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Post Unused student tickets spur McGarity into action

Wednesday September 29, 2010

The Red & Black has a story today about how nearly half of the student tickets allocated for the Arkansas game went unused. Only 10,000 out of 18,000 student tickets were used for the September 18 game.

It’s not a new development, and athletic department officials have been watching it for more than a year. Claude Felton explained, “We have data from fall last year and this year until this point. And the students that all have tickets are not all coming to the games.” New athletic director Greg McGarity nails how big of an issue this is. “We’re suffering as a program, as an institution,” McGarity said. “When we’re on TV and they show the stadium, there’s 5,000 or 6,000 empty seats — that’s embarrassing.” If you were at the Arkansas game, you know what McGarity is talking about.

Based on those observations that some student tickets go unused for every home game, Georgia will sell an additional 1,000 student tickets for the upcoming Tennessee game to underclassmen who received a split season ticket package that didn’t include the Tennessee game. The hope is to fill, or at least come closer to filling, the student sections.

It’s a short-term solution, and McGarity is already talking about revamping the student ticket process as soon as next season. His experience at Florida should help, but he also plans to study how other major programs distribute student tickets.

“The intent is to how can we provide a system that will allow enough students in to where we can manage it and know that Thursday at 5 o’clock that we have ‘x’ amount of seats left that we can either put on sale or reissue to students that didn’t qualify for tickets,” McGarity said. “How can we? That’s our challenge. So, we’re gonna benchmark other institutions to see how they do that.”

We all know the current state of the team, but the season wasn’t in the tank heading into the Arkansas game. It’s probably going to end up being the highest-profile home game of the year, but student turnout was abysmal and noticed. The students who were at the game were loud and involved as they almost always are. They helped the crowd that stayed for the entire game make a difference during Georgia’s comeback. They’re not the problem. Even with the team struggling this year, there are thousands of students who would love to go to the games, and I’m glad to see the athletic director making this issue a priority.

Post Trying to solve the offensive line puzzle

Tuesday September 28, 2010

Paul voices one of the most troubling questions of the young 2010 season: what the heck is going on with the offensive line? We knew there would be some adjustment on defense given a new scheme and staff. We anticipated a learning curve for Murray as he gained experience. But the veteran-laden offensive line? With one of the best position coaches around?

I don’t have any answers either, but there have been a few ideas that have crossed my mind. I don’t claim any of them to be root causes, and you might even call them excuses. Here goes…

1) Depth. We have enough short-term problems to keep us occupied for a while, but I’m also a little concerned about the future of the line once the current seniors move on. Take Boling, Chris Davis, and Josh Davis off the line and look at what’s behind them. Is the next wave of linemen coming along? Other than Tanner Strickland, who’s seeing much time? All that’s to ask that if one of the starters is hobbled or under-performing, do the coaches have options? Touted young prospects Austin Long, Chris Burnette, and Brent Benedict are all in various stages of convalescence. That basically leaves A.J. Harmon and Trinton Sturdivant whose limited availability is to be expected given the long road back from multiple knee surgeries. Throw in a random bout with mono (Glenn) and a chronic battle with injuries (CDavis), and Searels has about as much to work with as he had when he started. Of course what’s there is more experienced now, but does Georgia have the personnel it needs to be the run-first offense it’s trying to be?

2) S&C. Georgia’s getting pushed around on both sides of the line. Some of the problems on defense might have to do with the fact that the linemen aren’t that big to begin with, but the entire defense got dragged around by Bo Herschel Lattimore and couldn’t stop more of the same against Mississippi State. It’s impossible that the offensive line actually got weaker during the offseason, but grumblings about the conditioning program aren’t out of the blue. If the strength program is a factor, Searels is the wrong person to be looking at.

3) The offense. Is the line catching heat for more general problems with the offense? I don’t mean that we’ve all been blind to a performance worthy of the 2008 Oklahoma line. But if you run a predictable offense into a defense that’s keying on tendencies, it’s just not going to work. The line is also just one element of pass protection or run blocking. Georgia’s offense depends on tailbacks, tight ends, and fullbacks playing a role in blocking. I can’t say that any of those units have been particularly stellar in those roles either this year, and the starting fullback has been injured.

