Monday, October 5, 2009

LSU: The Loss, The Aftermath and the Celebration

It has been 40 hours since the LSU Tigers defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 20-13 in Sanford Stadium. I still haven't fully recovered, today's blog is the first step in the healing process.

I love the Georgia Bulldogs, that is why it hurts when they lose. I believe in Mark Richt and everything he has done to re-invent Georgia football. That is why I was convinced we would come back and win the game Saturday. To have the game turn on special-teams and officiating is certainly more than mere mortals can handle.

The defense played their asses of for three and a half quarters. The offense found itself with a spark from Washuan Ealey and I just knew we had this thing. Saturday, however, would turn out to be a microcosm of the season thus far. When the offense struggled, the defensive was great. Perhaps it was fatigue, for they were out there all day, but when the offense got going, the defense disappeared. Heartbreaking.

The final four minutes are still too tender....

What Went Wrong, A LOT
Mike Bobo and Joe Cox just simply were not clicking in the first half.  Cox's throw were off target, even the completed passes were rarely in a position for the receiver to gain any yards post catch. Bobo's play calling was erratic at best. 

Are we now offically a spread team? It seems to me if you are having trouble running the ball, removing the fullback and tight end is not the answer. Yeah, yeah, we get numbers when we spread the field... but when you hand the ball off to a power running back going east or west, what is the point?

The defense played too much football once again. Early, it seemed they needed the goal line as an extra defender, but they came on in the second quarter.  LSU could not run the ball except on quarterback scrambles against man to man coverage. Expect more quarterbacks to simply tuck and run whenever they catch us in man to man.

In the final minutes, the defense was gassed and LSU did what good SEC teams do. They ran it right at us. There power back simply would not be tackled. That is how we used to do it. Hint, hint, Mike Bobo!

The thing that is hardest for me to handle is the breakdowns on special teams. Once again, our kickoff strategy is all about Blair Walsh. If he can't kick it through the endzone, we can't tackle then until they return it to our side of the field. Give Trindon Holliday credit if you want, but every team has done this to us.

Some very succesful teams have their head coach handle special teams, such as Florida and Virginia Tech. Apparently they realize the importance of the third phase of the game. These coaches take their best players and utilize them to gain an advantage. I thought we were moving in that direction this year, but the results are the same as they have been, terrible, and they were a major contributor to the loss. Just compare our starting field position following a kick to LSU's!

Three excellent points from Tim Tucker:
Joe Cox overthrowing a wide-open A.J. Green on a first-quarter deep ball and Blair Walsh missing his first field goal in nine attempts, a mere 32-yarder, in the third quarter. Those two plays might have meant 10 points in a game decided by 7.
Richt on  Trindon Holliday’s 40-yard kickoff return that set up LSU’s winning touchdown: “We got punctured right in the heart of our kickoff-coverage team. Their wedge did a very nice job.  And everybody knows Holliday is a special cat.”  Richt said another factor was that Georgia was kicking into the wind.
Georgia was penalty-free in the first half. Alas, the Dogs had seven penalties for 59 yards in the second half, including the very costly two for 20 yards in the final 69 seconds.
More on Richt era special teams woes from David Hale. He suggest having a drink before reading. Yes, sir! Really, wait until you can have a drink to read, it is thoroughly disgusting.
By my count, that's 22 miscues on kickoffs following either crucial Georgia scores or to start a half in just the past 18 games. Twenty-two! In 18 games! Loud noises!

What Went Right, Not Enough
The defense found themselves. Yes LSU shredded us on their last two drives of the game, but give them credit. We were wore out, our offense couldn't move the chains for 50 minutes. Given that, we really had no business being in the football game. The defense gave us an excellent chance to win.

As bad as Cox and Bobo were in the first half, adjustments were made and we took the lead TWICE late in the game.

Washuan Ealey saw his first action and reminded all of the player whose jersey he now wears. There is no denying we have boat loads of talent.

AJ Green is Superman. He has all the athletic ability in the world and is a flat out winner. He simply wants it more than any other player on the field. He has no business grabbing that ball in the endzone, he just out fought the defender. We are so very lucky to have him.

Excessive Celebration
I am still up in arms over this one and I am not trying to add salt to our wounds, but who remembers where this rule came from? That's right, Vince Dooley. Coach Dooley lobbied for the celebration rule while AD at Georgia and after it was implemented, he continued to press for it to be made more stringent.  Those of us in the old Gator Bowl watching all of Spurrier's Gators mocking Garrison Hearst with the Heisman pose remember why.

Tony Barnhart says it needs to be eliminated. Tim Brando was a tweeting fool on the subject following his on-air rant. Mike "It's great to be a gator" Bianchi even thinks it was a stupid call. We have to find a way to let the officials know they are to be the background, nobody show up, or tunes in, to see them.

The Lunatic Fringe
The calls for Mark Richt's head go beyond the pale.

My last season with an active student identification card was Ray Goff's first. Those in my generation have a pretty decent perspective of Georgia football. We were old enough to remember details about the glory days of Herchel, but never sniffed an SEC championship while a student. Then came Goff. Then Donnan.

Thus, most of us are very thankful we have Richt and do not want to lose him!! Fabs is another matter...

Let the mukraking begin:

Adam Krohn is back at it. Dalton, you are so lucky to have him. What an imbesil!
There are plenty of coaches out there that could elevate Georgia to a perennial BCS contender. If I’m Bulldogs athletic director Damon Evans, I would ask former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who currently holds the same title with the Atlanta Falcons, if he’d be interested in coming back to Athens as the coach.
While I remain a Mark Bradley fan, most in the Bulldog Nation are not.  The closing line of this post is a good example of why.
There was a time under Richt when Georgia made the one play, the winning play. That time was not Saturday. That time, it seems, has passed.
I visited for the first, and last time. Unbelievable.


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