UGA fans still seeking someone to blame for unexpected losses

Aaron Murray goes for another record Saturday. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Aaron Murray goes for another record Saturday. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

As the Dogs prepare to take on rising Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State Saturday in this year’s Homecoming game, you can bet on three things: 1. Georgia’s coaches have mentioned this week the 2007 upset in which the Mountaineers beat Michigan thanks at least in part to a blocked field goal. 2. If the Dogs run true to form, there’ll be at least some letdown in emotion and focus the week after a big win. 3. It unfortunately is likely to be a late-arriving crowd thanks to the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.

However, the current App State isn’t anywhere near as strong a team as in 2007, and with Georgia’s first-teamers at least starting the game and Aaron Murray set to break Danny Wuerffel’s SEC career touchdown pass record on what should be a beautiful fall day, perhaps there won’t be as many empty seats as at some of these nonconference games.

Now, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. Despite the big win over Florida, some of you are still fuming about the way this season has transpired. …

Paul writes: Bill, Each and every year we witness the same excuse from Bulldog Nation: Fire this coach or fire that coach, but let’s give Richt another year or two because he won an SEC Championship and he is a nice guy. At what point do you feel [Greg] McGarity should engage in the proverbial “cut the head off the snake”? It appears too much blame is passed around Richt and into the staff ranks he has interviewed and hired. Fans continuously ask for a championship, yet don’t seem to want change or accept the fact their leader isn’t as enthusiastic about obtaining that crystal trophy as he alludes to in interviews. I like Richt, but there comes a time when a regime change can be a good thing. The stagnant culture in our locker room can only be the result of poor leadership. … Should we not scrap our staff and start fresh?

Ask the folks in Knoxville how that regime change thing has worked out for them. Granted, this season isn’t turning out as brilliantly as seemed possible a few weeks ago, but let’s not forget the string of major injuries to key players and the rebuilding job necessary after losing a bunch of NFL-caliber defensive talent. Plus, there’s this year’s schedule, which Jeff Sagarin rates the toughest in the country. (By the way, he has the Dogs still ranked at No. 17.) Georgia has quality wins this year over two Top 10 teams and barely lost to another Top 10 team in the season’s opening game. The season derailed somewhat after the injuries mounted. Even if Georgia doesn’t manage to knock off another Top 10 team in Auburn, I don’t think anyone could reasonably make the case that this is the type of season that costs a head coach his job.

David Rosenberg writes: Bill, Any win over Florida is a good win, no matter the circumstance. There is no telling what this game may have meant nationally, if both teams were not the walking wounded. I am thrilled with the outcome, but disappointed in the execution. Even Coach Richt said he was “subdued” because Georgia almost blew a 20 point halftime lead. Georgia is talented. I am no longer willing to lay blame on the players because I believe they are playing the way they are being coached to play. I believe they are following the lead of the staff and that is getting them into trouble. Bobo mixed up his game plan early. Then he got conservative and predictable late. The offensive line was dominant early. Then they took a powder. The defense was aggressive early and then fell into some old habits. Football fans all over cringe when Nick Saban gets upset with his team over a 40+ point win. But Saban does what I wish we did a better job of: PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS! Receivers not running routes past the first down marker, CB’s giving 10 yards of cushion on 3rd and 3, punt returners catching the ball inside the 10, DE’s and LB’s not setting the edge and not containing, or having 12 men on the field after 2 timeouts and a television delay. I still see our defensive unit THINKING WAY TOO MUCH. So much confusion exists they are not able to use their athletic gifts by simply reacting to the football. Looking forward, even into 2014, with everyone healthy, we have the potential to be special. But potential cannot be realized when it is being impeded. DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS! What do you think?

Along the same lines, Matt Cafaro writes: Bill, After Saturday’s game, I’ve come to a sobering conclusion: The Bulldogs will never win a national title, mythical or otherwise, because of Mark Richt. This is unlike coaches such as Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, or even Pete Carroll. The teams that employ(ed) those coaches won titles BECAUSE of them. Why? Because all of them, even Carroll, obsess over every single, little, tiny, most infinite detail. Their teams don’t send 12 men out after timeouts. They don’t play undisciplined football. They don’t make the kind of mistakes that lose them games. Why? Because their coaches PAY ATTENTION TO EVERY SINGLE DETAIL. They certainly don’t make the same special teams mistakes, year in and year out. Mark Richt either doesn’t care to obsess over the smallest of details, or it’s just not in his nature. Either way, it’s not a recipe for winning titles. If the Bulldogs are ever going to win a title under him, it’s going to be despite Mark Richt, not because of him.

