Georgia coaching staff’s fix-it list is a mile long

Georgia's defense had difficulty handling Jonathan George and other Kentucky runners. (Associated Press)

Georgia's defense had difficulty handling Jonathan George and other Kentucky runners. (Associated Press)

Some more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Kentucky and looking ahead to the showdown with Florida …

Mark Richt’s Bulldogs have a lot of problems that need addressing before the game in Jacksonville, but the three biggest ones are a continuing problem defending the run, the deteriorating performance of the offensive line (and its effect on Georgia’s own running game) and the disaster that is UGA’s special teams play most of the time.

I’ve heard a lot of discussion in the past 24 hours over whether it was another faulty Todd Grantham game plan that was responsible for the Georgia defense’s terrible showing right out of the gate against the Wildcats, or whether the blame lies largely with the players, most of whom haven’t yet lived up to their preseason press clippings and have failed to put together a complete half (let alone a game) playing as a team.

I’m inclined to think it’s a bit of both. We’ve seen too many first-half offensive surges by lesser teams this season (not to mention an outright offensive blitz by the one good team we’ve played) for Georgia’s highly-paid defensive coordinator to be let off the hook. Even if it’s not the game plan itself that is lacking, Grantham appears to be doing a very poor job of getting his troops ready.

But, yes, the bottom line is the players aren’t getting it done. Even after Grantham made adjustments in the second half to slow down Kentucky’s suddenly potent running game (which the rest of the conference probably would tell you must have been a mirage), it appeared the Cats temporarily losing Jalen Whitlow to a migraine had more to do with Big Blue getting off track. When Whitlow returned in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were able to grind out another long touchdown drive.

True, the Dogs still won the game, as the Georgia coaching staff was repeatedly reminding everyone Saturday night. And there were individual efforts worth applauding, including those of Jordan Jenkins and Kwame Geathers.

But the larger picture is what has the Bulldog Nation disturbed: A Bulldogs defense that gives up 206 yards on the ground to the worst rushing offense in the conference doesn’t look well-positioned to halt Florida’s not-flashy-but-effective grind-it-out ground attack.

And the defense’s poor showing when the Cats had third-and-long was so disturbing that even amid all the positive spin emerging from the Georgia locker room Saturday night Grantham noted, “I didn’t think we played the third-down runs well and we need to clean that up.”

Todd Gurley and the rest of Georgia's rushing attack was largely ineffective against the Wildcats. (Associated Press)

Todd Gurley and the rest of Georgia's rushing attack was largely ineffective against the Wildcats. (Associated Press)

On the other side of the ball, Aaron Murray and Georgia’s passing game looked sharp, but that was against a secondary that can’t hold a candle to Florida’s. And the continued poor play of the offensive line, after some encouraging performances against midlevel opposition earlier in the season, is distressing. Georgia simply hasn’t had an effective rushing attack the past two games, and that largely falls on the blockers. Throw in three sacks of Murray and several false-start penalties and Will Friend’s unit just barely rates a passing grade for its effort in Lexington.

And then there’s the clown car of college football known as Georgia’s special teams. Saturday night, even Richt was cracking wise about placekicker Marshall Morgan’s continuing troubles, noting: “He’s hit the upright more than anybody in the nation, I would think. He probably set a school record for that.”

The Dogs’ dire kicking game is no joking matter, though. Since Richt has chosen not to even have an overall special teams coordinator, much less a special teams coach (or to take the job on himself, as some head coaches do), there’s no one to work with Morgan on solving his problems. Maybe someone should at least get him on the phone with Georgia kicking legend Kevin Butler, who noted on the Saturday night and Sunday Bulldog call-in shows that bad form in how Morgan approaches the ball is likely to blame.

And then there’s Georgia’s apparent inability to come up with a plan for fielding punts. After finally settling on Rhett McGowan as the deep man receiving punts for the Dogs, Richt and company still haven’t been able to get the message through that whenever possible you have to actually catch the ball, rather than let it hit the ground and take your chances on where it’s downed.

With the Dogs facing one of the nation’s best punters this coming week in Florida’s Kyle Christy, fixing this should be a top priority for the UGA coaching staff. On this matter I’ll again defer to Butler, whose son Drew just finished a terrific stint as the Dogs’ punter and is now making a living punting in the NFL. The elder Butler thinks Georgia needs to once again start putting two deep men back on punts to make sure the ball is caught.

