Tag:Georgia
Posted on: January 3, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Staff shakeup still not imminent at Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When last we left off with Mark Richt and the Georgia coaching staff, they were preparing for their Liberty Bowl date with UCF and Richt was swearing that 1. He wasn't going anywhere 2. The overwhelming majority of his staff weren't going anywhere, disappointing 6-6 record be damned.

Well, now that a hideous 10-6 bowl loss to the Golden Knights has dropped that record to an extremely disappointing 6-7, Georgia's first  losing record since 1996, has anything changed? No, says Richt, no it hasn't (emphasis added):

"There's reasons why we ended up the way we did," coach Mark Richt said. "We've got to make change. We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again in the future."

By change, Richt said "that doesn't necessarily mean personnel," but "it's more how we go about our business."

"We've got to go back and rededicate ourselves to doing what it takes and that's every single man, every single coach, everybody in the Butts-Mehre to what it takes to be a championship football program," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

Richt has made one minor concession to the unruly mob demanding his staff's heads, replacing his strength-and-conditioning coach with former Georgia quarterback Joe Tereshinski. But otherwise, it appears the "change" Richt will attempt to fix the problems that led to this year's disaster will simply be to "rededicate" the team and coaches rather than any large-scale overhauls.

Before this season, Richt might have maintained the benefit of the doubt on taking that approach. But at this point, Bulldog fans have to be forgiven for thinking maybe some stronger tonic is needed; Georgia has gone 14-12 overall over the past two seasons, hasn't beaten a team that finished with a winning SEC record since 2008, has lost four or more regular seasons games three of the past five seasons, etc. With the exception of the blistering run to close 2007, the Dawgs haven't looked like a championship-caliber team in half a decade. If Richt couldn't get his team "rededicated" after 2006, or 2008, or 2009, why is 2010 going to be any different? What tricks can he have up his sleeve that he hasn't already put to use?

It's true the Dawgs weren't as bad as their record (going 0-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less) and should take a big step forward on defense in 2011, thanks to being in the second year of coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. But as jarringly inconsistent as Georgia was this season -- with the previously reliable offense's total no-show against UCF now exhibit A -- it looks like it's going to take a lot more than a little better luck and a little better effort to get the Bulldogs back into the SEC title mix.

 




Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:56 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Liberty Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A late touchdown gave Central Florida its first bowl victory ever as the Golden Knights beat Georgia, 10-6.

Central Florida

Offense: Sometimes winning football is pretty. And sometimes it's what Central Florida did. UCF's freshman phenom quarterback Jeff Godfrey didn't exactly set the world on fire in today's game, going 16-29 for 117 yards (a paltry four yards per attempt) and throwing two interceptions -- including one on a truly lousy fade in the end zone in the second half. But when it came down to it, UCF put together a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, complete with several 3rd down conversions, and on that drive Godfrey was more like his 2010 self, as he led the C-USA in passing efficiency. The hero of the day was Latavius Murray , who scored the lone touchdown and rushed for over 100 yards on the day. Grade: C

Defense: Hard to argue with six points allowed. Georgia had been scoring at a clip of nearly 40 points per game after A.J. Green came back from suspension, and even in its losses after Green's return, Georgia scored nearly 30 points a game. Shutting the Dawgs down like this, then, was a Herculean task and never something one would expect from a Conference USA team. But here it is and here we are. Grade: A

Coaching: First bowl win and it comes on a fourth-quarter comeback against an SEC team? That's enough for an A in our book any day. Grade: A

Georgia

Offense: Aaron Murray (no relation to Latavius), Georgia's own freshman phenom quarterback, was just about as wretched as Godfrey; Murray was 21-38 for 198 yards and two of his own interceptions. More troubling was the fact that Murray was in gloves all day, and several of Murray's throws were well off-target and/or absolute ducks in the air. He got quite a bit of help from Green and Tavarres King at wideout, each of whom made some highlight-reel catches, but all in all the Georgia offense was as out of whack as Murray's throws all day long. Grade: D

