Alas, fixing UGA will require more than a few Richt ‘tweaks’

"How the heck did we win that thing, anyway?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"How the heck did we win that goshdarn thing, anyway?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Looking lousy against Boise State was one thing. Looking good but losing anyway was, in its way, worse. After the Georgia Bulldogs congratulated themselves on their Great Effort against South Carolina, the thought occurred:

Does Nick Saban congratulate himself after losses?

There are two ways to regard the bizarre doings of Saturday night. Mark Richt’s sunny-side-up stance was to speak of his team having “all the ingredients” and just needing “to tweak a couple of things.” The burnt-toast way is to reference the scoreboard and note that, once again, Richt’s team did whatever it took to lose.

You don’t go from losing half of your past 30 games to winning championships by tweaking. If anyone should know, it’s Richt. The march to the 2002 SEC championship was fueled by the desire — Richt’s words — to knock the lid off Georgia football. (The Bulldogs had gone two decades without a title.) Knocking implies force. Tweaking implies rather less. For contemporary Georgia football, less cannot yield more.

Optimists among us will point to Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell and Aaron Murray and Orson Charles and laud, as Richt did Saturday night, Georgia’s “talent base.” But the Bulldogs haven’t lacked for talent — not under Richt, not under Jim Donnan, not even under Ray Goff. At issue is whether Georgia again can learn to win, and that’s a whole ‘nother matter.

There’s a troubling label for what Georgia has become, and that label is “South Carolina.” For more than a century the Gamecocks would try very hard and stir deep passion but never quite get it right. How many times did Carolina play the Bulldogs off their feet and lose at the end? It happened in 2002, the David Pollack sack/snatch game that also featured two Gamecock fumbles on the goal line; happened in 2004, when Carolina led 16-0 but lost 20-16; happened in 2009, when it outgained Georgia by 119 yards but lost because Brandon Boykin returned a kickoff to score and because DeAngelo Tyson blocked a tying PAT.

There was no reason for Georgia to lose Saturday. Indeed, losing required real doing. More than just being fooled on a fake punt, Georgia couldn’t intercept a defensive end as he thundered 68 yards to a touchdown.  It was bad enough that nobody blocked Jadeveon Clowney, far worse that Murray waved the ball and left it unsecured, thereby turning a sack into a sack, strip and score.

“We’re going to shake off the mistakes and become a very good football team,” Richt said, and maybe Georgia will. But I’m more skeptical after South Carolina than after Boise State. More and more, Richt bears the look of one of those coaches who can take his’n and lose to your’n and vice versa.

How will Georgia finish?

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Did the coach order Murray and Crowell to botch a handoff at a time when Georgia was poised to take a 27-14 lead? Of course not. But the worst possible play at the worst possible moment has become a Bulldog signature. Georgia should have beaten Colorado last season, but Caleb King fumbled. Georgia could have beaten Florida, but Murray threw into a throng in overtime.

Mathematically speaking, Richt was correct in saying: “We’re still in the Eastern Division race.” Having watched Richt’s team contrive to lose a game that would have been far easier to win, I can’t summon up much enthusiasm for math.

Sure, it’s possible Georgia could win the next 10 games and take the East. It’s possible Richt could not only keep his seat but cement himself in place. It’s also possible Georgia will continue to do as Georgia now does — lose most every close game — and Dan Mullen will be tapped to coach the Bulldogs in 2012.

Speaking of Boise, Richt had said: “When you play a team that’s used to winning and that knows how to win, it’s hard.” Georgia has become the kind of team that’s easy to play. An opponent needn’t do all that much — just hang around long enough for the Bulldogs to mess up.

By Mark Bradley

639 comments Add your comment

James

September 11th, 2011
1:47 pm

First time being FIRST!

Socal Dawg

September 11th, 2011
1:47 pm

JGWOOD

September 11th, 2011
1:49 pm

Sports writers write with such confidence. What if it only takes a few tweaks? They were bounds better against USC than against Boise. What if next week they are even better and continue to get better through the season? Young teams need time and experience. One win could change everything.

J Clay

September 11th, 2011
1:50 pm

If Richt goes, I would look beyond Kirby Smart and Dan Mullen. I have more hope for this season than I did after week 1.

Mark Bradley

September 11th, 2011
1:50 pm

He’s James, and he’s kudo’ed.

J Clay

September 11th, 2011
1:51 pm

MB – only problem with your poll is the combined options is likely difference between Richt keeping job and him losing it. I fully believe if they go 9-3 he keeps his job but 8-4 loses it…

musa smith

September 11th, 2011
1:53 pm

I really wish they would just win a ballgame……….

