UGA fan talk: Do Richt and Bobo lack a killer instinct?

Do Mark Richt and Mike Bobo play not to lose? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Do Mark Richt and Mike Bobo play not to lose? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I’ll be off next week and away from the Blawg as we get my daughter settled in Athens — which is sure to get me even more primed for football season to begin!

In the meantime, let’s jump into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

David Youngerman writes: Bill, I enjoy your blog and the attempts to stay grounded as a fellow diehard fan. With all the chatter around Top 5 question marks going into the season, I’m in agreement the OL, RB’s, and special teams are potential watch-outs (even though special teams is the only one that scares me). That said, my biggest concern going into the season isn’t one of those three topics and I’m worried my concern doesn’t get discussed more often. Recent years have shown a pattern (particularly from the offense) of not having the ability to close out a team when we have them down. I honestly believe this reflects Coach Richt and Bobo’s personalities as we repeatedly “play not to lose” once we get a nice lead (see Michigan State, Vandy, Miss. St. last year). Seems to me we used to close out games with sustained, time-killing drives and end up in the “victory” formation at the end more often before Bobo started calling the plays. We just seem to have a soft mindset towards really closing a team out.

The lack of a killer instinct has been a common complaint, really, throughout the Mark Richt era, not just since Mike Bobo started calling the offensive plays. (Although, once again, I have to say that Bobo’s maddening tendency in games to go away from whatever has been working offensively drives me up the wall.) But I don’t think it’s just a matter of the coaches trying to play it safe in their play calling (though that certainly appeared to be the case in the bowl game against Michigan State) or generally not keeping the pressure on offensively when they’re ahead (which we’ve also seen quite a few times). More than that, conditioning was a problem for the Dogs late in quite a few games in recent years, and although last season showed some improvement in that regard, the bowl game against the Spartans was an example where our defense looked gassed in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, the continued changes in the strength and conditioning program will help turn that around.

As for your reference to areas of concern, I tend to agree with you that special teams is the scariest, especially since Richt hasn’t taken any really concrete steps to revamp that portion of the game, aside from saying they’ll practice it more and more starters will play kick coverage. Like many fans, I wish he would name a special teams coach to focus more directly on that area, though I understand that NCAA coaching limitations complicate that.

Nick Saban supplements his coaching staff with "analysts." (Associated Press)

Nick Saban supplements his coaching staff with "analysts." (Associated Press)

There apparently are ways to get around those limitations, however, as Nick Saban is showing at Alabama. Al.com recently reported Saban’s staff now includes nine “analysts,” up from six last season and three the year before that. Five of the “analysts” work with the offense, three “analysts” work with the defense, and John Wozniak, most recently the running backs coach and co-special teams coordinator at UAB, is Alabama’s new special teams “analyst.” If he can’t free up a coaching position to handle special teams, maybe Richt needs to follow the Saban model and add a special teams “analyst”  to his staff.

Andy M. Johnson writes: As a Dawg Fan, I worry about our recent years of “slow starts” and wonder what coaching strategy has been implemented to rectify this ongoing issue…

I don’t know what changes might have been instituted, but I just hope the Georgia coaching staff avoids doing whatever they did in getting the team ready for last year’s season-opener against Boise State! That was as poorly prepared a Georgia team as I’ve seen in a while, which made the improvement (at least, in terms of the offense) from that game to the game against South Carolina all the more remarkable.

Along those lines, Steve Upshaw writes: I have absolutely no confidence that Mark Richt will have the Dogs prepared when they go to Columbia, MO. We already have our tickets, as we do for most road games with the Dogs. For 30 years, we’ve traveled with and supported the team, but this organization is on a very long, slow and steady slide. The facts clearly bear this out. I remember standing in the stands at the Superdome the night we beat Hawaii and quietly thinking how lucky and blessed we are to have Richt as our head coach. I have stood by, supported and defended Richt as long as I can. So I’ll state this before even the first game of the season: It is absolutely time for a change in Athens. Of course, we could be satisfied with our 10-win seasons and a Jan 1st bowl game, but that’s all we’ll accomplish with the current regime. I’m in the high-end medical hardware business. My travels take me to every corner of the nation. Outside the SEC region, UGA is never mentioned as a power team and one to be feared, as are Alabama, LSU and even Florida. We have become Tennessee. Like Alabama a few years back, it looks like we will spend the next few years lost in the wilderness looking for a way out.

