Unless it beats the Gators, UGA will be a 10-2 underachiever

Wait! Isn't that the signal for the infield fly? (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

"Wait just a doggone minute! Isn't that the signal for the infield fly?" (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

At the absolute worst, Georgia figures to finish its regular season 10-2. Just last year, a 10-2 regular season yielded an SEC East title and bought Mark Richt a contract extension and was taken as a sign that Georgia football was on the ascent. To go 10-2 again, assuming this 10-2 includes a loss to Florida and the absence of another division title, would be taken as an abject reversal.

Here’s where the Bulldogs’ bunny schedule serves as both boon and burden. Georgia still must play Kentucky, Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia Tech; the aggregate record of those teams is 7-16. The Bulldogs also will face Georgia Southern, which plays at a lesser level. If Georgia beats those five but loses to Florida, it will be described, oddly but accurately, as a 10-2 underachiever.

When the Bulldogs were going 8-5 in 2009 and  6-7 the next season, the question became: Would they ever win big again? They’ve since gone 15-5, which would seem to offer an answer, but in light of the drubbing administered by South Carolina we note there can be a difference between Winning Big and Winning Big Games. Georgia has come to occupy the space between.

Its last victory over a Top 10 team came when it defeated No. 7 Georgia Tech on Nov. 28, 2009. The Bulldogs last beat an SEC team ranked in the Top 10 on Oct. 27, 2007 (No. 9 Florida in the Gator Stomp game). Their last victory over anybody in the top five came against No. 5 Auburn on Nov. 11, 2006. Since Oct. 30, 2008, Georgia is 4-13 against ranked opposition, and three of those times the Bulldogs were the higher-ranked team.

Coming off their 2011 turnaround, these Bulldogs figured to have much working for them: A fourth-year junior at quarterback, nine defensive starters who are either seniors or juniors and, above all, the softest of schedules. But when you play so few games against opponents of comparable worth and you lose them all, that schedule turns against you. It makes you seem a team that is, as Lou Holtz once said, living a lie.

It would one be one thing if the Bulldogs were capable of no more, if the only thing enabling them to be ranked at all was the canny maximization of modest resources. But you cannot recruit at such an exalted level and then claim personnel bankruptcy. There aren’t 10 more talented teams in the land. So why, when it comes time to step up in class, does Georgia invariably flunk?

We cannot help but look to the coach. It’s his program. He hired these high-salaried assistants, recruited these star-spangled players. And isn’t as if Richt has never won a Big Game: From 2002 through Jan. 1, 2008, Georgia was 22-10 against ranked opponents. It is 6-14 since. It has become the classic bully: It terrorizes the small fry but turns tail when the big boys show up.

After winning the East last year, the Bulldogs faced No. 1 LSU and lost 42-10. After rising to No. 5 in the land this season, they played South Carolina in Columbia and lost 35-7. That’s a 60-point spread in prove-it games, and the latter loss was truly alarming. Georgia wasn’t ready to handle a team like LSU last season, but 1o months later it was even less prepared for what the Gamecocks unleashed. Isn’t experience supposed to be a teaching tool?

Maybe it can still be one. This year isn’t over. If Georgia can beat Florida, there’s a chance the Bulldogs can again win the East. South Carolina would have to lose twice, but its next two games are against LSU and Florida on the road. Even so, the sight of the Gators again on the rise is surely disquieting: Of the four times Georgia has won the SEC East, three came in Year 1 after a Florida coaching change, and the fourth was in Ron Zook’s final season. This is Year 2 for Will Muschamp, and Florida just climbed to No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.

Having lost three in a row to South Carolina, Georgia has already fallen behind the Gamecocks in both standings and hierarchy. If Florida jumps back ahead of the Bulldogs, the Richt renaissance will have been the briefest of moments. His program will be in danger of falling into the hole from which he once rescued it: That time in the ’90s when Florida and Tennessee owned the division and Georgia, under Ray Goff and Jim Donnan, was relegated to third place.