Massahh

September 11th, 2011
1:55 pm

musa smith

September 11th, 2011
1:55 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot; Go Dawgs! 10-2 is very possible with this team; and this schedule.

G

September 11th, 2011
1:55 pm

I just can’t read your stuff anymore. You come with such an agenda against UGA. I suppose it is done to sell papers, though no one buys them anymore. or push on line views. This does not even make sense. You can’t lay the blame for everything gone wrong at the feet of a coach, but you still manage to do that. I have enjoyed you over the last 30 years but I think it is time to say good bye

Adamshater

September 11th, 2011
2:00 pm

My prediction is that Adams keeps Richt no matter how many games UGa loses. Adams doesn’t want a winning program.

Douglas Dawg

September 11th, 2011
2:02 pm

We are ok…. Yes loosing sucks and yes we should have won….I am a CMR supporter and believe we are close….it’s not x’s and o’s it’s learning how to win, expecting to win….. We will get it this year I think.

Tampa Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:02 pm

I read that Muschamp was upset at halftime with the Gators although they were leading 25-0 at the time……and Richt is all “sunny side up” after losing the biggest game of his coaching life. I don’t think any coach worth much would be seeing anything positive after starting 0-2 this season…..particularly after going 6-7 last season and losing to UCF in a bowl game. Richt…..Jesus will forgive you for your sins…..but Dawg fans will not forgive you for trying to justify and accepting losing. From what I am hearing Richt say these days…..I think it is time for him to step aside and let a new coach come in and try to motivate his very talented players. Richt is simply not doing the job….and neither are the players he is coaching. Time for a change in Athens.

Big Dawg

September 11th, 2011
2:03 pm

Great writing as always Mark. Losing is still losing. I can actually envision the Dawgs throwing a ticker tape parade if they had beaten SC. Even though Alabama thoroughly manhandled Kent St., Nick Saban almost sounded like they had lost. At halftime yesterday, referring to his Gators, Will Muschamp said his teams first half efforts “make me sick”. And they were winning at the time and would end up blanking UAB 39-0. These two examples of staying hungry and always striving for excellence are what we are missing in our Head Coach and his staff. They talk a big game, but are o.k. with mediocrity. And as winning breeds winning, mediocrity easily bleeds into losing as we are all painfully experiencing.

SoGaDawg

September 11th, 2011
2:04 pm

Finally Mark. You’ve said in an article what most of us who do not feel the need to wear rose colored lenses, or should I say red and black colored lenses have been seeing for the past few years. It’s not about UGA having talent to compete with any school in the Nation. It’s about that talent not being prepared for every game, it’s about that talent not having coaches make the adjustments it needs to make during a game. It’s about that talent not being coached up the potential they have inside of them. It’s about that talent not having a coach who isn’t going to say “aww shucks, we played hard, but somebody had to win” Spurrior made the comment that is special teams coach said that if UGA lined up in a certain set on defense then the fake punt will work. So I ask myself, if the coaches for other teams see that, why do we not have someone that looks at our game film from an outsiders perspective and find our weakness and then have our guys change that. Does UGA not have anyone that could’ve looked at our film and seen that we were vulnerable to that? Players play the way they are coached, plain and simple!

Fort Worth Dawg

September 11th, 2011
2:04 pm

Really need to look at our defense. 80 pts in two games! Grantham needs to go!

Tampa Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

musa smith…..

So Georgia is going to be 10-2 this year and is guranteed a win over Florida?????? I guess you have not seen Florida play yet….or Muschamp and staff coach. Florida, SC, and Tennessee all look better than Georgia under Richt at this point.

Basstringerfish

September 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

I still say we play Jan. 1.

frannie mae

September 11th, 2011
2:06 pm

UGA is in BIG BIG trouble……..

J Clay

September 11th, 2011
2:07 pm

Fort Worth Dawg – the coaching staff very well may need to go, but the D was not the problem yesterday. Offense/special teams gave up 28 points, meaning D gave up 17.

Muschamp lovers – The Gators are off to a good start and I congratulate them, but let’s not go annoint him the next great coach just yet.

Chaz

September 11th, 2011
2:07 pm

Georgia will be lucky to win 6 games…I love you Marck Richt youre the gift that never stops giving to the SEC East. We love you, please stay at Georgia forever.Lets hope you win 6 maybe 7 games…that keeps you in Georgia another 2 years or so to run the program further down.

Kool aid Drinker

September 11th, 2011
2:07 pm

Dawgs will go 10 – 2!

archangeladidas

September 11th, 2011
2:08 pm

Number 11th best team in the country right? Yeah when they fire CMR they should fire you too!