Does Mark Richt need to obsess over details more? (Associated Press)

Does Mark Richt need to obsess over details more? (Associated Press)

I think you both make some very good points, though I have to pick a couple of nits with David’s characterization of the Florida game. Mike Bobo really only called one conservative series in the game, and certainly not in the second half. As I pointed out the other day, a play-action pass out of the end zone isn’t conservative! And that final drive showed yet again what this team can do, even at less than full-strength. As for the OL, I wouldn’t say they took a powder after their early dominance; I’d say Florida’s talented defensive front adjusted. Remember, we were playing the best D in the conference. And while I agree the 12th man penalty was inexcusable, you have to give credit to Todd Grantham for an aggressive game plan. The Dogs blitzed all day long. As for those receivers, keep in mind that a good many of them would be riding the bench this season if not for injuries. And while your criticisms of Georgia’s pass defense are on the mark, it’s still a very young unit. They do tend to play tentatively at times, though they came up big when it counted. But, yes, I’d like to see much more attention to details on the sideline as well as on the field.

Andy Adams writes: Bill, I have a hard time understanding how our secondary is struggling so much on long throws downfield. I know the rush defense has generally been good, but the pass defense continues to be a sore spot. Outside of last week, Damian Swann has had an abysmal season. Considering all of the athletes that we recruit, why can’t we find an athlete and quickly train them up to play in the secondary? Although Swann is the longest tenured back, he’s been abused nearly all season.

Overall the Dogs have worked their way up to being seventh ranked in total defense in the SEC, but they still rank last in the conference in scoring defense and this is due in part to the secondary (offensive turnovers and special teams meltdowns have been big factors, too). As has been noted here before, part of the problem with the secondary is that some of the talented athletes Georgia signed who were expected to have been playing as defensive backs by now got kicked off the team. And, unfortunately, the recruiting in that area appears to have been a bit spotty. As for Swann, he has definitely struggled this season compared with last year, when he had four interceptions. What happened? Playing with a group of inexperienced defensive backs who have a tendency not to be at the right spot at the right time has probably been a factor, as has a lack of support from the safeties on some of those plays where Swann has been burned. But it’s also possible that our expectations of Swann were skewed by the fact that he was playing alongside extremely talented teammates Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo last season. Keep in mind also that last season he played most of the time in as the nickel back and, in fact, when he’s played nickel this season he’s seemed much more comfortable than when he’s playing corner. And even at corner his play has improved somewhat over the past couple of games. Let’s see how the rest of the season plays out.

Matt Mashburn writes: Bill, I really thought that your blog posts about Florida were some of your best ever. The game really was a roller-coaster. I thought that you captured very well the conflicting emotions of overwhelming joy at beating Florida three years straight and “gee whiz guys, if a pass is even close to being a lateral, you’ve got to jump on it like a hungry man jumps on a peach.” I think we’ve got a surprise in store for Auburn (too bad scheduling has it there instead of home). I also REALLY like your idea of playing in black jerseys every home game for Auburn. I think you had it right. That way it’s a tradition rather than a gimmick.

Thanks, Matt. I think the idea of using the black jerseys just for Auburn games in Athens or perhaps the student-generated idea of wearing them for the final home game of the season, no matter who the opponent is, both offer a way to re-embrace UGA’s other primary school color. Hope you’re right about this year’s Auburn game.

David Downs writes: Hey, What’s the deal with the horse collar penalty? I thought it required the shoulder pads be grabbed, but during the [Florida] game when called against Georgia is was obviously the jersey we grabbed. What exactly is the rule for that penalty?

You’re not the only one, David. Coach Richt said on his “Bulldog Hotline” radio show this week that he also thought the pads had to be grabbed for it to be a horse-collar tackle, but after having it called on his team for a second time this season when it was the jersey grabbed, he had concluded that it also applied to the jersey. The spirit of the rule, he said, is that if you grab a player from behind in a jerking action and yank him down, you’ll get called for it, whether it’s pads or not. A 2008 ESPN.com report from when the NCAA rule was instituted noted that it would be assessed “when a runner is yanked to the ground from the inside collar of his shoulder pads or jersey.”

Greg Seritt writes: As a very avid fan of the Georgia Bulldogs for a long time, I have two questions: I don’t understand getting a good lead and sitting on it. It’s not like the other team is going to quit and walk off the field. They are going to continue doing what they need to do to come back. So I say keep on scoring all you can and don’t quit. Second question: Why isn’t No. 48 Quayvon Hicks running the ball more? He’s a beast.

