In 2012, the biggest concerns for Tech and UGA will be …

"Got any players you'd like to trade?" (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Both teams made strides, but both still have issues. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

This time a year ago, both fan bases would have taken what each wound up getting — a substantial upgrade over 6-7 — and been happy. But Georgia’s season of re-emergence ended with two losses, and Georgia Tech’s 6-0 start became a 2-5 finish.

As 2012 begins, each side has cause for optimism. (Two-thirds of the starters on both Tech and Georgia are scheduled to return.) But there’s a bit of doubt that will nag at both programs, and it has nothing to do with special teams. In each case, it’s a broader-based concern.

For Georgia, it’s the issue of bona fides as yet unproven. Bulldog fans love to make light of the ACC, but this is one time when that jibe has a double edge. A case can be made that the best of Georgia’s 10 victories came over an ACC team. (Meaning the win at Tech, which finished 8-5.)

Here were Georgia’s seven victories over SEC opponents: Ole Miss, which finished 2-10; Mississippi State, 7-6; Tennessee, 5-7; Vanderbilt, 6-7; Florida, 7-6; Auburn, 8-5; Kentucky, 5-7.) Everyone knows that the Bulldogs were spared from having to face LSU, Alabama and Arkansas in the regular season, and they’ll miss them again in 2012. And with no Boise State on the 2012 schedule, it’s possible Georgia could again win the SEC East and still not know exactly how good it is. Or isn’t.

This is where the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State hurts. The Spartans entered ranked above Georgia in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, and simply by holding a 16-point lead — or by making a field goal in Overtime No. 1 — the Bulldogs could have snagged a victory of some substance. (Even if it was against the Big Ten, another league SEC devotees love to derogate.)

If you’re Georgia, you can look at the assembled talent and those 10 victories and feel good about the future. But until the Bulldogs actually beat somebody really good, the question of whether this team can beat somebody really good will linger.

For Georgia Tech, it’s the issue of talent. Given that the Jackets placed one man — guard Omoregie Uzzi — on the all-ACC first team, we can make the case that an 8-5 season reflects great value. But the days of Paul Johnson being able to outflank everybody (or almost everybody) just because he’s Paul Johnson are, if not gone, then going.

In Johnson’s first two seasons, Tech was 20-7. In his most recent two, the Jackets were 14-12. Johnson took NFL-caliber talent inherited from his predecessor and elevated it, beating Georgia in Year 1 and winning the ACC in Year 2. Much of that holdover talent exited after the 2009 season, and it hasn’t yet been replaced.

Put simply, Tech no longer passes the eyeball test. (Sorry to invoke a Kirk Herbstreit image.) To watch Tech at its best is to think, “That’s a smart and resourceful team,” but no longer does this seem a program of imposing physical resources. And if the aim is to keep playing for championships, that’s a key consideration.

The Jackets were in position to do something this season but hit the talent wall. Unless/until better players are found, that wall will stand. Tech fans have derided Georgia’s heralded recruiting class of 2011, but a similar Dream Team would not be unwelcome at the Institute.

By Mark Bradley

400 comments Add your comment

It is what it is

January 5th, 2012
11:01 am

boo hoo, have some kahoonas…McGarity has taken all your Div 1 opponents off the schedule and replaced them with sisters of the poor, Afterall, UGA is just a pitiful misunderstood university where all the so called 5 stars recruits need pampering and the nation will just have to understand UGA needs to be ranked in the top 5 even though they do not play anybody. No guts and no glory.

Charleston Southern? Seriously? The mighty dog poops vs. this div 3 team with a junior high stadium?

How pathetic you people have become. And poor pitiful dogs couldn’t handle MSU. Maybe you need to recruit 7 and 8 stars since the 5 stars cannot get it done. Surely it isn’t the coaching.

Afterall, dumbo ears with dyed hair has all the answers and he knows what is best., Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Ever heard of holding the coaches accountable? Do they not make enough money?

Coaching...

January 5th, 2012
11:01 am

…both teams need to re-build from the top down…

It is what it is

January 5th, 2012
11:01 am

AS FOR GEORGIA TECH, FIRE GROH AND QUIT HIRING LOSERS FIRED FROM SOMEPLACE ELSE

builderdawg

January 5th, 2012
11:02 am

UGA has lost two straight...

January 5th, 2012
11:05 am

…after collapsing in the second half – they are probably the worst coached team in the US, though Clemson will be hard pressed to be considered better coached.

