My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting one of the greatest football towns in the US this past weekend. Athens, Georgia. The weather, however, was very unfavorable and we were forced to raid places like Wal-Mart, Target, and CVS to find ponchos that were nearly sold out.
After staying in the HoJo on Broad Street and grabbing some breakfast at Cracker Barrel, it was time to head down for the Dawg Walk.. little did we know it would soon be cancelled after we stood pretty much in the downpour for 45 frigid minutes.
Before I reveal my take on the game/season, take a look at some of the pics from the experience.
Biscuits and Blackberry Preserves!
Rufio and ....
Good, Old-Fashioned Hate!
Yes, those were probably my Top 3 pics of the trip!
Now. Business. I could sit here and make excuses and blame it on the rain, injuries, and even the throw in the phrase, "well, every 7 years you're bound to win one!" The entitlement of my blog is "One Man on Fire", and I tell ya, I am.. en fuego. (ok, so I took the liberty of using the same phrase, only saying it in spanish to bring more emotion to the table. it's my blog.)
Now, as I will tell you up front, I am a Georgia fan-atic, but I also am a realist. Every August I don't jump on the Dawg-Wagon and make presumptuous statements such as "We're making a run for the BCS this year", or "this is our year", etc. That being said, I had so much faith in our beloved Red and Black this year to make what might have been our best chance at a national title bid in the past few years and for the next few. The injury bug bit hard at the beginning of the season and forced us into a situation at the O-line that clearly made a difference in the early games. BUT...
The defense. Our potent, volatile, machine last year. Disappointment. If someone had predicted UGA would score 42 Points, Matthew Stafford would throw for more than 400 yards and 5 TDs, Mohamed Massaquoi would bring in 3 TDs, and Knowshon Moreno would rush 94yds and catch 74yds with one TD.. obviously, I would have slapped your mom. But not this year. In a year where our Defense gives up more than 30 points in 5 games and loses 3 of them you have to make some changes. I have reservations of joining the Facebook group "Fire Willie Martinez" mainly because of last year alone. The schemes are lacking somewhat, but even more so than that is execution and intensity. Several plays Saturday the 'D' failed to cover the pitch man in the triple-option. (if you were wondering, Rule #1 when playing against the triple-option is cover the pitch man. *taken from Triple-Option Defense Rulebook, Chapter 1, Section 1, Verse 1, Rule 1). Last year, our 'D' was the main reason for our success, not to take away from Knowshon or Stafford, but our 'D' took a lot of pressure off those guys. I will not "woulda, coulda, shoulda" 'd the situation from last year.
Any analyst or commentator would say that our 'D' was no doubt the Number 1 Defense in the country, especially the last 6 games of the season.
Now look at us. We were just a few plays away from being 6-6 this year, however those plays did come from the defense. So, when it comes to Willie Martinez, I am torn.
Next up, Special Teams. How many have seen the kickoff kicked out of bounds nearly 50% of the time this year, raise your hand? High five. Special Teams, not just Saturday, but nearly every game, have killed us this year. I understand strategy on the Special Teams side of the ball as well. Directional kicks, kicking away from excellent kick returners, I know this. But covering punts, returning punts, and kickoffs have been abysmal. Even Saturday, did anyone notice when GT botched the PAT the guy had to run around Prince Miller to try and score.. doesn't sound odd? P. Miller was simply standing in the way, not in pursuit. Bottom line: how many games come down to field position, and what determines field position? Special Teams. and they have been special, but not like outstanding special.. more like little puppy with one eye special.
And lastly, to you, Mr. Richt. What have we settled for this year? Off-field issues were not handled very authoritatively, on-field issues such as penalties, execution and intensity were obviously not very well-addressed.. so, what now? I have said what we've all heard here today.. injuries, things out of our control we certainly cannot help, but being almost the most penalized team in Div.I-A is unacceptable. (interesting note: UGA was ranked #1 in the APR score that came out this past fall.) Coach Richt, you have a lot of soul-searching to do these next few months. I would definitely re-consider not all of my coaching staff, but a few positions. And I would definitely recruit heavily on the other side of the ball. Where have all the Bailey's, Thomas Davis', Pollack's, and Moses' gone? Sure, we have Rennie Curran, Dannell Ellerbe (well, did.), and Asher Allen. And I realize Jeff Owens will be back (ACL), but really. Our tackles have become like bumper cars at the county fair. Friendly, Fair, and Frankly Pathetic.
Now that the regular season is done, bowl games are looming, and Florida is truly destined for another national title, I will not blog or try to even consider blogging about College Football until after the Champion is decided, news in college football demands my opinion, or Matthew Stafford and/or Knowshon Moreno declare for the draft, thus ripping my heart from my chest in which causing a few more issues than just special teams and defense (which again are 70% of football).