|The bottom line, the difference in the game is we had a chance to win in |
the fourth quarter and we didn't do it. - Todd Grantham after USC loss
In a contest where the Bulldogs appeared several times they might pull away from the Gamecocks, they instead hand out points and eventually give the game away. In doing so, Georgia suffered its unfathomable ninth loss on Saturday in its last 14 games, including a FIFTH defeat by a touchdown or less.
Under a head coach, whose motto is ironically to Finish the Drill, Georgia's five losses have resulted without a single victory in games decided by seven points or less. The Bulldogs' touchdown-or-less losing streak is a continuation from an 0-4 situational mark in 2010, capped by the 10-6 embarrassing defeat in the Liberty Bowl.
Since the beginning of the Coach Vince Dooley era nearly 50 years ago to the present, never before had a Georgia football team dropped five straight games decided by seven points or less without a win, until two days ago. Prior to last season, the previous time the Bulldogs had lost on four consecutive occasions in games resulting in a touchdown-or-less margin was 40 years before.
As revealed in a post from January, Georgia historically has done well in close ballgames. Dooley won nearly two-thirds of his games (64-37) decided by seven points or less, Donnan achieved 70 percent, and before his recent demise, Coach Richt had a respectable 30-16 record in touchdown-or-less games, including a combined 7-3 in disappointing 2008 and 2009 seasons.
So, why this recent downfall? Why the heck can't Georgia win a close game in five attempts since the memorable six-point victory at 7th-ranked Georgia Tech two seasons ago?
It's not like the Bulldogs were expected to lose all of the aforementioned games to begin with, as they were actually favored entering three of the five contests (Arkansas, Colorado, and Central Florida a year ago). Also, I believe there's little argument in the assumption that Georgia is simply not as talented as it once was (with more to come on that subject later...). And, according to Aaron Murray, the coaches cannot be blamed for the mistakes that cost the team the latest game.
Yes, Georgia's head coach and assistants should not be held solely accountable for the loss to South Carolina. However, when a team strings together five similar defeats without a single victory, it's no mere coincidence; coaches are to be blamed for having the team repeatedly ill-prepared for decisive moments in games while tolerating an apparent losing mind-set.
When it became evident that Saturday's game was not going to be decided until towards the end and it was any team's to win, based on Georgia's recent performances, I had a sense the Dawgs were likely to fall in yet another close one. Unfortunately, my guess is that there were even those on the Georgia sideline and huddle with similar notions.
Overall, the Bulldogs played better against the Gamecocks than probably most expected. Personally, I'm more optimistic than I was this time last week, somewhat reconsidering my idea that an 0-2 start would translate to nothing but doom. Nevertheless, if Georgia is to win an acceptable amount of games in 2011, Coach Richt and his staff will undoubtedly need to get their team to finally finish a drill.