Sunday, September 4, 2011

Boise State Recap - The Answer Is "No"

Based on early results, the answer to basically every question we asked (and when I say "we", I mean the Bulldog Nation collectively, not just us writers here) about this team during the preseason can be answered with a resounding "NO".

  • No, the new strength & conditioning program is not resulting in a bigger, faster, stronger, better conditioned team.  We were still beaten on both lines of scrimmage despite a size advantage, and how is it that we were having guys go down with cramps left and right, and BSU wasn't?
  • No, Isaiah Crowell is not the next Marcus Lattimore.  At least not yet.  There were times he looked like he will be pretty good, but it's hard to pile up yards when you're already having to make the the first defender miss 2 yards deep in the backfield.
  • No, John Jenkins is not even close to being the next Terrence Cody.  Neither is Kwame Geathers, for that matter.
  • No, the defense is not ready to make a huge leap forward in Year 2 of under Grantham.  There is no doubt that Ogletree's injury had an impact, but you can't tell me that the results would have been significantly different even had he been in there the whole game.
  • No, Bobo and Richt are not bringing a new, innovative approach to the offense.  There's nothing innovative about the no huddle offense if you're just running the same old plays you've always run.
  • No, T. King is not ready to step up and be the feature guy at receiver.  Nor is anyone else (though admittedly Mitchell showed some nice flashes).
  • No, we are in absolutely no way making strides towards returning to being an elite program.
  • No, the mindset of the team does not appear to be any different, despite all of Richt's changes.
Before I go any further though, mad props go out to Boise State.  First class coaching from their staff, first class execution from the players, and first class fans to boot.  I talked to a lot of BSU fans before the game, and they were all great people.  I wish the whole program nothing but luck.  What they have accomplished given their location, resources (money, recruiting base, etc), and national perception is amazing.  They beat us in every phase of the game.

Well done, Broncos.  Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to complain about my team for a while.

The Offense

Wow.  And not in a good way.  You know the old criticism about Bobo how he has a tendency to find something that works, then goes away from it?  Well, it seemed last night that he found what wasn't working, and stuck with it to the bitter end.  Specifically, trying to run the ball between the tackles.  I haven't been able to watch the replay yet, and I drank a lot before the game, so forgive me if I'm slightly off base in some of my recollections, but it seemed like we never allowed the RB's to try to attack the edge until the game was pretty much out of hand.  Once we did start attacking the edge, we actually had a bit of success, but we kept trying to run the draw up the middle all night long, despite it NEVER working.  And when I saw us come out in the no-huddle, I was like "Finally!  Something new from the offense!".  But all it was was just the same old, same old, we just didn't make the guys huddle up before running the plays that everybody knew was coming.

Would someone please explain to me why Bobo thinks that if you throw an incompletion on first down, it is against the rules to try another pass on 2nd and 10?  If we ever have an incompletion on first down, you can guarantee that we are going to end up in a 3rd and long situation, because everybody in the world knows that we're going to run it on 2nd down, so the defense is prepared for it and stops us for short yardage.  That kinda stuff leads to things like going 2 for 13 on 3rd down conversions.  Again, the no huddle brings nothing new to the table if you're still utilizing the same, predictable playcalling.  I have been firmly against Richt taking the playcalling back from Bobo.  The people who say Richt should do that forget our predictably stodgy our offense was when Richt was calling the plays.  And don't tell me "Well we won 2 SEC titles while he was calling plays, so must not have been that bad".  That was 100% because of how bad-ass our defense was during that time.  But if we lose to SC and play as poorly on offense as we did last night, then Richt needs to at least go down swinging and try to resurrect the offense himself.

And the bottom line is, that game should have been over long before it was.  That call to run the draw on 3rd and long when we were down 28-7 late in the 3rd, then just punt was the biggest case of a coaching staff rolling over and quitting that I've seen.  If BSU doesn't line up offsides, which woke Richt up that maybe we should actually try to score on that possession and lead to Orson Charles' TD catch on the very next play, then it would have been 28-7, and BSU's possession.  And with the way we were playing, there's no doubt in my mind BSU would have gone down and scored again, and even a field goal at that point would have iced the game.  As it was, the offsides penalty gave our coaching staff a mulligan, but I am not willing to give them a pass on the 3rd and 4th down decisions that preceded it.  Though in all reality, even with that TD the game was already over at that point, we were just allowed to hold on to a barely flickering glow of hope for a bit longer.

A few more thoughts:
  • Offensive line is still a joke.  Sure, we lost Gates, but it's not like we were doing anything before he got hurt
  • We never could flip the field.  Seemed like they had a short field and we had a long field the whole game.  That falls on everybody --- Special Teams, Offense, and Defense
  • Wide open receivers apparently lead to dropped passes.  Our guys actually made a few nice catches in traffic, but when there was nobody within 5 yards of them, they'd drop the pass.  
  • Final time of possession stat was BSU 33:46, UGA 26:14.  But it sure felt like they had the ball even more than that.

Again, I know that losing Ogletree was huge.  Not only because of how good he is, but because of how steep the dropoff is from him to the backups.  But we weren't the only team missing some key performers on defense (BSU's guys that were declared ineligible for the game), so that is in no way an excuse.

SimpleMan made the point last week that because there were so many unknowns, one of the real keys to this game would be which coaching staff made the better in-game adjustments.  Boy, did he ever nail that one.  Our defense came out and shut them down the first few drives, but Petersen and his staff made the right adjustments, and Grantham couldn't respond likewise.  The luster of Grantham's hiring has officially worn off in my book.  He came in with all the great soundbites, a pedigree of having trained under some of the best defensive minds in the business, and was going to return us to glory.  I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt last year, but in year 2 there are no more excuses.  He's got better personnel for his system this year, so it is time to produce.   Our secondary still has no clue how to cover underneath crossing routes.........there were guys catching the ball in the middle of the field all night last night with no defenders in a 5 yard radius.  Our rushing defense actually was pretty decent, holding them to a 3.5 yard average, but they were just using the run to keep us honest in the passing game.  And I know their passing game is a quick-hitting one, Moore doesn't sit back in the pocket for a long time, but how did we not bring more pressure?  The few times we really came after him, it worked.  Why did we not do that more often?  Again, when Grantham was hired we heard all the soundbites about confusing the QB, pressuring the QB, etc.......I'm wondering when he plans to start doing that.

Special Teams

Best special teams in the country, my ass.


Really, what else is there to say?  Take everything that every blogger has written about this team the past 3 years, and it still applies.  The Senator's Groundhog Day reference is perfect.  Maybe the team will shock me against the 'Cocks, it's not unheard of for a team to look totally different in Week 2.  But I'm sure not expecting it.  I had predicted Boise State to win last night, but I would have NEVER predicted them to blow us out.  And let's face it, the final margin was only 14 points, but that game was a blowout.  At no point in the 2nd half was the final result ever really in doubt, and if not for that offside penalty on the punt that lead to 7 points for us, the final score would have ended up reflecting just how badly we were dominated.  Bobo seemed to not make ANY adjustments, Grantham couldn't make the right adjustments, and Richt just got a big old chuckle out of the whole thing. 

Oh and one final preseason question that I now officially answer with a resounding "No":
  • No, I no longer believe that Richt can be the guy to turn things back around.

Go Dawgs.


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