“The attitude needs to change. We’re not entitled to win any games. Even though its UCF and Conference USA, I think we felt like that we were entitled to win that game and you can’t feel that way.” – Blair Walsh
Looking back at my predictions for the Georgia football season, I was wrong…a lot. I predicted the Bulldogs would go 9-3 in the regular season. They actually went 6-6 and lost yesterday to UCF in a game that they really should have won. But that is really the way to sum up the season; a lot of potential, little results.
Georgia finished 8th in the conference in total offense (4th in scoring). The problems on this side of the ball were evident after the first few games. The offensive line that was supposed to be the most talented in the SEC struggled and the running game was near the bottom. Individual efforts in a team sport don’t mean much when you’re losing, but Aaron Murray was a bright spot (sans the bowl game). So was Orson Charles and Kris Durham, who really stepped up when A.J. Green suspended.
Caleb King was nothing short of a disappointment. He missed five games, three of them coming because he was academically ineligible or suspended. Like last year, Washaun Ealey showed that he was capable of carrying the load. However, he had some big fumbles in games (South Carolina and Mississippi State) that the Dawgs
could should have won.
Our defense doesn’t get enough credit. We did improve against the pass, going from 10th in the conference last year to 6th this year. But while we were better against the pass, we did worse against the run; dropping from 3rd in the conference in 2009 to 9th this year. It’s important to remember that we played against Auburn and Georgia Tech, which represents 726 of the 1,927 yards surrendered on the ground.
Georgia didn’t have a solid run-stopper on the defensive line, which is needed at the tackle position in a 3-4 defense. The South Carolina game is an example of where we were getting run over because of the lack of size up the middle.
Unfortunately, our best player on defense, Justin Houston, (finished 2nd in the SEC in sacks), may turn pro.
Blair Walsh and Drew Butler posted solid seasons once again. Both will be back next year for their senior seasons. Brandon Boykin, who is considering the NFL, also had another great season returning kickoffs.
It starts at the top. Bottomline. Yes, changes can be made that improve certain areas of the team, but firing Willie Martinez only does so much. Todd Grantham made some improvements in his first year. He isn’t finished implementing the new defense. It’ll take at least one more year. For all of fans complaining about Mike Bobo, the play calling got better towards the end of the season. Part of the reason they were so cautious in the first few games was because no one knew how Murray was going to handle the offense. The absence of Green only made them more cautious.
However, they were still conservative at times after. For example, on the the opening drive yesterday, Georgia could have gone for it on 4th and 1 near the goal line and put a touchdown on the board. Richt and Bobo went with the field goal.
The offensive line and defense couldn’t finish games, that was apparent in several games. They looked tired. Richt moved Dave Van Halanger from his position as strength and conditioning coach and promoted Joe Tereshinski, who is described as “old school” in his approach to preparing players for the season. While this may have been a weak area, it wasn’t the only area where the team struggled.
Meanwhile, our recruiting class for next year is thin on big names and there hasn’t been a new commitment since August. And the speculation that yesterday’s loss could cost Richt his job isn’t going to help. ESPN blogger Chris Low sums it up:
Richt is on the kind of slippery slope from which he may not be able to recover. He’ll be back next season, but will have a hard time surviving another season where he loses four or five games. This was his first losing season, and he’s now lost 12 games in his last two seasons. Something’s obviously missing in this program. The Bulldogs are far more talented than they’ve played the last couple of years. Chances are that Richt will only get one more year to fix it.
Jeff Schultz was more pointed:
Here’s the only matter up for debate: Does anybody believe Mark Richt can still get it done?
It didn’t look like it this season, when the Bulldogs finished with a losing record (6-7) for the first time in 14 years. It didn’t look like it at Mississippi State or Colorado or in Jacksonville (again).
It didn’t look like it Friday night, because if the average Georgia fan considers it humiliating having to win in the final week of the season just to become bowl eligible — and then get stuck with the Liberty Bowl — what do you call it when the Bulldogs lose to Central Florida, 10-6?
This is what it looks like: Mark Richt has lost control of this program.