Defense: Normally, allowing 241 yards, 3-10 3rd down conversions, and 10 points is more than enough to ensure victory. That's what Georgia did, and putting this loss on the defense's shoulders since the lone touchdown allowed came in the fourth quarter is pretty short-sighted. When taking the opponent into consideration -- no offense, Vanderbilt -- this was the best performance by the Bulldog defense all season long. Grade: A

Coaching: In the first quarter, Mark Richt's Bulldogs started a drive at their own 2-yard line. 95 -- 95! -- yards later, Georgia faced a 4th and inches at the UCF 3-yard line. A touchdown was nine feet away, and a first down was one foot away. Up went a field goal, and Georgia took a 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs would not treaten to score a touchdown again until the very last drive, when Aaron Murray was forced to heave a pass into the end zone as time expired. Why Mark Richt didn't go for the touchdown in the first quarter is, frankly, a mystery. That's a statement of absolutely no faith in the offense by Richt, and his players responded with their worst offensive showing of the season. Grade: F-

Final Grade

Hey, we'll take any game that ends with the ball in the air and a win in the balance. Aaron Murray's Hail Mary would fall harmlessly to the turf, but still, the two teams used all of the 60 minutes in this struggle. Moreover, UCF's win only further proved that despite what the BCS conferences maintain at every step, the difference between AQ teams and non-AQ teams erodes further every year. That's scant consolation for Georgia fans who just watched their team drop a 10-6 decision to some C-USA school with no bowl tradition, but tradition's always been an overrated factor in college football anyway. Grade: B

Posted on: December 29, 2010 3:57 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Liberty Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Basics: UCF (10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6), Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. EST.

Why You Should Watch: The SEC's bowl tie-ins give the non-AQ teams of the world just one shot at the nation's highest-profile conference, and this is it; the Liberty annually pairs one of the SEC's also-rans against the Conference USA champion. But even with the field seemingly as tilted in favor of the C-USA upset as it could possibly be, it hasn't happened yet, as the SEC has swept all four of the SEC-vs.-C-USA Liberty Bowls to date. UCF represents maybe the best chance for C-USA yet, as they have both the airtight defense (18th nationally) and offensive starpower (in freshman quarterbacking prodigy Jeff Godfrey) to give Georgia all they want.

Of course, the Dawgs have A.J. Green and Justin Houston and Aaron Murray and a whole bunch of other SEC athletes, not to mention a statistical profile much better than their 6-6 record. Last year's Liberty went into overtime, and on paper this one's evenly-matched enough to make it 2-for-2. For depth of talent on display and a well-balanced, competitive matchup, you're not going to do much better before New Year's than the Liberty.

Keys to Victory for UCF: Frankly, the Knights should come into this game the substantially more motivated team. They're coming off of a championship season, but one without a win over BCS competition (after close losses vs. N.C. State and at Kansas State); they couldn't ask for a more perfect finishing touch than beating a traditional SEC power for the program's first-ever bowl victory. That should give the Knights an emotional edge, one that could give them a fast start against a Bulldogs team that badly underachieved to land at 6-6 and no doubt had their sights set on a bowl destination more glamorous than Memphis.

If the Knights do come away with a halftime or three-quarters lead, Georgia will be in trouble. Godfrey was a revelation after taking over for the injured Rob Calabrese at midseason, finishing eighth in the country in passer rating with a sparkling 68.4 completion percentage and 9.8 yards-per-attempt average. He added 10 touchdowns and 546 yards on the ground for good measure, pacing the Knights to the kind of balance (2,502 rushing yards, 2,493 passing) and steady efficiency (fifth in the FBS in time-of-possession at 33:09 a game) that most teams can only talk about.

