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You're on Notice, Dawg! Week 2

So... that happened. The point of this feature is to help us move on to the week ahead and the next opponent we face, but I can't let the occasion pass without a few short remarks on Saturday night's Dome debacle experience.

First, there is an unfortunate truth we must realize about that game. Do you know how, in early season games when Georgia plays a team like Louisiana-Lafayette, sometimes UL-L will play the Dawgs hard early, maybe even score once or twice... but eventually, the talent and ability of the Dawgs just overpower them because Georgia is just a better team? Well, on Saturday night, we were UL-L, and Boise State was Georgia. It's a painful truth to admit, but admit it we must, or we cannot move forward from here.

Second... our fans rocked the joint hard. I don't know how many of them saw last week's post where I put all fans on notice for the Dome, but literally from the first moment Georgia took the field until Boise State went up 14-7, there was the same type of atmosphere one might see in an SEC Championship Game or a BCS bowl game. And when Brandon Boykin snapped off that 80-yard TD run, I thought the roof might blow straight off the Dome. We brought it, and though booing of the kind seen in the second half will bring a sharp rebuke from yours truly in the post to come, in general the Georgia crowd was excellent.

Finally, and this is more of a conceit than anything else, I must point out that I told you this was going to happen, so you should have been prepared. In fact, on Friday I correctly predicted the score of the Boise State game within 3 points. If you believe in my clairvoyance (which you shouldn't), you might want to just check out for the next 7 days (which you shouldn't), but then join back up with us after that (which you should), because it gets better after week 2 (which it does).

So, with that said... on to week 2. Our opponents this week are the defending SEC East Champion South Carolina Gamecocks, who are also the preseason favorites in the East this year. The Cocks just about screwed around with the Pirates of ECU too long on Saturday, but managed to pull out in time to escape with a 56-37 thumping. You can bet that they are squarely focusing on us now, so it's time for us to return the favor.

Therefore, I'm letting the following people, places, and things know that, for week 2, You're on Notice, Dawg!

In no particular order:


1) Michael Adams - Why Michael Adams? Because he's a jerk, has stolen money from and is a disaster for University, and everybody that has ever worked with him hates him. Plus, I have it from a very authoritative source inside the UGA administration that... you know what? I got nothin' this week. I'm just empty. And for that, I blame Michael Adams.

2) The geniuses who put the Dawg Walk behind a paywall - For those of you not at the Dome on Saturday, the Dawg Walk was, in essence, held behind closed doors. I have literally been to every single game that the Dawgs have played in the Georgia Dome, and before each of those games, Georgia's team entered the stadium either through a park/pedestrian plaza from the Georgia World Congress Center or from a set of buses in parked a turnabout just outside of Gate 1. On all occasions, these locations were outside and completely open to the public free of charge.

On this day, however, the Dawg Walk was held behind the pay-for-entry doors of the FanFare exhibition, in a hall that could not hold anywhere near the number of fans that were located nearby, desiring to cheer on our boys as they entered the field of battle. The team somehow entered the hall, walked through the Dawg Walk, then took an underground tunnel into the stadium.

The Fan Fare has always been the location of a pregame pep rally with the Redcoat Band, and if I recall correctly, a portion of the Dawg Walk may even have occurred there for one of the games in the past. And I have no problem with providing "better access" to the players through the paid area... that's just the American way. To deny the general public access to the Dawg Walk altogether, however, is a step too far. Georgia fans need to be able to encourage our team as they enter the venue. We want to let the guys know that they're our team and we're behind them 100%.

It didn't provide the difference between victory and defeat but still... Shame on you for taking that away from us, Chick-Fil-A.

Don't let it happen again. (This picture has been lawya'd.)

3) Ignorant fans people who want to fire Mark Richt after game one - I'm inclined not even to address this issue, because the insipidness of the premise seems to be not just latently obvious on its face, but patently obvious on its face. (Right, NCT?) Still, I have read comments to this effect far too many times in the past 18 hours to let it pass without comment.

And yes, I mean exactly what is written in bold lettering. If you are arguing that the head coach should be fired after the first damn game, you are being ignorant. The following is a cliche, but that don't mean it's wrong: After game 1, you're never as good as you think you are if you win, and you're never as bad as you think you are if you lose.

Ok... not always. But most of the time. (This picture has been lawya'd.)

This. Is. One. Game. People. Not only that, but a loss to the Broncos was clearly foreseeable. This is not like losing your season opener to Southern Miss or even Oklahoma State. We lost to a team ranked in the top 5 in the country and who is clearly not a paper tiger. It would have been better to not be outclassed so thoroughly... but it was what it was.

And since we're on the topic... what kind of sorry-ass fair weather fan jumps on the bandwagon whole-hog before the season, only to call for the firing of the entire coaching staff after the first game ends up going pear-shaped?

I make no warranties on Mark Richt's job security at the end of the season, because the season has yet to be played out. I can simply find no reasonable rationale, however, to justify calling for his head after this game. Disagree with the play calling, sure. (In fact, just page down a little bit.) Question whether the discipline issue has bee resolved, fine. Those are valid beefs to have. The knee-jerk "fire everybody" reaction is ignorant, shallow, and puerile, however. If you're thinking of disagreeing with me on this point, just do yourself a favor and don't. You'll only make yourself sound and look stupid.

