Thursday, October 22, 2009

SEC suspends officiating crew - now what?

So, the SEC suspended the Marc Curles crew that has been the talk of the blogosphere (for all the wrong reasons) for the last couple of weeks. Obviously, I applaud the move...anything intended to hold these officials accountable is a definite plus.

Then I got to thinking...what kind of slippery slope is the SEC headed down? If they start suspending crews every time they make ridiculous calls, they may be out of zebras by mid-November.

I'm only half-kidding.

Consider this hypothetical...Would you agree that there is at least a 50% chance that some boneheaded official (let's call him Wynn Pagers) makes a typical stupid call this week in the Alabama-Tennessee game that affects the game? OK, let's say that next week, Wynn is assigned the Cocktail Party, and he calls unsportsmanlike conduct on Caleb King for daring to cross the goal line against the Gator defense. Will not all of us Dawg fans be all over the interwebs and call-in shows calling for...nay, DEMANDING that Mr. Pagers and the rest of his crew face similar disciplinary action? I know I fact, I may take the week off work solely for that purpose.

You see, now that Commish Slive has made a public effort to hold his officials accountable, it is now HIS office that will be held accountable. If he thinks that making this one move will quell the increasing public outcry regarding the repetitive incompetence of his officials, well...that's a sweet notion, but I don't see it happening.

By the way, I thought this particular quote from Slive was just a real side-splitter:
"A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews...I believe our officiating program is the best in the country."
So, from that I gather that the commish is busy doing other things on Saturday rather than watch the football being played in his conference, because...that is just RICH. Those calls were EXACTLY the standard that I expect from SEC crews, so I don't really know what he's talking about.

Anyway...what I hope happens is something similar to what I outlined above (except for the penalty against the Dawgs, of course). I hope there is an outpouring of criticism and demands for suspensions every week, and the storm gets so intense that the conference is FORCED to do something about their embarrassing tradition of inept officiating. Make the refs full-time, hold them more publicly accountable, just do SOMETHING.

And, while you're at it, petition the NCAA to stop making rules up that are impossible to enforce, like "excessive celebration". Leave it to the NCAA to outlaw happiness.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recap - Vanderbilt

I’ve decided I like a more free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness approach to my recaps rather than the “Great-Good-Bad-Ugly” thing I was doing earlier…unfortunately for you, that probably means I’ll be even more long-winded and rambling than normal.

My assorted thoughts from Saturday…

- I’m as guilty of the “it’s just Vandy” meme as anybody else, but regardless…that was a solid effort on both sides of the ball, and maybe the most complete game that the Dawgs have played in over a year. No matter the competition, it was exactly the kind of performance we HAD to have at this point in the season.

Can you imagine if, God forbid, we had lost that game, or even pulled out an ugly win a la ASU or South Carolina? This would have been a LONG two weeks leading up to Jacksonville. Instead, both the team and the fanbase get to feel a little better about things, which I think will help in the ramp-up to the Cocktail Party.

- Speaking of Jacksonville…the Gators sure looked beatable on Saturday, at least until the officiating crew decided to make it 11 on 16. They have not been able to establish any kind of consistent running game, and the only reliable receivers they have are Cooper and Hernandez. Call me crazy, but I ain’t skeered…more on that game coming in the next couple of weeks.

As for the officiating in that Gators-Hawgs game… I almost said “unbelievable” to describe that debacle, but the sad part is that it is all too believable. It’s like I have said for a while now...I’ve been watching SEC football in particular and football in general for most of my life. I don’t think SEC refs are crooked. I think they are too stupid to be crooked. I think that at least one or two times in every game they are going to COMPLETELY screw something up. You just hope that it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game, like it did to us against LSU or against the Hawgs on Saturday. The personal foul call against Arkansas during Florida’s last drive was just egregiously putrid. Basically, the Arky lineman was penalized 15 yards for being blocked, 25 yards away from the play.

