Well, that was fun! Georgia finally proves me wrong in a good way, displaying a semblance of offensive prowess and a defense that looked like they knew how to tackle. It’s really amazing what blocking and tackling can do in practice for a team accused of being timid by it’s head coach. But just as Georgia seems to take a step forward and get in the win column, Caleb King shoots them in the foot and gets arrested, bringing Georgia’s tally to eleven (thus far) and the frustration level of Coach Richt to an all-time high. Never before have I seen Richt end a press conference early following a series of one or two word answers about discipline problems. But somehow, I think these two issues are related. Arrests haven’t been a part of Richt’s entire tenure. They’ve been a recent development taking place over the last few years. We didn’t hear about that during the Pollack and Greene era and for whatever reason it became more of a story/issue during the Stafford/Moreno era. Which is the exact same time Georgia stopped hitting as much in practice.
With good logic, Richt decided against letting the ones go against the ones around that time because he went into the season with about 30 hurt players. They lessened practice’s physicality and reduced hitting/blocking drills. Richt often talked about “hitting to a thud” meaning players would hit to contact without wrapping up. After three years, this has really come into effect as juniors and seniors have now gone several seasons without the kind of physical practice needed to prepare for SEC games. It’s caused a softness around the program. The defense has routinely missed tackles, the “experienced” offensive line has become a hindrance and we’re even seeing the toll on the tailbacks who seem to have a case of fumblitus.
Hitting in practice doesn’t just develop hardened players. It also creates leaders. You know who to get the ball to in third-down situations. You know who to run behind. You know who’s going to make the big hit. It’s one thing to be a vocal leader and rah-rah (aka blah-blah) but it’s another to actually do these things routinely. Scott Williams of the 1980 National Championship team told me last week on our tailgate radio show that Herschel Walker was never a vocal guy on his team, but in big situations he would pipe up and demand the rock. And when Hersch spoke, you listened. The problem is, you can’t develop that kind stigma without doing it, and with just 12 games a year, there isn’t really time to develop that rapport. It’s done in practice.
Without the leaders on the field, you certainly don’t have them off the field. Who’s going to hold you accountable for the DUI’s, the MIP’s and paying speeding tickets? Coaches can’t keep track of what’s going on but you can be sure the players are much more in tune. David Pollack was a leader on the field and his presence kept players in line off it. No one wanted to disappoint Pollack. No one wanted to disappoint Herschel. Is there anyone on this team who you’d be scared to run into?
The lack of accountability has to come down to the players: we’ve heard that time and time again. And it’s true. But the decision of the head coach to stop hitting in practice has not only lessened the ability but also hindered character building.
Depressed yet? Me too. Mainly because I went 1-3 last week dropping me below .500 for the first time EVER! 11-12-1 ATS. I’m feeling good about a rebound.
Arkansas at Auburn should be the game of the week. It’s the kind of game Cam Newton thrives in: big offenses, a challenge from the opposing Quarterback, national spotlight. Even better, if one of the teams gets ahead early, there’s a very good chance at a comeback. All signs point to an awesome game. And in that scenario, I’d rather have Newton than Mallet. Auburn -3
Alabama takes on a bad Ole Miss team but coming off a bye with plenty of time to sneak in some new plays with the athletic Masoli leading the charge. He’s used to the system now and Ole Miss looked better in recent games. Combined with the new mascot, I think Ole Miss keeps it closer than 22 points. Ole Miss +22.
South Carolina heads to cover-machine Kentucky in a classic all-signs-point-to-letdown game here with Garcia and Spurrier likely throw down in a cage match at halftime. The ‘Cats are wounded, so I won’t but the Cocks on upset alert but I will take the ‘Cats +6.
It’s put up or shut up time for the Gators who travel to Mississippi State to face former Coach Dan Mullen. You look for the Gators to rebound here after lasts week’s heartbreaker to LSU but I don’t think this team has the mental resolve to comeback. MSU has played teams very tough and home and will be jacked up to get Dan’s back. MSU +7
Finally, Georgia gets Vandy at home for homecoming. This one has Vandy written all over it. Georgia coming back down to earth after annihilating the worst team in the conference and Vandy always plays UGA tough (especially at Sanford). Vandy pass rushes very well which is bad news for Aaron Murray and AJ Green, the two players keeping UGA alive (are they still alive) 15 points is too much. Vandy +15
Until next time, Ball Hard.