The one bright spot in Georgia’s special teams play Saturday was Connor Norman’s Johnny-on-the-spot recovery of that on-side kick by the Cats. If he hadn’t pounced on that ball, the Dogs probably would no longer be in the SEC East race.

What’s especially alarming is that Florida’s special teams play has been as terrific as Georgia’s has been lacking. Against South Carolina the Gator special teams helped produce points by forcing turnovers and making long returns.

So much to fix and so little time. Should Georgia simply run up the white flag and concede the Florida game? Of course not. Lesser Richt teams have somehow managed to pull off upsets of highly rated opponents (if you go back a few years, admittedly).

But as Georgia QB Murray put it, “We know we have to play an unbelievable game offensively, defensively and on special teams if we want to have a chance to win that game.”

Even then, it’s probably going to take the Gators finally stumbling and turning in a poor performance to make Bulldog fans’ dreams of two in a row in Jacksonville come true.

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244 comments Add your comment

tide roll

October 21st, 2012
11:26 pm

Do Garner and Grantham not get along? It looks like “Rodney’s Revenge” manifests itself in him putting the fattest, slowest, and most poorly conditioned defensive linemen he can out there. If Garner and Grantham are at odds, far be it from Richt to intervene. Too much work. Screw it.

LADawg

October 21st, 2012
11:31 pm

I am past the point in believing that prayer will fix the Dawgs. Bring Muschamp home! He has the hated gators where the Dawgs should be and he inherited a mess at FL. He’ll have the gators hit the us in the mouth early (like other good teams do) and we’ll put our tails between our legs and whimper like puppies the rest of the game. This has become Richt’s dogs.

tide roll

October 21st, 2012
11:34 pm

LT- KENARIOUS GATES, LG-MARK BEARD,CENTER-CHRIS BURNETTE (In the name of all that is holy Richt), RT-XZAVIER WARD, RG- I have no idea. You fools are out of SEC caliber offensive linemen. Geez, what a program

Tndawg

October 21st, 2012
11:39 pm

Bill, spot on and to answer an earlier post, yes Richt could be fired for a 10 win season. Why? He is failing to do his job. His players for some reason are not prepared to play. I love the man and think he has tremendous character but unfortunately, he may be headed out.

Hairy Dawg

October 21st, 2012
11:48 pm

But as Georgia QB Murray put it, “We know we have to play an unbelievable game offensively, defensively and on special teams if we want to have a chance to win that game.”

In all fairness, the reason why such a game would be “unbelievable” is because the Dawgs haven’t played well enough to instill any positive belief in their ability to get the job done. I want them to win this game as badly as anybody else. If they play smart AND hard, maybe they’ll do it. Otherwise, they might as well quit the rest of the way and let McGarity clean house. (Okay, maybe not, but I understand the rationale of fans who think like that.)

Just Another Year....

October 22nd, 2012
12:03 am

Richt will win against the Buffalo’s and Florida Atlantic’s of college football, Get crushed by UF, play a Kentucky, Vandy, and Weak Auburn team close , when they should put 60+ on them, and get another pay raise. Sad, Sad, Sad days in Georgia.Bobo will forever be his faithful side kick, and fools will pay all there money to see Mediocrity. This is the state of UGA FOOTBALL. I’ve turned my back on weakness, and must line myself up with Winners.

P_The_Ricker

October 22nd, 2012
12:25 am

feels similar to 2009….UF surging towards the game, while UGA is struggling and just barely getting by

if above holds true…UGA is looking at a 30pt loss

pruss

October 22nd, 2012
12:37 am

You fire Richt people are nuts. The man averages a 10-3 record over his 11 1/2 years as UGA’s coach. Not many people do that. WE ARE 6-1 THIS SEASON! Win next week and we can finish the regular season 11-1. Yes. I say fire the coach that can bring my team an 11-1 season and a trip to the SEC Championship…. really?!?!? You people are nuts. He runs the program right, he’s a good man and at the rate he’s going he will bring a championship to the Dawgs sooner than later. When he does I hope he hangs a big middle finger to all you haters. By the way the coach with the most wins in college football had 2 NC in the 39 years he coached…. Its not like they just give the things out… Again you Fire Richt people are nuts!