4) Elevated expectations based on what? Our expectations for the line were more or less set by one game: Tech. Georgia then tried more of the same against TAMU and struggled until special teams bailed them out. At best, the line has been inconsistent for a couple of years. The Tech game was amazing. They were dreadful against LSU, Tennessee, and for most of the Auburn games. I grant a lot of that to the loss of Sturdivant in each of the past two seasons and the shuffling that had to go on. Did Josh Davis take a step forward at the end of last year, or was he just playing above himself for a month? We’re just relieved now that the line is no longer a bunch of freshmen with no backups. But does that make them great?

Post UT kickoff at 12:21, Oregon series canceled

Monday September 27, 2010

Georgia’s October 9th game against Tennessee has been set for a 12:21 kickoff and will be broadcast by the SEC Network. At this point, both schools should feel lucky that the game isn’t on local cable access. Unfortunately, this pretty much kills any chance of a night game in Athens this year. The Vanderbilt game is Homecoming, and Idaho State will be another early start. With all of that in mind, the Tech game seems to be the last opportunity we’ll have for a kickoff later than 1:00 this year. Michael Adams must be pleased, but it’s not been an enjoyable home schedule.

In other scheduling news, Georgia and Oregon have agreed to cancel the series that was scheduled to take place in 2015 and 2016. It’s unfortunate for those of us looking forward to another interesting trip, but it’s hard to argue the reasoning. This move is one of the first influences of new athletic director Greg McGarity on Georgia’s football schedule. I doubt Mark Richt is complaining. McGarity explains,

“The model that we would establish in the future would have seven home games every year. If you look at the models of other schools that have played for the (BCS) championship lately, there’s always one tough nonconference game.”

Whether you consider the annual Tech game to be that one tough nonconference game, McGarity is speaking from experience when it comes to scheduling for a championship team.

Post Epitaph

Sunday September 26, 2010

It’s a line you’re going to hear a lot over the next few weeks:

“We just, at times, called a couple running plays just blindly and just said, ‘Hey we’re going to run this no matter what,’ ” he said. “There times when we had success and some times we got hit in the mouth because of the pressures they brought. And again, until you look at the film, it’s going to be hard to say exactly. They did a nice job defensively.”

A coach who built his reputation as the offensive coordinator of one of the most successful teams of the 1990s now has a team that couldn’t come up with a way to out-scheme a first-year defensive coordinator from MTSU.

Post Triage

Sunday September 26, 2010

It’s still September, and Georgia isn’t just out of the SEC championship picture; they’re reduced to the spoiler role with 2/3 of the season remaining.  Everything you and I thought about this program is wrong – even the “Richt’s teams win on the road” meme is done. Of course it’s not just a one-year problem or the 0-3 SEC start.  Georgia is 2-7 in their last nine SEC games and under .500 against their division since 2006.

Back in May, former beat writer David Hale threw a few questions to the masses about Mark Richt’s future.   At that moment far removed from the emotional maelstrom of midseason, it was easy to respond like this:

Will you stick by Richt if Georgia finishes 8-5 again this year, but does it with a more fundamentally sound D, a better approach to kickoffs and a duo at tailback that understands how to play the position?

I don’t outright reject the possibility of another 8-5 season. The defense will take some adjustment. We’ve seen that even Vanderbilt and Kentucky are ready to pounce on a sign of weakness.  You can bet that everyone on the schedule from Mississippi State to Tennessee to Georgia Tech sees the opportunity to take their shot at a program that might be doubting itself a little. You only have to look over at Foley Field to see how the wheels can come off a season when negative momentum starts building. In fact, as Hale notes, the job the team did pulling it together at the end of last season against two big rivals is one of the underrated stories from a year ago (and is what keeps us from adding Richt’s first losing record to the ledger).

