Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Troubling Trend

Dexter Manley (for whom I wish a speedy recovery) would have been a great UGA player...

...because he wouldn't have read the press clippings after a big win about how great Georgia is.

I'm no Richt-hater who demands perfection normally reserved for deities; hell, I went to UGA during the Goff & Donnan eras, so I certainly have a massive appreciation for how good Coach Richt is and how much we have achieved in recent years. It is well known amongst Dawg faithful that for all of Coach Richt's various strengths & accomplishments, his weaknesses lie in game and clock management and occasionall play calling.

There is another troubling trend that I have noticed in recent years, and it occurred for the 4th time in less than 2 years this past weekend. Typically the pattern goes something like this:

1) Georgia does something very impressive in a football game

2) The slightly myopic Athens/Atlanta media (680, 790, AJC, etc.) cater to the more than slightly myopic Georgia fan base by overaccentuting the positive and somewhat ignoring realistic weaknesses.

3) Georgia's team seems to spend more time reading the press clippings and listening to the radio about how great they are than focusing on the upcoming opponent, over whom they are favored. A general consensus is established that Georgia will defeat said opponent easily.

4) Georgia comes out flat as hell/unfocused and sleepwalks against said opponent, which results in either a massively disappointing loss or an escape-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth, semi-embarrassing win that a good number of neutrals would say they deserved to lose.

Though certainly not nearly at stubborn
or utterly inept as this genius, Georgia has been
known to take its opponents far too lightly as well.

This certainly happened against Colorado. After 2 consecutive shutouts (impressive) over S. Carolina and UAB (perhaps they are not that great to begin with), Georgia's D is hailed by the media and UGA fanbase as the greatest thing since Zona's Desert Swarm 93, and certain destruction of the 27 point underdog Buffs is assumed. The talk turns from "Will Georgia win?" to "Will Colorado even score?", and the team seems to buy into the hype. They seem to think that all they have to do is show up and watch Ralphie run in order to win. Cue unfocused sleepwalking, flat out embarrassing play, and (fortunately in this case) miracle great escape.

Other recent examples off the top of my head:

2005. After an amazing performance destroys #3 LSU 34-14 in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia doesn't seem to take the Couchburners from WVU seriously, even though the Dawgs are only a modest 6 point favorite. The consensus is that Georgia will have no problems with a Big East team; after all, they are the SEC champions. By the time they wake up it is 0-28. Their valiant comeback is of the heroic-but-not-enough variety, 35-38.

2005. After completely dominating widely heralded #18 Boise State 48-13 to open the season, the talk is not of taking South Carolina seriously but rather of conference and national championships. Georgia, 17.5 point home favorites, come out flat and sleepwalk against a team that has historically played them tough and given them fits. They barely hold on and win the game 17-15 although I am sure that neutrals could argue that Spurrier's Cocks deserved to win.

2004. Georgia welcomes #13 LSU and completely annihilates them 45-16 in a nearly perfect performance. After this it is almost assumed as a given that Georgia will handle a fairly pedestrian (by their standards) #17 Tennessee team over whom they are favored by 12.5 points. One terribly unfocused performance later sees UGA lose 14-19 to the Vols.

Four times in 2 years seems like alot. Is this on the coaching staff or is is just part & parcel of dealing with 18-22 year old men? A little of both I would guess. And as fans we should all make a concerted effort to be a bit more realistic - for some reason Georgia fans tend to be more myopic than most. Finally the media need to be more realistic as well. Even the Gameday crew was playing up the whole "the only storyline here is if the Buffs will even score", when any rational neutral who did their homework would find that maybe South Carolina (barely beat Wofford at home) and UAB aren't the most dynamic offenses, and although Colorado lost at home to Arizona State 21-3 they moved the ball but had several turnovers including 2 inside the ASU 10 yard line. Herbstreit went so far as to mumble speculation that Colorado wouldn't get 100 yards on UGA's D, which is just a ridiculous statement. Hell 1-AA Western Kentucky got 193 yards and 12 points on our D.

I just hope that the next time a Georgia team does something really special, like blow the doors off of Tennessee or Florida or Auburn, that we ignore some of the insane hype that will surely ensue and come out and focus on the next opponent and take care of business.

Must focus. Always look (underdogs) eye.

1 comment:

OMAA said...

I agree with what you are saying. Fortunately, you are removed from most of it. I still get to hear about this being the best team since Hershel Walker. After about 5 years of that, I'm starting to lose my patience. I think the problem is definitely the media influencing the team. No way those guys don't get up for the game if sportscenter isn't saying that there will be a shut out. I was listening to the game on the way to the mountains and Munson put it best. Something along the lines of we were expecting a shutout, but not us. I don't think anyone can avoid it, unless you sequester the team for the week before the game.

Nice comeback. I think 2 or 3 mistakes by CU in the 3rd and 4th quarter gave it away though.