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January 4, 2011

"Finish the Drill" Forgotten

For Georgia's football team, Friday's Liberty Bowl was yet another loss in 2010, and moreover, one more close loss for this year's edition of Bulldogs.

While the defeat to Central Florida was Georgia's fourth this season by seven points or less, the Dogs end their year having not won a single touchdown-or-less game all season.

It had been 40 years the last time Georgia didn't win a game decided by seven points or fewer when the Bulldogs were 0-3 in such circumstances during the 1970 season.  Georgia's minus-4 net losses of a touchdown or less was its worst total over, at least, the last 47 seasons, beginning with the Vince Dooley era (1964).

Remember, this is a team and coach whose motto is to Finish the Drill.  Instead, it appears they're finishing, not drills, but on the short end of close games.

Beginning with 1964, I figured Georgia's touchdown-or-less record for every season.  Here are the totals broken down by head coach (the percentage in parenthesis is the coach's overall winning percentage, regardless of scoring margin):

DOOLEY: 64-37, .634 (.715)
GOFF: 13-15, .464 (.574)
DONNAN: 14-6, .700 (.678)
RICHT: 30-20, .600 (.738)

For Richt, I initially expected a respectable touchdown-or-less record for his first four seasons (2001-2004) followed by a significant dropoff the last six years of his decade at the helm.  I was correct regarding the 2001-2004 seasons, when the Bulldogs were 13-6 in close games, including 5-1 in both 2002 and 2004.

After a 3-3 mark in 2005, however, Georgia was 5-3 in 2006 and 2-1 in 2007.  Even during the disappointing 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Bulldogs could win the close ones, combining to go 7-3 in games decided by a touchdown or less.

Richt's .600 "close-game" winning percentage is certainly nothing special, especially when compared to his overall percentage, as it's more proportionate to that of Coach Goff's (...and we all know how things ended for Ray at UGA approximately 15 years ago).

How does Richt stack up against the competition?  Below I ranked the coach amongst two chief rivals during the same 10-season period and two other foes with acclaimed coaches, each serving for the past six seasons (the percentage in parenthesis is the team's and/or coach's overall winning percentage, regardless of scoring margin):

LSU under Les Miles: 23-9, .719 (.782)
AUBURN from 2001-2010: 33-16, .673 (.724)
FLORIDA under Urban Meyer: 11-7, .611 (.813)
GEORGIA under Mark Richt: 30-20, .600 (.738)
TENNESSEE from 2001-2010: 26-18, .591 (.633)

Above is further proof the Bulldogs have faltered, comparatively speaking, in close contests, particularly when compared to their games that weren't so close...

Notwithstanding, the primary contributor to these undesirable results was the big, fat ZERO and FOUR this season; take out this season's 0-4 from the overall touchdown-or-less record or do this very same analysis a year ago, and Richt's results appear a little more favorable.

It's evident, like perhaps never before in the history of UGA football, the 2010 Bulldogs could not close out and capture tight ballgames.  Simply put, they couldn't finish a drill and the end result is many in the Bulldog Nation yearning for the current coaching regime to be finished.

On a good note...  According to college football guru Phil Steele, nearly 80 percent of teams (33 of 42) over the last nine years that had minus-4 net losses or more of seven points or less, like Georgia, finished with a better record the following season.

Nevertheless, there has been little proof recently that this football program is going to get better anytime soon, but rather part of a non-improving 20 percent. 


BuLLdawg said...

Here are the real facts :

Last Five (5) Years :

56-9 Ohio State
56-12 Florida
61-5 Boise State
55-10 TCU
54-15 Oklahoma
52-16 Virginia Tech
51-14 Southern California
50-15 LSU
50-15 Texas
50-15 BYU
50-15 Utah
49-16 Wisconsin
49-16 West Virginia
49-18 Alabama on the field
48-16 Oregon
48-19 Missouri
47-18 Penn State
46-18 Auburn
46-22 Hawaii
45-20 Cincinnati
45-21 Boston College
45-20 Texas Tech
44-21 Georgia Mark Richt last entire 5 years # 23 won/lost # 23

Anonymous said...

Patrick, great piece as always. this team lacked heart and nastiness and probably the main reason they couldn't win any close games. Richt has no control over this program. In the past, he was able to win on talent but give him a team with the same or just a little better talent than the next, and he'll usually lose.

Coaching, especially the assistants, can take a run-of-the-mill player and turn him into an All-SEC player, like Bama does now and VanGorder did at GA. Richt has surrounded himself with below-average assistants and it is beginning to show.

Doesn't surprise me Dooley did so well in close games... One main reason, in my opinion, the guy was notorious for having great assistants - Erk Russell for example.

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