I’m glad to hear your pessimism hasn’t prompted you to give up supporting the program, even if you’ve given up on Richt. That kind of school loyalty is what makes the Bulldog Nation a great fan base. I haven’t yet given up on Richt, but I know you’re not alone in your view. As for what folks in other regions think, that’s pretty much a function of who’s taken home the crystal football. That’s the millstone hanging around Richt’s neck.

Aaron Murray might surprise some Georgia fans this season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray might surprise some Georgia fans this season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Glenn Goldstein writes: Bill, It’s fairly easy to point out Georgia’s expected strengths — defense, QB, receivers — and potential weaknesses and questions—OL, tailback, special teams — going into the season, but where do you think the unexpected surprises will come from?

On the positive side, I think the receiving corps might surprise a lot of folks this season, and I believe Aaron Murray may surprise the many naysayers about him in fan forums. Daniel Jeremiah, who covered this summer’s Manning Passing Academy for NFL.com, was impressed by Murray and said he was surprised at how powerfully Murray threw the deep ball. “Murray had as much range as any quarterback at the camp,” he said.

On the negative side, I’m tempted to say we’ll probably have some suspensions crop up during the season, but I’m not sure that would really qualify as a surprise any more.

Bill C. writes: I think Richt is doing a really good job coaching UGA in a highly competitive league. Why can we not get over the hump though? I can think of lots of reasons: inconsistent at best special teams, really bad luck (i.e. losing Shockley before UF), we play in the toughest league ever, etc. But those aren’t the reasons why we haven’t won it all. We haven’t won it all because, unlike his peers, Richt does not value winning above all else. Urban Meyer almost killed himself winning his championships, Nick Saban would kill anyone within 200 miles of Tuscaloosa if he thought they might negatively affect his team, Gene Chizik and Auburn bought their championship, Les Miles isn’t smart enough to care about anything but winning, and it’s no mystery how Steve Spurrier feels about winning. Richt runs an ethical and clean program. I respect where winning ranks in Richt’s overall values: I am guessing 4th, behind his religion, family, and the overall well-being of his players. However, if we’re going to win it all, that value ranking has to change. Winning needs to move to number 2 behind player health for 3 1/2 hours 14 times a year. I’m not talking about partying in the end zone, I’m talking about players never letting up or losing to someone who wants it more. I hope Richt finds that killer instinct somewhere inside of him and finally brings a team above and beyond its potential. Thoughts?

I’m not sure I agree that you have to be ruthless and obsessed to win a national championship, though I’m sure it might simplify the process. A bit of fire in the belly certainly doesn’t preclude having high standards and sticking to them. And despite his laid-back demeanor, I think Richt is probably every bit as competitive inside as the coaches you named. What will it take for Georgia to win a national title? A Heisman-winning player usually helps a lot in that regard. Plus a dominating defense. I don’t know whether Georgia has that kind of game-changing player on the roster right now, but I think the Dawgs are on the right track defensively. A bit of luck usually comes in handy, too. Maybe that’s why so many Georgia fans get so frustrated with Richt: the program isn’t that far away from rejoining the elite.

Do you have something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics in general? Got a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

330 comments Add your comment

RedJr

August 5th, 2012
5:00 pm

Bear Bryant must not have had a killer instinct either, because he only had 1 top 5 finish in his first 15 seasons.

Come on fellas, you’re making this too easy.

RedJr

August 5th, 2012
5:02 pm

Bear Bryant only won 6 game sin his 12th and 13th season at Alabama, guess the fire was gone and Bryant didn’t have the killer instinct anymore.

