Well, it always pains me to say "I told you so." It seems I just barely underestimated the Dawgs in my 37-34 prediction, but who is counting? I don't think I could have imagined it any more accurately than it transpired.
How could I have known, you are thinking? Well, it is simple. It is called "pattern recognition." Face it, we have some problems in Athens. No, I didn't say "Fire Mark Richt" or start that crap, but we must come to reality that the Dawgs are abysmal in games that count. I think it is multifactorial, but something seriously needs to be done. I am not throwing in the proverbial towel after 1 loss, no, it is what I know to come that bothers me.
UGA is in a perpetual cycyle of losing the games they MUST win to the point at which they are basically out of contention for a meaningful season and THEN playing like champions. The success down the stretch only starts what has become the official motto of the Bulldog Nation: "Next year! Yep, that is the year!" So how do they break the cycle? I'm not sure, but I can offer my own 2 cents as some of the bigger problems, whether you agree or not.
1. Gameplan: While I don't doubt our staff's knowledge of the game (I actually think they are quite good), their plan for big games seems to always be lacking. It seems like they have never even seen their opponent play before! Heaven forbid they do something different, and then we are just totally baffled! I think the coaches need to do a better job at realizing the weakness of their opponents that exist on a constant level. What do I mean by that? Well, it is not just becoming familiar with the opponents playbook, but truly analyzing every players individual weakness and exploiting it.
2. Adjustments: This is an extension of #1. It sometimes seems like maybe Bobo missed the plane and just faxed his list of plays. There seems to be no positive adjustments made on gameday. If the opponent does something uncharacteristic, our staff seems lost as to how to adjust. For instance, Clemson is not known for the amount of pressure the brought against UGA so I can understand being caught by surprise. However, you can't keep running the same slow developing plays over and over that amount to no gain or another sack. With an over-aggressive defense, your RBs should be hitting the hole at full speed and into the second level. We resorted to these slowly developing delayed handoffs that were blown up over and over. Same on defense. Our defense looked utterly confused as to what they were doing. Why? Well, I will discuss this further down. When was the last time you saw Bama or LSU or even Florida be so shocked on defense and still not able to adjust in the second half? Well, that is why they share most all of the last 7 national titles.
3. Fundamentals: To me, this is a MAJOR area of concern. Again, I base the success of Bama and LSU defense mostly on fundamentals. Their players don't get out of position, they are patient, they swarm to the ball, and they tackle well. Things UGA has lacked since way before this season! This extends to poor decisions on special teams, as well as blocking on offense. The other lack of discipline is in penalties. Many of the penalties go right back to a lack of fundamentals. UGA is talented enough that they can win sloppy games against inferior opponents because they can overcome it. The problem is that you can't beat a good team when you play like that. You can't repeatedly go 1st and 20+ against a Top 10 team. You can't have so many turnovers and mental lapses.
4. Suspensions: Yes, yes...I know. We want to represent the university and won't stoop to other peoples' standards, blah blah blah. Face it, this has been a disaster for season after season, including this one with Norman in for JHC and missing Marshall Morgan. I have insider information on things that happen at another major SEC team, and I can assure you that they are truly out of control. I agree that athletes must be disciplined and such, but we can't continue to make them miss huge amounts of game time. I mean other schools have players get arrested TWICE and still play! I think to continue competing, Richt needs to enact harsher penalties outside of gameday and if they want to play badly enough, they will comply. I will give you sexual assaults, guns in school zones, etc. But having a beer on the lake with friends or a single drug policy violation, come on! They are just college kids being college kids! I agree it can't go overlooked, but bust their butts and make them earn their playing time back. We can't continue to suspend players half the season because they farted in the classroom and such.
5. Talk: Yep, if UGA played half as good as they talked, we would be the dynasty in this league! Every year we hear the same crap about how they are ready blah blah blah and this year is different blah blah blah. They need to shut their mouths and do their talking on the field. One thing I marvel at in Tuscaloosa is the business mindset the whole team has. They don't buy into talking crap to the media, they just focus on their opponents and let their play talk for them. You can't win championships in this league on emotion and you sure can't win just because you said you wanted to win. I personally get tired of hearing the same garbage every year and wish they would just play football already!
Well, there you go. My Top 5 things UGA needs to fix in a hurry. Just my opinion, so take it as you will. No, I didn't say we need new coaches. As a matter of fact, I would love to win championships behind Mark Richt! UGA just needs some big changes if they are going to legitimately compete. I hope for the best in Athens this Saturday, but don't hold your breath. Spurrier is a far better coach when it comes to gameplans than our staff and I expect more of the same. Head over to my Predictions page for further breakdown of the season.