Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bulldog Hotline redux

I have to say covering last night's Bulldog Hotline was a different experience than last week's. While that's probably not truly surprising, I guess since both broadcasts came after a loss I suspected a little more turmoil. Instead by the end I had given up on callers/posters offering actual questions relevant to the state of the program and was hoping Richt would let into the fans for leaving early.

But he's right, the fans for the most part did a terrific job Saturday night considering. So, here are two things from last night I think are worth exploring a little bit further.

First, one caller asks Richt about changes made in the off season. After pointing out that he thinks we're a better conditioned team, Richt also goes to great lengths to point out that we were in better shape than Carolina. Part of this I think is to highlight yet another way in which we beat them on Saturday. Another is to give a shout out to Bobo's use of the no huddle.

Stephen from Dalton: Echoes first caller’s sentiments, supportive. Hasn’t seen that much intensity from a team in a while. Last time he did we won an SEC Championship. How is the psychological conviction of the team? Are we keeping them up, to keep fighting? Also asks about off season changes. How have they helped? Richt – psychology of team is outstanding. No issues as far as unity of the team. Desire to get better is there. Positives – lot of times guys are looking to get off of special teams when they get tired, when it’s hot. Didn’t see any of that Saturday. Veterans pulling younger guys off of special teams because they knew how crucial every play was. Had guys who were banged up ready to get back out there. Also points out Michael Bennett’s catch on third down to set up the TD to Isaiah was one of the best catches he’s seen in a long time. Huge. Also mentions that the team didn’t get down with all the miscues (INT, fake punt, 28 free points) and momentum shifts. As far as the changes that were made, says the team was in very good condition. Had plenty of energy at halftime to go play in the second half. Says the no-huddle made a big difference with SC’s rush, it diminished over the course of the ball game. Helped with short, high percentage passes. Points out that on Crowell’s TD run as well as the screen pass for a TD earlier, they couldn’t even get lined up. They had trouble keeping up with our pace and the guys gained confidence in our no-huddle system. A lot of things are improving. Says “Let’s face it, we all know we could’ve won that game. If we had the Dawg Nation and the college football world would be saying the Georgia Bulldogs are the frontrunner for the SEC East. But it didn’t happen. But it doesn’t diminish the fact that we’ve got enough bullets to shoot. Just got to make sure we don’t turn the ball over like that.”
I think that's an important exchange. As a fan it should tell you that 1) the coaches have a lot of faith in what happened in the weightroom during the off season. And 2) they believe the no-huddle will pay dividends in the future. In short, younger + faster + better conditioned + faster pace = dominant late in the game. For right now I think we should reserve judgment on this development. A week ago I would've never expected to type that after seeing our no huddle...crawl........along...against Boise. But after Saturday the notion at least has merit.

Next, I was interested to hear some comments on where Richt sees Crowell's development. I mean sure, we all know now the kid is ready for big time SEC football. But in watching the replay it was obvious to me that although Crowell may be a soft spoken kid off the field, he can get pretty damn excitable on the field. After those two big runs in the first quarter he almost came unglued. So here's this:

FB question from Benjamin and Joseph: Will we see Malcome and Thomas this week? And will Crowell start against Coastal Carolina? Richt – Guys have to earn their playing time. Ken’s trying to earn it, Carlton set himself back with the suspension. He had a good camp, but when you get about 10 days out you really start practicing the guys you’re gonna play. IC is an electric player. He’s a guy we want to touch the ball more. He needs to learn to hang in there one more play, get one more rep. We want to feed Isaiah. Has a chance to be something really special. Whether or not he’ll start? Coaches haven’t even discussed starting lineups with the players. Basically doesn’t want to say anything out of turn.

Scott: Crowell had 16 carries. Do you have a number in mind or is it just the flow of the game? Richt – Had 18 total touches. Thinks 20-25 is pretty reasonable. Says once the game gets going it depends on what the team needs and how he’s feeling. He’s maturing right before our eyes. He sees how crucial it is to get in great condition.
We've known this for some time, but it's worth pointing out again and bookmarking for future discussions on Crowell's development. It's evident that the only thing that can get in the young running back's way is his own head.

Lastly, one more point. I found the broadcast last night to be pretty damn bland. When the program is 0-2 it opens up the opportunity to go so much deeper into expectations, level of competition so far, development of young players and specific challenges that lie ahead for the team. Instead most callers (at least the ones that made it on the air) wanted to reaffirm their support. It reminded me of those old Ma Bell commercials - reach out and touch someone! Meanwhile some FB and Twitter posters simply asked a question that had already been addressed, either last week or through the media.

That's all well and good I guess. (And even in broadcasting there no substitute for a well designed screen pass.) Maybe I'm in the minority, somehow. I just hope the level of satisfaction, accountability is higher going forward. Intensity and the energy to hang in there during tight games is great to see. 

But it is wins that we seek. And it's been a long, long time since they have darkened our door.

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