I purposely have been quiet this week. I wanted to give myself a chance to sort out all the feelings and thoughts I've had since the debacle in Knoxville last Saturday. What happened up there was important. It meant a lot. However, football is a game that is about a body of work over the course of any given season. As much as each game can mean in and of itself, the season is not and can not be lost on any one Saturday throughout the fall. To be sure, there has been an alarming series of events that have taken place in Athens this season, but as followers of our team and devout members of the Bulldog Nation I believe we owe it to ourselves and to Head Coach Mark Richt to focus only on the game that is in front of us and see where this season takes us. We will have plenty of time once the year is over to re-visit any missteps or failures that may befall our DAWGS along the way. I'm not saying don't voice your opinions as we go, but just keep in mind that our boys are gonna tee it up again really soon and we should try to enjoy the sport and all of it's pageantry that we wait the rest of the year to be a part of.
With that said, there are some things I want to mention here and now. I will try not to ramble too much.
Georgia AD Damon Evans and Coach Richt will get this thing straightened out. I believe it. Recent quotes from the two top men in the world of Georgia football reaffirm my belief:
Coach Richt - "They want somebody to be let go or fired or that kind of thing, and maybe that's what needs to be done, but at this point right now, we're going to do what we know is the best thing to do and that's to focus on this game this week."
Damon Evans - “I do have some concerns about where we are at this point of the season. I know Coach [Mark] Richt, the assistant coaches, the players and our fans have the same concerns with our current record and the way we’ve been playing...Coach Richt and I have talked just as we do periodically throughout the season. I think his focus right now is on the immediate future, which is the Vanderbilt game and doing everything possible to prepare our team. That’s where it needs to be...Beyond that, I have total confidence that Coach Richt will properly evaluate our team, address concerns and prepare the right path that will direct us back into the position we all want to be in — competing for championships.”
Coach Richt is attempting to get the DAWGS focus right where it should be…on what’s six inches in front of your face. That is where you will find your reality. The DAWGS reality is that improvement is needed and the only thing you can do about that is get back to work. At this point, I don't know if any player or any fan has the energy to do much more than that.
DEJA VU IS OVER-RATED
Moving along, you all really should know my wife Alice. Wifey loves football with a fierce passion and is more knowledgeable and reasonable about the game than most men I know. I truly am a lucky man. I tell you that to tell you this. Wifey and I share a belief that perception is reality. After Saturday's loss to Tennessee, I've read a lot about what it all means from a Georgia perspective and about what Lane Kiffin wants it to mean. Well, I know this. Losing to the Vols the way we did will have an impact whether we like it or not and I fear it will be much more than just bruised feelings and one L on this year's final tally. It was not that long ago that a head coach that was also a good recruiter and a string of wins over Georgia led to Tennessee raiding the Peach state for top-notch recruits every year...several of which eventually turned out to be KEY players on the Vols 1998 MNC. This is a dangerous situation for Georgia in terms of the possibility of history repeating itself. A loss like this for the DAWGS (or a shaky season of losses) could lead to a change in the regional and national perception of the Georgia program. If that happens there is a real possibility that there will be a change in our "big picture" reality. I do not believe this is happening right now, 10 wins or more in six of the last seven seasons puts a quick end to that train of thought, but coupled with Georgia's recent history against Florida this whole thing could get out of control in a hurry.
***Side note: I loved to refer to Phillip Fulmer as The Great Pumpkin. After seeing Lane Kiffin on the sidelines Saturday in his selection of an over-sized, orange disaster of a jacket, I have to wonder out loud if it's okay to refer to Kiffin as The Rotten Pumpkin? That thing looked as if it were a rotten, sagging pumpkin that was collapsing in on itself. Ugh. Just saying.
I THINK THIS HURTS THE MOST
I saw this on David Hale's blog earlier this week and I felt like we were sitting in the same recliner.
--I watched all of the LSU-Florida game. I think the announcers made fun of Georgia about 9,463 times.
I WILL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS
There was also a ton of discussion this week about naked bootlegs, switching from playing the run to playing the pass and the defense's work in 3rd and long situations. So, a take on 3rd and long.....
GET OFF THE DAMN FIELD!
I put it on the players. I will not call any one individual out here, but this is how I see it. It has been my observation through six games this season that when it comes to the defense in general there has been too much poor tackling, too many uncontested passes, too much chicken fighting from the D-line on the pass rush, poor defensive line technique against the run and seemingly no ball skills from our DBs and LBs while the ball is in the air and when CWM does call for the blitz, our linebackers and defensive linemen display AWFUL attacking techniques as they execute the play. All of these things are important, but none is more glaring to me than the final point.