UGA built up a lot of good will this year, then lost every bit of it with those two showings in the second half against LSU and MSU – McGarity should clean house so that HIS record is not tromped on by the ineptness that is a Mark Richt coached team.

GT, meanwhile has the best coach for them, according to an earlier piece by MB – but, they too, do not know how to win, and they will only get worse under PJ

Time for both to go in a new direction…

Skitty Fritty

January 5th, 2012
11:07 am

UGA’s schedule looks like Florida’s schedule when UF won 2 National Titles. Didn’t hear any UF fans complaining back then.

Matt

January 5th, 2012
11:08 am

All true. However I find it funny that the supporers of Boise St say “you can’t penalize a team for the schedule they play, they can’t help who is in their conference”. Why does this now apply to UGA?? UGA can be penalized for the schedule they play but Boise can’t??

Most years Oregon and USC are the only teams worth a crap in the Pac-12 yet nobody says a word about schedules. Most years it’s Texas and OU and then everyone else but nobody says a word about weak schedules. The ACC has been VaTEch and everyone else for years yet noone ever says anything.

builderdawg

January 5th, 2012
11:09 am

you are right on point Mark. Georgia NEEDS to beat someone. Unfortunately, that won’t happen until they beat Carolina, a team UGA used to dominate. I’m worried that UGA will go back to 3-5 losses in a season once CMR gets the new contract. He isn’t coaching for his job like he was earlier this year. Very worried that this program can not take the next step without some changes in coaches (OC),but thats another story all together

Rickster

January 5th, 2012
11:09 am

UGA...

January 5th, 2012
11:09 am

… is now on par with Vandy, no doubt about it, and Vandy is going up while UGA continues its slide down. UGA and Vandy are the only SEC teams to lose in this bowl season, and will probably be the only two (the LSU/AL loser does not count)- AR should beat KS, so that will mean UGA is the worst team in the SEC – and the prospects for next year, though seemingly good since the schedule is again weak, is not good for long time Dawg fans. More mediocrity and wins against bad schools – look for UGA to be the whipping boy for all SEC east teams next year – sad, but true…

Rickster

January 5th, 2012
11:09 am

Or ninth, even.

piermontdawgny

January 5th, 2012
11:10 am

PLEASE FIRE BOBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sogadog

January 5th, 2012
11:11 am

UGA issues:

1. Establish a running game

2. Take a hard look at the offensive scheme and play calling.

3. Retain Grantham

4. Work on special teams issues.

TECH issues:

1. Recruiting

2. Recruiting

3. Recruiting

4. Recruiting

jtb

January 5th, 2012
11:13 am

Just think, even with all that GT is lacking, they were still one personal foul penalty against VT from making the ACC Championship game…

Skitty Fritty

January 5th, 2012
11:17 am

Matt:
The answer is simple. UGA plays in the SEC week in and week out. Boise St. has 2 big games a year.
Take a look at the injuries during the season to SEC teams compared with Boise State.

Willie Martinez

January 5th, 2012
11:18 am

The biggest concern about UGA football is that the current coaching staff will still be in Athens. McGarity needs to clean house. Richt has taken us through years of embarrassing play and embarrassing losses, and with a very good coach in Tuscaloosa who could take this team back to national prominence and restore fan pride in the program, it is time to bring Kirby Smart to Athens.

George Stein

January 5th, 2012
11:22 am

I don’t know that talent is the issue for Tech. I have supported Johnson – and continue to do so – but he must do something different on special teams and, regrettably, reconsider the Groh experiment. The offense has been fine and the 8-5 record with atrocious special teams and a decidedly mediocre defense prove that.

I am not a fan of simply firing everyone, but either the Groh experiment must be ended or there must be significant improvement on that side of the ball in 2012. Johnson is responsible for all aspects of his team and only one of them continues to perform at a consistently high level. He must fix the other two.

But Why Not?

January 5th, 2012
11:24 am

Agree with the assessment on talent. This has been my biggest concern for Tech’s future. A novel football scheme and even great coaching will only take you so far. What concerns me more is over time if the current coach leaves, the talent level may well become so low that it will take a long time to recover. I’m hoping that CPJ will put more emphasis into recrruiting and I am very tired of the worn out excuses about academics, etc. and frankly don’t fully buy into that. At least be able to recruit in the top 35 periodically for goodness sake. It’s been done before sow quit witht the excuses. I think it’s sad for the program and fans really…

GTSux

January 5th, 2012
11:29 am

I’m sick of the Nerds talking about Georgia’s schedule.
Tech plays Middle Tennessee, BYU, and SE Louisiana in 2012.
Real brutal, huh? Plus, they don’t play Florida St (again)
or NC State (who finished 8-5) Quit your whining.
BTW, 10 out of 11!!! Punch that into your calculator

