After Boise comes an even bigger game for Richt and UGA

There's a heartfelt handshake if I've ever seen one. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Now there's a heartfelt handshake if ever I've seen one. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

There’s a reasonable case to be made that Georgia could lose to South Carolina on Saturday and still have a fruitful season. Trouble is, a loss to South Carolina will render reason inoperative. For the Bulldogs to fall to 0-2 after an offseason of brave talk could turn kneejerk reaction — “He’s lost his first two, so Mark Richt is a goner” — into a feeds-on-itself reality.

Georgia was outcoached and outclassed by a team from the Mountain West on Saturday night, and this happened not on the Boise blue rug but under the off-white roof of the Georgia Dome. Richt’s Dream Team freshmen were presented an object lesson on how a Real Team handles itself under duress: Down 7-0 in hostile environs, Boise State took a deep breath, willed itself to be precise and scored the next 28 points.

As for Georgia … well, I’m not sure what it was trying to do. Contrary to popular belief, Mike Bobo isn’t the world’s worst offensive coordinator — but you wouldn’t have known it Saturday. The Bulldogs would throw a deep incompletion on first down and then run up the middle on second-and-10. (If you’re going to throw on first down, you’d better be ready to throw on second, too.) The offensive line could not block the Broncos’ front. Todd Grantham’s defense got blocked all game.

(No sacks for the vaunted 3-4? Said cornerback/returner/wingback Brandon Boykin: “With the scheme we run, we thought we’d get a little more pressure.”)

And the worst part was that none of this was new. I admit it: I expected a team transformed, and I didn’t even see a team tweaked. (Except for the Power Ranger uniforms, about which we need not speak again.) Georgia was flagged for three penalties on its first possession and four false starts in all. Aaron Murray was sacked six times. The offense sustained nothing: The Bulldogs never ran a play inside the Boise 20 and mustered only 13 first downs.

Two moments were telling. Grantham was forced to call timeout not three minutes into the second half because his defenders were fatigued from the Boise hurry-up. So much for “halftime adjustments,” eh? And so much for Joe Tereshinski’s conditioning methods.

The other came 3 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter. Boise had scored to re-establish its 21-point lead, and a goodly portion of Georgia fans got up and left. Think about that. You’ve waited all summer for this night, you’ve paid for tickets and parking and food and hydration … and you leave with 11:37 remaining?

More than just an acknowledgment of the score, this retreat was born of utter deflation.  These folks had convinced themselves to believe again, and now they felt betrayed.

(Asked if it was disappointing to see the Dome 40 percent empty with more than 10 minutes left, Boykin said: “A little bit, honestly. But it’s our job to play.”)

OK, who wins?

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Richt knew the risk in scheduling an opponent of Boise’s worth but felt the possible reward offset it. Had Georgia lost on a last-second field goal, his constituency could have taken consolation in the effort. This result offered only growing conviction that Georgia’s woes aren’t a function of personnel or bad breaks. One uninspired night dashed nearly all the good will the assemblage of the Dream Team had wrought. What’s the point of having good players if they aren’t put in position to play well?

That said … South Carolina was always going to be the bigger of the two games. Beating Boise might have put Georgia back on the map, but beating Carolina could put the Bulldogs back in the Dome. It’s hard to envision the disjointed team we saw Saturday finishing atop the SEC East, but Virginia Tech lost its first two games last season — the first to Boise, the second to James Madison — and wound up in the Orange Bowl as ACC champs.

As numbing as Saturday was, other Saturdays await. Beat South Carolina and those folks who left early will be disgruntled no more. (At least not for the next seven days.) Lose and the peals of discord among his constituency could become a bell this coach cannot unring. This might not be the biggest game of Richt’s career — the one at Auburn in 2002 was mighty large — but it’s in the top two.

By Mark Bradley

1,264 comments Add your comment

Kansas Yellow Jacket

September 4th, 2011
1:22 pm

Go Gamecocks!

