Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What passes for a Florida recap these days...

By now, I guess almost everything that can be said about the Cocktail Party last week has been said…this will probably be more like my take on the current state of the Dawgs program, and then an “announcement” regarding what you can expect to see in this space going forward…

Once more, into the breach…

- Joe Cox. What a great kid. Loves the Dawgs, bleeds red and black, takes great pride in wearing the G. His teammates love and respect him, the coaches talk about him in nothing but glowing terms.

Unfortunately, all of the admirable attributes that he possesses don’t cancel out some inherent weaknesses in his game. What we heard about Joe from the coaching staff coming out of camp was that he may not have great physical skills, but he makes good decisions with the ball and he is extremely accurate. I can’t tell you that they were lying, because I wasn’t invited to watch practice for some unknown reason, but I can tell you that these reported strengths have not translated to the field once real bullets started flying. Aron White said recently that mistakes are made during games that you don’t see during practice, and maybe that is what is happening with Joe. Whatever the case, he is throwing interceptions at an alarming rate, and for every one that you can point to and say may not be his fault (like a couple of them on Saturday), I’ll point to three more that were thrown into coverage and SHOULD have been picked off but weren’t, oftentimes because multiple defenders are going for the ball at the same time and manage to play effective defense against each other.

We are not the only team that recruited Joe when he was in high school…he was an Elite 11 quarterback, after all. Maybe if he had been in a situation that allowed him to get more playing time over the last four years he could have developed into a big time quarterback. But the weaknesses in his game…locking onto receivers with his eyes, throwing the ball late and high, failing to identify where defenders are in relation to the passing lanes…those are weaknesses you don’t expect to see out of a 5th year senior, until you are reminded that the 5th year senior is also a first year starter.

What I mean to say is that I don’t think it’s fair to label Joe a “bust”…but I think we can say at this point that at best he has been average this year, and at times he has been worse than that.

So, going forward, what do we do about the quarterback situation? Many fans are screaming for the staff to bench Joe and start looking to the future (I may have even been guilty of that myself during the Florida massacre…so much of that day is a red haze, so I can’t say for sure). Coach Richt came out this week and said that Joe is the starter, and I can’t argue with his reasoning.

See, we as fans have the option of chalking up this year as “rebuilding” and start looking to next year…Coach Richt, rightfully so, does not believe that to be an option, as it sends the message to THIS year’s group of Dawgs that we have given up on this season…the season that, for most of the seniors, will be the last time they ever don pads and play a competitive down of football. How can Coach Richt look guys like Jeff Owens, Michael Moore, Geno Atkins, Bryan Evans, Prince Miller, and Joe Cox in the eye and say, “Sorry, guys…I know you have busted your butts and sweat and bled for this team for the last 4 or 5 years. But even though there are 4 (hopefully 5) games left in your Dawg career, we’ve decided those games aren’t that important, so if you’ll step aside it’s time for these young guys to play.”

I couldn’t do that. Maybe if I’m an NFL head coach, but not to these kids. If that makes me some sort of pansy, or “too nice”, then so be it.

So what you’re left with is this: Joe Cox, despite his shortcomings, is the best chance this team has to win right now. Until somebody else earns that away from him, he should start.

And don’t start telling me about what we are losing by not playing Gray and Murray now…if this season had gone like we all hoped it would, they wouldn’t be getting playing time right now anyway, right? So their progress is not being stopped, or even slowed. They are all on the same schedule as they were when the season started.

- Having said all that…why is Bryan Evans still getting playing time over Bacarri Rambo? Again, Evans is a great guy, by all reports, and has willingly played anywhere the coaching staff has asked him to. But, at this point, can anybody give a reason why Bryan Evans gives this team a better chance to win right now than Bacarri Rambo? As physically gifted as he is, he has never shown the ability to cover anybody in man coverage, and is consistently out of position when we are in zone. Rambo is a playmaker…don’t we need those guys?

- Nice to see at least some semblance of a running game. And as good as Washaun has looked, I’m OK with Caleb being the starter, based on his effectiveness in the passing game. It's not like the Evans-Rambo situation where one player is obviously more effective and we are going with the less effective one for some unexplained reason. Caleb being the starter doesn’t mean that we are not going to see a heavy dose of Washaun.

An aside…Washaun has said that when Evans leaves, he is going to ask for his old HS number back. We’ve been trying to find a replacement for our last #34 for 25 years now…maybe a combination of #3 and #4 will be the secret next year?

- Let me get this straight…we have two weeks to prepare, and the best we can come up with against a struggling Gator offense is more of the same soft-zone-give-the-receiver-six-yards-of-space crap we serve up every week? Can we PLEASE find a way to utilize this abundance of talent we have on defense?

To me, what this team is missing on defense more than anything else is ATTITUDE. Any kind of edge or nastiness that is REAL, not contrived. This team is so far removed from the "Junkyard Dawgs" that Erk wouldn't even recognize it.

The defense wasn’t as bad as the 41 points may indicate…but we never showed a consistent ability to slow them down, and they were able to score EVERY time they needed to. Kind of like every other big game we have played the last two seasons.

- Stupid penalties. Turnovers. Continuing to bang our head against the directional kicking wall, when we have a kicker who has more than enough leg to boom the ball into the end zone. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Sometimes, I hate being right.

- So, who is the MVP of this team? Drew Butler or Blair Walsh?

- Brandon Spikes is a low-life, and his hypocritical, lying, sack-of-crap coach is even worse.