OkieDawg

January 5th, 2012
11:29 am

I agree with the assessment of both programs. The good news is that UGA can fix many of their problems with both current and future talent. The bad news is that Tech can’t fix their problems with current or future talent. Good teams start with a good QB. What great or even good QB wants to go to GT and throw 14 quick out passes a game? What great or good WR wants to go to a team that will throw them the ball 4-5 times per game? What great or good O-lineman wants to go to a team that teaches the blockking technique call “Cut Blocking” or better known as knee diving? And finally, GT’s program is scarred with the stigma of PROBATION. GT has an uphill battle to relavancy while the future is very promising in Athens.

btgt69

January 5th, 2012
11:32 am

It amazes me that BOTH GT and uga had very successful seasons based upon expert preseason predictions. What further amazes me is the vicious criticism dumped upon the players after losses. I believe most viciousness comes from “fans” who have never played collegiate sports nor understand the time requirements regardless of where they may play. Try carrying a college load plus practice and travel and film,,etc. Give the kids a break.

IL Jacket

January 5th, 2012
11:33 am

The biggest issue for Tech really is, who is going to play QB. MB, I think saying Tech doesn’t have the talent it had under Gailey is a little simplistic. Tech was a very young team this year, but the play of Washington held the offense back. We saw the offense be successful when there was a QB like Nesbitt who could run over people, what we need to see is if we can find a QB who can both run AND throw the ball. Also, you dismissed the special teams aspect, but it was huge for Tech this year and affecting both defensive and offensive play calling. We have to get better in that phase of the game or 8-5 will increasing look like great years.

Reality Man

January 5th, 2012
11:33 am

After seeing what happened to the ACC CHAMPIONS last night, I don’t see how a tech fan can say anything about schedules ever again. I mean, the last 2 nights we’ve watched the ACC’s best get prison banged by teams that arent that good. So what does that say about Tech’s schedule….

swarmi

January 5th, 2012
11:35 am

GT lost two games because the QB either could not or would not let anyone else touch the ball….32 carries in one loss. That problem may not exist next year if the Lee experiment is successful…but we will not know that until the fall evaluation is complete.

How are the dogs going to keep LeMay on the bench?

Columbus Dawg

January 5th, 2012
11:36 am

Yeah, well McGarity has already said that Richt is here to stay. Sounds like he is defending Bobo as well. What McGarity is not taking into account, is that these same problems that are keeping UGA from getting to the championship level have been going on for years,( while he was at UF of all places) and have not been rectified under the current staff. Special teams and OL problems have been a constant hinderance. Grantham has the D heading in the right direction, but look how long it took to finally get a quality coach.

Another thing that McGarity does not realize, most of the people who sent him e-mails are football literate, and know plenty about the game. I sure as heck do not know what a former tennis player could be expected to know about the details of college football that would allow you to compete at a high, championship level. Most of the Dawg folks I know played and/or coached football, most having at least played at the high school level. There ain’t no blocking and hitting going on in tennis. To say that if Walsh had hit the field goal everyone would be happy and jolly in the Dawg nation, that is just wrong. Every Dawg I know would still have a sinking feeling about 2012, because of the things that have not been fixed that actually led to MSU being in position to win the game. I know for a fact that if UGA had a running game, (like it has always had until Richt became coach), that the D would not have been hung out to dry. Successful football teams, especially when facing a good D, must be able to run the ball and eat clock. All we needed was ONE first down to put the game away. This fact has NOTHING to do with field goals. Now I am not giving a total pass to the Defense, there is still work to be done, and depth to be built. The problem here is that when these players finally get to playing sound SEC football, they all want to leave for the NFL, even if they are not in the top rounds of the draft. It is like they know there is not enough coaching to get to the championship level, so they just jump anyway. Hard to build quality depth when this is constantly happening. Look at all the fifth year seniors that LSU has this year.

I have said this before, but Adams had better hope that their plans lead to great things with the football program, because if there is no championship at UGA very soon, and they have extended his contract and cost the school more money, all while they walk around in denial as if it is all the players fault, or the fans fault, or the Hartman Fund contributors fault, things will get very ugly at UGA before they get better. Just like the end of Goff’s tenure.

