I hope this Georgia win over Florida was the game that gives our team espirit de corp. Swagger. Confidence. Energy. Because the grey matter in between our ears has been our biggest weakness. Coach Richt has worked diligently to change this teams attitude, with everything from handing out copies of The Energy Bus, to telling Washaun Ealey "Don't let the door hit you on the way out", to sitting Isaiah Crowell because "he loved him." The one missing piece though, was winning a game from behind, oh, and beating Florida. Not giving up and fighting one out with pure heart. And we did, we won with Coach Richt saying "Screw it" for on 3 of 3 on 4th down attempts, to Jarvis Jones having the game of his life, to Bennett wrestling away a hugely non called pass interference for a touchdown. Please, let this be the corner we have needed to turn, because it can get really good from here.
Coach Richt will not be fired. Even with unlikely losses to Auburn and Georgia Tech. I don’t care what people at the Atlanta Journal Constitution or ESPN say. It’s a "narrative" that got started a few years ago and needs to die. As one commenter here wrote, this "narrative" is even causing revisionist history about previous good years. Every single time Coach Richt is cornered, he comes out with a win, a good decision, and with class. Furthermore, it would be an absolutely horrible idea to fire him now. Everything is lining up for a fantastic 2012. We want to screw that up? Fire Richt and who else goes with him? Surely a new head coach isn’t keeping Coach Bobo around, and Coach Grantham, no telling what he does. We bring in a whole new style and system when we just spent a year with underclassmen getting them on board with one we got. Mark Richt is a victim of his own success. All those 10+ winning years and fans got spoiled. One bad year and folks want him out the door. Yes, he doesn’t have a BCS championship title. Two points on that: one, most coaches don’t and two, when your conference is absolutely brutal, it’s going to be even extra hard to do. And LSU and Bama, well, they don’t exactly follow the same standards we do, now do they? Let this hot seat talk die and support a great coach, with the highest winning percentage over this number of games at UGA, and doing so in the most competitive of times. Final word as news of suspensions just dropped, anyone who thinks Coach Richt is slack on discipline is just plain wrong. He is deadly serious about the energy bus this year – you better be on it. Coach Richt suspended all our starting RBs, he is, at the same time very dedicated to working with and mentoring these young man. He wins, he disciplines, he keeps us clean, and he mentors. That's what I want at UGA.
SEC East talk. We lost to South Carolina. That’s on us. What I don’t understand is how quickly emotions changed. Before the Florida game, we were just beating bad teams. Now, we can win the East baby! Please, let’s just take it easy a second. The season is 75% done. I want to enjoy and savor each game; it’s going to be gone really soon. We have a chance to beat UT, UF, AU and GT all in the same year. That does not happen very often. And now we got even more injury issues. It isn’t going to be easy. If the East comes, then it comes. In the meantime, we need to get up by 20 pts quickly this Sat, rest injured players, and get some playing time off the bench. A lot of time off the bench. That’s all that matters this week. I will worry about the East after we beat GT, and not a second sooner.
Special teams. First, it’s not like Coach Richt doesn’t know it’s a problem. In fact, Blair Walsh’s misses may have driven his decision to go for it more often. The man knows, he will adjust, he will work on it. Here’s a quote for you from Coach Richt on Special Teams:
"We’ve gotta figure something out, don’t we?" Richt said. "We don’t quite know what the answer is, don’t we. But we’ll be putting our heads together here." - Seth
As far as a "full time special teams coach", very few schools have one. To clarify again, there is a limit on how many coaches you can have, so a "full time" ST coach means losing someone else. Coach Richt just needs to shuffle some chairs or take on the job himself as some Head Coaches do. But, again, it’s not like he doesn’t "get" it. As for Blair Walsh, the young man was the best in the nation last year; he is on track I believe to be top five in scoring for UGA, so it’s very hard not to go to him. Although he is mostly to blame for the missed FGs, we have also had some snap and hold issues here and there. A lot of pieces have to go very well to make a FG work. We are pretty spoiled for kickers at UGA, although Walsh is having a tough year, we are generally well above the mean in field goal ability. Now, as far as return coverage goes, a full time ST Coach only brings so much to the table. Our problem on kickoff coverage is over-pursuing and bad tackling. Very bad tackling. That’s not so much STs as just fundamentals. One suggestion was to get more starters on special teams. Maybe a good idea there. And guess what:
"Richt has also said they would examine changes on each unit. That could mean more veterans on those units. As for future fixes, he has said several times he doesn’t like the idea of one assistant coach just for special teams, and he prefers splitting it up among different assistants. The Bulldogs also reserve large chunks of practice for special teams, and they hold separate meetings by units." h/t Seth Emerson
A few more tidbits, Butler said he felt he let the team down against Florida, but I don’t expect that to be a continual problem. Just a bad day for him. And as far as kickoffs through the end zone, Blair Walsh said based on winds and such he sometimes he tries to get it up high and with time for coverage to get downfield, and he also said, "If there is anyone that can hit it 80 yards every time, I’d like to meet him." Which is a fair point. However, overall, we just need to hit and wrap up better to start with. This is the first year STs have not been very solid, if not a "go to" for Coach Richt. I fully expect him to figure it out and adjust. They are aware, they are practicing, and it isn’t something blindly overlooked. Have faith.
Some Xs and Os, right, I am tankertoad so I got to say a few words. In general, UGA on offense didn’t play a very good game against UF. Our national stats are middle of the road for passing and rushing. It is how it is and I will try not to belabor that point, you probably get it. Scoring TDs on 4th down is an emotional high, but it’s really not how you want to be winning football games. Aaron Murray’s numbers weren’t very good, and for once I can’t really be overly critical on Coach Bobo because we just didn’t execute that well. Not that I still didn’t see some of Bobo’s usual wacky play calling where we can’t make up our minds if we are play action or not, but overall he called a better game. I still believe we need to call a play from the huddle and run our play action, and the back and forth and confused looks to the sideline impacts us getting set and ready. Our defense couldn’t tackle in the first quarter for anything, which was scary, but it quickly got fixed somehow. Maybe just the jitters. Coach Grantham made great adjustments immediately, he was so rock solid. But overall, execution wise, we didn’t play that well on O. We have got to get Coach Bobo, Aaron Murray and the players all on the same page. Which is why I am hoping that winning with heart as we just did will give that much needed confidence so our execution can improve. I didn’t say it on the live thread, but we all thought it in the first quarter: We looked like we have so often looked against Florida for no reason except they are Florida. I thought we were doomed. I bet a lot of you did too. So, we won ugly. We won pretty darn ugly. But we won. We won a game where we came from behind, played our hearts out, never hung our heads, never gave up, and were a TEAM. That was the best part about this game – I don’t remember any player or Coach with their heads hanging, distraught. They looked fired up and hungry. Coach Richt’s cool to Coach Grantham’s fire did that for them. We won with heart, we won with teamwork, we won because we didn’t let them get us down. And I’ll take it.
I said in the podcast I would take calm cool Coach Richt over crazy Coach Muschamp, and this game is exactly why. From what I read this week, Coach Richt more or less just asked everyone to settle down and keep fighting at halftime. He portrayed quiet confidence and let his players play and his leadership allowed the team. Here’s to hoping for a decade more.