The problem with incompetent officials is not that they are intentionally biased…it is that they are far too easily swayed by influences such as homefield advantage and which team is “supposed” to win.

One more point on the officials, and then I’ll move on...something has to be done about the “unsportsmanlike conduct/excessive celebration” rule before next year. If they are not going to take it out completely, then they have to find a way to make the rule less open for interpretation. Apparently, the Dawgs can’t even fart after a play without being called for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the Dores defensive lineman can rip Joe C’s towel off his waist and throw it in the air after a sack with no call. And don’t even get me started on Saint Timmy…if the rule is supposed to prevent players from calling attention to themselves after a play, why is Tebow allowed to stalk 8-10 yards away from everybody else and practically do a rain dance every time he runs the ball for a first down?

Moving on…

- It’s blatantly obvious what all of us have been saying for the past couple of years…a dominating defensive end is absolutely essential for a Willie Martinez defense to be effective. Justin Houston has been a difference maker ever since he came back from suspension, and he continued his great play on Saturday.

Tennessee was able to lessen his impact by rolling Crompton away from him, and we (of course) were either unable or uninterested in making any adjustments.

Other obvious observations (the only kind I’m really good at) about our defense:
  • Bryan Evans, God love him, should not be taking ANY playing time away from Bacarri Rambo. Rambo continues to make plays every time he is on the field, while Evans continues to show up on my television screen trying to chase somebody down from behind who has just burned him in pass coverage.

  • For everything great about Rennie Curran (and there are TONS of great things), there is also this…his weakness is in pass coverage. Way too many of the open tight ends we have seen this year have been his responsibility, at least as best as I can tell…some of them have been so wide open that it is impossible to tell who had responsibility, if anybody.

- A.J. Green. Good grief. What is left to say? That 65 yard TD was a thing of beauty, and the amazing thing about was it didn’t even look like he was trying all that hard.

I’ve said it before…I think he is well on his way to becoming the 2nd greatest football player we have ever had. Feel free to give your own nominations in the comments, and maybe I’ll pull together a list we can go over during the bye week.

- Add me to the list of people who loved seeing Coach Bobo on the sideline. Even when I first heard about it, before we were able to see what effect, if any, it would have on the gameplan or playcalling, I loved the move for one simple reason: It was an acknowledgement that SOMETHING needed to change, that what had happened to this point was not acceptable and something needed to be done about it. Very comforting to see that the coaching staff is willing to change things up.

I have no idea if it helped the playcalling or not, but I do know that I loved seeing the energy that Bobo brought to the sidelines that we never get to see from him in the booth. I also think that it helped to be able to speak one-on-one with Joe and the other players when things weren’t going so well in the first half. Plus, I think it may have helped him get more of a “feel” for what was working and what wasn’t, being down there with the guys.
Whatever…I enjoyed seeing it, and the results seemed to follow, so I would definitely expect to see it again in Jacksonville.

- On the flip side, when it comes to coaching…the fake punt. Ugh. The reasons that was so disgusting:
  • Down-and-distance and field position dictated that it was the perfect opportunity for the Dores to call the fake, and yet we were totally unprepared…AGAIN. I know it’s “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”…what about “Fool me a dozen times”? Is there a folksy little saying to describe that? How about “I’m so stupid I’m surprised I manage to walk upright”?
  • Even worse…we called a timeout right before it happened. What exactly did our staff and players discuss during that timeout, if not the possibility of a fake?


- Blair Walsh is MONEY. Drew Butler is a MACHINE. Never thought I would say this, but thank God for our kickers.

- Prince Miller is a very good punt returner. Logan Gray is not. You would think that would factor into our personnel decisions on punt return. You would be incorrect.

- Brandon Boykin is a true weapon on kick return, and he continues to improve in pass coverage as well.

- Washaun Ealy and Caleb King should be our primary running backs, and we should continue to try and get the ball to Carlton Thomas IN SPACE (NOT BETWEEN THE TACKLES…HE IS BUILT LIKE A SMALL CHILD, FOR GOD’S SAKE! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL HIM?)

