I’ve got no excuses for you, no moral bright spots. All I can present to you this week is a loss that should not happen at the University of Georgia. Even if you don’t have your guys, even if your administration doesn’t fully support you the way they should, you can’t lose to Vandy. If you don’t have SEC championship caliber athletes, you must have an absolute stranglehold on the mental makeup of your team. You must have a stranglehold on the minds of your guys. Limit mistakes, take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes and compete for any advantage. Kirby did not have a stranglehold on the mentality of his team on Saturday.
So there, it’s out in the open. There are no excuses and you won’t find any from Kirby. But everything is going to be ok. It is not time to panic.
This team is in a better position for long term success than it was a year ago. I know that is hard to believe after winning ten games last year. But Georgia was without a doubt one of the worst 10 win teams in CFB history and their unranked finish proves it.
I know it is hard to believe when you have people like USA Today’s Dan Wolken asserting that Tom Herman should have been contacted by Georgia but that Georgia was too stubborn and now finds itself with an incapable joke of a coach and fans that question the decision to hire him.
"But Georgia only had eyes for Smart, and now halfway into the season fans are wondering whether the Bulldogs have really made a change for the better."
No Dan. Don’t speak for me. I am not wondering if we made a change for the better. I am certain we made a change for the better and I have come to that conclusion based on my work experience, the potential of the 2017 recruiting class and the performance of the 2016 recruiting class that Kirby held together with masking tape until signing day. There is change coming, there is potential on this roster. It doesn’t translate to the osmosis of an Alabama like undefeated season in 2016 that only the most insane believed Kirby would immediately bring. Most knowledgeable fans aren’t wondering if a change was made for the better. They aren’t wondering why a coach that had not won an SEC championship in 10 years despite sitting on the most fertile recruiting ground in the country was fired. They aren’t wondering why he was replaced by a former UGA football player, former UGA coach, ace recruiter and 4 time National Championship winning DC. Most fans have the common sense and patience to realize that 2016 was not the year Georgia would make a run. Yeah, most fans did not see a loss to Vanderbilt coming, but in building something you always face adversity. But I’m with you Dan. To hell with Kirby, let’s throw in the towel now.
I wanted to quickly give a quote from Scout’s “What We Are Hearing” article that I thought was very insightful.
“There’s a lot of folks that, and they might not understand this about themselves, but they are OK with OK. Really, Georgia itself has never pushed for them to do more than that. And you have to remember how special Georgia is to Kirby, and there he is trying to change the culture of a place that’s missed narrowly all too often. The difference in narrowly missing and winning is small, but getting that small part right is very difficult.”
I have mentioned this several times in different volumes. When you work in the building every day, watch film everyday and recruit everyday you begin to notice that there are such small discrepancies between being good and being great. You have to be willing to push for that difference in so many different aspects of the program. It could come down to as little as 4 yards left on the table. Kirby is pushing and will continue to push.
Let me conclude the intro with this. Man it is so easy to treat Georgia Football like a relationship isn’t it? They often say that whoever cares the least in a relationship has the upper hand. How rewarding! It’s ok to care. It’s ok to be disappointed. There is no need to back away from the program when it gets hard. Try to avoid being the worst type of supporter, the one with all the answers and none of the context. No need to constantly be a sunshine pumper or a Disney Dawg but stay engaged, stay confident. I promise it’ll be that much more rewarding when there is something truly significant to celebrate.
