Monday, October 4, 2010

What’s Wrong With The Dawgs?


That question has been asked for several years now.

The first time I heard it asked was following the Sugar Bowl in 2005 when the Dawgs were stunned by West Virginia after blowing out LSU in the SEC Championship game just a month earlier. Senior D. J. Shockley was the starting quarterback.

The easy answer was that the defense under former coach Willie Martinez was not prepared for the spread offense that the Mountaineers brought to the Georgia Dome.

That season the Dawgs were 10-3 with a four point loss to the Gators, a one point loss to Auburn and after a second half comeback a three point loss in the Sugar Bowl.

The defense surrendered 213 points while the offense scored 384.

The recruiting class in February of 2006 was ranked #4 in the country.

In 2006 the Dawgs inserted freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford during the South Carolina game and as is typical with a young QB, they finished 9-4 that season.

The first sign of trouble was an old fashioned whipping by Tennessee then came a two point loss to Vanderbilt at home, a seven point loss to Florida and a two point loss to Kentucky.

The Dawg Nation began to get restless and again the target was Coach Martinez and his defense.

The defense surrendered 229 points while the offense scored 327.

The recruiting class in February of 2007 was ranked #9 in the country.

In 2007 a very young team with only six seniors starting stumbled early but Stafford kept the offense on the field much more and following a four point loss to South Carolina along with another solid beating by Tennessee the Dawgs caught fire.

The two conference losses kept them from winning the division but they had no problem beating both Florida and Auburn down the stretch. The stat overlooked though was that the defense continued to give up more points than the previous year.

The defense surrendered 262 points while the offense scored 424.

The recruiting class in February of 2008 was ranked #7 in the country.

The 2008 season began with the Dawgs ranked number one by just about everyone in the country. They had recruited a couple of JUCO players to plug some holes in the defensive front but were expected to score a lot of points.

The Dawgs gave up 41 points in a loss to Alabama and 49 in the loss to the Gators. Georgia Tech came to Sanford Stadium and handed the Dawgs a three point loss by putting 45 on the scoreboard.

The 10-3 season did very little to quite the rumblings among Dawg fans that something was amiss and it appeared to be on the defensive side of the ball.

The defense surrendered 319 points while the offense scored 409.

The recruiting class in February of 2009 was ranked #6 in the country.

The 2009 season got underway with a 14 point loss on the road to Oklahoma State. It was the first loss for senior starting quarterback Joe Cox since grade school.

Along with the early departure of Stafford and Moreno there were only four seniors starting on defense and two on offense.

LSU beat the Dawgs by seven, Tennessee dominated while scoring 45 and Florida scored 41 in their win. Kentucky beat the Dawgs for the second time in four years, this one in Sanford Stadium.

Finishing 8-5 was too much for Coach Mark Richt and he replaced all of the defensive staff except for defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner.

The defense surrendered 337 points while the offense scored 376.

The recruiting class in February of 2010 was ranked #15 in the country.

This season the Dawgs have started 1-4 for the first time since 1990 and even with the new defensive staff they have given up a touchdown on the opening drive in all four losses.

The offense returned every starter except redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray who has played well. The only problem he has really encountered is hitting receivers in stride, especially on the long pass plays.

The experienced offensive line was suppose to be the strength of the team and thus far has been unable to establish a running game.

The offense has scored 124 points, 55 of them in the opener against Louisiana – Lafayette.

The defense was rebuilt using the 3-4 as the base alignment.

The defense thus far this season has surrendered 108 points.

How To Fix This

1. Replace Mike Bobo as the offensive coordinator, his play calling has been suspect for several years now and it is obvious that he is far too inconsistent. Starting a third team running back simply due to an untimely fumble is foolish at best, waiting until the second quarter to get the ball into the hands of one of the best players in the country proves that he is not the man for the job. This can be done immediately.

2. Recruit better players, it’s clear that the defensive problems are not as much coaching and scheme as they are talent related. There is an old axiom among coaches that simply states, “Bad Players Get Good Coaches Fired.” Coaches teach fundamentals and they have not changed much in the past 40 years, they are not that difficult to teach but you must have a player capable of executing what you teach to be successful.

Mistakes usually lose games, coaches can and do make them but they don’t miss tackles or blocks, drop passes, fumble, throw interceptions or commit foolish penalties. The problem with the Dawgs recruiting has been poor player evaluation, especially on the defensive side by the previous staff. This can be corrected, but it will take two or three more years to see the results of the new staffs choices.

3. I am not a fan of the zone blocking technique on running plays. Allowing the linebackers more time to read a play has to give them an advantage, especially inside the ten yard line. The most successful teams that I have seen run the ball have their linemen fire off the line and drive block the defense.

4. Do not put an inordinate amount of confidence in recruiting services annual class ratings. The internet sites are in the business of selling subscriptions and the best way to achieve that is to tell their customers what they want to hear. It is impossible to determine how successful a class is until they are all admitted to school, step on the field and contribute to the success of the team. That usually takes a year or two.

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