Snoop Dawg

August 5th, 2012
5:02 pm

Snoop Dawg is getting weary of telling it the way it is. It feels like screaming in the middle of a big forest…

Mark Richt is an incompetent coach, and always has been. Bobo is likewise a couple of levels above his competence level.

UGA football is not feared anymore, and is more likely to be mocked and laughed at than not…

Over time, our great football tradition will fade away as the more dedicated Dawgs give up and take their loyalties and money elsewhere….

Prediction: in spite of the second easiet schedule in the past century (last being the easiest), Richt and Bobo will ensure through their incompetence that this fine group of athletes do not excel on the field consistently.

We will absolutely not figure into the national championship picture and will be totally demolished in the SEC championship game should we luck into it (unlikely)…

When you are disappointed at the end of the season, look in the mirror UGA fans because you Richt supporters are enabling the sad decline of our hallowed football tradition.

RedJr

August 5th, 2012
5:04 pm

Bear Bryant lost 8 Bowl game sin a row from 1967-1974 at Alabama, no killer instinct according to the football experts here.

AW

August 5th, 2012
5:07 pm

Either the football coaches who picked UGA preseason as #6 are ALL CLUELESS about football, or the bloggers saying UGA is terrible are CLUELESS ABOUT football, which one do you think?

MadHatter

August 5th, 2012
5:11 pm

Les Miles went 3-5 in the conference at LSU in 08′ and 5-3 in 09′, you’d have to say Miles doesn’t have the killer instinct either according to our expert bloggers.

Beast from the East

August 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

RedJr=Richt’s wife

GatorPatrol

August 5th, 2012
5:14 pm

Everybody said Coach Meyer didn’t have the killer instinct in 2005 & 2007 since he went 5-3 in sec play both seasons.

He won it all both times the next season in 2006 & 2008.

Shows what these bloggers know ain’t much.

RedJr

August 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

Beast = Muschamp’s 4 year old kid

tide roll

August 5th, 2012
5:19 pm

McGarity, Joe T. Mike Bobo, Will Friend, Daniel Inman. Come on down Laremy Tunsil. You’ll get a fair shake from this group. GARAUNTEED! See, this is where the young man and his mother need to be careful. They’re falling for Richt and his Christian pitch, while failing to look behind all that crap to see who his offensive cordinator, position coach, grad asst. coach, and strength and condiitoning coach will be. Don’t come near the place Laremy. Just look at these guys and their backgrounds. They, like the offensive linemen they sign, don’t belong at this level. You’ll regret it big time!

Tex

August 5th, 2012
5:28 pm

Boys, Mack Brown 5-7, 8-5 seasons back to back, guess our coach doesn’t have the killer instinct either.

FSUFred

August 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

UGA has the best coach in the country.

Here’s Coach Bowden’s final poll rankings from 1970-1985:
0,0,0,0,0,17,0,11,6,5,0,10,0, 17,13,20

Here’s Coach Bowden’s final poll rankings from 2001-2009:
15,21,10,14,22,0,0,21

Here’s Coach Bowden’s final poll rankings from 1987-2000 when Mark Richt was on staff:
2,3,2,4,4,2,1,4,4,3,3,3,1,4

Pcola-dawg

August 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

Tide, I see you made it back. you meds kick in and allow you to get off the couch?

rugbydawg79

August 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

I will bet you 100 dollars that Steve Upshaw is no DOG fan—-what a bunch of BS–Bill I enjoy your column but when you let Trolls like that get headlines it is sickening

EC

August 5th, 2012
5:53 pm

Bill,

By those questions, they all seem like a Tech fan asking them. No Dawg fan I know is that critical of our team before the season starts.

Let’s not give these Tech fans a forum on the UGA fan site, let’s go to a monthly or quarterly Q& A, limiting their voice.

