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Post Chicken leftovers

Tuesday September 11, 2007

Fourth down calls

I like the new "Water Girl" segments on the Mark Richt show where Kathryn Richt plays the role of the "what the heck are you doin’, coach?" fan and asks her husband a question about the game. The two questions to this point were very reasonable and probably crossed most of our minds at some point. This week, she asked about the decision to kick a field goal on 4th and 15 with 5 minutes remaining.

Most people I’ve read since the game seem to have the right perspective on that call. There was certainly a decision to be made, but few have argued that the field goal was flat out the wrong choice. Most saw a reasonable chance that Georgia could get the ball back in time for a final attempt at a touchdown drive, and I agree.

Earlier in the game, Richt faced another fourth down decision. The Dawgs attempted a 4th and 2 conversion from the South Carolina 32 early in the third quarter. The attempted play-action pass backfired spectacularly, and South Carolina soon drove a short distance for a field goal. This was such a turning point in the game. Georgia, trailing 10-3, had just received the most electrifying run by a Bulldog in Sanford Stadium since Michael Cooper’s breakaway in 2003 against these same Gamecocks. Richt gets so much grief for settling for field goals, but I’m surprised not to see anyone suggesting that a field goal in this situation might have been the right call. Though the first down was tempting, it was just soul-crushing to get nothing from Moreno’s great run. Instead of getting something positive, the Gamecocks soon extended the lead to 10.

What do those two fourth down calls have in common? The focus shouldn’t be on fourth down – it should be on Knowshon Moreno and the subsequent three plays in each series.

In the third quarter, Moreno had just ripped off a run from deep in Georgia territory to bring the ball near the South Carolina 40. He followed that up with a 5-yard run on first down. On the next play, Moreno went in motion leaving Southerland as the lone back in the backfield. Southerland managed just a couple of yards on the carry. Thomas Brown was stuffed on third down leading to the pivotal fourth down decision.

In the fourth quarter, the Dawgs were once again the beneficiary of some nice Moreno carries. He had consecutive 10-yard runs to move the ball to the South Carolina 11. From that moment, Moreno disappeared. Three incompletions and a penalty set up the relatively easy 4th and 15 decision.

I admit that it’s painful hindsight to make the case that Moreno should have been more of a factor in those series after some nice runs. Passes or other backs can be and sometimes are effective changes of pace when a defense is keying on a certain guy. Still, the "what if" of not using Moreno in those situations is as big of a question in the game as those pivotal fourth down calls themselves.

Relishing that great win over UAB

When it was introduced several seasons ago, the pregame video featuring Larry Munson was fresh and gave the crowd a charge. Now, the production is stale and more or less dead air for a couple of minutes. The Redcoats take the "hymn" in "Battle Hymn" literally and play the piece at a nearly inaudible level. But the worst of it is the absolutely forgettable footage that passes for great moments in Georgia football history. Of course you have to tip the cap to 1980 and Herschel and that era. Then we get treated to a series of highlights against…UAB and Mississippi State. Thomas Brown’s kickoff return in a loss to Tennessee is also featured.

I understand that they want to feature current players, but Matthew Stafford has done a bit more in his brief career that is worth reliving than a meaningless mop-up touchdown run against UAB. Nothing from the Auburn game? Massaquoi’s catch for the ages against Tech doesn’t make the grade? The comeback in last year’s bowl game is left on the cutting room floor. That’s just laziness – update the video and keep it fresh. Weekly would be best – there are only seven home games for Pete’s sake. I’ll get by somehow without reliving a dramatic sack of Michael Henig one more time.

I should say that the other video additions during the game have been well-done for the most part. When you get past the Georgia Power or Chrysler advertising, they come at appropriate times when the Redcoats aren’t playing and do the job of getting the crowd stirred up a bit.

"Evil" I can accept

It’s been since 2001 that a team coached by Steve Spurrier beat Georgia. That’s ancient history to most of Georgia’s players. When it comes to Bulldog fans with long memories though, Spurrier is still very much in their (our) heads. How so? Even after a game in which the Dawgs failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2001, we’re still talking about Spurrier. No South Carolina team since 1996 has scored more than 21 points on Georgia, yet here we are talking about the Evil Genius beating us. Spurrier has been about as effective with his offense as Skip Holtz was. Not many of us know a thing about the guys who have really been a thorn in Georgia’s side. Men named Charlie Strong and Tyrone Nix have been far more problematic for the Bulldogs than anyone named Holtz or Spurrier.

This same point applies in Jacksonville as well. While it will be Meyer-this and Meyer-that, his offense has scored just 14 points in each meeting against Georgia so far. Meanwhile, Georgia has broken 20 on the Gators just three times since 1993. There’s Charlie Strong’s name again…someone find that guy a head coaching job.

3 Responses to 'Chicken leftovers'

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  • You’re exactly right about how terrible the battle hymn has gotten. I just don’t understand it. It used to be basically an overview of all of the great, memorable plays in UGA history. Now, you’ll see a clip or two or Herschel and the rest are forgettable plays from last season.

  • Yes…..find Charlie Strong a HC job………..out of the SEC……..if not out of the SEC, at least out of the SEC East. That guy is a pain in the a$$.

  • […] hate to harp on it again, but the UAB highlights during the pregame Battle Hymn have to go. By the time we have another home […]