- Welcome back to the linebacker position, Richard Samuel.

I don’t honestly think that’s going to happen, but it’s what I would do. Yet another inexcusable fumble in this game, even though we did recover it. He wasn’t even hit that hard…the ball just came out.

Overall, this was exactly the kind of game we needed at exactly the right time.

My schedule is lightening up a little, so I may be posting a little more often. Try to contain your excitement.

Since it’s a bye week, I may even throw in a few thoughts on the fall TV season to date.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Much better

I know, it was only Vandy...but that was the most complete game the Dawgs have played since beating Arizona State last year.

Justin Houston is a difference maker for this defense, and A.J. Green is making his case as the 2nd greatest player to ever wear the Red and Black.

I'll be back in a day or so with the full recap, but I just wanted to get a positive post up to replace the last one that has been up all week...yeah, I've been busy.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

What are our goals?

Let me preface my thoughts with a couple of disclaimers, if you will. Number one, I have not and will not use this space to call for anybody's job. I have the utmost confidence that the staff that we have has the ABILITY to make the adjustments that HAVE to be made in order to turn this ship around. I love everything that Coach Richt stands for, and I don't think he has forgotten how to coach since winning two SEC championships and averaging 10 wins a year.

Number 2, this is the hardest post I have ever had to write. I have not been posting much the last few weeks specifically because I did not want to post some of the things that I have been thinking. But I also want this blog to be a place to be honest with my, here we go.

"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we will catch excellence."
- Vince Lombardi.

Chasing perfection. Demanding excellence. Expecting nothing but the best from yourself and from those around you. These are the signs of a leader, and part of what leads to the ultimate success as a football team.

This team, as recently as 14 months ago, was considered to be the number one team in the country. Now? We have really good kickers, and we are very dangerous on kickoff return. Other than that, there is not one facet of the game that we are consistently good at, much less excellent.

I am not in the locker room, I am not on the practice field, I am not on the sideline, so I can only go by a) what I see on the field, and b) what I hear from our coaching staff during press conferences and interviews. But, from what I can tell, the biggest problem that our team has is this...our coaching staff does not demand excellence. They are not chasing perfection.

There have been several examples that have led me to this opinion. A few of them (all quotes are paraphrased):

- Coach Richt saying that penalties don't bother him. For two years running, we have been one of the most penalized teams in the country. Many of our penalties have come at critical junctures in games, costing us big plays and/or points. And, despite what Coach Richt has said, many of these do NOT seem to be penalties of aggression. Holding penalties, offsides, false starts, personal fouls AFTER the play, etc...these are penalties of laziness and lack of focus. But, based on the fact that the problem continues and that our head coach is quoted in the media as saying that it really doesn't bother him, our coaching staff apparently thinks there is no work to be done in that area. That is not demanding excellence.

- Our kickoff coverage team is a constant source of embarrassment and big plays for the opposition. And yet, not only do we continue to approach that facet of the game with the same inexplicable strategies and personnel choices, but we as fans are condescended to and basically told that we don't know what we are talking about for questioning those strategies. Former players are quoted as saying that we continue with the same approach because our kickoff coverage coach enjoys the challenge. That is not chasing perfection.

- Over the last several years, our defense has been exposed over and over as a group that can be exploited due to lack of assignment discipline, poor tackling, and a failure to adjust to what an opponent is doing to have success. But the problems continue with no end in sight. Why are these results considered to be acceptable? That is not demanding excellence.

- On punt return, we have been relegated for the last several games to bringing our backup QB to come in and call for fair catches while we defend against the fake, rather than just coaching our punt return team to be aware of the fake and continuing to give our playmakers a chance to make plays. Rather than attempting to be excellent, we instead choose to just give up on that aspect of the game.

