Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I was planning on blogging about the Georgia game on Saturday afternoon, but there was nothing to say. The Dawgs were atrocious in just about every phase of the game. The secondary played as if they had never played before. "Sieve" would be a charitable way to describe the offensive line. A.J. Green was anonymous; Jonathan Crompton was impeccable.
Four days later, Georgia's shortcomings have been covered in nauseating detail. Numerous writers have weighed in to decry the direction of the program, with some going too far in wailing that all is lost and a long-term decline is right around the corner. At times like this, it's often helpful to remember that we are talking about glorified teenagers playing football. Their performances are going to vary, sometimes wildly. The Dawgs were absolute crap on Saturday, but a team is never as bad as it looks at its low point or as good as it looks at its high point. It seems impossible with the memories of Tennessee receivers floating through the secondary uncovered, but this team will have a high point or two. They were competitive on the road at Oklahoma State. They handed South Carolina their only loss. They won by 11 at Arkansas, a victory that will look better and better as the season progresses. They led LSU in the final two minutes. This isn't a vintage Georgia team by any means, but they are more 8-4 than 6-6.
That last sentence assumes that Saturday's loss doesn't cause a death spiral. I'll admit that the thought crossed my mind, but it's more likely that Saturday is a nadir and the rest of the season is a little better. Mark Richt didn't forget how to motivate a team altogether. So, in an effort to find a silver lining...somewhere, here are five recent examples of teams that had terrible losses and turned their seasons around:
2007 Georgia - Remember the last time the Dawgs visited Knoxville? Remember a suspect Tennessee team with a bad offense beating Georgia 35-14? Remember what happened next?
2007 Michigan - You think you know pain? You don't know pain until your team is ranked #3 in the preseason and then opens with home losses to a I-AA team by two and then to Oregon by 32. Michigan won eight in a row after that start before injuries to Chad Henne and Mike Hart halted their run.
2003 LSU - They won a national title despite a 12-point loss at home in October to a Ron Zook-coached team. Swirl that around in your mouth for a moment.
2003 Clemson - Lost 45-17 at Wake Forest (the pre-good Wake Forest) to drop to 5-4 before winning their final four games, including wins over Florida State and Tennessee (back when that meant something).
2002 Iowa - Lost at home to a 7-7 Iowa State team and then didn't lose for the rest of the regular season.
1999 Wisconsin - Everyone remembers the Badgers winning a second straight Rose Bowl and Ron Dayne winning the Heisman. Not everyone remembers the Badgers losing at 3-8 Cincinnati in the third game of the season. They lost the next week to Michigan by five, then won their last eight.
1999 Alabama - Lost at home to Louisiana Tech and then won the SEC.
1983 Miami - You may have seen a highlight or two of Miami upsetting Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win the first of the school's five national titles, but did you know that they started that season with a 28-3 loss at Florida?
So here's the question. It's possible for this Georgia team to rally. They certainly have the talent and Richt has never lost a team before. Do you want Georgia to rally? Let's say that the Dawgs lose a competitive game in Jacksonville and then end the season with wins over Auburn, Georgia Tech, and a Big Ten team in the Outback Bowl. Is that a good result if it causes Richt to decide that major changes do not need to be made? Is it a good result if it means that Willie Martinez is the defensive coordinator in 2010?