Mitchell: Georgia. It's All About The Slate
Posted Oct 10, 2011

Week 6 Thoughts: Mitchell on why Georgia's good run is a bit of a mirage

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Week 6 Thoughts, Oct. 10 

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- Week 5

- Mitchell: Georgia. All Schedule, No Substance
- Harrison: The Sleeping Big Ten In Realignment 
- Sallee: Time For The Frazier Era At Auburn
- Johnson: Is Stanford Out Of The Title Hunt?
- Zemek: The Brad Wing LSU Celebration Nonsense
- Cirminiello: The Rebounding Old Coaches   

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb

With little comparative fanfare, the Georgia Bulldogs have taken care of business after starting the year with a gutter ball.

After losses to Boise State in Atlanta and South Carolina at home, and pressure mounting on head coach Mark Richt, it would have been easy for the wheels to come completely off the cart. Instead, Georgia regrouped, found its mojo – and more importantly, a rushing attack – and a month later finds itself the proud owner of a four game winning streak.

Two talented freshmen have stepped up on offense to take leadership roles. Receiver Malcolm Mitchell and tailback Isaiah Crowell have burst onto the scene, and not a moment too soon.

On defense, the Dawgs have overcome injuries, suspensions and defections to be ranked the sixth best defense in the land.

Indeed, all is good in the world. Now it's time for a cold splash of reality.

Yes, Crowell and a patchwork Georgia offensive line have looked good rushing the ball since South Carolina, but the toughest run defense the Dawgs have faced in that four game stretch was Coastal Carolina. No, we're not kidding. Given three of the Dawgs' four wins during that run were SEC schools, that's a bit shocking.

The average run defense of the four teams UGA has beaten? 66th out of 120. Yuk.

Georgia's own run defense has also improved greatly since losing to the Gamecocks, vaulting from 94th in the nation to 12th…improving 82 spots in four weeks. Impressive. Right?

Look deeper...the toughest run offense UGA has faced over that four game stretch was Miss State at 39th. Tennessee has "run" (using the term as loosely as possible) for negative 29 yards in its two SEC games, losses to both Florida & Georgia. The average run offense of the four teams UGA has beaten? 80th (Coastal Carolina 70th, Ole Miss 99th, Miss State 39 and Tenn 114th). Yuk x2.

We mentioned earlier that UGA's defense was ranked sixth best in the nation. Fantastic. Curious to know what it was ranked after Boise State and SC, before feasting on four offensive lightweights? It was a woeful 77th.

If that doesn't turn you head, try this: Georgia's total offense has actually declined since the SC game, from 55th to 57th in the nation.

We showed you before the Florida vs. Bama game how to dig a bit deeper into the quality of a team to see where it truly stands. As we wrote then, yes, one can only play the teams on one's schedule, but that doesn't mean we have to fawn over the wind-aided results.

Analysts discussing how Georgia is "back" cavalierly nod to the poor quality of the Dawgs' competition, before discounting it entirely and expounding on the "resilience" of this year's squad…how much it has "blossomed", and how it's "back in the race"!

As in all things conference realignment, remember to always follow the money. Georgia has a large, passionate fan base after all, and passion = money, in terms of eyeballs for broadcast or print/web media. A "healthy" UGA is good for the business of college football.

Never forget that, UGA fan...the best interests of your team are less important to the mass media than stroking your interest.

All is not right in Athens; not even close. If the Dawgs played in the West this year or had Florida's SEC schedule, they would end the year with at least four losses, maybe five-six, given the greater likelihood of injuries, questions about depth at key positions, and poor morale given the past four seasons.

The Bulldogs continue to have issues with players quitting; 14 that were on this roster at the end of 2010 are gone early, with only two going to the pros. Richt's "men" also continue to have issues with off-field discipline.

Back in June we surmised Georgia would lose the first two games of the season and then rally given a weak schedule. We cautioned then that one winning season has as much to do with luck, schedules, and what's happening at other programs as anything to do with a turn towards greatness. Winning consistently requires a solid core of discipline/respect, and this is lacking at Georgia. As we wrote, Richt's coaching style works in the short-term, which is great, but it fails over time.

If, come the cocktail party, the Gators are as battered as we expected they would be, UGA will fail to have a signature SEC win for a fourth consecutive year. For a program of Georgia's stature, that is completely unacceptable.

Richt's players appear to like him, even if they do have a funny way of showing it these past few years in terms of off-field incidents. Those in and around college football and the media like and admire Richt. I like and admire Richt.

But Georgia is succeeding this year solely given the weak competition it has faced. Period. Against top competition, the Bulldogs have looked undisciplined and unmotivated. Moreover, nothing in Richt's gentle coaching style or the on/off-field results for the back half of his time between the hedges should make a Georgia fan feel confident that anything is going to change.

Richt has had talent since 2007...It's not the talent that's the problem.

- Mitchell: Georgia. All Schedule, No Substance
- Harrison: The Sleeping Big Ten In Realignment 
- Sallee: Time For The Frazier Era At Auburn
- Johnson: Is Stanford Out Of The Title Hunt?
- Zemek: The Brad Wing LSU Celebration Nonsense
- Cirminiello: The Rebounding Old Coaches