4) The entire Georgia offense - I mean, damn, guys. Just damn. Do you think you could have made a worse first impression on the world? Bean Anderson cost us 10 yards in false start penalties in two of the first three plays of the game. Then, on the third play of the game, Orson Charles literally let a perfectly-thrown touchdown pass slip right through his fingers. And on the fourth play of the game, we suffered a delay of game that caused Drew Butler to kick his first punt of the year from his own endzone.

And why, all of a sudden, did we turn into one of those teams who has to stop before every play and look to the sidelines for an audible like a pack of trained seals? Is Aaron Murray less trustworthy when it comes to judgment calls this year than he was last year? Don't even get me started on this point. The mindless sideline-looking is one of my pet peeves, but we can address that at another time.

For whatever reason, we did not come anywhere close to scoring on anything other than a trick play until the game was already out of reach. I mean, it would be one thing if we caught some unlucky breaks or suffered some bad calls from the ref or something. But no... if Boise hadn't eased up a little bit in the 3rd quarter after taking a 28-7 lead, it didn't look like Georgia would have scored at all through its regular offensive scheme.

One of the great Erk-isms we love to quote is, "If they never score, you'll never lose." Conversely, however, if we can't score until we're 3 touchdowns behind, we'll never win.

5) The playcalling -Unfortunately, tankertoad's green notebook reared it's ugly head again on this night. You had your first-and-bombs, draw plays on 3rd-and-a-mile, and the inexplicable (and, in my opinion, indefensible) decision to not attempt a chip-shot field goal from the 26 yard line when the score was tied at 7 in the second quarter. At that point in the game, Georgia had just progressed with its first real drive and had a momentum swinging back in its direction.

If Georgia sends Blair Walsh in to do his usual damage (and he is automatic from less than 45 yards), we re-take the lead, establish momentum, and we avail ourselves of the most significant tactical advantage Georgia had over Boise State: the kicking game. By going for it on 4th and a long 1, we communicate to our defense that we don't believe they can really stop Boise, so we have to go for a touchdown every time. (As it turns out, we couldn't really stop Boise, but we didn't know that at the time.)

In big games like this, momentum can be a huge deal. What would the subsequent first-half drives look like if Georgia establishes some offensive rhythm instead of coming away from its best opportunity empty-handed? We'll never know... but it could have been significant.

Georgia has one of the best field goal kickers in the whole damn country... remember that next time we have a 4th down inside the 30, Coach Bobo.


6) Georgia fans booing our own players - Look, I know it's frustrating losing to a team for whom you probably had too little respect coming into this game. But under no circumstances... and I mean no circumstances... is it permissible to boo our own players. You can justifiably complain about Bobo's playcalling... you can even say something to the effect of, "Dammit, stop dropping the damn ball!" Such reactions are understandable, and are to be expected.

When you boo your own players, however, you are not just grumbling. You are actively doing everything in your power to discourage your own team and keep them from coming back and playing even harder on the next series. You are telling our own boys that not only am I frustrated with your performance, but I think you're detestable, and I no longer support you.

This message is not acceptable, and should not be tolerated by other fans in the vicinity. I suggest you do what I do. If you see or hear any fans around you booing our own players, you loudly ask them to stop (politely, but loudly).

More politely than this, please. (This picture has been lawya'd.)

7) Georgia's passing defense - I haven't actually seen the game statistics yet, but from my seat in the stands, it seemed to me like our rushing defense did a pretty good job of shutting down the Boise State hamster-attack. The area in which we absolutely got destroyed, however, was the intermediate passing game. It seemed like every single time we would get pressure on Kellen Moore (and we did pressure him quite a bit, contrary to the perception of some people I talked to after the game), he would simply dump it over the defenders' heads to the "safety receiver" who was magically wide-freaking-open in the middle of the field. And not just wide open. I'm talking about nobody-within-a-10-yard-radius open.

I have talked many times in the offseason about improving our rush defense, and we appear to have addressed that issue. If you can't subsequently stop the pass, however, and you let your opponent dink and dunk you all the way down the field, then all you've done is trade one crippling weakness for another. This is not progress.

Stephen Garcia, like Kellen Moore, is a senior QB. He knows how to deal with pressure by looking for his safety outlets. If we can stop Lattimore like we stopped the muscle hamster, that would be great. We can't allow the QB to simply shift the running game to the short-passing game, however.

8) Georgia fans - I know it's frustrating, everybody. Y'all absolutely rocked the Dome, and for our efforts we got our butts handed to us. Just like the team we support, however, we can't give up after one game. We need to pump Sanford Stadium up to the rafters this Saturday. We need to lick our wounds, get back in the saddle, and yell for our boys against the Cocks as though they were 1-0 and not the other way around. Even if we fall again, the schedule gets significantly easier from there on out, and we need to let our boys know we will be with them all the way.

We all feel like this right now, and that's ok. We need to shake it off by Saturday, though!

I'm not going to lie to you guys... this week is going to suck. Nobody likes losing a huge, nationally-televised game, and I think many denizens of Bulldog Nation were truly expecting a repeat of the 2005 Boise game. We need to keep moving, though... just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Today will become tomorrow, tomorrow will become Tuesday, then Wednesday... and before you know, it will be gameday again. Then we just do what comes naturally. And anyway... all your folks at Dawg Sports will be here to help walk you through it. :-)

Keep fighting the good fight... and

Go Dawgs!