GB's Hamburgers

August 5th, 2012
6:11 pm

I’m with you Bill, Bobo with find something that works and then all of a sudden quit doing it …. Texas AM a couple years ago for example. The Dogs have a coaching problem. Their scripted plays seem to get a game going pretty well but after that the other team’s coaches out-adjust ours — consistently. We play half a game better than about anybody.

GATiger

August 5th, 2012
7:22 pm

Unless I’m mistaken, no BCS champion coach failed to win a title in his first 10 years as HC for the winning school. Richt has been at Georgia 11 years.

Old Dog Class of 80

August 5th, 2012
9:03 pm

“Are we really worried worried about Vandy?”

If you remember from last year, they were one lucky, desperate tackle by the punter from beating us.

CHDawg

August 5th, 2012
9:08 pm

Actually, I suspect CMR AND CMB’s killer instinct is in tact….they respect the law, though, and they can’t kill any of the ever negative bloggers haters, and know-it-all fans!

Vance Duly

August 5th, 2012
9:11 pm

Here’s just ONE example of Coach Bobo’s lack of a killer instinct: the GA 42-34 victory over GA Tech in 2010. Murray threw for 218 yards and 3 scores in the first HALF on 11-14 passing. So, what did Bobo do in the 2nd half?? We ONLY threw 5 passes, completed 4 (for 53 yards), and let Tech back into the game. ….Tech NEVER stopped our passing attack — WE did. So, on the last drive, we had to endure our defense going back on the field to prevent Tech from tying a game that we SHOULD have won by 20 points.

Renwah

August 5th, 2012
9:17 pm

Mark Richt has a higher winning percentage than Saban, Miles or Spurrier and has 20 top 10 finishes in 25 seasons, and has finished in the top 3 2x since 2001.

Renwah

August 5th, 2012
9:19 pm

Love the way Coach Richt went for the onside kick against LSU. And came out throwing the ball all over the field.

KILLER INSTINCT.

Love it when Richt went for it on mutiple 4th downs against Florida, and converted.

Then called a pass play on a crucial 1st down conversion to ice the game.

KILLER INSTINCT.

Renwah

August 5th, 2012
9:21 pm

Les Miles didn’t go for any crazy plays in 2011. He just played solid defense, trusted his special teams, and ran the ball.

Didn’t have the killer instinct against Bama, but one anyways.

Just sound fundamentals.

CHDawg

August 5th, 2012
9:24 pm

Hitler had a killer instinct. Personally, I prefer a good man and a winner. We have that, and I suspect we have the best team in many years. Let’s enjoy the ride.

Mobile Dawg

August 5th, 2012
9:30 pm

Just wondering why our coach follows the “model” set by other teams, coaches, i.e. tailback by committee, LSU, instead of setting the bar, like Saban using “analysts”. I think Richt reached his potential years ago, only to be offset by other programs reaching higher. He’s in over his head at this point this Dawg thinks…..Richt is perfectly happy in his shell, surrounded by a group of friends….

Mobile Dawg

August 5th, 2012
9:42 pm

Bill, in reference to you comment as to who’s won the millstone lately regarding the perception of our program nationally; I do a fair amount of traveling, business and recreational. I always make it a point to engage fans, both Dawgs, and other schools. Richt doesn’t have the respect (coaching wise) that many perceive him to have. The Georgia program isn’t what it used to be.

Mobile Dawg

August 5th, 2012
9:47 pm

Personally I wish our players well as they try and move on from the collegiate level to the pros. Realistically I could care less if AM throws a deep ball as well as the more superior physical specimans he’s competing against. I would much rather see Murray throw the screens, shuttles, short downfield passes and move the chains, control the ball and clock, vs the long quick strikes Richt loves so much.

Mobile Dawg

August 5th, 2012
9:53 pm

In all fairness Bill, who did Bama have last year as a “game changer”? They were just physical, dominant, and relentless in all areas. Boise, they were just well coached. Good solid QB, but not great. Our game changer honestly was AM turning the ball over, along with ST errors.