This looked to be the season Richt and his Bulldogs consolidated their hold on the division, and they might yet. But anything less than an East title would rekindle all those questions about Richt. There’s no way Georgia would move to fire a coach who wins 10 games two years running; there’s also no way the second 10-2 would feel half as good as the first.

At some point Georgia has to answer the question, “Yeah, but who did you beat?” And that answer cannot continue to be, “Well, there was that Tech game back in ‘09 …”

By Mark Bradley

987 comments Add your comment

Mr C

October 8th, 2012
2:03 pm

Mark Bradley

October 8th, 2012
2:04 pm

Kudos, Mr C.

Mr C

October 8th, 2012
2:11 pm

Thanks Bradley. I’m not a GA fan but i will take the first on their blog!!! R u forecasting that GA will beat those 5 teams and lose to FL? Not so fast my friend. They will finish 9-3 record with a loss to FL and (insert one of those 5 teams)

todd grantham

October 8th, 2012
2:12 pm

Georgia will always be an underachiever under the present coaching staff.

NC Dawg

October 8th, 2012
2:13 pm

“It would one be one thing if the Bulldogs were capable of no more, if the only thing enabling them to be ranked at all was the canny maximization of modest resources. But you cannot recruit at such an exalted level and then claim personnel bankruptcy.”

Bingo. 10 win seasons are great but championships are the goal each year, even stated by Richt. Are champion seasons now defined by 10 wins? It seems to be at Georgia.

Has the lid that Richt promised to blow off when he arrived, and did with ‘02 and ‘05 SEC Championships, begun to settle back on this program?

todd grantham

October 8th, 2012
2:14 pm

Looks more like the ref is savoring the moment like the fans in the background.

Dawg gone

October 8th, 2012
2:14 pm

Never heard Herb. K criticize a coach or team like he did Saturday night – love my Dawgs but couldn’t disagree with his views.

Mr C

October 8th, 2012
2:15 pm

Thanks Bradley. I’m not a UGA fan but i will take the first from their blog.

R u saying that UGA will beat those 5 teams and lose to FL. Not so fast my friend. I see them finishing 9-3 and whining about Richt

Billy Ryckman

October 8th, 2012
2:19 pm

There you go again Mark, stirring up the anti-Richt sentiment. It will be a sad day in GA if Richt is removed. He is one of the finest coaches we have ever had. It will take 10 years to recover if he is fired. Come on Mark…give us a break.

Big Time???? Not!

October 8th, 2012
2:21 pm

“I would say that South Carolina physically whipped us.” — Mark Richt, AB-H, 10/7/12
After a few days of reflection, it’s once again apparent that I evidently put more preparation into my tailgates and/or viewing parties than the coaches do in preparing our team. Richt has no fire. I still support the team, will go to the games and pull for the Dogs, but this coaching staff will never take us beyond being a mid tier SEC program with NFL caliber talent.

jake dawg

October 8th, 2012
2:21 pm

It’s a long season. Lot’s of things still to happen. All you doom and gloomers can go get wet.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

October 8th, 2012
2:22 pm

Enter your comments here

NCDawg

October 8th, 2012
2:23 pm

It’s appalling to see a team with as many individually talented players as Georgia make such adismal showing in Saturday night. They didn’t seem well-prepared in any way. It was shocking to see them completely fall apart. As good as USC is, they’re no more talented than UGA. They’re just a better team. Ur

jake dawg

October 8th, 2012
2:23 pm

Herbstreit sucks.

InRussWeTrust

October 8th, 2012
2:23 pm

Mark Bradley, I have appreciated your optimism in the past (even if it was a little unrealistic, but hey I like a little red koolaide every now and then), but you really hit the nail on the head in this article. Every one in this program from the top down needs to do some soul searching and I’m afraid hard choices are going to have to be made before we see UGA become a real SEC competitor any time soon.

George Stein

October 8th, 2012
2:23 pm

We (Tech) are already down, Mark. There’s no need to remind of us of the good times when we still couldn’t get it done.