Reality Man

January 5th, 2012
11:36 am

Does Tech’s schedule have VaTech and Clemson on it? It does? WOW, what a great schedule break for them!! 2 cupcake wins right there!
What? You mean those two god awful teams that we saw the last couple of nights are actually the best in the ACC? oh wow……
Tech has the easiest schedule in sports history then. 1 good opponent at the end of the season…

go-BRAVOS

January 5th, 2012
11:39 am

UGA is content with mediocrity. They are to win 10 games a year, against terrible teams, instead of demanding excellence. If your happy with low expectations then you’ll get bad results and that were CMR is. I like Richt but he just lacks that killer instinct and I’m afraid he is just not a coach that can win a National Championship, he is happy just to win 10 games a year. Another thing, it seems his teams always lack discipline on and off the field that starts at the top.

Ramblin Man

January 5th, 2012
11:39 am

I agree that GT needs better talent, but let’s remember this team is young and I would hope the depth and talent will show better next year.

GTBob

January 5th, 2012
11:42 am

Of course GT needs better talent. That is why we only have 7 10 win seasons in the past 65 years. Unfortunately there is no good answer for how to actually get better talent at GT without changing policies that have nothing to do with football.

UGA Insider

January 5th, 2012
11:45 am

#1 problem in Athens…

Mike Adams

old dog

January 5th, 2012
11:45 am

We have a little talent that needs to be coached up, and we need to get rid of the non-team players…period. We knew several had issues, but brought ‘em in anyway. We have to learn to run-block, and we need a tailback who can consistently get positive yardage North and South, not one who is trying to break the Olympic record for the sideline dash! We have proven to the world that we CANNOT run the ball against a good team!
Tech, pure and simple, has to bring in some talent everywhere. It is hard to bring in a real QB in that system, since he may be beaten to a pulp. I know the teckies keep saying that the cripple-option is the real deal, but see how the recruiting does if you keep on. Its not all academics, as Tech has recruited some quality players in the past. Thats just an excuse….once again there has been a ton of talent at Tech in the past!
We can’t talk too much; we can whip Tech pretty regularly, but we are NOT SEC ready….and we better get that way. The schedule is favorable, so work on basic football (blocking/tackling–especially run blocking.) If we can’t compete with the elite, folks will be “sho-nuff” mad next year!

Steve

January 5th, 2012
11:46 am

“Go Bravos” I will take 10 wins any time, playing in the SEC. Don’t have such high expectations. How often do you see a team CONSTANTLY win 11+ games? Hardly ever. Every team has its ups and downs.

You Richt bashers crack me up. Before Richt, UGA won an SEC title in the early 80’s. Since he arrived, we have won two and been to four SEC Championships. You people want him out? Who are you going to replace him with?

Tech's Biggest Issue

January 5th, 2012
11:46 am

Coping with the annual beat down at the end of each season.

DawgFan

January 5th, 2012
11:46 am

Can anyone tell me what DWAGS is?

collegeballfan

January 5th, 2012
11:48 am

I watched both games on TV.

Both teams, GT & UGA, were not able to block the opposing defense when crunch time arrived.

Until they change the rules football is still a game of blocking and tackling. Neither GT or UGA blocked when it mattered and GT could not tackle when it mattered.

Both teams need to recruit linemen on both sides of the ball.

UGA Insider

January 5th, 2012
11:50 am

By the way… Charles, Rambo and Washington are gone to the NFL.

Tech Forever

January 5th, 2012
11:50 am

If you don’t think academics is a big recruiting barrier to the football program then you haven’t spoken to very many former players. For the most part they are very honest and open about the academic rigors at Tech and it being a HUGE reason why more 4 and 5 star recruits don’t look at Tech and/or Tech not being able to look at them. It’s a fact…..period.

Unfortunately Tech doesn’t have the $12.96 Million required to buy CPJ out of his contract so we’re stuck for a looooooong time. If and when Tech does get a new HC we need to hire a defensive disciple of Belichick/ Saban to be HC and of Mumme/Leach to be OC. That’s the recipe for success and one that will get better talent on The Flats.

GTBob

January 5th, 2012
11:51 am

Tech Forever

January 5th, 2012
11:52 am

GTBob,

EXACTLY!

What is it?

January 5th, 2012
11:52 am

Fine, Georgia lost to the 4 highest ranked teams it played. And, for that, it will end up ranked behind those 4 teams this year.

Fine, Georgia misses Ala, LSU, and Ark next year. At least until the SEC Championship game.

Fine, Georgia’s out of conference schedule next year is weak. What do you people want McGarity to about next year’s schedule?

Fine, Bobo and Richt played it safe on Georgia’s last possession of regulation and first possession in overtime. If Walsh makes that fieldgoal, then no one is complaining.

