How is it that this win against CC seems to have generated more skepticism than the loss against USC last week? I feel that the loss last week (for some, mind you) created a sense of cautioned optimism. Listen I am not in any way suggesting that we start sucking down the Kool-Aid and we all take a dip in the Strawberry River but I do feel that we have to be willing to look at this thing in a holistic perspective (not that I claim to be able to accurately portray one – but I will try).
Regardless of where you stand on the CMR situation, you still have to be willing to evaluate our program based on where it is in talent, depth, new coaches implementing new systems, inexperience, and also the strength of your opponent. I know that all of you will read this and immediately respond: Oh here come the excuses for why we should except mediocrity. Please hear me, NO ONE is more sick and tired of the ineptness that we have witnessed out there on that football field, whether it is Between the Hedges (sorry I have to capitalize that) or on the national stage in a bowl game against the likes of UCF.
As I have mentioned here before, I do not think that the team was of the proper mindset, coming into the 2008 season, to carry the banner of a #1 ranked football team throughout the course of that entire season. We had the talent, but we “needed more DAWG”. We did not have that tenacity, that JYD stuff. Now please hear me… that is plain and simple, coaching. That is CMR’s coaching staff that, for whatever reason, did not prepare that #1 ranked team to be a #1 ranked team. They quickly got absolutely punched in and about the face and crotch by Alabama for an entire half before they realized that in order to be a top 5 program, you may actually have to show up and defend that ranking by actually playing a game.
Why did (or do…I have seen some change in this) Mark Richt led teams traditionally come out and look as if though, in order to prepare for Saturdays games, they spent all week rehearsing Shakespearean tragedies only to then let the madness unfold before their captive audience that has left us many times without response … other than … “huh…?”, “why?”, “Uncle!”, “Could you pass me that… yes the entire bottle!”
That being said… this is nothing new. Here are the facts:
1) Our coaching staff has been reshuffled from top to bottom. In some instances these changes are not even over a year old yet. We are in the second year (as in year #2) of implementing the 3-4 D and quite frankly, I am liking what I see. I see a D that is GATA’s. We are wrapping up well, swarming to the ball, and I don’t know about you but I remember a D just a few years ago that could not get a turnover even if the ball was dangling on the ground around their feet. They would simply try to roll the ball around until our opponent had enough time to locate, attack, and recover the lost possession. This D however seems to have put that miserable period behind us.
2) After 2008 we lost Knowshon, Stafford, and our top receiver in Massaquoi to the 2009 NFL draft. This is not an excuse but it is a reality … a team must fill this void and it was a significant void. Joe Cox played well and was a DGD but he was not going to lead this team to being a superior squad on game days. Yes I know all teams have to do this and must go through this process but with that in mind, most teams do experience a drop off of performance during the young players’ learning curves.
3) At the same time that we are breaking in a Freshman QB in 2010, we are also breaking in a brand new defensive scheme with players that are not entirely fit for playing that scheme. 2011 marks the first year that we are actually putting the physical pieces in place to manage a 3-4 scheme. Expect more growing pains on D – or at least be aware that they will likely occur. Why? These new physical pieces I am speaking of are young, plain and simple.
Facts are over – here come opinions:
1) The Dream Team is still a Dream!:
Guys, we saw Ray Drew for the first time on the field yesterday. We are in a place now where we have to let this recruiting class play out under their current coaching, otherwise prepare yourself for the lack of stability that is occurring at UT now. I feel that this class can and will be as successful as Mark Richt's earlier SEC championship teams. I believe CTG is the guy that will get this D back to being a force in the SEC.
2) Mark Richt was not fired but he has altered his course:
When this occurred and Mark Richt removed Willy, he declared the changing of the course for this program. He decided that the D was not getting it done. When he changed the strengthening coach, he was declaring what we all were seeing, we were not physically fit enough late in games. Here is my point with this, he has to be given time (like you would with any new coach) to implement these types of coaching and personnel changes. Its only logical. Listen, maybe he should have been fired but he wasn’t! He now has to be given time to see if these changes take hold.
3) 2008 was NOT 2009 and/or 2010:
These years are completely different from each other, other than the fact that all three were difficult and hard to witness by the Dawg Nation. 2008 hurt because expectations were so high. We were promptly outclassed by a more prepared team, at home, and on national television. From there we went on to underwhelm and not be worthy of the #1 ranking were undeservedly given in the first place. 2009; enter Joe Cox and a year that resembled the skill level of Joe Cox, good but not good enough. Of course it was frustrating. We all just wanted to at least see improvement in how we executed, even in a loss. We did not get that and changes in the coaching staff were made.
4) 2010, could and should almost look like 1/2 of CMR staff’s first year at UGA:
You know why? Because it was! It was CTG’s first year at UGA, along with other key pieces. He has done major things in his 1st year and 3 games. Would you as a fan base fire a new coach after 1 year and 3 games? Listen I hear ya, the W’s & L’s situation has got to change but we missed on our chance to rid ourselves of a guy that now stands with a 97-36 record. He, his new staff, and his highly touted recruiting class will, and should, be given time to pan out. I for one am getting on board with everything I got. I do believe that the guy with the 97-36 record still knows how to win. I believe we are recruiting the kind of talent to get us there. I feel we must give CTG’s tenacity and 3-4 D a chance that goes beyond two years. I also am insanely frustrated by Bobo’s play calling at times but this is a team that has put up 101 points in two games. I hope that cooler heads prevail in this case and that this coaching staff is given the necessary time to turn the ship around. And no, 2 years is not enough time to turn the ship around when you have undergone the changes in players, personnel, and schemes that we have. It has been somewhat of a perfect storm and I believe CMR,CTG, these players and maybe CMB come out of this storm better than ever.
5) Those wishing Richt gone, I think, do not really want what they ask for:
I feel that in the end, in one way or another, whether it is by leading our program back to national elite status or by taking his abilities elsewhere, he will come out showing that his getting to 97 wins was no fluke. In the end, this is not some pro-Richt campaign. Around college football it is about W’s & L’s and we haven’t been really piling up the W’s of late. But I would say that our case is a bit unique and requires some clear headed evaluation. This downturn has many factors and also exists on multiple levels. The disappointments have been mounting over the course of three years and this is dangerous. The villagers begin to go looking for a witch to dunk and worry about reasoning later.
6) My closing remarks (remember, just opinions here...):
Before we go breaking out the pitch forks and firing up the torches, I say we all take a step back, clear our heads a bit, and look at this 2011 team where they are. We lost to a then #5 team – we looked bad. We lost to a then #12 SEC team – we looked better. We destroyed a cupcake 59 – 0 – and looked like a beast doing it. This team is growing before our eyes. They are past the personnel and schematic changes and simply need time to mature. All the talk of firings and Richt on the hot seat only go to creating more instability with our program in regards to recruiting. What will be… will be – but I for one am committing once again to get behind these players, these coaches (yes including Mike Bobo), and to be an encouragement to the entire Dawg Nation. Lets get excited about the improvements we have seen and be willing to give credit where credit is due. We have a chance to be a good damn team here guys and our Dawgs need us. They need our optimism and our belief in them. CMB needs it! CMR needs it! CTG needs it! Our boys out on that field need it and we should give it to them on every down of every game.
My sincere thoughts