- I didn’t forget the stupid, gimmicky, circus-stunt, embarrassing, low-rent, bush-league, desperate, cringe-worthy decision to try and “Blackout” this game. I’m just trying REALLY hard to do so.

- The only thing that can salvage this season for me at this point is to beat the Gnats in Atlanta.

- Bottom line…14 months ago, this team was the number one team in the country. Now, I can’t tell any difference in where we currently are as a program and where we were in the Donnan years. Tremendously talented, but manages to find increasingly stupefying ways to mutilate itself on a consistent basis.

I love Coach Richt, and there is nobody I would rather have representing the University of Georgia. I don’t want him fired, and if you do, don’t bother telling me because I probably won’t even waste my time trying to convince you of what an idiot you are.

That being said, there have to be changes made. I’m glad I don’t have to be the one to make them. Here are two that, as a fan, I want to see:

o Coach Martinez should do the honorable thing and step down. Coach Richt obviously considers Willie to be a good friend. If he is as good a friend as Coach Richt thinks he is, he will not put his friend in the awkward position of having to continually defend why he has not fired the man who has been the overseer of a precipitous decline in output ever since he got the job.
o Coach Richt should at least get more involved in the play-calling, if not take it back completely. Coach Richt made his reputation calling plays for some of the most prolific offenses in NCAA history. I understand the advantages of not having that responsibility anymore when it comes to time management, etc, but I’m starting to think that it may have been too much too fast for Coach Bobo.

This program is not in shambles. There are still a lot of tools in the toolbox. But, without a doubt, there needs to be a change in mindset, and that ALWAYS starts at the top.



Now, for the promised announcement: I don’t know how much “Dawg” blogging I am going to be doing in the near future. Don’t get me wrong…I still love this team, will be pulling like mad for 9-4, and I still live and die with this bunch.

That’s part of the reason why I haven’t blogged as much and may not blog as much in the future. I started this blog for one reason only…to have fun. I write about the things I enjoy. In doing so, I have been lucky enough to gain a (very small) audience and have had this blog added to blogrolls of Dawg fans and linked by the Benevolent Geniuses at Dawgbone. As flattering as that is, I feel like I put pressure on myself to be the type of writer that people who would get to my blog from those links would want to read, so I felt like I had to do a recap of every game, or try and weigh in on every Dawg-related issue, whether I wanted to or not, while at the same time maybe NOT post other things that interest me but may not interest somebody who got here through Dawgbone.

The point is, posting about the Dawgs started feeling like something I HAD to do, rather than something I WANT to do.

On top of all that, some things happened with my work schedule and environment that have kept me from posting as timely as I would have liked, so I felt like by the time I actually got a chance to weigh in on anything, it had already been said (and almost definitely better) by guys like Hale, Bernie, Doug, Mike, DawgSports, etc, etc.

I don’t want to post just to post. I also don’t want to post a lot about the Dawgs when I’m ticked off, because I don’t want to add to what has become a very negative atmosphere at times (not due to the guys mentioned above, btw).

So, here’s the deal…I’m still going to post about the Dawgs, when I feel like I have something to add to the conversation. But I’m probably also going to be posting about a bunch of other, non-Dawg stuff. I watch TONS of television. I read LOTS of books. I love ALL kinds of movies. I have WAY too much stupid, random stuff running around in my head. Hopefully, out of all that, there will be enough to keep you coming back. If not, I’ll just keep firing posts into the blogosphere for my mom to read.


Bernie said...

I eagerly await any conversation you choose to engage in. This post speaks volumes. Thanks for sharing.

We all feel vested in UGA Athletics as alumni and fans. But no one is vested more in Georgia football than Mark Richt.

And I don't envy him for the decisions it seems he must make.

Randy Powers said...

Good job. I discovered your blog in a pursuit to check my POVs about the DAWGS against those of other true fans and have enjoyed the read time after time. I will be back to see where the conversation goes from here.

I know I can echo virtually every point you mentioned in your announcement. I just hope that the readers I am fortunate enough to have drop by enjoy their visits.

As for our DAWGS, I believe whole-heartedly in CMR and his ability to put Georgia right back where we all believe it should be. However, I don't think a one of us would WANT to have the issues his job comes with right now or in the immediate months to come. GO DAWGS.

Darren said...

Just a few quick thoughts, in random order:

- I applaud your decision to get the blog back to the basic reason you started it: to have fun and discuss things that matter to you. If it's turning into a 'job' and a 'have to', then what's the fun in that? We have enough 'jobs' and 'have to' in our lives on a daily basis. If folks quit clicking over here, as we say in Alabama, "Screw em'".

- Coming into 2009, Georgia was, and is, in a rebuilding year. There is nothing wrong with that!! It everybody!! Nobody stays on top anymore...Oklahoma, USC, THE Ohio State...on and on it goes. Dawg Nation...take a deep breath! It's gonna be alright! When Tebow leaves, Fla. will be in a similar boat...that writing is already on the wall.

- Willie M. must go. Either fall on his sword or fired. That train has left the station...good luck. IF IT WERE ME....I'd hire a D.C. that specializes in a 3-4 and zone style defence. All blue chip guys want to play on Sunday, so it'd be a recruiting bonus to be able to tell a guy "Come to Georgia, and we'll get you ready for the NFL".

I'd love to continue, but I have to get to work.

Enjoy the blog. If I wasn't a tech-idiot, I might have one myself. Alas, I'll just leach off of you....

Darren said...

...and one more thing...

In an effort to be up with the times, I've been listening to some 'Kings of Leon'...

Man, they stink.