons. This is one rare time that I hope for a divorce. After 1st down penalties of at least 10 yds, we will run the ball at least 80% of the time. Apparently, our best plays for 2nd or 3rd down and 40 or more is a basic run play for 2 yards or less, as well. As far as running to the left goes, I didn’t realize that we HAD a strong side of our offensive line! That’s good to know, though…. GO DAWGS! Play 4 quarters of offense this week against Vandy — we may need that experience in the weeks to come!

Mad Mike

October 14th, 2011
11:36 am

georgia is winning with defense which is what has always happened in richt’s best years. this “failing to put teams away” stuff is bogus. as herm edwards said, “you play to win the game.” georgia is doing what it needs to do to make sure they win the game. and it’s working.

kydawg

October 14th, 2011
11:37 am

I think Big Bad Bruce had some black around his ears as well…I agree…it’s time for UGA IX!!! Go Dawgs!!!

WDE

October 14th, 2011
11:42 am

@UGA Insider happy B’day mine was yesterday…and I’m hoping for a win this weekend !

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:44 am

A Dawg HOPING for a win over VANDY? now that is just too funny. That says it all.

Rusty

October 14th, 2011
11:45 am

Most people I’ve talked to agree….

As far as Richt’s job status: Florida is a must win unless we lose but still go to-and win the SEC championship.

Are there people who don’t agree with that?

DawginLex

October 14th, 2011
11:46 am

Aren’t you hoping for a win over UVA?

i don’t get your rant sometimes.

Try a little class and actually add something to the conversation.

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:47 am

The only way UGA wins the SEC CG is if Bama or LSU has a Marshall moment on the way to the ATL airport.

Kyle BBA BA '10

October 14th, 2011
11:48 am

I don’t know what Bryan Grantham is talking about–I was a student from ‘05-’10 and none of the students I was around, myself included, wanted the ticket change. When demand was high the only problem was that freshmen had to take their lumps and ask around to find a ticket to the few games they didn’t get.

SGA’s inflated self-importance of course stepped in and saved the day by ruining the soul of the student section just so it was more “fair.” Sure, it was hard to get a ticket to a game like the Auburn or Alabama blackouts, but for the cheaper games, tickets would just be given away to people who would use them.

Still@theBAR

October 14th, 2011
11:51 am

No I Expect a win over UVA.
UGA has to stop the terrible 2nd half scoring. It has been a huge issue most of the year.
Run the offense, burn the clock but you have to keep scoring.

OldFan

October 14th, 2011
11:53 am

I don’t. Go 8-4, and the line on CMR will be he’s pulling the team out of its funk and has the talent to make a solid run over the next couple years. The revenue’s good, the brand still sells, and the national sports media like CMR. So why fire a coach for winning more games and deal with all that disruption?

bill arp

October 14th, 2011
11:56 am

Bobo simply doesn’t trust his QB, it’s easy to see. And quite frankly, nor do I….

All Saints

October 14th, 2011
11:58 am

Only one more day until our weekly pre-game tribute to Saint Jan Kemp, the courageous lady who brought down Vince Dooley and his sleazy remedial studies fraud.

Spanky

October 14th, 2011
11:59 am

“Yes the other team form Tennessee sorry”…team form? Yeah, have another drink!

Joey

October 14th, 2011
12:03 pm

It’s worked the last 4 weeks, Mad Mike. We’ve beaten 4 lousy-to-mediocre teams. No SEC wins for any of them.

Sitting on the ball likely won’t work vs UF, UA, GT.

Cornelius Washington

October 14th, 2011
12:04 pm

Vanderbilt 27, Georgia 24

Can I drive the team bus?

AltamahaDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:05 pm

Bill, your answer to the first question was spot on. In the situation(s) so far , the strategy has worked perfectly, but in other different situations in the future, our actions might vary to suit that situation. Not sure why this question keep surfacing as to what might happen if you pound a square peg in a round hole.

LagDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:05 pm

@me. Be careful saying that. I made that comment when Carvell started and now most of my comments don’t get posted. The problem with UGA is not just recruiting at certain positions, it is plane and simple Bobo’s lack of knowledge when it comes to being a OC. CMR revamped the D, and now it’s past time to revamp the O. UGA needs an OC that knows how to break down opponents defenses and make adjustments as the game goes on. One that knows how to call plays.

AltamahaDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:08 pm

Joey, why would you assume they would do against UF what worked against Ole’Miss? Isn;t it logical that they would know the differences in those 2 situations?

McDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:10 pm

i’m getting a bad feeling going into this game

why are we all the sudden favorites to win the East USC is in the driver’s seat and w/ that D-i would prefer to remain under the radar

McDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:19 pm

Saban lost another recruit to Pitt–whats going on

AltamahaDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:20 pm

This myth that anybody “sat” on the ball against TN comes down to basically ONE play. Up till then Georgia had been running the exact same offense it had been all night and trying to move the ball.

Set up by 2nd and 6 from our own 24 with about 7 minutes left. We ran the ball with our best guy BACK in the game and the play got blown up in the backfield. pretty concersative call in its own, but frankly its a play we should have been (and had been all night) able to pick up a few yards with. Now somebody tell us what is the correct call for 3rd and 11 from your own 19, leading by 14, 7 minutes left and your opponent holding one TO and hadn’t moved it all night. Run up the middle (the ONLY play call that was squarely not trying to lose stupidly) is the right call there, even if none of that was true.

There was no other 3 and outs in the 4th Bill, that not right, because I am certain you are not counting the final seconds of the game.

Mike

October 14th, 2011
12:25 pm

Playing it safe means you’re playing it scared.

AltamahaDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:25 pm

Mike, I see you are not a big fan of the “but what if the exact same chain of events were somehow superimposed on a hypothetical situation in some future game” method of counting victories, either.

DIT

October 14th, 2011
12:26 pm

To think about being in the SECCG is delusional right now. Four conference games are still left. We will be favored i only 2 of them and I think Vandy will give us fits tomorrow evening.
I can care less about the SEC CG right now. Just beat Vandy!
Go Dawgs!

AltamahaDawg

October 14th, 2011
12:27 pm

Mike, Why would a previously 6-7 team playing a busload of freshman need to be scared.

Mad Mike, see above post.

Lindsey

October 14th, 2011
12:27 pm

Uga with a black eye during the Auburn game…I love it!!! GO DAWGS and Beat Vandy!!!

Macclenny_dawg

October 14th, 2011
12:30 pm

Nothing new about playing not to lose we do that all the time not just in the 4th quarter. We have improved on defense but we are nowhere near elite!!! Until Bobo and Richt show they are not scared to keep playing once we get a lead we will never be elite!!! Murray throwing interceptions is what they are scared of??? He was supposed to be the only sure thing we had on offense coming into the year!!! got to learn to GATA all game not just sometimes!!! Go Dawgs!!!

DIT

October 14th, 2011
12:34 pm

What’s sad is that UGA is suppose to have one of the biggest lines around so we should be able to run the ball down peoples throats. O-Line is still our biggest issue.
Vandy is going to come with multiple variations on Defense. Bobo needs to be ready for some quick passes and screens to go along with some misdirection running plays.
Just my thought

Robinwood

October 14th, 2011
12:40 pm

When any of us on our couches knows what play Bobo is coming to call, then you’ve crossed the line at being unacceptable predictable.

Zoomie

October 14th, 2011
12:40 pm

“I don’t. Go 8-4, and the line on CMR will be he’s pulling the team out of its funk and has the talent to make a solid run over the next couple years. The revenue’s good, the brand still sells, and the national sports media like CMR. So why fire a coach for winning more games and deal with all that disruption?”

I agree. Richt is making the changes that need to be made and the improvements in the program are starting to show. This, coupled with a W-L record of 100-36 (I think), cools off Richt’s seat tremendously. I don’t think there’s anyone else out there who’s going to do any better for UGA right now. Richt’s job is probably pretty safe even if he doesn’t take the SEC East.