- Earlier this year, when the team was 3-1, many of us in the fanbase, as well as many media members, could see these problems and others, but when our coaching staff was questioned about them, the pat response seemed to be along the lines of, "Well, we are winning it must not be all bad."

To me, that is the crux of the problem. From all indications, the goal of our coaching staff is to be just good enough to win. Why should our fanbase, or our team for that matter, be happy that we beat South Carolina at home on the strength of Rennie Curran's fingernail on the last play of the game? Why should it be enough that we beat a 2nd tier Pac 10 team at home on a last second field goal? Are we not supposed to be an elite team? Is that not what we are supposed to be striving for? Excellence?

- Our stated goal every year, according to Coach Richt? Win the SEC East. I get the the east, and you are competing for the SEC title, and if you are competing for the SEC title you are in contention for the National Championship, etc...

But here is what I wish our goal was: Excellence. I know it's just a quote from a movie, but I think it is applicable: "We will be perfect in every phase of the game...offense, defense, special teams."

Because, as Coach Lombardi knew, if you shoot for perfection and fall short, then excellence is still within your grasp. But if you aim is just to be "good enough" to win and you fall short, well...yesterday happens. And Alabama 2008, and Florida 2008, and UT 2006/2007, and West Virginia 2006, etc, etc.

One other caveat...I am in no way blaming our players. I know that they work hard, and I think that they will honestly tell you that they are giving everything that they have and trying their very best. It is up to the coaching staff to define what "everything you have" and "very best" set the standard for what is considered excellence.

I want Coach Richt to retire from UGA 20-25 years from now. I can think of no other coach that I want running this program that I love and support. I am not advocating firing coaches...but I do believe that Coach Richt has to change the mindset surrounding this program. To set the standard at "Perfect" and hold people accountable for striving to attain it.

The talent is there for this team to be successful. We have what should be a very winnable game this week against Vandy followed by a week off to prepare for the Cocktail party. It will be very difficult to affect the type of changes I believe that we need in that amount of time...but I do believe it's possible.

On top of that, I believe it is a necessity.


Saturday, October 10, 2009



And most of all...embarrassing.

BIG game today

Today's game is huge for both teams, but especially the Dawgs...this could be the swing game between something like 9-3 and 7-5 or 6-6.

I've been busy again this week, but I also am holding off on posting some things that I really don't want's sufficient to say that I'm hoping to see a HUGE change in mindset from this team and coaching staff today.

Here, this should help us feel a LITTLE better...

Check the 0:15 point of this clip... :-)

And, finally, a fellow Austell, GA native:

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LSU recap - sort of

OK, I've been putting this off for three days now...

I still can't really talk about this game rationally. Every time I try to discuss it, the conversation dissolves into a rambling, incoherent ranting session that ends with me in a borderline state of depression.

So, I still don't have it in me to do an organized "Great-good-bad-ugly" post...this will be more of a stream of consciousness thing.

And, yes, I know that I am probably plagiarizing about 50 other bloggers at this point, as surely everything that can be said about this game has been said by now. I apologize in advance.

Maybe it will be cathartic...

- A.J. Green is one of the top 5 players we have ever had, at least in my 30 years of watching this team. Joe Cox would probably have at least 3-4 more interceptions, including the touchdown catch at the end, were it not for AJ bailing him out. Thank God we have him for another year.

- The celebration penalty...oof. That was just absurd. Actually, the whole idea of being penalized for "excessively celebrating" is pretty stupid, especially in a case like that, when you've just scored a touchdown in the last minute of the game to take the lead over the #4 team in the country.

What's happening with things like this and the idiotic rule changes we are seeing at both the college and NFL level (regarding how hard you can hit people, and you can only hit people when they are expecting it, and you can only be happy under certain circumstances, etc...) is that these Rules Committees get together every year and so they feel like they have to do something in order to justify their existence. So every year we get a new rule or a new point of emphasis, whatever. They can't very well get together for a week and then come out and say afterwards, "We couldn't come up with anything...we decided the game is pretty good as it is."

