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

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
11:11 am

AltamahaDawg

You wrote

“And come to think of it, was there really any examples of playing not to lose in 08?”

I guess you were too drunk on your favorite bevarge Kool-aid because you missed the Alabama game. You do remember that one. You know; Stafford Moreno Greene, Mo Mass, and Bobo and Richt couldnt even get close enough to kick a field goal.

Oh and how about the inept offense against FL yea I remember that blow away too you must have been drunk on that one

And then GT oh yea now theres a game where you had a chance to put them away but we went conservative and well you know what happened

You also wrote

“He made changes to that staff nearly every year since VanGorter left. Major overhauls in 2007, 2011. Redefined his own role just this past off season”

What great changes on offense were made. Lets see we still havent beat a ranked team since 2009 and when was the last time we beat a top 10 team. You do know Richt is what now 3-11 against top 10 teams

Lots of Smart and brilliant changes have been made Kool-aid man

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
11:28 am

kick a field goal in the 1st half being down 31-0 against AL

I guess Bobo was busy helping out in the concession stand

Huh?

October 15th, 2011
11:40 am

Enter your comments here

Paul in RDU

October 15th, 2011
11:41 am

@Flat Tire
In the 2008 GT-UGA game, UGA did not go conservative. Turnovers and big plays led to the GT win.
In the 1st half UGA marched up and down the field, throwing the ball a great deal. In the Q3, GT scored on their 1st play from scrimmage, stopped UGA on a 3 and out (where Stafford threw the ball on 2nd and 3rd downs) and then GT had a long drive to score again. The big play was the fumbled kick off handing the ball over to GT who scored another TD on the next play to take a lead they never relinquished.
Not sure how all of that equals UGA becoming conservative

Kenny Powers

October 15th, 2011
11:43 am

Never, ever, sit on a lead…attack, attack, attack…players need to believe that they can score at anytime, anywhere, and in anyway…get ‘em down and keep ‘em down…in the 80’s The”U” just laid a lickin’ on everyone when they were winning their NC’s…they’d go anywhere, play anyone, and bust them right in the mouth at their place…playing Boise State the first game of the year was a wake up call, and may have been the best loss for this team…players were shifted, the OL was reworked, young receivers are seeing the field more…the play calling has opened up (at least for one half) that’s my take! Kenny Powers-OUT

(STILL) 2-10 against ranked teams

October 15th, 2011
11:52 am

Spot on Flat Tire…..that shellacking that Alabama gave us in Athens, national TV, “Blackout” jerseys and all…..was one of THE MOST embarrassing performance by UGA in recent history!!!

I’m still chafing at the fact that Richt and his clowns lost 3 games with a team that has 2 first rounders and a second rounder on the offense alone. That game was utter humiliation……

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
11:52 am

Why only one NEW article on dawgs today?

(STILL) 2-10 against ranked teams

October 15th, 2011
11:55 am

and so what if Richt made all those overhauls??? Did that lead to better results??

…..it reflects very poorly in his judgement

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
11:57 am

….feed the monster new Dawg news…step up writers

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
11:58 am

Chip T. at least gave us one article today….we need MORE

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
11:59 am

It’s heressy I tell ya!

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
12:01 pm

I want my, I want my, I want my Dawg tv….money for nothing and chicks for free.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
12:01 pm

(STILL) 2-10 against ranked teams

Correction my friend 3, 1st rounders and a second rounder or better yet 4 NFL starters

5 straight times Alabama touched the ball and 5 times they scored

That was the day it all came together and I realized Richt wasnt the reason for the early success it was mostly do to Van Gorder.

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
12:02 pm

Feed the monster, we’re hungry!