Rick S

August 5th, 2012
10:10 pm

It is always about how Mark Richt is a class act and this is true but this alone does not win National Championships! If Georgia’s administration and athletic department would stop patting themselves on the back for finishing second in the SEC for the “All Sports Trophy” and place more emphasis on doing what is necessarfy to win a National Championship in Football it might actually happen in one centrury.

Let’s be honest, if Mike Bobo was such a great Offensive Cooridnator why has he not received any interviews for Head Coaching jobs at a Division II College? Hmm! Georgia will never win a National Championship with Mike Bobo as OC- plain and simple and sometrimes the truth hurts! Medicore and maybe alittle above average has been and continues to be the measuring stick and is acceptable at UGA!

KC DAWG

August 5th, 2012
10:11 pm

People, it is a freak-en game. No wonder we live in society that violence springs out at random because of the macho mentality we teach our children. You see why people are pro-pone to over kill because that is what they think makes a man. If they score too many you will complain that they are running the score, if they win you will complain they just win ? It is never enough.

Mobile Dawg

August 5th, 2012
10:15 pm

KC DAWG, what’s your message? What does a game with expectations have to do with random violence, over kill, scoring to much, scoring to little?

kingdaddy

August 5th, 2012
11:22 pm

Mobile Dawg
It’s ok, just give everybody a trophy, lol…

Room for more!

August 6th, 2012
8:20 am

Lest see we have about 68 REAL players and the staff did not go after ANY PN. ST. players. We need (and have needed) OL very bad but we continure to let Bama, AU and SC come in and get out best. We have kicked probably more FG’S than the US Basketball team has made. No, they dont have that killer instinct.

Bali

August 6th, 2012
8:37 am

I spent 12 years as a cop in Atlanta, and have had to physically fight tooth and nail with people who were trying to hurt me or someone else. By Law, I could only meet the force necessary to stop the aggression, up to and including deadly force. Richt and Booboo are acting like they’re forced to stop being agressive at a certain point….possibly to make sure they’re viewed as good Christians? Do u guys think Saban has that mentality? I respect Mark as a man, but he has absolutely NO killer instinct, and he’s transferred that to bobo. Saban will kick u in the face with a golf shoe on 4th and 25 when he’s up 30 points. To me, that is what wins championships…..you don’t have to keep trying to kill your opponet, but you never let up until they stop trying to score points.

Yet again....

August 6th, 2012
8:55 am

This coaching staff clearly does not have what it takes to get to the next level. Year in and year out we continue to have the same problems both on and off the field. Had LSU, Bama or Ark been on the schedule last year, Coach Richt likly would not be here this year. We dont close out games, we always seem to have something going on. How many SEC teams will have 5 guys suspended in the first 4 games??????????????????? Get the picture. You dont see all the drama at other SEC schools- no, they arnt perfect, but the top teams dont have the crap we have going on every year- they would not stand for it

JB

August 6th, 2012
9:19 am

Richt is kinda like Obama…..He’s well liked, he’s just not getting the job done…..The roster management alone is enough to cause some pause. 28 players gone the last 24 months ( a fact, and no that does not include grads and early NFL’ers). We have 3 less players that heavy probation Southern Cal. Last year was numbing. 19 players, only 18 made it when we could of had 27…..and we need players. Also, tired of seeing 5 or 6 of the top 10 players leave the state every year. It’s been 11 years.

6-18 Against End of Season Ranked Teams Since '05

August 6th, 2012
9:20 am

“Killer Instinct”???? Of course they don’t have it. Why do you think they suck so bad against ranked teams???

But I’m sure Saint Mark Richt’s defense is…..in the Bible, it says “thou shalt not kill”

HandyMan

August 6th, 2012
9:21 am

Everyone wants to talk about what we are lacking – killer instinct, discipline, etcetera. However, one thing we are NOT lacking for around here – excuses.