YOU HAVE TO IMPOSE YOUR WILL ON THE OTHER TEAM! FOOTBALL IS NOT JUST A COLLISION SPORT. FOOTBALL IS A VIOLENT SPORT AND IF YOU DON’T PLAY WITH THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE, YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE. VIOLENCE MAKES UP FOR A LOT OF MISTAKES AND IT CAN FORCE YOUR OPPONENT TO SIMPLIFY THEIR ATTACK. BIG BOY SWAGGER CANNOT BE TALKED INTO EXISTENCE. IT MUST BE EARNED AND PROVEN, AND YOU EARN IT ON DEFENSE! YOU TAKE IT! GREAT DEFENSE STARTS WITH GREAT EFFORT AND GREAT DISCIPLINE. A DISCIPLINE TO WORK IN THE OFF-SEASON, TO PREPARE DURING GAME WEEK ON AND OFF THE FIELD AND TO PLAY HARDER IN THE 4TH QTR THAN YOU DID IN THE 1ST QTR BECAUSE YOU ARE MENTALLY TOUGHER THAN YOUR OPPONENT AND THAT IS WHAT THE GAME DEMANDS. IN THE SCHEME OF DEFENSE THE DAWGS EMPLOY, YOU MUST PLAY RESPONSIBILITY DOWN AFTER DOWN AFTER DOWN. WHEN A BLITZ IS CALLED, IT IS A REWARD AND YOU MUST TURN IT LOOSE AND ATTACK WITH A FROTH AND A FRENZY THAT WILL NOT BE DENIED. I HAVE BEEN SADDENED THIS SEASON AND HARD PRESSED TO FIND A GEORGIA DEFENDER THAT APPEARS TO BE BLITZING WITH A CRAZED ATTITUDE AND A SOUR DISPOSITION WHEN HE HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO LET IT GO! ONCE THE DAWGS RECLAIM THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME, THINGS WILL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER IN ATHENS. THE OFFENSE WILL FEED OFF OF THE DEFENSE AND THE ENTIRE TEAM WILL GET BACK TO A QUIET CONFIDENCE AND BELIEF THAT THEY ARE THE BETTER TEAM IN EVERY WAY. THE DAWGS WILL KNOW THAT THEY HAVE DONE AND WILL DO ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO ATTAIN VICTORY AND THAT IS WHY GEORGIA WILL WIN. THEY WILL DEMAND IT TO BE SO WITH A PERSISTENT AND IN EVITABLE DICTATING FORCE OF WILL.
DAWGBEAST of the week
Georgia Special Teams, with a special nod to Brandon Boykin. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin had his second 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Boykin and former Bulldog Gene Washington share the mark now with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season. Boykin is the first SEC player to have two 100-yard kickoff returns in one season in SEC history. He finished the day with 128 returns yards (32.0 avg) on four kicks to give him 529 kickoff return yards this season. Boykin's return versus the Vols also ties the longest scoring play on the road in school history. Since 1941, the NCAA put a maximum length on all plays at 100 yards.
**NCAA Leader Drew Butler had to punt six times for a 49.8 average with four covering 50+ yards and one inside the 20. The Sophomore punter's first punt was his longest at 61 yards. He went into the game against Tennessee leading the nation with a 49.8 average.
**Redshirt sophomore split end Zach Renner blocked a punt with :23 seconds left in the opening half to give the Bulldogs two points on a safety as it went through the endzone. This was the third blocked punt of his career after he tallied one against Alabama and Arizona State in 2008. Renner tied the school record for blocked punts in a career along with Corrie Collier, Kendrell Bell and David Pollack. Renner's latest punt block was the 17th for the Bulldogs in the Mark Richt era.
**Sophomore PK Blair Walsh drilled a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter. He is 5-for-8 from 50 yards or more in his career and 3-for-3 from that distance in 2009.
****An honorable mention for the DAWGBEAST goes to Redshirt Freshman safety Baccari Rambo. Rambo caught a tipped passed for an interception and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. This was Rambo's second career INT and the first defensive TD for the Bulldogs this year. Georgia has had four INTs this year with Boykin also having two. This was the first INT return for a TD since Darryl Gamble returned a pair of picks for scores at LSU in 2008.
FALCON CREST (CFB, but non-DAWG)
In case you missed it, Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes combined for 22 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns with scoring grabs from two, eight, and 45 yards and Sheehan scored the game-winning touchdown late to give Bowling Green a 36-35 win on the road at Kent State last Saturday. Sheehan final numbers were crazy, finishing 44-63, throwing for 505 yds, 4 TD and an INT. However, the Player of the Game has to be Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes. His numbers look like some player's totals for an entire season, 22 receptions, 278 yards and three touchdowns, and if that performance doesn't make you A DAMN BEAST then I don't know what does. Congrats Freddie!