Stephen Garcia

September 4th, 2011
1:23 pm

LETS GO COCKS!

Russ555

September 4th, 2011
1:24 pm

Nice uniforms. Some video game illustrator should be proud.

Russ555

September 4th, 2011
1:26 pm

Probably the last year for the coach. Next stop? Assistant at Mississippi State?

[...] through the first quarter and took a handoff 80 yards for a TD to give UGA a 7-0 edge. …After Boise comes an even bigger game for Richt and UGAAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)In Georgia, Another Show of Dominance by Boise StateNew York [...]

Honkin On BoBo

September 4th, 2011
1:28 pm

UGA wins the national championship in August every year…trouble is that they have to actually play the games and not just run their mouths in the offseason!

blueboy

September 4th, 2011
1:33 pm

You will lose to USCe, Miss. State,Tennessee and Florida. Possible losses to Vandy and Auburn.

GoForTwo

September 4th, 2011
1:33 pm

At least we didn’t reveal our game plan for the South Carolina game by the way we played last night. I do pray that there is another game plan.

richmondDawg

September 4th, 2011
1:33 pm

The only good thing about last night was the fact that my brother always brings way to much beer over to the house when a game is on…oh, and LSU was on the other channel….Really disappointed with the coaching and playcalling…AGAIN….Wonder how many boosters are trying to track down Kirby’s cell phone # this morning….If things don’t shape up by next week, we are in for one long, embarasing season

tex dog

September 4th, 2011
1:34 pm

No one seems to give Boise any credit but then I did not expect anyone too. It does not sell papers or generate insane blog notes. Boise can play with anyone in the country and is simply a better team. Give some credit. Nope lets just fire everyone on the UGA campus.

just saying

September 4th, 2011
1:34 pm

the ESPN broadcaster on the opening kickoff of the ECU-SC game used the late Al Ciraldo’s trademark “Toe Meets Leather” without giving him any credit whatsoever. I was offended.

Anyone want to view that, take a look at it on ESPN360 on replay.

On Wikipedia, “Toe Meets Leather” is solely Al Ciraldo’s phrase.

Jesup

September 4th, 2011
1:34 pm

Very good article. I agree 100%. I have been a CMR supporter. Not anymore, Beat the gamecocks or he is gone.

17 of 20

September 4th, 2011
1:35 pm

I really like the way Georgia plays the game, they can’t block or tackle. That my friend is coaching and I hope they can keep this coaching staff together for at least 10 more years.

Gatormeat

September 4th, 2011
1:35 pm

As usual, the dogs talk a lot of bold smack before a game and whine and make excuses afterwards. Here in Gainesville, we hope you keep richt and bobo, we look forward to that offense coming down to Jacksonville every year. You make it so easy for us. Florida is 1-0, georgia is 0-1. Florida is ahead of georgia already. Again

I still believe

September 4th, 2011
1:36 pm

we found out a lot saturday night about the dawgs. we have a beast freshman reciever in mitchell, and crowell avg 4 yds per carry, he needs to start, and t.king idk what happened to him. we’re still a great football team, we just got beat by a very experienced team with a better coach. we can still win the east we just have to believe because i know CMR and the players do , just dont give up

william allen

September 4th, 2011
1:37 pm

Mark, as usual thanks for your excellent writing and insights. The sad aspects of last nights game is that we saw the same old Georgia with its iniitial penalties as well as its, clueless and disjointed offense. Despite its early success, the defense also showed its individual flashes of talent yet poor overall effectiveness. I hate to say it but it is clear to me that Georgia remains a poorly coached team. The raw talent will probably continue to provide a mid-tier program but Georgia cannot rise under Richt…something we all hate to acknowledge. Georgia needs to hire a Chris Petersen, Dan Muellen, or some proven winner who doesn’t have the resources of Georgia yet has lifted a program. We need Coordinators who are proven innovators already in the college game. Unfortunately, this will not happen because there is a risk and Georgia has become comfortable with losing..something evident in its postgame locker room interviews with players and coaches. Florida, Alabama, LSU, and the elites are not comfortable with losing….Georgia is

SouthJaxBeach Bulldawg Fan

September 4th, 2011
1:37 pm

MB, you are incorrect. You know the MOST telling thing I saw last night? Was how a 5′10 208 center for Boise could dominant our 330 pound nose tackle!!!