Can this season end already?

short memories

October 8th, 2012
2:23 pm

So if you win 10 games against a pansy schedule but can’t ever beat a ranked team then you say that qualifies as a coaching extension. This mediocrity in schedule and in execution is what continually dooms the bulldogs.

Vanakatherock

October 8th, 2012
2:24 pm

I’d say you can’t expect much with a pitiful offensive line and an offensive coordinator that calls horrendous plays. I mean, who calls a run play on 3rd and long deep in your own territory?

I think Georgia finishes 11-1 and possibly in the SEC championship, with the aforementioned assistance in taking down South Carolina.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

October 8th, 2012
2:24 pm

You may be giving a little to much credit expecting ten wins this year with the team i have seen the last two weeks

todd grantham

October 8th, 2012
2:25 pm

On Saturday Poor Aaron was knocked on his tail;
The O/Line’s blocks
were of no avail;
But wait! Coach Richt says
all is just fine!
Keep betting on Georgia,
we’ll cover the line;
if I can just keep the guys out on bail!

short memories

October 8th, 2012
2:26 pm

The same thing you said last year and the year before and….. Keep drinking the kool-aid and see where that gets UGA

Alphare

October 8th, 2012
2:27 pm

Mark, I blame the whole thing on UGA fans. Here is why:

1. While UGA’s D is mediocre, most UGA fans claim it’s among the best in the nation.

2. Murray is an average QB, while most UGA fans claim he is a Heisman contender.

These UGA fans pump UGA players so much, leading them to believe to be who are really NOT. When it comes to crunch time, the pumped balloons cannot stand the pressure but burst.

That’s what happened when they played USC.

Mike Lum

October 8th, 2012
2:27 pm

In the last four years of the Fulmer era, Tennessee defeated six ranked teams:

2005- #4 LSU- 30-27

2006- #9 Georgia 51-33 and #15 California 35-18

2007- #12 Georgia 35-14, #15 South Carolina 27-24 and #18 Wisconsin 21-17.

And he got canned. Anyone see a pattern?

The Man

October 8th, 2012
2:28 pm

Georgia would like to think they are/have been an elite program. Outside of Hershel years, when can this case truly be made?

Bad Dawg, Yeck

October 8th, 2012
2:29 pm

See Mark this is the problem with a 10-2 season. DAWGS DIDN’T PLAY ANYONE THAT MATTERED IN THE 10 WINS!!!!

Billy Ryckman

October 8th, 2012
2:30 pm

Have any of you guys read from many nationally known sportswriters over the past year. The theme has been that Bobo is a top prospect for a HC position and if UGA were to let Richt go, a major program looking for a coach would try to snatch him up in a New York second. I know a lot of you would be happy if both were to leave–but you will not find a player or fellow coach on the UGA sqad who wants Richt or Bobo to go. So glad that the AD does not listen to the bozo negative commenters on these blogs–nor do they listen to the writers.

Really?

October 8th, 2012
2:31 pm

I smell dead dog! No way you beat Florida with the play you had on Saturday and my two favorite teams are UGA and whoever is playing Florida on Saturday. This team lacks a foot in they ANGUS and although I am a Richt fan he is not the man to do it. Bobo is shellshocked in big games as much as Adam Murray is! This staff cannot coach up to BIG games and players cannot play up to big games…last time they did they were challenged by an OLD SEC Coach who challenged them to step up and play grown man football against Auburn. Sad that they would have to have a challenge like that everyweek from a Coach who is not on the staff at UGA to make an impact in a game. No more excuses to recruit such talent and not know how to coach it up. You dont see that coming out of Alabama! Teams model the leadership they have and they also model the discipline that they receive. Not calling Richt soft because of his attitude but he is soft and players know that when we start the year off with 3 top tier players suspended. Every since Jarvis Jones was placed in the top of the big board by Mel Kiper he has pulled a disappering act. Murray just does not have what it takes to be the big boy on campus when it comes to big games. Ogletree and Rambo missed so much time that the speed of the game wont catch up for them until another 2 to 3 weeks! That sound we here is the UGA team backing up again hoping no one is behind us as we back our way to the SEC game……..and why to get slaughtered like lambs by an Alabama team that will make you look twice as worse as you did Saturday? Enough is enough and it is time to have some attitude along with some heart combined with discipline for this program. Is this the right coaching staff to do it…………well that question continues to be answered for us week in and week out!