6-18 Against End of Season Ranked Teams Since '05

August 6th, 2012
9:23 am

Uh….KC Dawg…..you probably shouldn’t be watching football if you don’t like violence

JB

August 6th, 2012
9:29 am

There is some type of fundamental flaw in Athens with this football program. The quality of the athletes keep us winning some games, but we seem to pudder along to win the easy games….ie….Vandy and the Missy schools also. Someone give me a signature win in the last 3 seasons.

robodawg

August 6th, 2012
9:33 am

The use of “analysts” to get around NCAA limits on the number of “coaches” is a joke. If the NCAA means to dictate how many de facto coaches a program can have on staff, they’re going to have to say how many “analysts” programs can hire too. And since there’s no end to the number of words programs can make up for staff titles, they’re going to have to have guidelines on all staff, period. They’ll probably have to include outside consultants and services too. Otherwise you’ll never see the end of ethically challenged people gaining an advantage by twisting the rules.

(Can you imagine: “We hired a service to handle our special teams for us.”)

LakeDawg

August 6th, 2012
9:38 am

The whole problem pertaining to this “lack of a killer instinct” comes down to Richt’s lack of respect for a physical running game. He just doesn’t think its that important. However, its hard to show a killer instinct when you can’t ice a game by running it down the opponent’s throat. To have an effective running game you have to SCRIMMAGE. Richt doesn’t do enough of that. Until Richt catches on, he will not take the next step.

LakeDawg

August 6th, 2012
9:40 am

Saban and his “analysts.” LMAO. The man has no ethics and shouldn’t be coaching college football.

UGA Insider

August 6th, 2012
9:49 am

CMR better hire one of those special teams “analysts” quickly. From what I have seen UGA has major problems in that arena. UGA could lose 3-4 games alone this year due to missed chip shot field goals and horrible tackling on punt team.

Please note this cost us 2 and almost 3 games last year.

For those of you looking for a coaching change just have patience. Adams will be gone soon and Billy Payne will restore the pride of this university. Adams was a collosal FAILURE.

BILLY JACK

August 6th, 2012
9:59 am

The way you close out teams is to have a strong running game and good OL-you can grind people and run clock.I still dont know if we can dominate on the line of scrimmage well enough yet.We need a OL coach that does not finesse block and more man to man blocking.When we zone block like in last years bowl game,we look confused missed blocks etc.Hire a great OL coach.

DawginLex

August 6th, 2012
10:01 am

What a silly bunch of whiners on this blog

Tide Roll's Tutor

August 6th, 2012
10:26 am

Shame on you, RedJr. for daring to use logic here. You notice there were no posters able to refute your facts, so the usual namecalling ensued.

I want Tide Roll to note your thoughtful, logically reasoned posts and be prepared to discuss on our next tutoring session.

DIT

August 6th, 2012
10:45 am

Dawg people we can sit on these blogs all day and talk about what the coaches / players did not do last year, or decades before. It won’t change a thing. I’m not worried about matching past records up with Miles & Saban. Means nothing.
The great thing about the begining of a new season is that it’s a “New Season”. Richt knows he has to have this team ready to play. His job depends on it. He saw that in the way his contract extension was worked up.
I just don’t care about other teams right now. There will be some better teams and there will be some teams that are not as good as UGA. I fully support CMR AND this football team. They need our support………… but if you don’t beat Mizzou….. ha ha kidding!

LHarding Dawg

August 6th, 2012
11:36 am

Only a fool would want a coaching change in Athens.

RxDawg

August 6th, 2012
11:48 am

Ok, look Bill, I think your wrong about the Boise St game.

1st Boise St straight up beat us. You can say that we came “unprepared”, but I ain’t buying it. The broncos came with talent and heart and they were the better team that day.

2nd Boise wasn’t doing jack squat until Alec Olgeltree went down with his foot injury. Maybe it was coincedence, but I don’t think so. We just didn’t have a talented and expeirenced enough MLB to step in give Kellen Moore trouble.