Trust me, from personal experience (and many of you can testify to this as well)...there are few better factories for stupid than "committees".

However...that penalty is not why we lost the game. We lost the game when we managed 49 yards in the first half. And one first down.

- Coach Fabris is a great defensive ends coach. I don't think that can be argued.

But, good grief, we can't seriously consider keeping him on kickoff coverage, can we? Check this out if you haven't, from David Hale's blog. Two years worth of putrid kickoff coverage that just sucked momentum out of the team, either at the beginning of a half or following a Dawgs score.


(By the's usually at this point that my discussion of last week's game dissolves into bitter, spittle-flying rage. Just a warning)

Take another look at that David Hale is this acceptable? Why is this OK? We are supposedly a top tier team, right? How is it that we have one aspect of our team that is consistently, disgustingly awful, and rather than trying to fix it or hold anybody accountable, we get excuses and condescension and more of the same old crap?

Then we get former players that say Coach Fabris likes to do it this way because he likes the challenge.


Dude, if you want a challenge, take up sudoku. Learn a second language. Run a triathlon. STOP SCREWING WITH MY FOOTBALL TEAM.

OH!!! And THEN!!! On the MOST CRUCIAL kickoff of the season so far, we decide to get cute and run that stupid bunch formation kickoff, and then we not only fail to cover the kickoff properly (of freaking COURSE), but then we also get a penalty that puts the Tigers in field goal range because we didn't line up properly.


I ask is this OK? Is it me? Am I missing something?

Moving on...

- Joe Cox is not the problem, and even if he was there is nothing we can do about it right now.

- If you had told me two months ago that our offensive line would not be able to get guys off the line enough for us to have anything resembling a productive running game, I would have laughed at you.

I'm not laughing anymore.

- The difference in the defense now and the first three games is Justin Houston.

- Rennie Curran. There aren't enough words to talk about how much I love this guy.

- The missed tackles that led to Charles Scott's touchdown was probably a blessing in disguise. If we do stop him in the backfield, LSU probably runs the clock out and kicks a field goal to win and we don't even get the ball back. Not that it mattered, obviously.

- I am not counting the interception that Joe threw, since it was a desperation pass that he probably (hopefully) never would have thrown in a normal situation, so we basically had a turnover-free game. Progress.

- I know the reasons that Washaun is not playing more (pass blocking, lack of knowledge of the playbook)...but to me, he looked more like an SEC running back in his eight carries than anything we've seen all season.

Also, did you notice that Coach Richt called out the running backs a little after the game? I don't remember the exact quote, and I'm too lazy to go look it up, but he basically said that our running backs are only getting as far as the blocking and that our guys need to do a better job of doing like Charles Scott did, which is make somebody miss or break a tackle. Make a play, in other words.

Were it not for the broken jaw that Caleb King suffered last week, I would guess that quote would signify the possible end of the Richard Samuel era. As it is, we'll undoubtedly see more of Washaun this week.

And if somebody could put an APB out for Carlton Thomas, that would be nice, too.

- OK, I guess that's all for now. Bottom line is that we lost in the last minute to the #4 team in the country, and we should have a very good chance at being 5-2 going into the bye week before The Cocktail Party. Anybody remember what happened the last time we were in that situation?

I know that this is a totally different team...but I also remember how I felt after the disaster in Neyland in 2007. I'm not saying that the same thing is going to happen for this team, but at the same time I never could have foreseen what was to come the rest of that year...only the most enjoyable season of my lifetime.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

I came back for THIS?

Sorry, I've been pretty out of commission the past week...some traveling for business, and then snowed under at work.

And, now....after that game today, I don't really have it in me to write a full recap right now. I feel like I got kicked in the stomach by a mule about fifty times in a row.

So...I'll be back in a day or so with full thoughts. I don't think it's as bad as we all feel right now...but it ain't good.