But as effective as the Knight offense was, it was the defense that did the heavy lifting, starting with a secondary that placed both corner Josh Robinson and safety Kemal Ishmael on the All-C-USA first team and finished in the national top 30 in opponent's passer rating, opponent's yards-per-attempt, and interceptions. But the Knights also have a pair of fearsome defensive ends in Bruce Miller and Darius Nall, who combined for 21 tackles-for-loss and 15.5 sacks to give UCF the nation's 10th-ranked rush defense. (Ishmael's team-leading 82 tackles helped, too.) The absence of a big-play passing game means they won't want to fall behind, but if the Knights can get out in front, their combination of sound defense and clock-killing offense will have them well-positioned for the victory.

Keys to Victory for Georgia: It's simple: if the Dawgs overcome their disappointment of a season and match UCF's levels of energy and focus, they win.

Because while UCF might have several awfully solid players, Georgia has several All-Americans. Houston led the SEC in sacks, finished second in tackles-for-loss, and was a finalist for multiple national awards; Murray might be the only freshman quarterback in the country to have had an even more impressive season than Godfrey, posting an incredible 24-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio; and Green might be the most purely talented college receiver since Larry Fitzgerald. And even aside from their headlining stars, Georgia can boast an offensive line packed with both experience and future NFL players like senior tackle Clint Boling; dangerous skill position weapons like tight end Orson Charles and running back Washaun Ealey; maybe the nation's best pair of specialists in punter Drew Butler and cannon-legged kicker Blair Walsh; kickoff returner Brandon Boykin, who's taken four kicks to the house the past two seasons; two steady senior linebackers in Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble; etc.

All of that talent means it's something of a mystery how Georgia ever wound up at .500, though plain old bad luck in the form of poorly-timed fumbles and critical defensive breakdowns in close games -- the Dawgs went 0-3 in games decided by 7 points or fewer -- probably had something to do with it. Their average per-play margin of +1.2 (6.4 gained per snap, 5.2 allowed)
ranked first by a wide margin in the SEC East and fourth in the conference behind the leagues' two BCS teams and Alabama. In short, this is a team that's been much better than their place in the SEC standings (or their Liberty berth) would indicate, and if they play to that same standard, they should have enough to overpower the less-talented Knights.

The Liberty Bowl is like: That one sharp-witted, twinkly-eyed elderly gentleman in your neighborhood who you knew from church, or the diner down the street, or maybe just the rocking chair on his front porch, who told stories and though not all of them were classics, he always had one you'd never heard before and some of them stayed with you like Louisville beating Boise State 44-40 in 2004. The Liberty has been in business since 1959, making it one of the oldest pre-New Year's games, and though it's not the game it once was, UCF and Georgia promise to give it another memorable chapter in its distinguished history.


Posted on: December 22, 2010 9:46 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 1:59 am
 

Report: A.J. Green to declare for draft [UPDATED]

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

[UPDATE: Green has told his Twitter followers that this report is "100% false." It's unclear whether that means he has not decided to declare for the draft or that he is definitely returning to Georgia.]

It's not surprising -- in fact, it's the complete opposite of surprising -- but it appears Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green will be declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution , citing a report from a local Atlanta television station, is reporting that Green has made his decision and that he is "100 percent" committed to turning pro after his junior season.

While the timing of the report could be better where the Bulldogs' focus for a tricky-looking Liberty Bowl date against UCF is concerned, Green's decision has been expected virtually from the moment he arrived in Athens and put 963 receiving yards on more than 17 yards a completion as a true freshman. Over his three-year career, no one in the country hauled in highlight-worthy receptions more often than Green, and it will be a shock if Green goes any lower than the first six or seven selections in the draft.

So while Georgia can't claim to have not seen this coming, it won't keep them from being disappointed. Even for all of Green's immense talent, his three years in red-and-black coincide with the three most disappointing seasons of the Mark Richt era in Athens. The 2008 Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 preseason and lost three games, including a 49-10 humiliation against Florida; the 2009 team limped into the bowl season at 7-5 after an upset loss to Kentucky; and the 2010 Dawgs dropped all the way to .500 after even Green's return from suspension couldn't save them from falling to hopeless Colorado.

