Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Dropping the Ball

Wednesday September 9, 2009

There’s enough blood in the water after a disappointing loss, and it’s easy to panic over the perception of a program in disarray that makes for good column and sports talk fodder. The coaches (and even the players to some degree) seem fine with chalking a lot of problems up to execution, but getting the coaches on the same page, even in analysis after the fact, has been a story that won’t go away.

It wasn’t just the first start in three years for Joe Cox or the debut of Branden Smith; it was also the first game in which Tony Ball served as Georgia’s receivers coach. Not much went well for the offense, but Ball in particular seemed to have a rough go of it. Georgia struggled to get production through the passing game, and leaving two promising receivers on the bench for the entire game didn’t help matters.

“Coach (Tony) Ball’s in the box and he didn’t have direct contact with us,” (Michael) Moore said of Georgia’s receivers coach. “He kind of didn’t realize that until the end of the game. … We didn’t know what the rotation was going to be and we ended up sticking with basically three guys.”

“He said the game was moving so fast and he was trying to find out what plays worked and what didn’t work, and he said he just forgot, it slipped his mind,” (Marlon) Brown said.

It should be pointed out that this isn’t Ball’s first rodeo as a receivers coach. He’s had the job at before at a major program (Virginia Tech). Position coaches at Georgia have a lot of freedom to set their rotations. It’s possible that Virginia Tech handled things differently when Ball was there. Still, it was an embarrassing oversight, and I don’t blame the players for bewilderment over the news that a position coach with only six scholarship players available forgot about two of them.

This isn’t just Ball’s failure though. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is sitting right next to Ball in the booth. With playcalling resting with Bobo and position coaches deciding on their own rotations, an experienced coach of offense like Mark Richt should be able to have a better big picture view of the offense and speak up when those in the booth get bogged down in the details.

I’m not the first to raise the communication issue, but it goes beyond getting a couple of freshmen on the field. Take another example from the game. Oklahoma State DB Perrish Cox, who was assigned to A.J. Green most of the day, was out of action for a series or two. Many fans noticed it, and the broadcast team did too. Georgia didn’t do much, if anything, to test that side of the field. It makes sense now – if Georgia’s coaches in the box didn’t have a good grip on their own personnel, how could they ever note the absence of a key defender and come up with a plan to test a possible weakness?

From player rotation to playcalling and even down to the approach to kickoffs, Richt delegates and yields to his assistants. That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course; you hope to hire a staff of professionals with the experience and skills to do their jobs, and the head coach cannot hope to micromanage every aspect of the program and game plan. I don’t mean to suggest that Richt is well down the Bobby Bowden path to oblivion. This is still his team though, and it does seem that some of the pieces are disjointed. We joke about Evil Richt and his various personalities…right now, the team could use a good kick from Assertive Richt.

2 Responses to 'Dropping the Ball'

Subscribe to comments with RSS