Kool aid Drinker

September 11th, 2011
2:09 pm

The D looked well against Latimore he only got 176 yards.

kevin

September 11th, 2011
2:09 pm

It’d be really hard to fire Richt after yesterday. They played well enough to beat SC or Boise St. But they made stupid mistakes that the Green Bay Packers couldn’t overcome. Where Richt can be faulted is for not helping Murray be SMARTER. Part of what makes Murray so good is that he never gives up on a play. But that’s also what makes him a liability. Murray MUST learn that some plays are simply DEAD; GIVE UP ON THEM AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT DOWN. LIVE TO PLAY ANOTHER DOWN. I’m sure David Greene made a few Murray-esque mistakes, but I’m having a hard time remembering any of them. Greene played like a GENIUS even as a redshirt freshman. Murray is in his 3rd year under Richt. He should be smarter than this by now.
I believe Richt has some time to salvage the season, but if he loses another game before Florida, he should be gone. Georgia needs to do it before the end of the season so it doesn’t kill recruiting. Find an interim and then have a new head coach in place before Christmas. But if Richt leads them to 10 straight wins, that should be good enough for ANYBODY. That’s what I’m hoping for. Georgia fans should never hope for losses just so we can get a new head coach. And forget Kirby Smart. Never again should GEORGIA hire an UNRPOVEN head coach. Georgia is still Georgia and the job is one of the most desirable in America. Kirby Smart? Please.

Tampa Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:10 pm

Finished watching the Georgia replay…..and I couldn’t help but notice that RAMBO THUG was back……and laid that late hit on the SC player after he was already in the end zone. Didn’t take him long to do what he does….did it? Sort of reflects the overall problem at Georgia, Mr. Rambo does.

Tampa Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:11 pm

Kool Aid Drinker……

Better check to see what is in that Kool Aid!!!!

Kool aid Drinker

September 11th, 2011
2:11 pm

This team showed some bright spots yesterday but we somehow lost again. Keep Richt!

Tampa Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:12 pm

Kool Aid…..

Oh….I see…..you are a sarcasitc Dawg fan. Sorry. I just thought you were being an unrealistic Dawg fan.

Since Vince

September 11th, 2011
2:12 pm

This season is OVA OVA

J Clay

September 11th, 2011
2:12 pm

Tampa Gator – congrats on good start, no thanks for piling on but since you want to bring up thugs your #1 player Rainey should not see the field.

funny...

September 11th, 2011
2:12 pm

Hey Tampa Gator,

you obviously chose not to see Clowney hit Murray late the play before the fumble or the USCe players hit Murray late twice while he was down after a scramble.

It’s not just UGA, it’s everybody. Quit being racist and ignorant. But I expect nothing less from a Florida Wal-Mart Fan

J Clay

September 11th, 2011
2:13 pm

Late hit does not equal confirmed death threats, or does it?

DawgForLife

September 11th, 2011
2:14 pm

Nothing should be done in mid-season…why don’t the “lunatic fringe” so called UGA fans get this? Evaluate at the end of the season. It would be different if CMR was unwilling to change. He knows there are problems & is making changes. The change in Strength & Conditioning has been made. We won’t see the changes after just one off-season. But continue the same S&C program year in year out & we will see results. When evaluating whether change is necessary, analyze how close we are to where we need to be. After watching yesterday’s game, doesn’t it look like we are a better team than last year? It sure does to me. We are the ONLY team in the country to open against 2 ranked opponents…DO YOU HEAR ME? I have no problem seeing CMR fired if I don’t think he can get it done. But he is showing he is willing to change & do whatever it takes to get better. He gave us our 1st SEC title in 20 years…HE KNOWS HOW TO COACH!!! Let the season play out…then evaluate. Just my opinon…GO DAWGS!

layinlow

September 11th, 2011
2:14 pm

I see the pollyanna richt lovers are out in full force. That faction of the fanbase is an embarrassment to UGA football. Those lovable losers who took glee from saturdays loss can’t be from the hard nosed erk russelll era of UGA football. We need change at seasons end. We need to get back to playing tough SEC football. How far have we fallen when part of our fanbase takes away positives from losing to USC? And one more thing you richt cheerleaders need to understand- SC isn’t even that good!! They will probably lose 4 or 5 games before it’s all over with.

mark louis

September 11th, 2011
2:15 pm

Moral victories are for 1 team in the SEC-Vanderbilt. The fact that the coaches, media, & some fans have claimed to have “hope” after Saturday’s game proves that Richt needs to go. This team is poorly coached, & they simply cannot beat good teams. Before last season, Richt faced arguably the biggest decision of his Georgia tenure-who to hire as his new defensive coordinator. Can anyone say he made the right decision? The time has come for a change, whether it be Mullen or someone else.

Dog Island Gator

September 11th, 2011
2:15 pm

My oh my…..incoming

funny...