Green will be fondly remembered by Bulldog fans for his jaw-dropping talent, incredible catches, and even his blocked field goal to save a game against Arizona State in 2009. But assuming the Liberty is in fact his last performance for Georgia -- and there's no reaso nto think it won't be -- he'll also be remembered with the tinge of disappointment that the Bulldogs couldn't accomplish more with him around.



Posted on: December 22, 2010 6:56 pm
 

Assistant salaries: Who's overpaid? Underpaid?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After earlier compiling a database of all 120 FBS head coaching salaries for the recently completed 2010 season, USA Today today released a look at the salaries of the nation's assistant coaches, all 907 of which are available for comparison here . Your highest-paid assistant: Texas ex-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp at $900,000 per year. The lowest amongst coaches actually drawing a paycheck? Leon Lett -- you remember him ! -- who's being paid just $12,000 to coach defensive tackles at Louisiana-Monroe.

Inbetween on the scale are some 900 other coaches (not counting those working at private institutions whose salaries are not public information). Ignoring certain obvious choices (yes, Greg Davis was overpaid, yes, Dana Holgorsen was a bargain), looking only at 2010 results, and making allowances for coaches in their first year at a new school, here's three choices for the country's most underpaid and most overpaid assistant coaches:

MOST DUE FOR A RAISE

Don Treadwell ($235,250), offensive coordinator, Michigan State.
Despite possessing few playmakers known to fans outside the Midwest, Treadwell guided the Spartans to a top-20 finish in yards per-play and offered his team an enivable balance with better than 2,000 yards rushing and 2,800 passing. He also took over for two games as interim head coach while Mark Dantonio dealt with a heart ailment, winning both. And he did all this for the cost of less than many SEC position coaches.

Jeff Casteel ($372,268), defensive coordinator, West Virginia. Casteel's not doing too badly for himself, salary-wise, but compared to what his fellow DCs are earning in the SEC, Big 12, etc., he's still a bargain. With virtually no nationally-recognized players and few star recruits, Casteel quietly put together the nation's third-ranked unit in total defense and third in scoring defense; the Mountaineers were the only defense in the country to allow 21 points or fewer in every game.

Tom Osborne ($220,000), special teams/tight ends coach, Oregon. Osborne put together arguably the best set of special teams units in the country, leading the Ducks to top 20 finishes in net punting and kickoff coverage, coaxing a 12-of-16 performance from his two kickers, and along with returner Cliff Harris creating the most dangerous punt return unit in the nation, one that racked up better than 18 yards per return and scored five game-changing touchdowns. The Ducks probably aren't in the national title game without him.

Honorable Mention: Manny Diaz ($260,000), defensive coordinator, Mississippi State; Pete Kwiatkowski ($259,520), defensive coordinator, Boise State; Al Borges ($205,000), offensive coordinator, San Diego State.

MOST DUE TO NOT RECEIVE A RAISE

Norm Chow ($640,000), offensive coordinator, UCLA.
That figure includes a $250,000 retention bonus designed to keep Chow in Los Angeles, but maybe the Bruins would have been better off being spared paying the nation's eighth-highest assistant's salary for the nation's 109th-best offense.

Tyrone Nix ($500,000), defensive coordinator, Ole Miss. For Nix's salary, the Rebels could have had Gus Malzahn, who earned the exact same amount this season from Auburn. Malzahn will earn quite a bit more next year, obviously, but Nix won't after overseeing a defense that utterly collapsed in the embarrassing season-opening loss to Jacksonville State and went on to finish 105th in yards allowed per-play.