If there’s a worse OC than Mike Bobo i sure would like to know.

Third, why no comment about CMR giggling it up in the Post-Game News Conference? When I read about this on here I literally became sick to my stomach!!! You get manhandled by a team you beat several years ago and all you can do is laugh?

Someone on facebook made the comment that this ship better be righted soon or else! Well MB…..Soon or Else is already here!

Signed Disgusted in South Jacksonville Beach!

mwh6767

September 4th, 2011
1:38 pm

Not going to talk smack because I know karma is a you know what. Watch the game with several of my friends who are big uga fans. By half time they where absolutely fed up with the coaching. Uga’s problems of last year i.e. soft up the middle on defense, not wrapping up on tackles, and a very slow offensive line reared their ugly head again last night. Not to mention that they just got outcoached and outadjusted after halftime. You just got the feeling watching the game that Boise could have hung 50 plus on them if they wanted to. Sad to watch actually.

virginia dog

September 4th, 2011
1:39 pm

Mark … very well put. This team was so out coached and unprepared it is sad. I can only hope Adam’s pride will step in and end this sad side show that is UGA football.

Ginger

September 4th, 2011
1:39 pm

Good article. Hoping that we can make adjustments and fix what is wrong. At least by playing the high quality opponent–we can really guage what exactly needs fixing…and maybe the experience helps everyone. Really coaches and players have to work overtime this next week. The offense has to hold the ball a lot longer than 3 and out…just put too much pressure on defense and wore us down….Boise with better conditioned players and sr players that have played in big games–just knew how to play. Got to get some running game going….wonder if the running game does not crank up–should we in a bold move–put Boykin on offense and let Swann play corner…Boykin can run and he can block…Crowell can run–but has not mastered blocking yet. Gotta get a short passing game too. Boise picked us apart with short passes to white guys who could get open and catch. But the biggest thing is blocking and tackling….Come on OL and DL

Herschel Talker

September 4th, 2011
1:40 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!!!!

its coming at AU...not

September 4th, 2011
1:41 pm

AU may be young and inexperienced (no news there). But they do not give up and are a heck of a lot better coached than UGA. JYes, just one game, no doubt AU will take their lumps the next few games. But, based on what I saw last night, AU will only get better and will be favored over UGA by November. No matter, how you slice it 16-0. Spare me, I know,…its coming.

SouthJaxBeach Bulldawg Fan

September 4th, 2011
1:41 pm

MB, can you verify it it was true that CMR was laughing during the post game press conference?

Also, how does a 5′10 208 pound center manhandle our 330 pound nose tackle?

shutupandplay

September 4th, 2011
1:42 pm

well, bigger problems are that players think they can pre game “taunt tweet” opposing coaches (boykin) and are not held accountable for acting like arrogant brats. Murray also tweeted about how UGA would win. post game boykin, not coach, was first to address the team. the tail does not wag the “dawg”. Never have i seen a fan base more delusional than UGA. would you imagine a player from a saban, spurrier, stoops coached team calling out an OPPOSING COACH on twitter BEFORE he had done anything on the field?? they need to shut up and let their play on the field speak for itself, not their power ranger unis, their mighty tweets, their self proclaimed “dream team” status; they have become a prideful arrogant group of spoiled brats and they need discipline. contrast this with the gracious statements made by the boise state staff who were all very respectful to their opponent. UGA problems go beyond a coach or a defensive scheme. a massively delusional fan base, arrogant disrespectful undisciplined players, and a tendency to ride the coattails of their conference are bigger problems. go ahead and get rid of Richt, who in the wide world of sports would want to have to deal with the drama of the uga fan base, an arrogant president who has no respect for legends like dooley, and a bunch of arrogant buffoons to coach? good luck crazies