September 11th, 2011
2:15 pm

Two really funny things about Tampa Gator

1. He lives in Tampa LOL, what a crap town
2. He never took a single class in Gainesville

wait for it, he’ll tell you he’s a lawyer or doctor LOL, what an idiot.

Strange Murphy

September 11th, 2011
2:15 pm

Dawgs are 0-2. Braves are faltering. Falcons are stinking it up against the Bears. At least I have good high school football to watch.

Howard

September 11th, 2011
2:16 pm

Mark…good article…noticed Georgia ran Crowell only 16 times while Carolina rode Lattimore quite a bit more. Crowell has to see the ball more in his hands…one thing in Georgia’s favor is the weakness of the eastern division of the SEC. Carolina will lose one along the way somewhere as will Florida…so really the season starts for Georgia with the next conference clash. Richt loses that one and suddenly the season boils down to finishing at least .500 and going back to another minor bowl. Oh and don’t be too hard on Georgia not stopping that defensive end who took that fake FG the distance. That guy fooled everyone on the TV…looked like he came off the sidelines and he carried that ball like a running back…oh wait, that’s what he was in high school. Spurrier pulled a great one there. Georgia’s season is simple…Crowell and more Crowell until they stop him. It will only help the passing game open up and give the defense a needed rest. That young stud doesn’t need to be off the field unless his tongue is hanging down to his cleats. Richt’s found his Hershel Walker…now what is he prepared to do about it? All these observations and I’m not even a Georgis fan!!

atlspxave

September 11th, 2011
2:16 pm

No matter what you say I don’t know who you are going to get to do any better job than CMR. CMR deserves the respect to leave when he wants to and not when the Athletic Board or Adams sees fit.

Herschel Talker

September 11th, 2011
2:17 pm

MB:

Regarding Mark Richt, it’s quite simple:

IT
IS
OVER

Time for him to move on to the next phase of his life. He’s a good guy, and best of luck to him, but everyone knows his fate is sealed.

HT

W. Martinez = T. Grantham Seperated at Birh?

September 11th, 2011
2:18 pm

It is time to pull the plug — I thought Willie Martinez sucked; AND HE DID!!! But, Todd Grantham? He is even WORSE!!! I never thought I would be saying that, but it is true. Grantham couldn’t call a hungry dog to eat leftovers after a Thanksgiving feast!! This guy and Willie Martz are one in the same!!
BooBoo has to go too..

I have and always will think that Mark Richt is morally one of the best men that could lead young men and people. But, his days of leading UGA to the top the SEC are over.

He is too good of a man to tell BooBoo that he, Mark Richt, is the only person who should be calling the plays on offense.

It’s time for the Kirby Smart or Brian VanGorder era to begin next season.

DON’T start with all that crap about this ex-pro coach or that ex-used to be great college coach who is now announcing…it aint gonna happen. Cowher and Chucky are not going to come to UGA. And what college coach in his right mind would leave a top level school for head coach at UGA?

Heck, Mark Richt couldn’t even get the guys he really wanted to be Def Cord and settled for Grantham to replace sick Willie.

Mark, thanks for the memories!!

Vince Dooley

September 11th, 2011
2:18 pm

What will folks on here be saying when my son whips these Dawgs on Rocky Top?

Big Dawg

September 11th, 2011
2:19 pm

Coach Richt says all they need to do is a little tweaking. All they have to do is work on a few small details and they’ll be fine. On the first day of practice at UCLA, legendary basketball Coach John Wooden taught his players how to tie their shoes and put on their socks correctly to avoid blisters. He did this on the first day, not as the ship was sinking. There’s a reason Wooden won 10 NCAA titles, and Mark Bradley is correct. Georgia needs to do a lot more than just tweak. It’s time for a complete overhaul and build a championship program from a strong foundation.

Tobias Funke

September 11th, 2011
2:20 pm

Just keep getting better each week.

Go Dawgs!

To the fans leaving with 2:30 left on the clock, 3 timeouts and DRIVING. Please never come back to another UGA game. Where is the support for the kids playing the game?

GoVols

September 11th, 2011
2:21 pm

Awww poor poor lil ole GA. Really. I cried for ya.

do do

September 11th, 2011
2:21 pm

BObo or dodo even i new that sreen pass was coming during comerch itold my daughter they had sucsess wth/it the most simple minded coord ateam can hav bobo eyes are to close together not that smart

Ghetto Gear Boyz

September 11th, 2011
2:23 pm

Who dont like my comment?

Dawgs > Tennessee

September 11th, 2011
2:23 pm

UGA will lay it on the vols—Richt will be looking to run it up to keep his job. Dawgs win big!