Bad Dawg, Yeck

October 8th, 2012
2:31 pm

And who exactly did the Dogs play that mattered if you lose to Gamecocks and Gators? Didn’t play Alabama, Miss State or LSU so once again 10 wins is an underachievement.

Mike S.

October 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

Honestly, who should they have beaten the last 3 years or so? The 2008 team had a matador defense as bad as any that put on a UGA uniform. That was a huge upset in 2009 over Tech, which kept UGA from finishing the regular season 6-6. They followed that up with a 6-6 2010 campaign. Last year, they were just getting back on their feet, but were not good enough to beat the 4 top 10 caliber teams they lost to.

Son of Sammy Davis Jr, Jr

October 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

I told y’all for the last 2 weeks, Spurrier is coming……….

Hank the Tank

October 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

UGA and FSU are both fighting for the right to be known as the Notre Dame of the south. Always overrated and never living up to expectations. Saturday shouldn’t have been a shocker to anyone.

Glory between the Hedges

October 8th, 2012
2:32 pm

Mark,

Why not be able to fire your coach who goes 10-2 when everybody understands that we beat sisters of the poor to get those 10 wins? If we go 10-2 and beat nobody worth a darn, then McGarity needs to step in and show the Bulldog nation that he is serious about running a championship caliber program. The reason that a lot of our fans get sick of the fact that Alabama is winning championships now if because we are the ones who live in the state with all the talent.

Birmingham Jacket

October 8th, 2012
2:34 pm

Loved the call from Bill King on Rivals Radio this AM. The called Mark Richt the “Energy Vampire”. How true.

It looked like that guy was thinking about being on a sandy, hot beach drinking a cold Margarita the whole game.

Mike S.

October 8th, 2012
2:34 pm

As for this year, I knew the team would have issues when all the suspensions happened and Isaiah Crowell got kicked off. This team fell apart with all kinds of selfish nonsense in the offseason rather than come together with a team vision and see it through. It was going to affect them at some point.

TRUEFAN

October 8th, 2012
2:36 pm

Sad to admit it but we can’t win with a coach that says we were whipped but not flat.

Mike S.

October 8th, 2012
2:37 pm

Dont forget, UGA has a habit of a late Sept-early Oct clunker…even in the 06 and 07 seasons. Its usually at the hands of Tennessee, before Dooley got there. I think this is the clunker for the year. We need to also let the month play out. Dont underestimate having to play UT then @SC back to back while SC tuned up with UK. It will be UGA’s turn to sit back now. SC plays @LSU, then @UF the next two weeks. the UF/SC game is the week before UF plays UGA. In the meantime, UGA gets a bye and Kentucky.

david

October 8th, 2012
2:40 pm

it all about the money that uga makes

MEteam

October 8th, 2012
2:41 pm

What happened to big TEAM and little me? Too many MEs and not enough TEAM is what I am seeing this season.

I have not spoken about the game or read anything until now as I literally have been too numb to do so, but here goes.

1. 2nd play of game? is pass down middle – picked off by Rambo. Georgia’s gonna roll from here and shut out crowd. But wait, small receiver just literally yanked ball away from Rambo and big reception for SC… Come on Rambo – step up and win that battle, and this could have been a different ballgame.