At the same time, it would be devastating to go 7/8-5 against this schedule.  You’re trading Oklahoma State and LSU for lesser opponents.  The home schedule is extremely favorable.  Five losses against this schedule would include some very, very bad losses as well as losses to rivals that don’t sit well even in the best of years. Think about which five teams on this year’s schedule you’d accept losing to.  Improvement in relatively obscure areas like kickoff coverage won’t mean much if the offensive line doesn’t live up to billing or if Georgia’s highly-rated starting quarterback isn’t ready for prime time.

Wow.  And so here we are.  I think most of us would be pleasantly surprised if the team can pull it together for 7-5 now. It was a big and exhausting job to regroup at the end of last year, and I have to wonder if there’s enough in the tank to do it again.  The goal of just finishing with a marginally winning record is on the table now.

I’m especially concerned about this line: You only have to look over at Foley Field to see how the wheels can come off a season when negative momentum starts building. Georgia’s in what you would call the soft part of their schedule.  That part of the schedule was supposed to include Mississippi State.  Look back at the 2008 Auburn schedule. They had tentative success early on, but the ugly road loss to Vandy set in motion a collapse that would end with the dismissal of Tommy Tuberville.  Life in the SEC is tough and competitive enough as it is; a team that’s frustrated and doubting and starting to question itself comes into any game at a major disadvantage even against what should be inferior competition.

That’s where Mark Richt and his team are this morning.  Those of us out here are already talking about the big picture and what should be done at the end of the season, if not sooner.  Richt has to throw a team back on the field again in six days.  He wants to “look within” and reassess the program, but there’s just no time over the next two months that lends itself to much introspection.  That’s a big reason why seasons like this are so easy to lose control of – you can’t afford the time away from preparation to really address the doubts and lack of confidence that end up tearing apart what you had prepared.

So you triage.  Stop the bleeding. Maybe A.J. Green is the short-term tourniquet Richt needs.  None of the fundamental problems with the program will be addressed any time soon, but Richt is coaching now just to have something worth saving and something capable of being saved when that time comes.  He’s done it before – famously in 2007 and to a lesser extent last year – but there’s only so much first aid that can be done on a diseased patient.

Post Random thoughts on MSU

Thursday September 23, 2010

Hard to think straight with the cowbells clanging in my ear, so we’ll just run down some bullets:

  • I really can’t accept this gift. If Mississippi State can point to one thing as the source of its problems on offense, it would be turnovers. The Bulldogs are last in the SEC with 8 giveaways through their first three games. They aided a weak LSU offense with five turnovers last week alone. Georgia’s offense could use that kind of a break, but can the defense come through? After a promising start which generated three takeaways in the season opener, the Dawgs have just one in SEC play – a fumble recovery at South Carolina. Several possible interceptions were dropped against Arkansas. If MSU is willing to be generous again, can Georgia cash in?
  • Option defense. It’s not Paul Johnson’s triple option, but Mullen’s spread option offense is a close as you get in the SEC (including whatever Meyer/Addazio are running at Florida). Georgia’s faced the brawn of Lattimore and South Carolina, and they’ve faced a pass-based offense from Arkansas. Now they’ll see a different kind of challenge from the spread option. The option can make an aggressive and overpursuing defense look silly, so it will be a test of how well Georgia can focus its attacking scheme while respecting assignments and discipline. One thing missing from the MSU attack is a big threat at tailback. It’s tough to replace someone like Anthony Dixon, one of the most underrated players in recent SEC history, and MSU hasn’t. They have a trio of tailbacks that split the load pretty evenly, but none has managed more than 39 yards in an SEC game. QB Chris Relf has been the most consistent rushing threat, and at 6’4″, 240 lbs. he’ll be a challenge for a Georgia defense that has struggled at times with tackling.
  • Grantham vs. Diaz. It’s a minor point, but new MSU co-defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was mentioned during Georgia’s search for a recruiting coordinator (though never officially a candidate). Both Diaz and Grantham preach an aggressive style of defense, but each has hit a bump or two en route to consecutive SEC losses. Hopefully Georgia’s new star coordinator won’t be upstaged by the new guy on the other sideline.
  • Tight ends and creativity. I really doubt that teams are scheming to take away Georgia’s tight ends, but let’s grant that they are. Last weekend we saw two tight ends feature in big games against SEC competition – Arkansas’s DJ Williams and Clemson’s Dwayne Allen. Neither was a surprise to their opponents, but they still managed to lead their teams in receptions. We saw them lined up everywhere from the slot to the traditional tight end spot to the backfield. Seeing Allen in the backfield reminded me of Shannon Mitchell – the H-Back isn’t a new concept, but it’s another way to get a tight end on the field…especially with Georgia’s starting fullback sidelined.
  • Return of CK4. We’ll see if it carries over to this year, but the running game looks better with both King and Ealey available. I thought we’d test this theory against South Carolina, but it’s taken two more weeks.

