College Football 2011: 5 Things I Learned About Georgia and Boise State
After spending Saturday night of the first weekend of college football at the Georgia Dome, I walked away learning (or re-learning, in some cases) some things about the University of Georgia Bulldogs and the Boise State Broncos.
Some of these lessons have been been taught in classes held at Sanford Stadium and other learning centers across the country. Some are new lessons. Some are new considerations about Boise. Not all of the things I learned are negative for either team.
So, without further adieu...
5. The 3-4 Works
The 3-4 looked terrific early on. When the game started, Boise was stuck in the mud. Their offensive line looked perplexed and confused. The progress at nose tackle was evident and Georgia was getting guys into Boise's backfield with ease. Boise managed to score at the end of the first quarter, but it was a hard-fought score.
It really was not until there were about seven minutes left in the second quarter that the wheels fell off UGA's defensive unit. Someone led that horse to water. It was at that point that Georgia stopped pressuring Kellen Moore for whatever reason.
As soon as No. 11 stopped feeling the pressure, the future NFL stud began carving up the UGA secondary. At some points, it literally looked like he was toying with his opponent, just having a little pitch and catch in the backyard.
Ultimately the defense, for all intents and purposes, fell flat from that point forward. But this was against what may possibly be the best offense Georgia will face all season. It is my feeling that the Dawgs have a very promising defensive force on their hands.
They faced some growing pains tonight, and probably will see a little more of that in the future, but there were a lot of positives to take out of the first- and early-second-quarter performances.
4. NFL Talent Is Telling of a Problem
On the drive home while listening to "Dawg Talk" I heard repeated callers voicing concerns about the team. One caller brought up the fact that UGA has the third most starters in the NFL at present, and if we were producing that much talent, why were we not winning?
The radio hosts of the show condescendingly brushed off this comment by asking, "Do you really think NFL starters translate to college wins?"
Actually, I do.
Take for instance the teams that have produced the first-, second-, and fourth-most NFL starters: Ohio State, Southern Cal and Oklahoma.
In the past 12 years, Ohio State has played for three national titles (2002, 2006, 2007), winning one. Southern Cal has played for two national titles (2004, 2005), winning one and also being crowned AP No. 1 in 2003. And Oklahoma has played for four national titles (2000, 2003, 2004, 2008).
That means that in the last 12 years, one of those three schools has been represented in the national title game all but three years.
So, yes, Tony Schiavone, to answer your condescending question, obviously by the numbers, producing NFL talent like these schools are does translate to college wins.
At some point, that talent was not in the NFL, but was producing for the above mentioned schools. UGA is No. 3 and while the three schools that surround them in these statistics have all seen not one, but multiple national title berths, something is wrong at UGA.
But before we get to that...
3. Boise State Still Doesn't Understand "Attrition"
I've often heard the remark from Boise State fans and proponents that they have justified that they can beat anyone because they beat "insert team name here" team. There is a stigma that exists that they believe most of the world is looking at them and doubting their ability to beat some specific opponent or member of some particular conference.
The notion could not be further from the truth. Boise State is good enough to beat anyone in the country, no questions asked. The caveat to that statement, however, is that the Broncos are good enough to beat anyone in the country on any given Saturday that is not bookshelved by equally talented opponents on either side of that Saturday.
Boise State does not face any attrition during the season. And fans and alumni can argue about BSU's merits until they are blue (ha) in the face, but until they are invited into a decent conference, with a tougher schedule, they will never have the evidence needed to win this argument.
Attrition occurs in conferences like the SEC, Pac-12, and Big Ten when week-in, week-out, a team faces a top-tier, storied rival with NFL talent. The team gets beat up, injured and becomes weak and tired. There is a reason why bye weeks in front of major SEC opponents are so important.
Can Boise beat LSU and Alabama? Yes. Could 2010 Boise State have beaten 2008 Florida? Most likely.
Could Boise go undefeated or survive with only one loss with this year's Alabama schedule that includes Penn State, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn? Unlikely.
If schedules were flip-flopped after this 0-1 start, could Georgia finish off the rest of Boise's schedule that includes harrowing bouts at Toledo, Tulsa, Nevada, Fresno State, Colorado State, Air Force, UNLV, TCU (who has now been exposed), San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico? I'd lay down the farm that UGA finishes that schedule 11-1.