dbc

October 22nd, 2012
1:05 am

The problem was here before Grantham arrived and it believes we are “great.” Mark Richt is a weakling coach — pure and simple. I’d like to believe in a sliver of hope, but DAWGS lose by at least 21. And if that happens, they’ll lose another one along the way too. I’ve seen this movie too many times to think differently. Steve Jobs had a word for things like this…

pruss

October 22nd, 2012
1:28 am

Ill take an average of 10 wins a season ….. 12 Years of Donnan (40-19) AND Goff (46-34-1) …. TOTAL: (86-53-1), 0- SEC Championships, 0- Division Titles. ————- 11.5 years of Mark Richt (111–39) 2- SEC Championships, 5- Division Titles and possibly a 6th this season. Do you really want to fire Richt?

Bama Fan#2

October 22nd, 2012
4:01 am

If Georgia plays Florida like it did against the war chickens and
wildcats THE MELTDOWN WILL BE UNREAL!!!!! RTR

clay

October 22nd, 2012
4:01 am

If richt doesn’t win this game….He is gone.

Quit the kool aid

October 22nd, 2012
4:15 am

From one dawg fan to another, i have FAITH this will be a dumpster fire by halftime!
If i am wrong i will stand and say it but i don’t think so. Kool aid is bad……..

Quit the kool aid

October 22nd, 2012
4:16 am

yes pruss, we really want him gone, we are not getting better, id rather suck for a year or two and rise to the top, then getting destroyed by ranked teams every year!

what's ya think, Bill?

October 22nd, 2012
5:22 am

Bill
If we lose to Fla by say, two td’s or more OR if we lose a tight game and go on to lose to Auburn, Miss
or Yech, making us 9-3 in a year w a cupcake schedule do you relieve Mark if you are the AD?
Whom do you hire?

trueblueeagle

October 22nd, 2012
5:46 am

The gators beat South Carolina by 30 and SC beat UGA by 30 so UF by 60!

dmr

October 22nd, 2012
6:42 am

Bill,

I think the more aggravating thing about this is that this is not something that has happened in the context of one or two games; or even just this season. We have seen Georgia’s special teams be widely ignored for several seasons and be a comedy of errors. We have not seen a truly solid offensive line in several seasons. And barring last year’s defensive effort, the defense has underperformed for the last several seasons as well.

There is an internal problem in Athens. Why don’t we hire “anyalysts” like at Alabama? Nine people who fall under another title, but are clearly coaches. Why, as Kirk Herbstreit put it during the S.C. game are we so predictable on offense? Why is our defense consistently underperforming?

The coaching staff and the players have to have faith amongst themselves that they can tackle the obstacle known as Florida. But these problems remind me of when fans knew way before the coaching staff did that Mark Richt needed help with clock management and an offensive coordinator. Richt is 112 – 39 in 11 1/2 years at Georgia…pretty remarkable. But at times, this Administration reminds me of Tony Dungy at Tampa Bay. He got them so far and Gruden had to carry it over the finish line. Maybe that’s is where Georgia is now. With so many teams down in the SEC, Georgia should be able to seize on that.

georgiadawg70

October 22nd, 2012
7:16 am

How many of you fools are going to Jacksonville and give those foreigners, yankees and half breeds down there your money to laugh at you when your get your tails beat again.

Jbzm

October 22nd, 2012
7:18 am

You have to choose. Be embarressed by Gators now or humiliated by Tide December 1st. If gators beats dawgs it may be a blessing in disguise. Tide is twice team gators could ever be.

Big Game Loser Richt

October 22nd, 2012
7:18 am

Mark Richt can not win the big game .He loses every year to the big games on his schedule. Florida will beat Georgia by 30 points.Georgia will never win a Sec title less a National title as long as Mark Rict is there.

georgiadawg70

October 22nd, 2012
7:24 am

If you want to send a message to the powers that be about how mad you are boycott Jacksonville. Can you imagine the blimp view of the stadium that showed one side empty. For those of you who want the game moved to a true neutral site, stop going.

Flat Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

October 22nd, 2012
7:25 am

The dawgs looked well coached again against a tough 1 win KY team with no QB and no RB. I can see KY playing for the national title this year

Our coaches coached a great game I mean we beat KY by just a few points and they will be playing for the National Title at the end of this season ;)

georgiadawg70

October 22nd, 2012
7:26 am

Hire the Oregon coach.

