Monday, November 23

If I was you, if I was you I wouldn't treat me the way you do . . .



The game was an embarrassment. The turnover on the very first play of the second half was an embarrassment. Both of Joe Cox's interceptions were embarrassments. The play-calling, particularly on offense, was an embarrassment. Getting outscored 28-7 after halftime was an embarrassment. Losing to Kentucky at home for the first time in more than 30 years was an embarrassment. Potentially getting knocked down to a bowl in Shreveport is an embarrassment.

But nothing, and I mean nothing, on that list matches the embarrassment of our fans booing our own players on Senior Day (followed by most of them leaving with two minutes left in the game, with the rest staying only to boo some more). You can doubt our players' ability, hope certain players get playing time instead of others, be disappointed in decisions they make on the field, even dislike them as people if you must -- but you never, ever boo them. And you damn sure don't boo them on a night when we're supposed to be honoring them for having offered their bodies up to get knocked all over a football field for four years. If that's what you want to do, go sit in the visitors' section, put on the other team's colors, and boo them from there. But if you can't display the modicum of self-control it takes to keep from throwing a temper tantrum at their expense, or the equally minor modicum of brain power it takes to realize that said tantrum translates into exactly zero improvement on the field, I don't want you in Sanford Stadium, wearing my colors and disgracing my diploma. You're not a Dawg. You never were a Dawg. Go home and see if Tech has any tickets available.



It was an absolutely disgraceful display from a fan base that, sadly, is not new to this sort of thing, and the only reason it doesn't seem worse in retrospect is because our program's prospects for the future already seem more depressing than anything that's actually happened already. There needs to be a total overhaul of this program in the offseason, everything from our schemes on both sides of the ball to the way we motivate our players to the mentality of the team itself -- but paradoxically, the more we lose, the less confident I am that anything will actually be changed. When we do something that doesn't work -- no matter how many times it doesn't work, or how disastrously it blows up in our faces -- the attitude is never, "This isn't working, we need to do something different"; it's, "We need to keep plugging away at it and eventually we'll do it right."

But that strategy hasn't worked this season, and it's failed dramatically enough that there's no reason to expect it will. Our coaching staff refuses to adapt on either a micro or a macro level. With respect to the former, we saw last night how our offensive playcalling followed predictable patterns (long pass on 1st down, which may or may not get completed; dive play on 2d down, which may or may not gain any meaningful yardage; leaving us with long yardage to convert on 3d down) that Kentucky was defending easily by the fourth quarter; for the last 20 minutes of the game, we were held to 82 total yards and zero points. As far as the macro level, it's been four years since Urban Meyer brought the spread offense to the SEC and we've shown no appreciable progress in our ability to defend it, whether it's being coached by Meyer or anyone else. If anything, we've gotten worse with each passing season, and are now at the point where even Jonathan Crompton can be handed a play-action game plan and run it with ruthless efficiency. Just like Tommy Tuberville and Phil Fulmer and all those other dinosaurs to whom Richt is now being compared, we've failed (and in many cases stubbornly refused) to adapt to new realities on the field of play in the SEC, and we're paying for it.



That's the first major problem with our coaching staff right now. The second is that we squander momentum as badly as any team in Division I-A. Some teams don't respond well to adversity; we don't respond well to the opposite, and haven't for the last two seasons. And it's not just our kickoff coverage, either, though that has been about as monumentally bad as it could've possibly been over the past couple years (and reared its ugly head again on Saturday: Kentucky's average field position following a Georgia TD was the UK44). It's in the way we managed to hand over every last bit of momentum immediately after coming out of the locker room at halftime with a supposedly secure 20-6 lead. It's in the way we managed to fall so flat on our faces just a week after what could've been the most inspiring win of the season. It's in the way we managed to give up two field goals, a safety, and a pick-six right after going up on South Carolina 38-23 back in September. Hell, it's in the way we responded to being the preseason #1 last season, and the way we came out against Florida that year despite supposedly having put so much swagger back in our game with the end-zone celebration in 2007.