And this is the problem. The frustration suffered by non-Boise fans is not doubt that BSU can win games, it's that they don't face the attrition other teams face, which makes continued opponents like UGA even that much more difficult. The simple question BSU should ask themselves is if they enjoyed the dread and doubt that they could actually beat UGA in their first game of the season? Now what about next week when UGA faces South Carolina and Boise faces Toledo?
This is not at all to take away from BSU's talent, coaching (which was flawless) and perfected execution in their game against Georgia. The Broncos were the complete antithesis of the team that was routed and then beaten like a dead horse in their 2005 visit to Athens.
2. Mike Bobo Is a Terrible Offensive Coordinator
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has one play on his play sheet and it is a draw play. Bobo lacks any sort of creativity and in the last three years has yet to define what he wants the UGA offense to be.
One has to wonder if the terrible play-calling at some point starts to make the players lose faith in their OC. In one of the key moments of the Boise game, Georgia sat just outside of BSU's red zone on 3-and-1. In what was incredibly bizarre, Georgia ran two delays in a row. With an offensive line that outweighs their opponents by 30 pounds on average, Georgia should have easily been able to line up behind center and push forward for a yard.
Instead of just playing football, there is always a gimmick or a twist that is forgotten about or something that is discovered to work, but is then stashed away to return to the draw. Remember Georgia's trip out to Oklahoma State in 2009? Remember the scoring drive, which prominently featured the wild cat offense and then was never seen the rest of the day?
Can anyone explain why Bobo refused to throw downfield on Boise until the late third quarter when Boise had yet to win, but for all practical purposes had won already? These things happen every Saturday.
While I grew up a Georgia fan, I attended graduate school at FSU from 2005-2007. I have firsthand experience watching Jeff Bowden blow up an offense. Statistically, since leveraging the reins to Mike Bobo, Georgia has been atrocious on offense and has had zero killer instinct. Watching Mike Bobo try to figure out how to call a game is eerily similar to having to sit through heartbreaking play-calling at Doak Campbell.
But Bobo is not alone in the strange decisions on this eve. The first, and most boneheaded, call was made by head coach Mark Richt before the first play was even made.
The Georgia Dome, full of about 85-percent Georgia fans, was a ruckus and on fire at the beginning of the game. Upon winning the toss, Richt elected to receive first. The result was two false starts for Georgia within the first three plays.
A head coach of Richt's experience and tenure should be aware of his surroundings. He should have known the crowd would have benefited his defense to opponent up the game and not his offense. An opening drive stop of Kellen Moore and Co. would likely have gotten the early roar out of the crowd and allowed Georgia to settle into the game. Instead, it simply resulted in UGA's early start to 50 yards in penalties.
The other strange decision was to stop rushing Moore in the middle of the second quarter. Moore was rattled early on and the pressure should have remained on him all game.
Finally, on special teams Boise refused to punt to Georgia and elected to pooch kick for most of the night, until they built a 14-point lead. Their kicker basically spent the night receiving the ball and then walking to the line of scrimmage, followed by a pooch kick. After seeing this happen once, twice at most, the decision not to send a few guys after the punter was frustrating and depressing.
The bottom line is that UGA will not return to the prominence they built from 2002 to 2008 until Mike Bobo is relieved of his duties. The program has been stagnant for two full seasons and this one looks to be in jeopardy as well.
This is not myself or other fans running for the hills and claiming the sky is falling after one game, it's a pattern we've been seeing for years.
1. I Still Know How To Dream
Even in the midst of frustration, I still know how to dream.
The most important thing for Boise State from this point forward is for Georgia to win and keep winning. Boise fans at approximately midnight on September 4th need to become the biggest UGA fans in the country outside of UGA fans themselves.
BSU fans are some of the most obnoxious and arrogant fans I've ever dealt with, and I've heard a lot of trash talk for the last eight months. A lot of that talk had to do with UGA being bottom-tier SEC. But this is not the marketing you want if you are Boise. Boise fans need to build UGA up big time. They need to be talking about how they are in fact, without question, the No. 5 team in the nation and that UGA played with them and is underrated.
Conversely, Georgia actually needs to go out and play. They need to win, win, win. The result is that it boosts Boise's much-maligned schedule and makes it appear that the SEC school they beat was top of its class.
At the end of my dream, the Dawgs do indeed win out—and win out big time. As Phil Steele has predicted, the Dawgs win the East, but they don't stop there. In a surprise upset, they beat Alabama for the SEC title; the result of which bolsters Georgia into the BCS National Championship game at 12-1 versus 12-0 Boise State. The Dawgs avenge their loss and all the BSU trash talkers cry themselves to sleep.