Post Could $200 bankrupt college sports?

Thursday September 23, 2010

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams is the latest to suggest that a small stipend for student-athletes could be enough to help ease their financial load while maybe even keeping a few in school longer. (h/t Blutarsky) Anyone who went to college appreciates the need for a little spending money, but I’m never quite convinced that proponents really think through the finances. That’s before we even consider whether a few hundred bucks would keep away the hundred-dollar handshakes and stop marginal players from turning pro.

Williams seeks to limit the financial hit by limiting the stipend to players from revenue-producing sports. There’s a few gotchas with that plan:

  • What’s a “revenue-producing sport?” Not all sports are revenue-positive at all schools. Of course Williams means football and men’s basketball, but even those aren’t universal money-makers. Just 68 of 120 Division I FBS football programs make money. Basketball is similar. Using a revenue-positive test, would the significant number of football and basketball programs that lose money be precluded from offering a stipend and consequently put themselves at a clear recruiting disadvantage? Or would they be forced to add that expense and lose even more money?
  • Even if an individual sport is revenue-positive at a certain school, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the athletic department is rolling in cash. Only 14 of 120 Division I (FBS) athletic programs are in the black. Athletic departments rely on their revenue producers to fund the rest of the program, and even then most usually come up short. That’s after all of the money from the TV contracts and the basketball tournament has been distributed. Williams should know better: even his own athletic department and his own program has had to cut its budget recently.
  • I’m sure the Title IX folks would love a stipend system where the vast majority of payments would go to male student-athletes.

For those reasons, especially the third, I’ve always seen paying student-athletes as a binary decision. Either you pay all scholarship student-athletes of both genders, or you pay no one. After all, football and basketball players aren’t the only student-athletes who often come from poverty or feel the financial pressures of remaining an amateur.

Here’s the math anyone floating a stipend proposal will have to work with: A major program like Georgia has around 500 student-athletes on scholarship. 500 scholarship student-athletes receiving $200 each month is $1,200,000 over a year on top of the cost of the scholarships. It’s $900,000 if you limit it to a 9-month academic year. Even if by some miracle you’re able to limit the stipend to football and men’s basketball players, you’re still looking at around a quarter of a million dollars annually. A few major programs have that kind of cash on hand. Most, including Williams’ own Maryland program, don’t.

Maybe I’m wrong, and perhaps the NCAA is sitting on some huge treasure trove of cash as Williams seems to think. So let’s shift the burden from the schools to the NCAA. Paying $200 monthly to the scholarship student-athletes of the 346 D-1 basketball teams as well as the 120 FBS football teams would take just under $36,000,000. In perspective, that’s just about the entire surplus generated by the NCAA in their last fiscal year. And, again, that’s before the Title IX crowd has had its say.

Post Limited number of Colorado tickets now available from CU

Wednesday September 22, 2010

You don’t even need a super-secret access code. Colorado has released a limited number of singles, pairs and threes for the October 2 Georgia game.

Tickets range from $75 to $100 depending on location. Unless you’re hoping to pick up some under face value on location, this is about as good as you’re going to do now. Tickets throughout the stadium and in larger quantities are also available through StubHub and other brokers. Tickets on StubHub start at $92 and go up but have gradually been coming down over the past week.

(h/t Bernie)

Post Wear Red to Colorado

Tuesday September 21, 2010

Our hosts next weekend have declared Georgia a ‘blackout’ game. The Buffs are 1-1 in earlier attempts at a blackout, and the mixed results don’t surprise us at all. They’re already set to honor their 1990 national champions, so it’s going to be a big weekend.

