1990 and 1993 - Georgia football seasons you may have already heard or soon will be repeatedly informed were the last time (until now) the Bulldogs lost three consecutive games and started 0-3 in the SEC, respectively.
What do these two seasons have in common besides featuring a losing Bulldog football squad? They were both under the guidance of Georgia's 23rd head coach - Ray Goff.
At the Junkyard Blawg, Bill King wrote that the Richt regime has "sunk to new Goff-ian depths"... and I cannot agree more.
Following the disturbing loss in Starkville, my thoughts are exactly as they were after the setback to Arkansas, only tremendously intensified: I feel like I've gone back in time to the Ray Goff era...
I'm well accustomed to this time of UGA football, considering Goff was the Bulldogs' coach for most of my 5+ years in college. I remember walking to Sanford Stadium for many a game (often well after kickoff) thinking, "hopefully, we can beat [fill in bottom-tier SEC team here] today." In those days, defeating a Vanderbilt, Kentucky, or the like, was far from expected as it would become later.
History is repeating itself and this year's Bulldogs shouldn't be expected to beat, well, just about anyone.
As is the case with many Bulldog backers, the biggest mystery to me is the ineptness of the offensive line. This is a unit that was dominating in the last few games of 2009, returned all five starters from a year ago, had returning players who started 155 career games - the most of the 120 teams in the FBS, and, above all, was considered arguably the best offensive line in college football entering this season.
Through the first four games of this season, Georgia's offensive line has paved the way for the Bulldogs to average 3.60 yards per rush - by far, the worst in the conference. And please don't tell me that, well, Georgia has faced some pretty good run defenses thus far... In the Bulldogs' four opponents' other games against 11 teams, they are yielding a higher 3.86 yards per rush to their opposition.
Remember the preseason talk that Washaun Ealey and Caleb King could accomplish the rare feat of each rushing for 1,000 yards? The two are on pace to rush for just over 800 yards combined.
The last time Georgia's running game consistently averaged that few number of yards per rush? You guessed it, during the Goff era and our two distinguishable seasons: the '90 team averaged 3.60 yards, the '93 Bulldogs gained 3.43.
How can it be explained this year's edition, particularly its offensive line, has been so disappointing, reverting back to a time when going to a bowl was a lofty goal?
Whether it's the coaching, lack of discipline, heart, the Bulldogs are just plain inferior, a little bit of all, or none of the aforementioned, something is wrong with the Georgia football program. What I envisioned to be a 9-3 or 10-2 team will be very, very fortunate to finish at .500 and for the third straight season, will not approach preseason expectations.
Back to Coach Goff... Don't get me wrong regarding Big Ray; he was a tremendous quarterback - one of just two Bulldog signal callers ever to finish in the Heisman Trophy voting, a good running backs coach, and a helluva recruiter. However, I think even Goff would admit he was way in over his head as the head man of Georgia football.
Within Goff's first couple of seasons, it was abundantly clear the UGA football program had taken a significant step down from the final years of the Coach Dooley regime. While a year or so after Goff's firing, the Bulldogs rebounded, reclaiming their spot as a reputable and acceptable team.
Currently, there is no question that same program is nearing, if not back to Goff-like circumstances, having taken a huge step down the last two-plus seasons.
The question is when will the Bulldogs bounce back from the depths of collapsing and if Coach Richt and his staff are the bunch to lead the recovery.