Joebob Wengie

October 22nd, 2012
7:29 am

Florida-63
Georgia-10

oakisland

October 22nd, 2012
7:45 am

I’m so tired of Richt pulling on his ear when interviewed at halftime. Looks like he is totally lost.

mark

October 22nd, 2012
7:49 am

Somebody please come on here and tell me why we continue to send millions to the State of Fla . I mean EVERY year. Why not Dome every other year? This crap about south ga getting to watch a game is beyond stupid. The legislature should get involved and do something about this. McGarity is a moron. Not since Dooley,has a Ga coach liked this. And, Yes, we will beat Fla….

RHall55

October 22nd, 2012
7:50 am

The question is: “Is this Staff fixable”? The answer is: “Yes”…Next question: “How can it be fixed”? The answer is: “Ask them to transfer to Alabama State”!!! They are coaching like they belong in a smaller conference…Garner / bye….Bobo / bye….Friend / bye….Lakotos / bye…Richt / bye…Tereshinski / bye…VanHalenger / bye…etc!! They are EXPENDABLE…get ‘em out of here!!

GatorsWaiting

October 22nd, 2012
8:12 am

So, no special teams coach. And is it really true that Bobo is married to Barb Dooley’s niece? Always wondered how an alumnus without any experience got that job.

Frankly, I suspect that part of Richt’s problem may be that no top flight coordinators want to work for him because, well, frankly, his just a nice guy with no real fire, sense of discipline, toughness… pick your missing label.

Dawg Tired

October 22nd, 2012
8:23 am

Does the chance of a snowball in hell ring a bell?

ZinoDawg

October 22nd, 2012
8:25 am

This one is over before it starts.
Gators 48
Dawgs 7
And CMR will have some “aw shucks” excuse after it’s over.

mark

October 22nd, 2012
8:34 am

I think Fla is very beatable. They scored 21 pts with 29 yds of offense. 173 of total offense. Get in front of them early and force Driskell to throw it. Protect the ball and GET PHYSICAL. Yes, we can beat Fla. Play lights out.

dale

October 22nd, 2012
8:39 am

Tired of these “we’ll get em fixed” responses to defensive issues.

No Todd, you WON’T get them fixed. It’s Game 8, if you could have fixed the problems, you would have done it by now.

Put bluntly Todd, you do not have the ability to fix the issues.

Todd

October 22nd, 2012
8:39 am

My fixit list is short:

1. Hire new coaching staff.

Flat Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

October 22nd, 2012
8:48 am

mark

Give it a rest

“Get Physical” When was the last time you saw a Mark Richt coached team get physical

LOL

Come on; the only thing the Gaterds will be getting from UGA is a bunch of hugs cause well we have to be nice to everyone

Vance

October 22nd, 2012
8:54 am

That’s a LONG list of fix ups this late in the season. As was clearly demonstrated in the total distruction of our team against So. Carolina, it finally comes down to coaching. I do not expect a win this week in Jacksonville, and I do not expect a championship from this coaching staff. I love CMR, but he just has not been able to get the job done with all the talent he has. It’s a great disappointment. He should last a while longer before the cries for his departure get too loud. I am grateful for what he has done for us, but he just cannot seem to get to the top despite all of his efforts.

Dawg_Mike

October 22nd, 2012
8:55 am

As Munson said, Do you realize we are in big trouble this week in JAX ?

PigIron

October 22nd, 2012
8:57 am

I look for Georgia to play their best game yet this season.

The result?

Florida 31 – Georgia 17

Dawg_Mike

October 22nd, 2012
8:58 am

As one can clearly see, the team always takes on the personality of the head coach. See Alabama and Florida for examples.

old dog

October 22nd, 2012
9:01 am

Bill,
I’ve said it before, and will again; you CANNOT win the big games in the SEC with a second-tier o-line. Our guys up front are not the caliber recruits you need to win in the SEC. Lest we forget, the game is STILL won in the trenches. I f Florida has paid any attention to film, etc., they will whip our o-line like a dollar watch in the spin cycle of the washing machine! And they will not have to work that hard to do it……our talent level just is not there. We can make adjustments other places, and we can improve coaching, too. but we simply do nt have the hosses up front to beat the big-boys. S.C., LSU, ‘Bama, and yes….Florida next week will take it to our o-line, point-guard size center and all. And guess what….it is not rocket science or even good coaching. Its just that the better teams know we are weak up there. Until we improve our recruiting efforts (and results) up front, we are gonna get waxed by the better teams….period! And the sad part is, one does not have to be an arm-chair quarterback to see it!

