Why Georgia Firing Willie Martinez Could Have Been a Big Mistake

Mike Foster@michaelsfosterCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators rushes upfield against Rennie Curran #35 and Brandon Wood #97 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on October 31, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For the past two seasons the most consistent name that popped up in tailgate and watercooler talk was Willie Martinez's. Georgia, a school that has decorated itself with defensive accolades for the past decade, has become notorious for it's terrible defensive play.

Following Georgia's 30-24 victory over instate rival Georgia Tech, an offense that to the naked eye is virtually impossible to stop, Mark Richt promptly fired defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and the linebackers and defensive ends coaches.

Going into bowl practice Georgia must prepare to stop Texas A&M and superstud quarterback Jerrod Johnson. Texas A&M may not be a top teir team, but their offense has potential to become a scoring machine, especially with Johnson taking snaps.

The Dawgs will prepare to stop this attack with only their interior lineman coach remaining. Mark Richt will become responsible for taking over a huge portion of coaching on defense. Richt made himself a national figure through his quarterback coaching at Florida State, and furthermore as a talented head coach and offensive coordinator for Georgia.

Well, Richt made firings, and will now have to try to master the art he coached against. But, did Richt make the right decision to fire Willie Martinez?

Yeah, everyone kind of hated Willie. I never found Willie Martinez to be nearly as endearing as Brian van Gorder and the thumbs-up routine.

But, it does not take more than a quick gander at general statistics regarding NCAA rankings before you begin to question the firing.

Think I'm crazy? Mike Bobo, Mark Richt, and the personnel on defense might have been the real issue, however Martinez as the "defensive coordinator" become the immediate scapegoat.

Georgia's defense finished ranked 30th in yards allowed per game. There are 120 FBS teams.

30 divided by 120 is .25, folks. That is right, Georgia's defense was in the top quarter in the nation.

Where did the offense rank you ask? 73rd. That, my friends, is the bottom half of the nation.

Georgia's scoring defense—70th.

Oh, but guess what else. The offense turned the ball over more than anyone in the country, finishing 120th. They also came dead last in penalties.

What do penalties do? Move your team backwards. What do turnovers do? Give the other team the ball with great field position; with great scoring position.

And yet so many people have cited Georgia's problems being the fact they have given up 30+ points so often in the past few years. But what is all the defenses fault?

Think about all of the fumbles we lost. Think about how many interceptions, not only Joe Cox, but Matthew Stafford threw in games.

Think about how often Georgia's defense went off and then right back on the field.

Catching my drift?

Now, let us compare that to what made Georgia different back in 2002 and the few years after.

Mark Richt was calling plays, not Mike Bobo. Georgia had a ball control offense that pounded the rock and hit the ten yard pass when needed. They had a quarterback, in David Greene, who was not much more athletic than Joe Cox is (though I think Greene wouldn't have thrown that interception against Kentucky).

Bobo's offense consists of a lot of gimmicky bubble screens, deep shots, obvious play actions and extremely predictable running plays. Georgia has become really good at throwing an incomplete pass on first down, running for two on second, and throwing an incomplete pass on third.

Well, that takes less than a minute, and puts your tired defense back on the field.

Also, what about Richt? He does not call plays anymore, yet we fail to ever see him yell at players or show emotion. And, it shows.

Georgia turns the ball over and gets penalized more than any other team in the country.

Isn't that the first thing we should be concerned with? That isn't on Martinez, that's on Richt.

What is Richt doing for this team? What is Bobo doing for this team? Bobo's offense worked with Stafford, Moreno, and Mohamed Massaquoi because the talent outweighed the schemes.

Georgia could fail to block a run and still gain yards, thanks to Knowshon. They could have a play breakdown and still score thanks to a seventy yard throw from Stafford. They could have Massaquoi take a five yard slant sixty yards.

Well, when your talent is down on offense, it's all about execution. I don't like Bobo's offense, and honestly, I think he should have been fired. We need to get back to running twice in a row and being a disciplined, trench dominating team.

Kind of like what we forced ourselves to do to Tech? Hmm. 300 yards rushing.

Bobo went out of his comfort zone, and his usual gameplan, and what resulted was Georgia's most dominating rushing game in years.

Yet, for the games before, the offense was too busy throwing screens and trying to run sideways.


This is the SEC. What does Alabama do? They run right at you. What did Georgia do to beat Georgia Tech? They ran right at Tech.

They did not turn the ball over, and they did not commit stupid penalties.

And, they won.

The statistics show people. Sure, there is a lot of tape of guys getting beat or being lost in pass defense.

Bryan Evans was the worst safety I have ever seen. Our pass rush was pretty bad, until Justin Houston came along and really made this defense better.

But what lost the game vs. Florida and Tennessee was not the defense, but the turnovers, penalties, and the failure to control the clock.

Georgia was running extremely well vs. Florida—when they ran.

But the offense would for some reason stop running? Run until you get stopped, please.

My point is the statistics do not lie. Georgia's defense was better than their offense. Their penalties and turnovers, a long with their anemic offense, is what turned them in so many times this year.

And, against Georgia Tech, not only did the completely different offense and minimization on penalties show.

But, the defense helped stop one of the best offenses in the country.

And, the defensive coordinator got fired?

Sure, I typed a lengthy article.


73 > 30, that's all I really needed to say. I really hope the defense gets on the offense's level by next year!! (that was sarcasm)


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