We could oblige them and participate in the blackout, but Bernie and the Colorado Dawgs have a much better idea: when the nation tunes in to FSN, let them see a stadium full of black…and red. I can’t think of a better way to show just how many Georgia fans are coming to this game than to highlight them against a backdrop of black.

Post Colorado tickets start to drop below $100

Monday September 20, 2010

By no means are we overlooking this weekend’s road game at Mississippi State, but the Colorado trip is suddenly less than two weeks away. Due to a smaller stadium, high demand for tickets by Georgia fans, and a ham-handed approach to selling tickets by Colorado, it’s been one of the harder tickets to come by. If you’re among the many who are waiting to see what happens in the secondary ticket market, there’s finally a little bit of movement.

Over the weekend several sets of tickets started to come down under the $100 threshold on StubHub. The prices are still generally in the $90+ range to just over $100, but that’s within sight of the $65 face value of the tickets. It’s possible and likely that prices will continue to come down over the next ten days before we all head west, but anyone still looking for tickets and wanting to have them in hand before the trip might want to start checking the StubHub listings. I doubt we’ve reached the bottom of the market yet.

Colorado is currently 2-1 and will be off until the Georgia game, so they won’t have a result next weekend to cause a mass dump of tickets into the secondary market (or a massive buying spree).

Post Arkansas 31 – UGA 24: Passive Aggression

Sunday September 19, 2010

I don’t know what it is about these past two losses bringing back bad memories of some infamous games from the 1990s.  Maybe it’s my subconscious commenting on the direction of the program. As Lattimore pushed Georgia around for Spurrier last week, I was reminded of Errict Rhett’s Jacksonville performance in 1993.

We’ll get to the offense in a minute.  But as we watched Arkansas complete crossing pattern after crossing pattern, I couldn’t help but think back to that 1999 game against Auburn. I don’t really mean the flow of the game; the Arkansas game was much closer.  But the way Arkansas attacked and exploited Georgia’s aggressive defense was a little too similar to what Ben Leard did that night eleven years ago.

I doubt (and hope not) that Todd Grantham is another Kevin Ramsey.  Ryan Mallett also deserves a little more credit than Leard. But in both games we saw the opponent handle Georgia’s pressure, attack the spots on the field where the pressure came from, and put Georgia’s linebackers in some very awkward pass coverage situations.  We’re reminded that even experienced defenders like Justin Houston are still learning new responsibilities, and they can be made to look very bad.

It’s not that Georgia didn’t bring pressure.  They tallied just one sack, but they also affected several other pass plays. Arkansas did a good job of picking up the pass rush, and Mallett is now a pro at feeling the pressure and getting rid of the ball.  The Razorbacks talked about extra offseason preparation for this game, and you could tell that they weren’t surprised by much that the new Bulldog defense threw at them.  Georgia was defeated with brawn at South Carolina; scheme did them in defensively against Arkansas.

There’s only so much you can put on the defense though.  It’s small consolation after the porous defense at the end of each half, but they did make the stops Georgia needed to come back and even be in a position to win the game.  Their stop after Murray’s second half interception was huge at the time. Tackling was better, and Arkansas got little in the running game.

But bringing up turnovers leads to one of the big disappointments of the season:  the lack of takeaways.  It was an area of emphasis in the offseason, and things looked good after one game.  In SEC play though the Dawgs have recorded only one takeaway – the fumble recovery at South Carolina.  The Razorbacks had turned the ball over three times in each of their games coming into Athens, and forcing a few on Saturday would have definitely helped to slow Mallett.  The Dawgs had their chances, but the several dropped interceptions led to Arkansas points and possibly cost Georgia a defensive score of their own.

Of course you can’t bring up disappointments without talking about the offense and the line in particular.  Murray scrambling was one of Georgia’s more effective plays, and he misfired on several throws while he was feeling the heat.  One of the nation’s most experienced lines gave up six sacks to a team that had a total of five in two games against lightweights.  It wasn’t just one side or player – tackles were beaten, and Ealey whiffed at least twice to lead to a couple of sacks.  There was perhaps no more crucial missed block than on the failed 3rd-and-4 play that stood between a fair scoring chance to win the game and the punt that started Arkansas on their brief game-winning drive.

