Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bulldogs dominating, yet, not...

Most coaches, players, and fans alike will tell you that statistics can be a good indicator of trends, but are by no means gospel.

This proved to be no truer than after looking at the box score of Georgia's 14-point win over Ole Miss. With a few missed field goals (and having to settle for field goals in general), what looked like a would-be blowout was really just a TD (and 2-pt conversion) and field goal lead until the final few minutes.

The Dawgs outgained Ole Miss by nearly 300 yards, and held the ball for nearly twice as long. Yet, for one reason or another, Georgia was unable to truly put Ole Miss away.

That's not to say the game was really ever in doubt, but again, with those kinds of numbers, you would have expected the game to be over, for all intents and purposes, by the time the 4th quarter rolled around.

What's interesting is that, if you look at Georgia's other "real" games, the trends don't necessarily equate. Georgia outgained South Carolina by 40 yards in a loss (that one is kinda hit or miss, granted). And, the Dawgs were outgained by a mere 17 yards in what was essentially a blowout 21 point loss to Boise St.

Somewhere along the line, the Dawgs are having trouble turning solid statistical play into real-life victories/easy victories.

Without getting too in-depth, the Bulldogs aren't having trouble scoring TDs in the Red Zone. In fact, their 67% TD rate in the Red Zone is better than Florida and Alabama, for example, who are converting at around the 50-55% range. And, while Georgia's 15 trips inside the Red Zone is certainly not among the best in the nation, it's certainly not at the bottom.

Missed field goals and other poor special teams play has accounted for some issues, to be sure. However, you'll find about as many undefeated teams in the bottom half of the rankings of those categories as you will the top.

In fact, when looking at statistics and box scores, it's hard to grasp just where Georgia is coming up short right now.

All that is a convoluted way of saying that, to me, it still is coming down to Georgia being unfamiliar with how to win the close ones, and how to put away the ones that shouldn't be close.

If Saturday's game against Mississippi State is anything like last year's, the Dawgs will have yet another chance to learn.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Determining whether to keep Richt or fire him

By and large, when you talk about firing someone, regardless of his profession, it is done because of one of two things, or a combination of the two.

First, you can fire someone because of past failings. A salesman may be fired because he has failed to achieve a particular quota set forth. Donnan was fired for his inability to beat any of Georgia's rivals with any real consistency. Damon Evans was fired for basically disgracing himself and the university.

Second, you can fire someone due to a lack of confidence in future success. While this obviously feeds off of the past failings idea, it is still a choice made independently of that in many cases. You may choose to keep a salesman who's come up short of his sales goals, because you know that he has talent and ability, his numbers have improved, and you know that this is a struggling economy. Or, you may fire him because you have not seen any noticeable improvement, and you simply have no confidence in his ability to get on track.

When you hear Athletic Director Greg McGarrity talk about evaluating everything on a week-to-week basis, he's taking both scenarios into account. It's a balancing act, and one to which a great deal of thought must be given. Certainly, the fact that Georgia has had great success under Richt shows that great seasons are a possibility. Yet, the last 2+ years show that continuing to lose is also a conceivable eventuality.

Many fans want to see a number of victories or an SEC East/SEC Championship labeled as the low-end threshold for keeping Richt. Putting aside the ridiculous amount of scenarios that would create a problem with this, it's still more about the confidence McGarrity ends up having in future performance.

Everybody is past having to accept that we saw some "good signs" in a loss. What must be decided is this: Are those good signs going to lead to actual wins, or is Georgia destined to continue to show good signs while mired in ~.500 seasons under Richt?

It would take a complete debacle by Georgia for this decision to be made mid-season. So, barring that, fans are just going to have to play along. While you may have made your choice already, McGarrity has not.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Keys to beating South Carolina

In revisiting my 3 keys to beating Boise St, I see that we failed miserably on two of them, and third (size advantage) never really came about because of the putrid offense (3 and outs).

See, if the Dawgs would've just read my blog, they would've known how to win.

Moving on to South Carolina, there are some key things that Georgia must do.

1) Get into 2nd and short/medium, and 3rd and short situations. This should be Bobo and Richt's primary offensive concern. I'm not saying never go downfield or look for a big play on 1st down, but by and large, they need to be looking for their best chances to get 4 or 5 yds on first down, even if the possibility for more than that is minimal. When you're looking at 2nd and a long 5, the world is your oyster, so to speak. You can pretty much call any play you want.

2) Don't let Lattimore build momentum. He's one of those backs that tends to get better as the game moves along (as many bigger backs do). One "easy" way to do that would be to get up big by halftime, but obviously that's nothing more than wishful thinking. So, the key is to gang-tackle early and often. Don't worry about making a highlight reel with a big hit on him. Wrap him up and wait for your buddies to arrive.

3) Win Time of Possession. This is a very hit-or-miss statistic. Last year, in Georgia's 7 losses, the Dawgs won ToP 3 times and lost 4 (and one of those was by a mere 30 seconds or so). However, last year's contest against the Cocks saw a 10 minute ToP advantage for South Carolina. Georgia's defense is not going to have the depth to contain the Gamecocks if the offense doesn't help them out.

As was the case before, I'm not bothering in touching on things like turnovers and penalties, as those are fairly obvious.

Georgia is going to have to get some early small victories in this game. It is a team whose confidence is hanging by a string right now, no matter what they might say. But, it can be quickly restored if some folks can step up and play their best football.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Above all, Georgia has forgotten how to win

Right now, there are a million and a half reasons, suppositions, and theories as to why Georgia got more or less blown out by Boise St., and why they've had a mediocre (and now tending toward downright bad) run over the past few years. They typically have two things in common:

1) They are rooted in truth, to one degree or another

2) Their importance is overstated

To me, though, it comes down to an inability to stem the bleeding.

If you were to take every single problem that has been cited over the past few years by analysts, bloggers, fans, experts, etc. and related them to what you saw Saturday night, you'd have a litany of issues so long that the Dawgs should have theoretically lost 63-3.

Obviously, while it may have felt that way, that was clearly not the case.

What was the case was that, as things began to go south, the Bulldogs simply didn't have the ability to stop the slide, much less turn it back around.

People love the word "adjustments." They made adjustments, and we didn't. I don't want to dismiss this by any means whatsoever. That being said, I consider it a bigger issue that a team of 20 year olds has nobody left to look to, and no experiences to draw upon to right the ship.

It is a trademark of good or great teams, that even when things are going about as badly as they can, they settle back down, make a few big plays, and get back to doing what they're good at. This used to be the biggest trademark of all for Richt's teams, even playing in some of the most hostile road games in all of college football.

Alas, it's not there right now. A turnarond, if it is to happen, is not going to come from a single game where everything goes the Dawgs' way. It's going to come from a hard-fought game where the players come together when things are at their darkest, put all their faith in each other, and demand a victory.