2. When our run game is not working, and we need to score (down 21 or more points)… throw the ball. Not once, then two deadend runs that are clearly being stuffed, followed by a maybe 3rd pass conversion… scrap the gameplan and build on quick strikes, back to back to back… the play calling is just too predictable.

dick whiskey

October 8th, 2012
2:42 pm

fatboy grantham needs to share in some of the blame also,him and his agent just sold UGA on how great him and his D were last year and got the fatboy the big raise,but when you look at the chcken s**t schedule you see the fatboys D only looked good against the scrubs of the world and the few good teams they have played the last two years have wiped the fatboys ass,despite having so much supposed talent

Chris

October 8th, 2012
2:42 pm

Billy Ryckman, you obviously don’t know jack sh_t about football. Richt needs to go, and winning 10 straight last year was the worst thing that could happen to Georgia. You think it would be 10 years before Georgia could get back to what? Being mediocre like we are now? I would much rather find a new coach that will take a few years to get things turned around rather than have to put up with Richt for one more second. If he stays at Georgia 10 more years, it will be 10 more years of being average and winning 8-10 games a year. The fact is that Georgia is better than the Kentucky’s, Vanderbilts, and Tech’s of the world and we should ALWAYS when 8-10 games no matter who the coach is. A great coach could take our program beyond that, and Richt can no longer get it done. He’s had 7 years since our last SEC championship and that is just too long.

The sooner we get rid of Richt, the closer we will be to getting this program headed back in the right direction. Oh, and who in their right mind wants Bobo as a HC? Please tell me, because I haven’t heard of anybody calling on him.

cmac

October 8th, 2012
2:43 pm

Its the coaching, stupid! Imagine what Savannah, Meyer or Mules could do with this talent! Sure wouldn’t get beat in every big game they play!

cdog

October 8th, 2012
2:44 pm

mark ritch and the bulldogs were scared.long season ahead.poor defensive scheme

Alphare

October 8th, 2012
2:44 pm

Why do UGA fans blame their coaches? Didn’t you guys think UGA would easily beat USC before the game? I don’t think UGA coaches are as optimistic as you fans?

So you fans are worse prepared than the coaches. Who don’t you guys look in the mirror before you judge the coaches?

TRUEFAN

October 8th, 2012
2:45 pm

Coach grow some nads and take the blame for an unprepared team.And for God’s sake quit filming commercials,and flips into pools when your team needs to be doing game prep!! Just Finish The Damn Drill!!

Mike S.

October 8th, 2012
2:45 pm

I honestly Rambo and Ogletree coming back has hurt the team. Those suspensions have caused flux in the defense during mid-season when it should be hitting its stride. The Vandy game was a very impressive showing. Then Rambo and Ogletree come back, and the D is shuffled around again. These last two games are evidence of that. The suspensions have nerfed a unit that was supposed to be the strength of the team this year. They probably should have started the same guys who have been playing and let Ogletree and Rambo be backups or something.

Ben an SEC fan

October 8th, 2012
2:49 pm

How long has it been since a UGA team (football) beat a team ranked higher than them? I think a 10/2 record is very optimistic. I do hope you are right.

TEAMme

October 8th, 2012
2:50 pm

South Carolina, on the other hand, looked like and played like a team… a cohesive unit that knew what each other was doing. Come on Grantham, lets get things right this week and learn from this. Our hearts deserve better. Bobo, adapt the script for what the game is giving you. Way too much talent to mismanage this way.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 8th, 2012
2:51 pm

This coaching staff really needs a pay raise

no other coaching staff in the country deserve it

when you are 0-10 vs top 10 teams since 08
when you are 4-13 against ranked teams since 08

Why arent UGA’s coaches paid higher than Saban this is not right

TRUEFAN

October 8th, 2012
2:51 pm

With this coach we couldn’t even win in the ACC.Mcgarity can we move to the MEAC to win please

dogfan

October 8th, 2012
2:52 pm

We have plenty of player talent, the problem is that CMR and Bobo are continually out-coached by opposing coaches that have made a commitment to a BCS championship. CMR and Bobo’s stated standard of success is winning the SEC east by beating enough less-than opponents to keep their jobs one more year. We need passion and commitment to a BCS championship with a “nothing else is acceptable” attitude by our coaches. Every year it is the same “We can still win the SEC east” quote. One more year in the “mediocre bowl” while smarter and more motivated coaches pass CMR and Bobo by dismantling their predictable game plan.