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January 17, 2012

Just Another Lost Lead...

In four seasons from 2008 through 2011, Coach Richt and company reached a mark
higher than Georgia did during the entire 25 seasons of the Coach Vince Dooley era...

...but it certainly isn't a mark to be proud of.

It recently dawned on me that Georgia's loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl was surely the third or fourth setback the Bulldogs endured the last several years after it led its opposition by double digits in the second half. 

I did a little research, and sure enough, the loss to the Spartans was Georgia's fourth in the last four seasons after leading by 10 or more points in the second half -- a "lost lead," so to speak.  During the four-season period, the Bulldogs had no "comeback wins," or the contrary -- trailing by 10+ points in the second half only to rally for a victory.

Georgia's comeback wins and lost leads under Coach Richt:

2002: Trailed Auburn by 11 in 2H but won
2004: Trailed South Carolina by 10 in 2H but won
2006: Trailed Colorado by 13 in 2H but won
2006: Led Tennessee by 10 in 2H but lost
2006: Trailed Virginia Tech by 18 in 2H but won
2007: Trailed Vanderbilt by 10 in 2H but won
2008: Led Georgia Tech by 16 in 2H but lost
2009: Led Kentucky by 14 in 2H but lost
2010: Led Colorado by 10 in 2H but lost
2011: Led Michigan State by 16 in 2H but lost

So, what does this all mean?  Since it's such a small sampling, initially, I thought probably little.  Although I did believe it was somewhat alarming that Richt had 5 comeback wins and 1 lost lead in his first 7 seasons, but was 0 and 4 the last four.  More so, Georgia's four lost leads starting with Tech in 2008 have resulted during its total of 17 losses during that time, meaning for nearly 1 out of 4 of the Bulldogs' setbacks beginning with the Jackets in '08, Georgia actually had a double-digit lead in the second half.
During the 288-game Dooley era, Georgia lost just three
games after leading by 10+ points in the second half. 
Interestingly, TWO of those losses came in the Bulldogs'
two appearances in the Astrodome: the 1978 Bluebonnet
Bowl vs. Stanford and pictured against Houston in 1967.

What about Georgia's previous head coaches?  Maybe the fact that Richt has suffered a lost lead several years in a row isn't that much of a big deal in comparison? 

Not so much.  In 44 seasons from 1964 through 2007, the Bulldogs never suffered a lost lead in back-to-back seasons, much less one FOUR years in a row.

DOOLEY (25 seasons, 288 games): 13 comeback wins, 3 lost leads

GOFF (7 seasons, 81 games): 4 comeback wins, 2 lost leads

DONNAN (5 seasons, 59 games): 5 comeback wins, 3 lost leads

RICHT (11 seasons, 144): 5 comeback wins, 5 lost leads

More telling, in 519 games from 1964 through 2007, Georgia lost just 9 games where it led by 10+ points in the second half (1 in 58 games) compared to 4 lost leads in 53 games from 2008 through 2011 (1 in 13 games).

At first, I thought comparing coaching eras in this regard might be completely apples-to-oranges...  Supposedly, offenses are far more sophisticated these days than they were during Dooley's time for example, and more points are scored in games.  So, a double-digit second-half lead nowadays is far less "safe" than it was say 30-40 years ago.  This argument might have some significance; however, major college teams averaged 21.2 points per game in 1968 for example, compared to only a slight increase to 24.4 points nearly 40 years later in 2006. 

Anyway, no matter how many total points are scored, if a team has a double-digit lead in the second half, I don't care if it is the year 2011 or 1911, it shouldn't lose the game.  

A closer look at the Richt era reveals... 

From 2001 through 2007 (91 games), Georgia led by 10+ points in the second half of 62 games, suffering just 1 lost lead.  The Bulldogs trailed by 10+ points in the second half of 16 games, rallying for 5 comeback wins

From 2008 through 2011 (53 games), Georgia led by 10+ points in the second half of 32 games, but endured 4 lost leads.  The Bulldogs trailed by 10+ points in the second half of 14 games, rallying for ZERO comeback wins

How is all of this significant?  In my opinion, the problem lies in exactly what this blog and 1,000 others have been declaring since the Bulldogs started their demise in 2008, whether its poor conditioning, complacency, or so-called "energy vampires" within the program.  I was under the impression these issues were beginning to be controlled, which they probably and hopefully are, and perhaps the second-half collapse to Michigan State was a mere hiccup --  just another lost lead in the Bulldogs' improvement process.

Regardless, what occurred just twice in seven seasons of a dark Ray Goff era has resulted in each of the last four years... and that doesn't say much for the current coaching regime.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. Very enlightening--about Dooley as much as Richt. Too many Dawgfans seem to think that Vince just got lucky 1980-84 (conveniently forgetting that there was no Herschel in 84) and wasn't really that good a coach. I've NEVER talked to a an older fan of any other SEC team that shared such sentiments, however. As one Bama fan told me "I had nothing but respect for Vince Dooley." Opposing fans knew their team of choice was in for a 4 quarter fist fight when Coach Dooley was on the opposing sideline and, as you say, that almost no lead was safe. One UT fan, remembering a couple of come from behind Dawg wins over his team said "I hated playing his teams. You'd be winning all day, but they'd keep fighting, scratching and kicking and somehow you're losing in the 4th quarter." We seemed to have that with Coach Richt for a few years. Hope we're getting it back!

JaxDawg said...

This is good research Patrick and touches on a very important topic - the ability to close the deal. I would like for Coach Richt to see this so that in case he happens to be unaware of these results, he can understand and appreciate them. And more importantly address them.