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
12:14 pm

Paul in RDU

There was an opportunity to score again in the first half and we didnt take the opportunity

also

in the 3rd Qtr we punted the ball 3 times because our predictable play calling GT didnt punt the ball at all

But hey if you want to find ways to make excuses thats fine

So lets drop the AL and GT game and talk about the stupidity, inept , and predictable playcalling in the FL game that same year

You know 4 NFL starters on offense and you couldnt move the ball all day 49-10 pounding they gave us

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
12:14 pm

very dissapointed in ajc today…..we’re in the epicenter of college football….where’s the beef?

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
12:17 pm

12:15 p.m. and nothing new since yesterday…..summin’ ain’t right…..

it's gameday?

October 15th, 2011
12:18 pm

get them writers computers that work darn it…..feed the monster!

Paul in RDU

October 15th, 2011
12:20 pm

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
12:14 pm
Paul in RDU

There was an opportunity to score again in the first half and we didnt take the opportunity
——-
When exactly was the “opportunity to score again in the first half”? UGA got the ball back with 1:23 to play in the half and scored in 6 plays (all passes). GT ran out the clock after that.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
12:30 pm

When Stafford was sacked we punted instead of trying for a field it would have been a 53 or 54 yarder but so what Walsh could have made that

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
12:31 pm

But the entire 3rd qtr we came out trying to hold a lead and punted the ball 3 times

uh, ok

October 15th, 2011
12:33 pm

I’m taking my ball and going home.

The pitiful truth... again

October 15th, 2011
12:49 pm

UGA will win today, but Vanderbilt and its fans know that win or lose, they play legitimate student-athletes, not the low class illiterate dummies that play for UGA.

One reason that we are so manic on O

October 15th, 2011
1:08 pm

Bobo is only at best, a good High School football coach. If he lost his job today, within 6 months, he possibly could land a position coach job like at Troy or Jx State or Millsap’s College or maybe at Furman …………..not in the SEC.

One reason that we are panicky on O is that Bobo knows our O line is thin and can wear down like second half in most of 2010 and so far this year. He DOES TRY for that reason to hit the long ball quick 6, with lousy results, so far.

Go Dogs.

UGA class of 71 & 73

FLA DAWG

October 15th, 2011
1:10 pm

SOUTH CAROLINA 0 MISS STATE 7

Watching this game (it’s only the beginning of the second quarter) I’m wondering how we lost to SC and how we beat MSU!

Still alot of ball to play though.

UGAmutt

October 15th, 2011
1:22 pm

FLAdawg-
Actually, I’m thinking that 1)we have a really, really good team this year that was extremely young and nervous in the Dome. 2) SC’s defensive turnovers and that ST touchdown are the luckiest plays I’ve seen all year. If Murray wasn’t such a bonehead when he sees pressure, we win that game by at least 14. 3)SC is a very emotional team, and they’re gonna lose this game, b/c Starkville’s deviant cowbell rejects are going to put the kind of destruction on C.Shaw that only a Frosh starter knows on the road in the SEC. Chris Low gets props for once on calling this one.

UGAmutt

October 15th, 2011
1:51 pm

Connor Shaw is embarrassing. Did he really think that State’s D was just gonna haunch up with their noses in the dirt at home when they’re still sniffing for a conference win? C’mon SS, this is exactly the kind of game Garcia would have gotten TANKED for…then he’d have gone in and thrown 4 TDs for 400 yds. I swear he was $%!+faced at that Bama game last year and it’s the real secret recipe for Garcia’s up and down play.

The correct words

October 15th, 2011
2:21 pm

UGA = Mediocre irrelevant clown losers

Niceville Dawg

October 15th, 2011
2:47 pm

Don’t ever remember rooting so hard for Miss.St.At least they’re bulldogs…

Idiot Dawg

October 15th, 2011
2:56 pm

maybe the other Bulldogs will think Stephen Spurnier is a fire hydrant!!

UGAmutt

October 15th, 2011
3:11 pm

MORE COWBELL!!! DO WORK.