Stacy Searels ($301,200), offensive line coach, Georgia. Offensive line coaches do very well in the SEC, with several topping the $300,000 mark. If we ignore the low-hanging fruit that was Steve Addazio's season in Gainesville, none had a more disappointing season than Searels, whose Bulldog charges looked to have the makings of one of the nation's strongest ground games at the close of 2009 and entered 2010 with as much experience (and talent, arguably) as any line in the country. Instead the Dawgs finished 10th in the SEC in rushing and middle-of-the-pack in sacks allowed (despite ranking 9th in passes attempted) as Searels wound up forced to juggle his lineup late in the year. Searels has done outstanding work before and likely will again, but 2010 wasn't his best moment.

Dishonorable Mention: Chuck Long and Carl Torbush ($350,000 each), offensive and defensive coordinators, Kansas ; Nick Holt ($650,000), defensive coordinator, Washington; Greg Robinson ($277,100), defensive coordinator, Michigan.
Posted on: December 11, 2010 2:41 pm
 

Possible lockout won't affect Green pro decision

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As the will-they-go-or-won't-they talk surrounding college football's draft eligible juniors heats up, there's been a substantial amount of chatter that the potential NFL lockout might encourage players to stay in school rather than risk murky draft waters polluted by a work stoppage.

But if A.J. Green is any indication, that talk isn't going to be anything more than wishful thinking on the part of college football fans:
Green said Saturday that a possible NFL lockout will “not be a part of my decision,” of whether to enter the NFL draft.

Green would stun most observers if he doesn’t enter the draft because he’s projected as a top-five overall draft pick.

“I’m close,” Green said about his decision. “I’m going to talk to my parents a little more and we can see.”

Green said he was among several Georgia players that met with Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay last week on campus ... McKay has served on the NFL Management Council working group that helps advise on collective bargaining issues.

Green said that his thoughts on the NFL lockout were based in part on hearing McKay, who serves on several NFL committees.

“I’m not going to think about the lockout,” Green said.

Because of that top-five appraisal, Green's situation isn't the same as another potential early-entrant who might land closer to the second or third round or even the draft's second day; with talent like his, Green's going to be financially secure no matter when he declares.

But nonetheless, if what Green is hearing point-blank from NFL sources that the lockout isn't something to worry over, it's doubtful many other top prospects are going to hear differently when there's so much money at stake. Until an equally high-profile draftee says otherwise, don't expect the lockout to do much to slow the usual exodus.

 


Posted on: December 8, 2010 6:08 pm
 

Could Zach Mettenberger take LSU over the hump?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's an argument to be made -- and you don't even have to break a sweat to make it -- that no single position in the SEC has had a greater negative impact over the past two seasons than quarterback at LSU .

In 2009, under new defensive coordinator John Chavis , the Bayou Bengals finished a strong 26th in the country in total defense and allowed the third-fewest points in the SEC; unfortunately, Jordan Jefferson finished eighth in the league in passing yards per-game and took enough sacks to place LSU 103rd in that category, and LSU lost four games in which their opponents scored 13, 24, 25, and 19 points, respectively. Chavis's unit has been even better in 2010, finishing eighth in the FBS in total D and ninth in scoring defense . It's a good thing, too; with Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combining for a dead-last finish in the SEC in passing and a next-to-last finish in QB rating, the Tigers managed to win games with scoring totals of 20, 16, and 24 points. The Tigers also lost when they scored only 17 points against Auburn's eminently flammable defense. It's fair to say that with competent-to-good quarterbacking, LSU is looking at at least back-to-back BCS bowl appearances, possibly an SEC title one year or the other, maybe even another national title game berth.