Gatormeat

September 4th, 2011
1:42 pm

The dogs lose to Carolina by 20, gets swept by the Mississippi schools, loses to Tenn, get humiliated by the Mighty Gators, and loses to Auburn on the way to 5-7, maybe even 4-8 with a loss to Kentucky. Just accept it dogs, you are Kentucky and Vanderbilt now, one of the floormats of the SEC

shutupandplay

September 4th, 2011
1:43 pm

fire richt and in 4 years uga will be wishing they had him back. i say fire adams

volsdeep

September 4th, 2011
1:43 pm

Ahh yes….here comes the apathy from fawg fans. Welcome to you 2011 6-6 season. Geat Kirby on speed dial

ugafan13

September 4th, 2011
1:44 pm

Poor execution and coaching will kill any teams chances to win a game! I did not see any compelling change from last year except the new freshman players. We have to figure out how to play with mojo. As much as it pains me look at Bama and LSU and you can see the difference in the game they play and what we do…

Bill King is a................

September 4th, 2011
1:44 pm

My christmas list has Skip Holtz and Urban Meyer on it. The only way our offense gets better is to take the play calling away from Bobo. Plain and simple. The defense was tired from all of the 3 and outs from the offense. How about us lining up in the I and moving to their 40 and then going in the gun for 3 and outs? How about on 3rd and 1 we are in the gun and blow it. And we have big Figgins and Samuel in the backfield? This offensive system is a joke and as long as we keep the powers that be in those positions….things wont be changing for the better for us anytime soon.

Dosta Dawg1

September 4th, 2011
1:44 pm

Skip Holtz!!!

georgiamike

September 4th, 2011
1:45 pm

You hit the nail on the head Mark when you said “outcoached and outclassed”. Georgia got beat by a vastly less talented team which is always well prepared, disciplined, and coached. UGa is none of those things. I’m tired of watching the talent be wasted and leaving games early with the same feeling I had when Donnan’s staff was outcoached. What stood out the most was the difference in creativity in the offensive play calling. I’m no expert but when a Ferrari and a Pacer are parked next to each other I can tell the difference and UGa’s offense appears to be of the AMC lineage.

Beast from the East

September 4th, 2011
1:45 pm

Gatormeat,
From a fellow Gator fan, please show some class. We (Gators) haven’t beaten anyone yet and have many of our own questions to answer. Once again, show some class.

shutupandplay

September 4th, 2011
1:46 pm

quit tweeting and taunting opposing coaches

Dosta Dawg1

September 4th, 2011
1:46 pm

As long as Bobo keeps calling the plays, the outcome from last night will continue to be norm for us. We run out of the I to their 40 and then get in the shotgun and flop. Thats Bobo at his finest.

Miamidawg

September 4th, 2011
1:48 pm

At some point the dawgs are going to have to start fresh with a new coaching staff then a few more years like the past few before we are competitive. Every day the AD waits to initiate this change is another day on the other end of the wait

gotta go

September 4th, 2011
1:49 pm

First of all, to you idiots from other fan bases, we UGA fans rarely are optimistic. I was there last night and thought the tension could not have been any greater. We desperately want to just put the past 3 years of disappointment behind us with some sort of good football. What Jim Donnan was to the tunnel screen, Mark is to spint draws on 3rd down. What Ray Goff gave us in the way of calling timeouts after TD’s to get the extra point team on the field, Mark is to hurry up offenses that give the other D time to get set. Please, Mr. AD, we not only ask to be delivered from this debacle.

Falcon fan

September 4th, 2011
1:51 pm

Dawg fans need to shut up and produce…all u see on blogs is how great UGA dawgs are..Alot of BS comes from their mouth. Start winning before u shot of your mouth.