dale

October 22nd, 2012
9:02 am

A championship? As soon as the coaches or players say that word all I hear is the sound of a hair dryer.

keith

October 22nd, 2012
9:17 am

I would like it if we show up and look like we are prepared to play

AltamahaDawg

October 22nd, 2012
9:19 am

It’s interesting that when the offense struggles is Coach Bobo fault. When they look good, nobody gets credit. When the defense looks good it’s completely to the credit of Coach Grantham, but if they struggle, it’s Coach Richt’s fault.

Grantham has a pretty good gig. Full credit, zero blame.

The rev al

October 22nd, 2012
9:23 am

Prediction. Florida 45-7 with Ga scoring a mercy touchdown in the last five minutes. The defense will sagain look befuddled, dazed and confused as it did in the first half of the Missouri game, the whole game against Kentucky and Tennessee and SC. Look for numerous special teams breakdowns and BoBo’s game plan to be totally predictable and ineffective. It will be a beat down.

TallaDawg

October 22nd, 2012
9:24 am

@ Nate the Great – Even though Goff produced medicore seasons,his teams rarely got blasted. There were ususally heart-breakingly close losses.

@Outer Banks Dawg – GREAT comment.

dawgster

October 22nd, 2012
9:24 am

For so many of you in the “know”, then you should no that do to NCAA regulations on the number of coaches you are allowed you would realize that most teams do not have a Special Teams coach, as we once did during my playing years….With that being said, each school takes a different approach…some share the duties among coaches, others have dual duty coaches such as the TE coach, supplimenting his duties with Special Teams coaching….Now is the way the dawgs do it the best way…perhaps no, but the bottom line is if you hire a full-time special teams coach, then you are sacrificing other position coaches….And yes the dawgs, as do other Div 1 schools have allotted practice times for working on Special Teams…

Its ok to bash and say we should do this, or that, but at least know what you are talking about…Now with all that being said, I am disappointed in the direction of our Special Teams, who are not so special, but we are still young here….The one thing I will add to the argument is, I would think that we could coach up our designated punt returnner to make not only good decisions, but to also find someone that the other team has to be concerned with..We don’t seem to have that right now….go dawgs

Flat Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

October 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

Altamaha Dawg

Bobo’s offense sure looks great against who??? Buffalo Vandy KY

It sure does but when its time to come up with some good play calls to stay in a ball game or at least beat a team he cant do it

And Gratham is an officially overpaid joke

But I guess he learned that from Richt; you can spout off some kool-aid to UGA fans and they will sign you to a lifetime contract and you dont have to produce any results

old dog

October 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

@AltmahaDawg,
Good point…..Bobo will never look good until he, or whoever does the recruiting, realizes that we are SO far behind on talent up front that no O.C. in the country will look too good. We block well against the small-fries, but not against the better SEC teams….

Old Dog Class of 1980

October 22nd, 2012
9:35 am

I agree with Todd – my to-do list would be short:

Fire Richt.

I don’t care if he DOES have 10 wins over the cupcakes. His team is badly coached and does not play good football. ANYONE can have 10 wins if they play only weak teams. And even some of those weak teams are tossups – e.g – Vandy last year and Kentucky this year. But this team lost the bowl game to Michigan State last year!

I think Richt will not hire a special teams coach because he would have to make the hard decision on which of his friends to demote. He doesn’t pull his placekicker because he doesn’t want to hurt his feelings. He doesn’t ever pull Murray (I think) because he promised him playing time and he doesn’t go back on his word.

Moobs Johnson

October 22nd, 2012
9:36 am

Richt has has all offseason and 8 weeks of this season to fix his special teams. If you expect him to fix them this week you simply are delusional.

joe jenkins

October 22nd, 2012
9:38 am

well i will say to you grantham sucks this year…..cant get the players to execute the scheme……that about sums it about it up…..theus and andrews is a big liability on the o-line they are terrible…..no depth on the o-line……beard is probably our best lineman!! our o-lineman are small and fat…yes that is a possible combination………ive seen serval people like that….we kolton houston to get eligible today not tomorrow…I thought gurshal were going to have 300 yrs sat…but the ol showed their true ugly colors