I agree completely with your view about building on a lead. I think that’s one complaint about Bobo that is valid; he tends to take his foot off the gas when Georgia gets a couple of touchdowns ahead. As for Hicks, he hasn’t had much success in recent games when he has had a chance to run the ball (though, admittedly, it’s usually been up the middle off the line). He has, however, developed nicely as a blocker; he delivered some monster blows in the Florida game. What I don’t understand is why Murray hasn’t thrown to him more, like he did with success early in the season. I’d like to see more of that.

Michael Scharff writes: Bill, My Dad (UGA ‘55), my son (UGA 2011) and I were at the game in Jacksonville this past Saturday. I am very proud of the Dawgs for pulling out our third straight win over Florida. That being said, I was very concerned and disappointed with the rash of scrums that broke out over the course of the game. We had good seats, but we were up high on the 400 level, so I couldn’t see what the Gators did to Gurley at the bottom of the pile to set off the first fight. I have never seen Gurley that angry and uncontrollable. And during the last fight, it was really upsetting for the Georgia State Patrol officers to have to go out with Coach Richt. I know they were there for his safety, and I appreciate that, but I thought it was really beyond out of hand for the officers to have to be involved in getting our players off of the field to the sidelines. And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, both teams get called out on ESPN on the wrap-up show later that night by Rece Davis. I would really like to see the SEC commissioner call out both Jeremy Foley and Greg McGarity, and they in turn their head coaches, and tell them that they had best make sure they figure out a way that such an embarrassing display never happens again.

Todd Gurley was happy after the win, but not so much when Gators tried to gouge his eyes. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Todd Gurley was happy after the win, but not so much when Gators tried to gouge his eyes. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Gurley apparently was mad because of some attempted eye-gouging on the part of the Gators that has shown up in photos online this week. I thought it was interesting that Voice of the Bulldogs Scott Howard brought up the eye-gouging pictures on this week’s “Bulldog Hotline” show. I doubt he would have done that if the UGA coaching staff hadn’t come to the same conclusion that many of us have — that Gator players were trying to provoke the Bulldogs, particularly Gurley, in hopes of getting him kicked out of the game for retaliating. (Eye-gouging, you’ll recall is a Gator specialty.) It was even more appalling that Gator fans actually had the gall to complain after the game that Gurley wasn’t tossed. Still, you’re right that both teams got a lot more “chippy” (as the broadcasters like to call it) than is proper. Hopefully, the Georgia coaching staff talked with players this week about not letting cheap shots rattle their composure.

Albert Brown writes: Hello Bill, What became of Chase Vasser (senior linebacker)? Name on roster but not on depth chart? This guy started some games last year. Went down with shoulder surgery, vanished this year. Just curious.

You’re right, Albert. Vasser has only played in one game so far this season (North Texas) and has no tackles. I put the question to our UGA beat writer, Chip Towers, who notes that Vasser suffered an ankle injury in preseason camp and “has been completely out of the mix ever since. As far as I know nothing else has happened to him.” Apparently, Chip says, Vasser has just been passed on the depth chart by others on the team, including Leonard Floyd.

Chris Pugh writes: Hey Bill, I’ve heard so many stories where Mark Richt is not always given what he needs at UGA, so my question to you is, does Richt have full control when it comes to the every day football operations? And does he get what he needs to be successful at UGA?

Yes, Richt is in control, with oversight from the athletic director, Greg McCarity. Aside from an indoor practice facility, which Richt opted to skip a couple of years ago in favor of expanding the weight room at Butts-Mehre, I can’t think of anything that UGA might be lacking in facilities. Some might argue that he could use more noncoaching staffers like Alabama’s Nick Saban uses, but that’s an approach to the game that college football observers are still debating.

Dallas Dawg writes: Bill, Firstly, I really enjoy your column. I’m a Georgia grad but have spent the majority of my adulthood west of the Mississippi. God bless the Internet — I can just call up a little bit of home whenever I need it. Secondly, I love the Ray Drew quote, where he referred to himself as taking the “crock pot” approach. Leonard Floyd, on the other hand, has come on like gangbusters in a very short period of time. Hence, I think he should be referred to as Leonard “Microwave” Floyd. This way our defense could have a “Crock Pot” and a “Microwave,” and honestly, what could be more intimidating then a defense stocked with kitchen appliances! Remember Eddie “Meat Cleaver” Weaver?

Thanks. Interesting concept, Dallas. But I don’t think I want to know which Georgia defender gets to be the “George Foreman Grill.”