The excuses are ready-made. Caleb King, perhaps a better blocker, was unavailable.  Georgia had to shuffle its line without Chris Davis in the game.  Sturdivant remains limited.  Even with all of that, Georgia didn’t vary much from its play-action, and the plays that took eons to develop were tailor-made disasters for a quarterback who himself had a role in the sacks. It was very nearly Murray’s first signature comeback win, but the shortcomings of the offense were too much to overcome with the game in the balance.

We’ll learn soon enough whether Georgia’s schedule was really front-loaded with two of the conference’s better teams.  Of course no conference game is a given win now – even Vandy seemed to find their legs a bit on Saturday.  If the Dawgs are going to start to turn the season around, they’ll have to do it on the road for the next couple of weeks.  Mississippi State presents their own unique challenges, and we saw how closely they played Auburn in Starkville.  This will be another game where – on paper – turnovers and mistakes have hurt the opponent.  Will Georgia be able to take advantage of those tendencies this time?

Post Idaho St. to kick off at 12:30, air on WSB-TV

Tuesday September 14, 2010

Instead of the usual pay-per-view route, Georgia will partner with Atlanta-based WSB-TV to air the November 6th game against Idaho State. The game will start at 12:30.

The game is being televised under guidelines which allow each Southeastern Conference school to produce one game per year outside the conference CBS and ESPN contracts. WSB TV is the number one rated station in Atlanta and has a coverage area that includes the 53 county Atlanta TV market as well as cable systems in Albany, Macon, Savannah, Columbus, Chattanooga, Greenville and Tallahassee. The game is also available on both DirecTV and DISH to subscribers who receive WSB TV.

Start countless questions about whether a particular cable system or Gameplan will carry the game, but start with the assumption that if you can’t pick up WSB-TV now, you won’t get the game. Athletic director Greg McGarity explains why the free broadcast as opposed to PPV:

“This free-of-charge broadcast is a way to give back to our fans throughout the state. We believe making the game available on WSB TV and its coverage area is a way to show our appreciation to Bulldogs around our state.”

So we’ve learned the kickoff time for a couple of additional games this week. Here’s what we know now:

  • Sept. 18 vs. Arkansas: Noon ET(ESPN)
  • Sept. 25 @ Miss. St.: 7:00 ET (FSN)
  • Oct. 2 @ Colorado: 7:00 ET (FSN)
  • Oct. 9 vs. Tennessee: TBA
  • Oct. 16 vs. Vanderbilt: TBA (but you have to figure a 1:00 start or earlier due to Homecoming)
  • Oct. 23 @ Kentucky: TBA
  • Oct. 30 vs. Florida: 3:30 ET (CBS)
  • Nov. 6 vs. Idaho St.: 12:30 ET (WSB-TV)
  • Nov. 13 @ Auburn: TBA
  • Nov. 27 vs. Georgia Tech: TBA

Post Not the first time a Spurrier tailback has done in Georgia

Tuesday September 14, 2010

Nearly every wrap-up of the South Carolina game has noted how out-of-character it was for a Steve Spurrier team to lean on the running game en route to victory. True, the man will always be defined by his stormy relationships with his quarterbacks and a preference for throwing early and often. Spurrier might pass to set up the run, but his best teams have always been able to run. Earnest Graham, Errict Rhett, and Fred Taylor were every bit as valuable to Florida football as any of the celebrated quarterbacks and receivers during the Spurrier era. Three of Florida’s top five in career rushing yards played for Spurrier. Emmitt Smith left for the NFL rather than play for the pass-happy Spurrier, but within five years a Spurrier tailback (Rhett) replaced Smith atop Florida’s career rushing yardage list.

What I’m leading up to is that watching Marcus Lattimore on Saturday gave me more than a sick feeling about the current Georgia defense. There was also a strong sense of deja vu. Lattimore’s performance took me back to a rainy WLOCP against Florida in 1993 – the last Georgia/Florida game at the old Gator Bowl. Georgia fans will instantly remember it as the Timeout Game, but the turning point in the game was an extended Florida scoring drive that took up much of the third quarter.

