Friday, October 29, 2010

A Georgia win over the Gators hinges on mentality, key plays

During their ridiculous 17-3 record against the Dawgs over the last 20 years, the Florida Gators have certainly trotted out their share of teams that were just flat-out better. However, it's been far more common to have two relatively evenly matched teams, and even a few editions of Bulldogs teams that were probably better than the Gators.

After Georgia had pretty much dominated the series prior to the 1990s, something changed. Where once Florida would make the key mistake or give up the big play, now it was Georgia that was dropping a key pass, committing a big penalty, or turning the ball over at the most inopportune of times. It's just something that changes mentally, and there's not a whole lot you can do to change it...except win. A bit paradoxical or catch-22-ish, but there it is, because Georgia has wilted at the earliest signs of adversity in most cases. It's as if the Dawgs come in fired up and ready to play, but when a play or two doesn't go their way, it's "Oh boy. Here we go again."

This year, aside from Florida having an extra week to get some of their own issues sorted out, and getting back into the fold a very talented young RB/WR adept at avoiding tackles and issuing death threats via text, Georgia would seem to have the upper hand. The Dawgs seem to be hitting their stride in virtually every aspect of the game (one of the scariest things could be that kicker Blair Walsh has hit a bit of a rocky patch lately). Meanwhile, the Gators' clunky offense has caused things to really come to a head.

The Bulldogs should be coming into this one with about as much confidence as any Georgia team has gone into GA/FL week in recent memory. We'll find out Saturday how long that lasts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Keep the dawg in the dawghouse or, The case for keeping Richt

Many Georgia fans have seen enough out of Mark Richt-coached teams over the past few seasons to have delivered a verdict of guilty, and levied a punishment of termination. To those, I can only say that I feel ya, Dawgs. Several editions of his teams of late have not lived up to the standards we expect for a University of Georgia football team, both on the field and off.

That being said, if the Bulldogs are able to finish the '10 season stronger than they started (i.e., show improvement across the board), I submit that head coach Mark Richt should be given another season to turn this thing around, and here's why...

First, this was going to be a transition year. New (freshman) QB, new defensive coordinator AND defensive scheme, and in addition, unfortunate incidents leading to suspensions. Sure, the losses to MSU and particularly to Colorado should not be simply explained away by the transition period, but to think that the 2010 Bulldogs should have been National Title contenders is a bit much.

However, I'm not using that so much as an excuse for Richt this season as I am saying that I'd like to see what happens when QB Murray comes back for his sophomore year, and what happens when Grantham's had a year to not only coach, but to better evaluate his players and get some of his own players in here. If you get rid of Richt after the season, you risk disrupting all the knowledge and confidence Murray will have built up, and depending on who comes in, he may have to learn a whole new offense to boot. If you get rid of Richt, then Grantham will likely be gone as well, and not only will we never know how good he may have been, but all the defensive players may have to go back and switch to the 4-3 again.

There doesn't seem to be any big name coach out there that would necessarily be available to Georgia next year anyway, so I would suggest backing off Richt for just a little while longer. Georgia has more to gain by keeping him then it has to lose.