That’s it for this week’s mail. Meanwhile, if you’re in Athens Friday afternoon the annual Homecoming Parade is set for 6 p.m. downtown. Starting at the corner of College Avenue and Dougherty Street, the parade will proceed down Pulaski Street before turning onto Washington from Thomas Street, then return to its starting point at the corner of College Avenue and Dougherty. It’s usually a fun outing, especially for kids.

Go Dogs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

132 comments Add your comment

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
2:19 pm

Those Gaytors really do stink. The Commodes is flushing all over field and the swamp aint nothing but a SEWER with dumps in ugly orange an blue..

Aaron's Mom

November 9th, 2013
2:47 pm

Thank goodness Vanderbilt is giving those mean gator boys a sound spanking!

They deserve it after the way they picked on our boys last week.

Aaron's Mom

November 9th, 2013
2:49 pm

You know, My boy Aaron has set himself another record today.

I’m so proud!

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
2:52 pm

Vandy just marched 87 yds and hobnailed booted Gaytors. When Commodes unloading whooping can on Muschump in Gaiensville you know a firing coming. To bad they cant board bus and fire Judas Muschump goning to airport like Lame Kitten.

Bald Cat

November 9th, 2013
2:56 pm

Any team that loses to Vandy should fire their coach before they even walk off the field!

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
2:59 pm

Dawgs is now extending blowout of Mountain boys.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 9th, 2013
3:25 pm

Awrhight! Y’all got your wish and Mason is F I N A L L Y in the game …… by the way I’m happy for him! He throws his 1st TD to a walk on WR. (Kenneth Towns) Happy for him too!

Rumph finally caught a pass – happy for him too!

Vandybilt is making the Reptiles look awful – proud of that too!

Aubarn picked on the Vowel’s true freshman backup QB starting his 1st game. U G L Y for the Vowels….. Butch Jones’ Vowels have been terrible ever since upsetting Steve Arrogance and the Game Crocks. Proud of that too! Aubarn should be ranked in top 10 when UGA comes calling. The higher the ranking the better for the Dawgs.

TODAY I’m proud of all you TROLLS out there that whine and cry so hard you turn blue in the face!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 9th, 2013
3:29 pm

Vandybilt 34 – Reptilians 17…. natural born embarrassment for the Reps and can I say it again – M U S C H U M P is sitting upon the HOT SEAT!!!

I’ve got NO interest in hiring that turncoat as the UGA DC. none!

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
3:31 pm

Dawgs is really beating on AppSt like a rancid mule.

And Muschump Gaytors got the embareassing that the sorry team deserve.

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
3:32 pm

Lets see Huttson have a good game with the experience.

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
3:35 pm

Eric Zeier says we should feel good about the future of the Georgia offense because our 2nd string looks good against App State in garbage time.

We have to have the most delusional fan base in all of the nation at the moment. I’m convinced of it.

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
3:37 pm

Mason lighting up Mountain boys and we look forward to more good QBing next year.

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
3:40 pm

I bet our defense “turned a corner” in this big win too.

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
4:15 pm

Gaytors is so bad they is trying to hire Zooks to replace Muschump.

Hairy Dawg

November 9th, 2013
4:19 pm

The D did turns the corner. We keep App St out of end zones all game. App St has teams that won FCS and beat Mich and other teams. That why it nice see Dawgs take care a business and do pounding on them like App St deserve for trying to play against real team like Dawgs.

Rabuin Dawg

November 9th, 2013
4:53 pm

To those who wonder who UGA could hire as a coach….. does the name Franklin ring a bell? He probably has done more with less than any coach around. After all, he did outcoach the more expensive UGA staff by a landslide! Oh, I forgot, let’s not hurt the feelings of the kool-aid drinkers by suggesting we need to make a change. How does 7-5 ,plus Music City Bowl invite sound to all of you Richt believers? And ,”another one bites the dust”.(Season that is)

Mobile Dawg

November 9th, 2013
5:07 pm

Be real proud duh, with fans like you we won’t ever sniff a championship.

Bald Cat

November 9th, 2013
5:27 pm

I like to sniff things. Never sniffed a championship, though.

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
5:34 pm

I don’t really like Franklin but I also don’t care about that if he could win us a championship. It’s all about personality with these Kool Aiders, not winning. Our coach could be the smuggest jerk in the world and I could care less as long as he plays by the rules and wins big. This isn’t a popularity contest. It’s big time college football. I’d trust Richt to watch my kids but I don’t trust him to watch my favorite college football program.

The Kool Aiders get all this mixed up and confused. They think Richt is getting paid nearly $3 million a year because he’s a nice guy.

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
6:07 pm

I’m sorry but did I hear that right? Murray had to give our guys a big motivational speech in a game against….wait for it…App freaking State?!?!?!?!

