Realizing this is my second unfavorable article (of two) since I started posting at “Dawn of the Dawg,” concerning the football program I treasure, let me first say, I hate to be a “Negative Ned” and really try to be a glass-half-full guy. However, after witnessing Georgia’s season suddenly go in a span of just seven days from one with national championship possibilities to where even a bowl game might not result, I cannot help myself to share the following “historically-based thoughts” after the loss at Vandy:
1) Georgia’s consecutive losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt — both where the Bulldogs entered as 6.5-point favorites — marked the first time in 40 years the team lost back-to-back games when favored by 6 points or more. In 1973, Georgia was defeated by Vanderbilt as a 17-point favorite and Kentucky as a 13-point favorite in consecutive games. For you older Dawg fans, you may recall that those two straight setbacks prompted “Dump Dooley” bumper stickers to pop up in the Athens and Atlanta areas. Ironically, it is said that for the very next season “Vince Dooley made a personnel decision that energized Georgia’s offensive game plan” by hiring Bill Hartman as the program’s first kicking coach, becoming one of the few specialty coaches in the nation.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Coach Richt is going to hire a “specialty coach” anytime soon without being pushed to do so by someone else. However, as far as any bumper stickers, or the like, that might pop up in the near future, like “Get Rid of Richt” or “Move On Mark,” nothing would surprise me regarding UGA football’s demanding fan base.
2) Speaking of a special teams coach, seriously, will Georgia just hurry the heck up and hire one?!? The special teams snafus have become ridiculous, costing the Bulldogs ballgames in the process.
Georgia’s excuse has been the NCAA limits each football staff to nine full-time assistants, so Richt cannot simply hire another assistant to head up his special teams. However, often not mentioned is that since the head coach’s arrival in 2001, the Bulldogs’ staff has included an assistant responsible for the tight ends — David Johnson (2001-2007) and John Lilly (2008-2013) — and nothing else, having no other major responsibility.
For the many decades Georgia football employed assistants up until the Richt era, never was there an assistant on staff only responsible for tight ends. Under Dooley and Goff, the tight ends were normally coached by the offensive line or wide receivers coach. The same was usually true during Coach Donnan’s tenure, plus, he actually had an assistant at one point, Phil Jones, solely responsible for special teams.
Considering the Bulldogs have essentially utilized just two tight ends this season, who have combined to make less than 13 percent of the team’s receptions, does that particular position really require its very own assistant, especially when the squad’s special teams, on the whole, are in shambles?
Following Georgia’s loss in the 2012 Outback Bowl after the Bulldogs actually held a 16-point second-half lead, I researched and discovered
the team’s “comeback wins,” where Georgia trailed by double digits in the second half but rallied to win, and “lost leads,” where the Dogs lost after leading by double digits in the second half
, beginning with the Dooley era.
After the Vanderbilt loss, where Georgia led by 13 points in the second half, here’s an updated look at the last four head coaches’ comeback wins and lost leads during their tenures:
DOOLEY: 13 comeback wins; 3 lost leads (25 seasons)
GOFF: 4 comeback wins; 2 lost leads (7 seasons)
DONNAN: 5 comeback wins; 3 lost leads (5 seasons)
RICHT: 5 comeback wins; 7 lost leads (12+ seasons)
Richt’s comeback wins and lost leads in detail:
2002: Trailed Auburn by 11 in 2H but won
2004: Trailed South Carolina by 10 in 2H but won
2006: Trailed Colorado by 13 in 2H but won
2006: Led Tennessee by 10 in 2H but lost
2006: Trailed Virginia Tech by 18 in 2H but won
2007: Trailed Vanderbilt by 10 in 2H but won
2008: Led Georgia Tech by 16 in 2H but lost
2009: Led Kentucky by 14 in 2H but lost
2010: Led Colorado by 10 in 2H but lost
2011: Led Michigan State by 16 in 2H but lost
2012: Led Alabama by 11 in 2H but lost
2013: Led Vanderbilt by 13 in 2H but lost
I won’t bore you with a bunch of comeback wins-lost leads statistics; I probably did enough of that back in January 2012. However, something which really stands out and is downright appalling: In a span of less than five years, Richt’s teams have now lost six games when having a double-digit lead in the second half — one for each of the last six seasons — or, one more lost lead than Dooley and Goff suffered in 32 seasons combined.
To conclude, for a team whose motto is to finish the drill, after losing consecutive games as a substantial favorite, more atrocious special teams play, and repeatedly dropping games after having double-digit second-half leads, its “drill,” or the program’s aim, should be immediately altered, because the current one is often not getting “finished.”