I don't know whether it's because we've got a group of young, easily excitable guys who get amped up over a big play or big lead and start to lose control of themselves, or because positive developments like those cause us to get overconfident and complacent, but either way, it goes back to coaching. As much as we like to believe our players are supermen -- apparently to the point where we'll boo them for not meeting those expectations -- you simply cannot expect an 18- or 19-year-old kid to come to Athens already knowing how to respond physically and mentally to elite SEC football players trying to crush their bones in front of 93,000 screaming people. That is something that has to be taught, and for the first time I've begun doubting that Mark Richt and his staff are teaching it properly.



And that gets back to another reason why I'm so upset at the "fans" for booing our guys on Senior Day. Yes, they played poorly in the second half, but I've read their quotes and their Twitters and blog posts and the rest of it; they know they played poorly without you all reminding them of it. The people you might be better off reminding are our coaches, who have seen this happen repeatedly over the past 24 games and have whiffed on their responsibility -- let me stress again: their responsibility -- to make changes. "A fish rots from the head" is an ancient cliché, but like a lot of clichés that have lasted that long, it's usually true. And in this case, those players you're booing are only doing what they've been told, how they've been told to do it.

No, of all the things I'm ashamed of about the performance Bulldog Nation collectively put on Saturday night, the players are way, way down the list. Not that much of this matters now; we've only got two games left in the season, one of which we're almost certain to lose, the other of which will be in either Birmingham or Shreveport and thus will be of no consequence to begin with. It's an awful way to end any season, particularly for a team that entered the 2009 campaign with such promise. And yet I can't help but wonder now whether our coaches and fans alike haven't ended up with precisely the team we deserve.

17 comments:

Kevin said...

Are you sure the booing wasn't directed out west at Tiger Woods as he gave his halftime speech?

No?

We'll then that's a shame.

Tiffany said...

Being in Sanford Stadium on Saturday night, I felt the booing was directed at the coaches and not the players. I'm pretty certain Bobo called a running play on 3rd and long when the running game was stalled...and I'm pretty sure it was the coaches decision to keep Cox in and not give Logan Gray at least a shot at doing something when Cox was obviously shaken. I'm pretty sure the booing was also directed at the sound/clock guys for not pulling it together. And at the pre-game guy who cut off Phil Collins before the lyrics even started. The night was cursed from that point on...

Will said...

One of the loudest boos I can recall came on one of those 4th quarter 3rd down runs...when UK had, yet again, put TEN MEN IN THE BOX.

It would've been nice if the folks who left after the goalline fumble saw something to make them regret leaving...but hell, they only saw one poorly-timed INT. Can't say I totally blame them.

Will said...

I understand completely your point, but how are fans supposed to express their displeasure? I hate the fact that Georgia fans booed their team, just as I hated fans booing MoMass in 2006. But, sitting in my friend's house watching the game, I was booing. I was booing when Bobo called ANOTHER run up the gut on 3rd and 10. I was booing when, instead of sticking with what was working, or offense in the 2nd half devolved into pass, run, pass, kick. Disgusting.

If you've got a better idea, let me know, because I'm sure I'll be looking to boo this weekend when our defense gives us a couple long Dwyer TD runs in the first half. Or, when Reshad Jones arm tackles someone who gets 10 yards after contact. Or, when the fullbacks AGAIN go unused for an entire game.

Josh M. said...

If you took a poll of everybody who booed, I'd bet 98% would say they were aiming at the coaches. (The remaining 2% would be at Joe Cox.)

Clarke said...

I'm sure that the majority of the booing was directed at the coaches, but how can anyone other than the booing fan, particularly the players on the field, know the direction of the jeering? Unless the crowd starts to chant "WILL-IE-SUCKS!" the players can't know it's not for them.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I'm with Doug. Boo the opposing team when they come out of the tunnel. Boo the refs when they make a bad call.

But to boo your own team (or coaches) in your own house? Calling that an embarassment is kind.

Will said...

It is embarrassing, but is it more embarrassing than getting pants by Kentucky at home on senior night on ESPN2?

I don't know anymore.

Will said...

*Pantsed.

David said...