Go Cocks!!!!!!!!!

Gatormeat

September 4th, 2011
1:51 pm

Keep Mark Richt! Keep Mark Richt! At least that is what we think here in Gainesville. I was holding my side last night because I was laughing so hard at that georgia offense. Man, the Mighty Gators are going to humiliate the dogs something awful this year.

The Wad

September 4th, 2011
1:51 pm

This team was as bad as the UGA team that lost to UCF to end the year. No fire or fight. Oline couldn`t have blocked me. The best reciever is a tight end, other wise Murray has no one to throw to. Dline got no contact with the opposing qb. I could have made those throws with that much time. Tackling consisted of grabbing and holding on. Totally pathetic effort. I fear Richt will be gone unless a miraculous yearlong recovery is made. The team is not being coached up and looks like Vandy would beat them 7 out of 10 times. The year Van Goerder left and Richt gave Bobo the OC job is the mark UGA started to fall down hill. Until BOBO leaves this team will continue to display stupid play calling sequences that lose games.

lawzoo

September 4th, 2011
1:52 pm

‘Em dawgs need Tommy West . A Gaineville, Ga. boy he will restore the dignity that is sorely missing from Between the Hedges and beyond!

Gatormeat

September 4th, 2011
1:53 pm

Keep Mark Richt! Keep Mark Richt! I had to hold my side from laughing so hard at that georgia offense last night. georgia has no chance in Jacksonville, it will be a cakewalk for the Mighty Gators

Will

September 4th, 2011
1:53 pm

Fredo : Corleone Family :: Georgia : SEC

btgt69

September 4th, 2011
1:53 pm

where do I send a donation for uga to retain Richt?

Ghosts of Loserville

September 4th, 2011
1:53 pm

There’s a reasonable case to be made that Georgia could lose to South Carolina on Saturday and still have a fruitful season. Trouble is, a loss to South Carolina will render reason inoperative.

I wouldn’t say a loss per se would render the reason inoperative. They could play brilliantly against a South Carolina team that plays equally brilliantly and lost 41-38 on a last-second field goal and stop the skid.

So I would say another uninspired performance where they lose and Richt is all but toast.

Charlie Bama

September 4th, 2011
1:54 pm

Whew-ee!! Not good, Dawgs. Love you guys and CMR, but it’s time for a change. PLEASE keep you hands to yourself, leave K Smart alone until the season ends for Bama (it will all be over by January 12 or so).

gotta go

September 4th, 2011
1:54 pm

does anyone else feel like this is amputation by the slice or death by a thousand paper cuts?

atlantagamecock

September 4th, 2011
1:55 pm

well…don’t worry. there will be more delusional talk and by the end of the week you’ll be picking the dogs to right the ship against us.

of course, there is no one who enjoys kicking the dogs that the evil genius. it’s money!

and then you can start the articles about how you can still win the SEC east with only one loss. tell them what they want to hear mark…

gabeaux

September 4th, 2011
1:55 pm

Either CMR recruits uncoachable 4 star athletes or he is just a lousy coach. What is it? Undisciplined by nature or nurture? It appears to me that “wishful thinking” is a major part of every game plan. A big dose of reality is needed at UGA and it should come in the form of a broom, sweeping the entire coaching staff away. Got to admit, the coach is nicely tanned, though.

DrDoom

September 4th, 2011
1:56 pm

Looses to:
Boise, South Carolina, Miss St, Tenn, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky and Georgia Tech.

Wins against:
New Mexico State, Coastal Carolina, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss

4-8 finish.

KELLEN MOORE

September 4th, 2011
1:59 pm

i just got home and want to thank all dawgs for being out of shape & not well coached because
we thought we would get a better game from the sec team in athens, georgia , well we did not , so
we hope to see LSU in the big easy , because we will be there and the dawgs will be at the papa
johns bowl playing UTAH STATE.