II. Vanderbilt Recap
A frustrating game with a ton of mental mistakes. I didn’t think there was any possibility of Vanderbilt pulling an upset based on how terrible of an offense they operate. However, we should have seen this as a possible scenario. Noon game on a short week against a very good defense. It was a recipe for disaster based on which version of the inconsistent Georgia offense chose to show up. It’s not very often you can identify specific plays that lead to a win or loss. The game is so complex and drawn out. But to me, there were 4 key plays that led to this loss
· Game Opening Kick- this may be the play most in the hands of the coaches. Like I said, the Vanderbilt offense is anemic. There are so few instances in which they can put a 70-80 yard drive together. You give them scoring position on the first play of the game by refusing to maintain running lanes on the kick. The way the Dawgs were running after the ball reminded me of a 5 year old’s soccer game. Absolutely awful (7)
· Reggie Davis Kick Return- This is a true story. I went to Georgia Florida last year and post Reggie Davis dropped punt for a Florida TD, a young woman and an older man got into a bit of a scuffle that included him shoving her and then her responding with a series of brutal shots to his groin. It was pretty graphic. When the carnage was over, someone shouted above the crowd “Reggie Davis is turning us against each other!!!” He certainly was and he still is. I am not going to kill the kid, he has been a good burner receiver with little hype out of high school. But if I am Kirby, I start to transition away from guys that don’t have much left to give and towards younger players that will build the foundation of his early success. I don’t go to practice and I am not going to pretend that I have all the answers. But I did watch Mecole Hardman’s high school tape multiple times and I have watched Reggie Davis make one bonehead decision after another on special teams for 4 years. With little to play for but a foundation this year, it is time to invest in the future. (3)
· 3rd and Long Screen- I was told that before this 3rd and 12 play, Kirby repeatedly said over the headset “I hope they throw the screen, I hope they throw the screen” Chuks Amaechi was assigned to cover the RB on this play. When lineman released, Chuks saw an open lane to the QB and lost his responsibility. Another massive offensive play that ends in a Vandy TD. (7) (7+3+7= every Vanderbilt point achieved at the hands of a crucial Georgia miscue)
· 4th and 1- I don’t hate the play call as much as some Georgia fans. What people have to understand is that coaches are all about data. What is the conversion rate on this play? How often do they line up in that formation or alignment? You could argue that way of thinking makes the game more complicated than it has to be. But in this situation Vandy was running an interior run plug. They showed it before the UGA timeout and came out in the same alignment. Chaney thought he had a gold play call. But you saw why Zach Cunningham could very well be a first round pick. His lateral movement to the ball was unreal and it doesn’t take much impact to stop a 165 WR. Would we have been better off running some sort of power toss if Vandy lined up in the same defense with Payne and Chubb in the backfield? I think so. But I am sure Chaney had data that backed up his play call and it didn’t fall his way.
III. Early Florida Preview
I fully expect a performance in Jacksonville that mirrors the effort we saw against Tennessee. I really do not see this game being a blowout in any way. I expect Georgia to play well and I think they have an excellent chance to pull the upset. I have no idea what the spread will look like in this one but unless it’s as low as Florida -3 you’ll probably see me taking the Dawgs.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not crazy about Georgia’s matchup here. The Florida defense is legit. Size up front, tremendous ball hawks in the back half. It could be tough for Georgia to move the ball especially if they play inconsistently along the offensive line. The Florida offense is less worrisome but they are beginning to find their rhythm in the run game. But I have an extreme amount of confidence that this season will serve as a positive foundation of Kirby’s head coaching career. The extra time helps Georgia refocus and recover both mentally and physically.
IV. SEC Predictions
V. Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
This is what I am talking about with these small things making all the difference. .5pts away from a push in the BYU game and 3 points away from covering the Over in Arkansas-Ole Miss. Instead, Bucky doesn’t have the mental fortitude to push through and we go 1-3 last week. Overall record still stands at 16-12 and your portfolio value is still strong. It’s time to believe and double down dawgs. Are you gonna invest or not?
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week Season Portfolio Value: +$400
VI. Previous Volumes
Season 1 Volume 1 | UNC
Season 1 Volume 2 | Nicholls State
Season 1 Volume 3 | Missouri
Season 1 Volume 4 | Ole Miss
Season 1 Volume 5 | Tennessee
Season 1 Volume 6 | South Carolina
Season 1 Volume 7 | Vanderbilt