Georgia trailed 13-3 early on and had all but abandoned their running game. “Air Georgia” was in full effect, and Eric Zeier ended up attempting a school-record 65 passes – most of which seemed to be to Shannon Mitchell. Despite the heavy rain, Georgia’s passing game got them back in the game and saw them nose ahead 20-13 late in the first half. Florida answered, and the Gators had pulled back ahead 23-20 early in the second half. Then Rhett took over.

We’ll let the NY Times tell the story. Rhett “carried 14 times for 46 yards during an 80-yard touchdown drive he capped with a 1-yard dive for a 30-20 lead late in the third quarter.” The rain helps the metaphor: it was water torture. This wasn’t the quick-strike Fun n’ Gun. It was yard by excruciating yard, first down after first down. Rhett averaged just over 3 YPC on the drive, and that seems about right. It’s not that he’d go for 15 on one carry and lose ground the next. He’d get just over three yards on every damn carry. Georgia had chance after chance to stop the march, but Rhett kept falling forward just enough to move the chains. Even his scoring play took just a yard.

That 1993 game is remembered much more for how it was lost rather than how it was won, but Rhett’s unstoppable drive in the rain and mud was the real story. Rhett finished the day with 183 yards and two touchdowns. Lattimore finished Saturday’s game with 182 yards and…two touchdowns. Neither did it with incredibly long runs or amazing speed. Both instead beat Georgia with a consistent toughness that the Bulldog defense couldn’t match. South Carolina has an interesting passing game with an experienced quarterback and everything from tall receiving targets to explosive waterbug Ace Sanders. But given a capable tailback, Spurrier has as much experience as any coach in the conference when it comes to leaning on that tailback en route to a successful season.

Post Improving the defense: lather, rinse, repeat

Tuesday September 14, 2010

Georgia’s players are damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to their reaction to a loss. If they turned confrontational and started on the whole “in the arena” business again, things would be ugly enough. But even when they fall on their own sword and own up to poor play, that too sometimes just doesn’t sit very well.

I do appreciate Rambo admitting to leaving a lot in the locker room and noting a need to step up his play. The Rambo vs. Evans question was at the heart of many fans’ dissatisfaction with the defense and the staff last year, but Rambo hasn’t exactly been dominant or sharp so far in his short time as the starter and leader of the safety position. It’s not exactly Tebow’s Promise, but at least he’s not pleased with his current level of play.

Darryl Gamble’s assessment might be more troubling.

“I’d say it was maybe a little effort and a little bit of guys being shell shocked out there in their first SEC game – a lot of guys weren’t ready for it.”

Not ready for their first SEC game? What? Pretty much all of the defenders who played Saturday, save Hamilton and a few others, have seen SEC action before. This wasn’t Georgia State going to Tuscaloosa. This was a noon start in Columbia for a ranked SEC contender against a team the Dawgs had lost to once in the past seven years. And they were the ones shell shocked? How in the world has this happened from a team ranked #1 just two years ago?

Not being prepared, focused, hungry, and unfazed in such an important game is a big deal. Again, it’s a program problem. Put alongside the sub-par play from the offensive line, and it wasn’t a team prepared to compete for important early-season position in the SEC East. It’s a laziness we put on a certain group of coaches last year, but the problem persists. It hasn’t been long enough to let a culture change kick in, but steps in that direction we thought we saw in Week One were erased the second that the next opponent started pushing back.

Talk about rededication and fiery Sunday film sessions now rings about as hollow as it should have back in 2008. Enough talk.

Post Finally, a night game

Monday September 13, 2010

Unfortunately, it’s our next road game. Georgia’s September 25th game at Mississippi State has been set for 7:00 ET and will be televised by FSN. For Georgians, that means Fox Sports South.

After three straight noon-ish starts to begin the season, Georgia’s fourth and fifth games (@ Mississippi State and @ Colorado) will each kick off at 7:00 ET.