Richt is a good coach. You don’t win 100+ games in 11 seasons by being an idiot, or inheriting a loaded team, or getting lucky. He recruits well and coaches well. Georgia’s wins way more than it loses. Look back at this Richt era and realize that this last 10 years has been the most prolific of any stretch in Georgia football history.

Yes, no national championship. I know. Big deal. Winning the SEC is the only thing that you can control. He’s done that. Twice. Since 2001, LSU has won 4; Georgia, Auburn, & Florida have won 2 each; and Alabama has won 1.

What exactly do you people want? Fire Richt and hire who? Does a team have to win the SEC every year and national championship every other year in order for the coach to not be on the hot seat?

Chicken Farmer

January 5th, 2012
11:56 am

I agree with “But Why Not” regarding our recruiting for CPJ’s system. I liked the hire when it was made as thought he was the best thing for GT at the time. I’m admitting to “flip flopping” on that now as would be called in political circles, but if this triple option doesn’t begin to show big time improvement in 2012, then we’re pretty much stuck with it for at least 4 years after CPJ parts company with GT. We’ll still have his recruits for that period of time while the new coach suffers to install his program and recruit for it. I feel we’re in a catch 22 situation and should remove ourselves from it ASAP. I see remnants of the TO in most every top calibre program, but they also run the majority of pro style offenses. These two offenses compliment each other while not having to stand alone on either one as we at GT have to.

o-my dawgs

January 5th, 2012
12:03 pm

Both need a kick in the azzzz..should have won!

Nom Nom Nom Chucks....Taylor or Norris

January 5th, 2012
12:03 pm

It’s not Tech’s academic rigors keeping big recruits out the door….It’s that your coach is just a arsehole…he’s not very personable and torched bridges with rescending scholly offers to players that seem to waffle.

He won with Gaileys players….and will lose with his. But of course, it’s all the players fault not executing his masterful scheme.

UGA? stuck in Atlanta Braves-esque purgatory, sans 1995.

go-BRAVOS

January 5th, 2012
12:04 pm

Steve, Richt has won only 1 SEC Championship with players he recruited and coached up, the other was with Donnan’s players. I could be content to win 10 games if we actually beat a quality opponent but that hasn’t happened in 2-3 years.
It is sad but Spurrier has it right about UGA football, “Why is it that during recruiting season they sign all the great players, but when it comes time to play the game, we have all the great players? I don’t understand that. What happens to them?”

GTBob

January 5th, 2012
12:05 pm

It’s not Tech’s academic rigors keeping big recruits out the door….It’s that your coach is just a arsehole

Then why didn’t Tech ever recruit well before CPJ got here? Why are his recruiting numbers higher then Gailey overall?

o-my dawgs

January 5th, 2012
12:08 pm

Chicken farmer has the right idea..esp the the two offenses compliment each other and GT needs to use both.

the rest of us

January 5th, 2012
12:09 pm

So……….what are the concerns again?

Melinda

January 5th, 2012
12:09 pm

There is not way Tech (under any coach) will be able to recruit like uga. The academic requirements are tough. For uga fans, I hope Crowell can develop some character to go along with his talent. If the uga players would play up to their five star potential instead of living up to their 5 star attitudes, they would have a championship by now. Watching him stand on the sideline “hurt” for a lot of plays this year was ridiculous. He didn’t even seem interested in the game.

Other than the 2007 class that Gailey fielded, his average recruiting was no better than Johnson’s. Bebe was a 2 star coming out of high school. Tech needs talent in key positions. Defensive line (concerned that this year will be bad too because the guys who have to step in will either be redshirt freshmen or true freshmen) and QB. We need a faster dual threat QB. Maybe the transfer from Alabama will be that guy or Vad Lee can step in. Special Teams need to be addressed FIRST as poor play from this unit cost us 2 wins this year and Defense second. We have to get better line and linebacker play. The offense is fine. We score enough to win if the defense and ST’s could just show some level of good but not great! :-/

Tech Forever

January 5th, 2012
12:10 pm

O.k. people if Tech’ academics have NOTHING to do with our thin recruiting then why have the big recruits stayed away no matter who the HC was, what offense we run, our previous success, etc. ech’s academics plays a HUGE role in our football recruiting….it’s not the only limitation. But we have over 40 years of history to prove it is a big one…..in fact its the only constant over the last 40 years.

Michael

January 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

“Everyone knows that the Bulldogs were spared from having to face LSU, Alabama and Arkansas”

We did have to play LSU, as you might recall…