You cannot be serious.

DawgByte

November 9th, 2013
6:09 pm

Some UGA fans are completely out of touch with reality. It blows my mind there are still ignorant fools calling for Richt’s head. As Bill pointed out, not all regime changes works out so well. How are things going in Gainesville Florida boys? How are things going in Souther California boys? How are things going in Knoxville boys? How are things going in Ann Harbor boys? Since winning their National Championship in 2000 Oklahoma has been a perennial disappointment and afterthought! And the list goes on!

Any top 10 team losing as much talent as UGA to injury would be just as negatively impacted. A little perspective is also in order. Any time UGA can beat SC, LSU, UT and Fl in one season is a good feeling. Is 6-3 it what we wanted at this point in the season? No, but we’re also highly delusional with all the talk of a return to the Dome and a NC ring pre-ordained to this team. In August I never bought the hype given experience, leadership and talent we had to replace on defense. You win National Championships with defense and ours is far too young and inexperienced to realistically think we had a shot at the crystal football. Please people try and catch a clue.

Mobile Dawg

November 9th, 2013
6:30 pm

Nah DawgByte, we’re not out of touch with reality, we just want to win a championship. It’s been within reality for AU, Bama, LSU, Florida.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 9th, 2013
6:32 pm

DawgByte

Are you seriously going to use

USC
Florida
Oklahoma
and
Tennessee as your example for regime change issues?

I just want you to stop and think about those teams for a moment; do a little homework and come back and with some better examples than those teams

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
6:33 pm

How are things going in Gainesville Florida? Are you flipping kidding me? How did it go for them after they fired Zook? They’ve won TWO national titles since Richt last won the SEC with a 10-3 team. Meyer left of his own volition and now it’s not working that great with Muschamp. They’ll fire him because, unlike us, they don’t tolerate mediocrity and underperformance. They’ll keep hiring and firing coaches until they find one who can win. That’s what big time programs with a set of balls do. It’s not about liking the coach to them. It’s about winning. If that offends you them maybe college football isn’t for you.

We are a joke.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 9th, 2013
6:34 pm

Mobile

USC
Florida
Oklahoma
and Tennessee as an example for regime change issues

Im laughing right now

Mobile Dawg

November 9th, 2013
6:40 pm

Flat, we’re getting ready to watch some big time football down here at the beach tonight. As a logical, realistic, human being I can’t understand why they think we’re where we need to be. Mark Richt and his “cutting edge football” makes me laugh. That was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard a HC say. We have been and still are officially posers. After being with the Dawgs as long as I have, I’ve lost interest under Richt. McGarity is now becoming the question mark?

dawgfan

November 9th, 2013
6:42 pm

USC is also a laughable example. Carroll left on his own. Kiffin didn’t work out and guess what they did? They grew a set and fired him. The dude didn’t even have a losing season and he was a goner. They didn’t make a bunch of crybaby excuses for him with the NCAA sanctions. We have a few guys tear up their knee and Richt should be coach of the year if we go 8-5. They didn’t tolerate mediocrity. Meanwhile, I’m starting to think Richt will have to murder someone before he loses his job.

It’s laughable.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 9th, 2013
6:48 pm

I wouldnt mind UGA giving Franklin $4 million just to come be on the sidelines with the title of Coach Motivator

Almost every game we play its like we are sitting listening to a math lecture

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 9th, 2013
6:50 pm

delete “its”

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 9th, 2013
7:02 pm

Mobile

“we’re getting ready to watch some big time football down here”

I really believe thats one of the problems with most of the kool-aiders; and that is I really dont think they have ever “”consistently”"” watched Alabama; Florida and LSU and other teams (when they have been good)…… at how those teams execute during those good seasons

We maybe play one solid good game a season (and Im still waiting on that for this season)

I really dont believe they have ever seen “big time football”

HotDawg

November 9th, 2013
8:36 pm

ROFL…a bamard coming onto uga sites talking about class.
tide is rolling is a typical, classless, harvey updyke, bama terd.
Oh, and what did a bama terd do to a helpless girl in a waffle house (after a nc game a year or two ago?)?
Bamards are pieces of sh.t and the state is a backwards hellhole, with only a college football team to have anything to f ‘ing hang onto in that bumpkin place. Why else do any of the stupid bamards live here instead?

Bald Cat

November 10th, 2013
9:30 am

I know, HotDawg.

Don’t you just hate Alabama up one side and down the other?

How dare they make winning looks so easy, while the Dawgs are struggling to defeat a 2-7 FCS team. Arrogance is what it is.

Arrogance, plain and simple.