Which is why that even amongst the coaching hiring-and-firing-and-retiring mania, the news this week that JUCO quarterback Zach Mettenberger has elected to play for Les Miles and Co. shouldn't fly under the radar. Mettenberger was a consensus four-star recruit coming out of Watkinsville, Ga., and proved his bona fides as one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in his class by battling Aaron Murray tooth-and-nail for first the Georgia backup quarterback's job in spring 2009 and then the starter's position this past spring. After being booted from the Bulldog roster (more on this in a moment), he landed at Butler County (Kan.) Community College and went 176-of-299 for 2,678 yards this fall with an impressive 32-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Mettenberger will arrive at LSU with more than a little baggage, earning his ticket out of Athens by pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery following an incident at a Remerton (Ga.) bar, as well as a host of other minor offenses. But time and a JUCO stint often heals all wounds in the SEC -- just ask Cam Newton -- and at 6'5", 250 pounds, with Mettenberger's pro-grade arm, he'll arrive at Baton Rouge with a real chance at winning the starting job as soon as next season. Mettenberger cited Miles's immediate interest as one reason he chose the Tigers over Alabama, Arkansas, and others; that LSU pursued him as fervently as they did should say something about confident they are in his potential to start from Day 1.

Even if Mettenberger has to wait one season for his turn, both Jefferson and Lee are seniors. He'll get his shot eventually, and that's reason enough for the SEC to worry; given Murray's stunning first year at Georgia, Mettenberger's huge year at Butler, and his recruiting profile, the odds are very good that Mettenberger will be a quality SEC starter, and pairing a quality SEC starter at QB with Chavis's defense (not to mention the wealth of talent across the rest of the offensive board) could easily put LSU back on top of the SEC West.

In short, LSU's biggest Achilles heel these past two seasons may have been healed. Given how good they've been anyway, Mettenberger's commitment could prove to be a turning point -- not only for the Tigers, but for the entire SEC West. And if you don't think one JUCO quarterback can have that kind of impact, we'd ask you to take it up with Mr. Newton.

Posted on: November 29, 2010 1:27 pm
 

No coaching shakeup at Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not often that an SEC team with an established coach goes 6-6 with a sub-.500 conference record and a loss to a wretched Colorado team winds up standing pat in the coaching department, but most SEC teams aren't as patient as Georgia and we've long since known that no coach in the league is as averse to change as Mark Richt . So it's not that much of a surprise that the moving vans may skip Athens entirely this offseason, at least if Richt has his way :
“Am I considering changes on the staff?” Richt said [Sunday]. “No" ...

Georgia has scored 30 or more points in seven straight games, something that Richt referred to when asked about fans’ criticism of offensive coordinator and play-caller Mike Bobo .

“All I can say, if I’m not mistaken, we broke some kind of school record of consecutive games of over 30 points and a lot of really good things happened offensively,” Richt said. “The bottom line is whoever calls plays is going to get critiqued, they’re going to get criticized. It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Richt has a point about Bobo, and you can make another one by making note of Bobo's quarterbacking-coaching duties and the wild success he had with redshirt freshman Aaron Murray , who wrapped up his regular season with a 15-of-19, 271-yard, 3 touchdown, zero interception masterpiece against Georgia Tech . Right now, Murray and the Bulldog passing game is the best thing the Dawgs have going; would replacing the quarterbacks' position coach and the architect of that passing game really be the best move?

We doubt it. Georgia's biggest problems this year were a nasty tendency to fumble at the worst possible time -- what coach do you blame for that? -- and a young defense that played lights-out against weaker competition but gave up 31 points to Arkansas , 34 to Florida , 49 to Auburn , etc. First-year coordinator Todd Grantham was installing a new 3-4 defense and wasn't given the prototypical defensive linemen needed for the scheme; firing him after a single season would be stunningly harsh and probably counter-productive.

With several other Georgia position coaches having been replaced just last offseason, Richt's best move probably is to stand pat. Given how perilously close he came to getting replaced himself after the Dawgs' 1-4 start (and how little margin for error he has entering 2011), that seems like a substantially larger gamble than looking for answers elsewhere in the coaching pool. But after a strange and often unlucky season, that's where Georgia stands.
 
 
 
 
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