Since I couldn't attend this one I can't know for sure exactly when the loudest boos occurred or where they were being directed, but on the tele the only one that came through loud and clear was Bobo's draw call on 3rd and really long. Even Davie was talking about it, and how it was indeed directed at Bobo and the coaches, something to the effect of "That's not even 80/20 folks, that's 100% disagreement with that call, and I can't say I blame em." Paraphrasing. Nothing in my mind will ever be worse than the MoMass incident and subsequent Bronx cheering when he was finally benched for his sophomore slump case of the butterfingers... but while I'm not offering excuses to justify such behavior, still, that second half effort Saturday was just pitiful so I can't help but understand where it was coming from and just hope it was 99% directed at our staff. It's to the point now where I can't stand the sight of our staff because I just feel sorry for #3 & 14, I always find myself rationalizing "Well bless their hearts, I'm sure they're trying the best they can..." but it's just not good enough, so why do Richt & Co. continue to trot them out there? They make ME feel sorry for a kid being given a full ride for playing a game in the greatest college town in America - awesome.

In 06 we burned a young 'stud' QB's redshirt, yeah he went through some growing pains but finished the season strong and we were the better for it the next 2 years. In CMR's refusal to lift the redshirt off of AT LEAST ONE of either Murray or Mettenberger, he's assured not only that we will continue to struggle offensively again next season, but also, unfortunately AJ Green, arguably the best wide receiver in the nation, will end up having a career that mirrors Calvin Johnson's when all is said and done. Not a bad thing stats wise, just not much to show for it but a phat NFL contract in the end, which he would have gotten had he gone to NW Montana Tech or pretty anywhere else because he's just that talented. I don't even know where I'm going with this anymore... much like our team, just going through the motions at this point. We're all frustrated, but as long as these guys are wearing red and black I'll be supporting them 100% til the end - finish the drill guys, may these seniors leave on a 2 game winning streak, also holding either a .750-.800 winning % against those mustard wearing clowns from the Almost Competitive Conference.

As the diehard elderly dawg sitting behind me when I was growing up in the Greg Talley era used to scream a dozen times per game, it's time to "put your heart in your hand and hit somebody!"

GO DAWGS

Doctor Tarr said...

"Go home and see if Tech has any tickets available"

Have you got any examples of Tech fans booing their team? If not, then it appears that Athens is exactly where they belong. As you note, this isn't the first time it's happened, and I bet it won't be the last.

Bulldog in Exile said...

doctor tarr,

The most recent example I can think of is the last game Reggie Ball played in Sanford, when the Tech fans I sat by screamed Fyou Reggie for nearly two quarters (and actually cheered derisively at his senior day in Atlanta).

I can't speak for Doug, but I believe the sentiment he is expressing is that this is something Tech fans would do, if they would only bother to show up for their games.

Doctor Tarr said...

Cute.

I was at the last game Reggie Ball played in Sanford Stadium, and what I heard was the Georgia fans chanting his name. That was classy.

These were Georgia fans booing their team and coaches. This is Georgia fan behavior. Accept it.

Bulldog in Exile said...

You are correct, it is Georgia fan behavior. It is Tech fan behavior. It is Florida fan behavior. It is Illinois fan behavior. Hell, it is Western Kentucky fan behavior. Doesn't mean we have to like it and sit idly while it happens.

BTW, chanting an opponents name...way classier than tearing up the hedges (putting aside the fact that I consider both to be perfectly acceptable, within limits)

Tech fans don't really care enough to fill a 55K seat stadium. Accept that.

Clint said...

I think enough has been said about our beloved Dawgs and their recent shortcomings. However, I sat through the entire game from kickoff to the clock running out, and the most embarassing moment for me was when they decided to end halftime with "Party in the USA" blaring from the loudspeakers. You what makes a bunch of 18-22 year old D1 athletes want to get out there and kick some ass? Hannah freaking Montana, that's what! Awful, and unfortunately appropriate for such an abortion of a game.

mdr1013 said...

Excuse me, but we were chanting Reggie Ball's name out of genuine adoration for the young man and all he accomplished. I am personally offended at your implication.

newdonkey said...

Way back in the day, Tech fans (particularly the students) were famous for uncivil outbursts at their own team and at opponents.

As an old guy, I'll never forget watching the Dirt Daubers play Notre Dame in the first game of the season on national TV when Bud Carson was coach; when he was introduced, Tech fans erupted in boos, and started chanting "We want Dodd!" Can't remember whether that was before or after they threw fish at the Notre Dame bench.