UGAmutt

October 15th, 2011
3:16 pm

The best part about “the correct words” comment? No one ever posts comments like that on the pages of teams that are actually irrelevant. That means “I’m scared you’re going to deflate an inflated record against subpar teams” from a GT fan thats worried. Come to think of it, who trolls on anyone’s pages like Vandy, Ole Miss, GT, and all the other really weak teams we play?

Low class or no class?

October 15th, 2011
3:43 pm

UGA’s low class, me-first players don’t have the heart to go four quarters against a solid opponent.

Occupied

October 15th, 2011
3:46 pm

Hey, UGAmutt, when did you get back from Woodruff Park?

Instant Dawgma

October 15th, 2011
4:39 pm

Did all the ajc GA writers take the day off today?

not today, but soon chickens

October 15th, 2011
4:43 pm

SC is going down in next 3 weeks…they’re just about out of luck and will not win anymore close ones against Ark or others.

yuck on tx

October 15th, 2011
4:45 pm

not fan of tx, but hope they beat that smarmy ok st. team. can’t stand their billionaire windmill hugging booster, snot pickens.

old time dog

October 15th, 2011
7:30 pm

Still @ the Bar…… Why don’t you and Let’s Talk About UGA enlighten us all on that great GT game today???? BAHAHAHAHA!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!

old time dog

October 15th, 2011
7:35 pm

TO ALL GT FANS……………..BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beaten by Virginia!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! What happened to that great record setting explosive offense and that ferocious Al Groh defense???? BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! Virginia!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

old time dog

October 15th, 2011
7:48 pm

All the Techie trolls and smartasses come on and tell us about #12 GT vs. Virginia. 2 completed passes!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! eYe love it. Beaten and eYe mean beaten by a lackluster Virginia team that is struggling itself. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Still @ the Bar, GT Joey and the other smart boys aren’t talking. eYe don’t blame you. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Tell us all about how great GT is boys!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

old time dog

October 15th, 2011
7:57 pm

eYe am watching UGA struggle offensively against Vanderbilt but it is comforting to know that GT is 7 & O. NO WAIT!!!!! Virginia beat the touted and mighty, mighty GT NC contenders!!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

old time dog

October 15th, 2011
8:11 pm

Ramblin Wrecks is just what they are. Virginia beats GT!!!!!!! Two really great football teams there!!!! BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Still @ the Bar where are all those words of wisdom you are so good at spiiting out??????? BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! That Johnson and Groh are something, ain’t they???? BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! eYe feel for you Bar boy!!!!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Reckon you still can win the National Championship??????? BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! Remember how great and smart talking you were????? BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! eYe am about to laugh myself to death!!!!!!! BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Still @ the Bar…..BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FLA DAWG

October 15th, 2011
10:44 pm

I don’t know how The Dawgs allow a team that had scored 3 points in the last two previous games gives up 28 but a win is a win and that’s all that matters.

Auburn & Florida are down this year and The Dawgs may win The SEC East with a bit of luck by a South Carolina loss.

Playing LSU would be a humbling experience in The SECC though.

stendek

October 15th, 2011
11:44 pm

Hate to say it Bill but this sure seems like a loss. How much longer will the Bulldog nation be subjected to the undercoached, uninspired and mentally soft teams of Saint Mark Wretch before deliverance? That was totally inexcusable. I told my wife to expect the Commodores to block that final punt. The only thing I missed was I thought it would be scooped up for a decisive TD. Why? Because the Bulldog head coach is a complete idiot. I do not think Saint Wretch is intelligent enough to expect a fake punt let alone know how to defend one! I get so tired of the Bulldogs paying this bum millions of dollars to get markedly outcoached week in and week out. The Vanderbilt head guy won the coaching battle hands down. Dawg defensive players were given cheap shots after the whistle constantly. Did Wretch react? No! No surprise. Did Mike Dodo react? No! No surprise. The gritty defensive coordinator did! God bless. him. Fire Wretch immediately with the DC taking over as head man. That blocked punt should have ended the foul Wretch era at UGA. Win or no win!