I'm taking a cue from Big Muddy. Its a good time to reflect back on where we were 12 months ago as we evaluate exactly where we are today. My hope is this leads us into a discussion on where things need to head this off season to make 2012 even better than the season we just kissed goodbye.
There were some key decisions made by coach Richt last Winter that set the table for 2011. One year ago the Georgia program was as low as it has been in some time. We'd completed a 6-7 season capped off by a dismal bowl performance in the lower tier. But even before that low point Richt had begun to address the team's needs.
Let's look at some key decisions and the impact on the 2011 season. Today's focus:
Strength and Conditioning. The Strength and Conditioning coach can be the most important person on staff. As this The Post Game feature points out, this person wears many different hats and each one is vital to success. By the time a player leaves campus the amount of time he spends with the strength coach will be considerably more than any other person on staff. So the importance of the role is one that should no longer be glossed over.
Moving Coach Van away from the weight room was probably one of the most difficult decisions Richt has had to make while at the helm of the Georgia football program. It was also one of the most necessary in terms of getting the "energy vampires" away from their food source: the culture of the program. He moved Coach T into Van Halanger's place prior to bowl practices last December and immediately took a big step forward towards regaining control of the team.
And its for that reason that I think this change needs to be evaluated from two perspectives: team unity and overall strength/conditioning of the players. The weight room and off season program is a big catalyst towards establishing a cohesive unit amongst the team's players.
We're likely about 10 or more months away from truly knowing if Tereshinski is the man for the job when it comes to evaluating the second aspect of this move. A revamped S&C program will take more than one off season to reap true rewards.
However, just from the small sample of 4th quarter statistics pictured you can already see some positive trends. In 2011 Georgia converted 3rd down nearly 7% more often than their opponents (up from -7.7%) and held the ball over a minute longer. This tells me that individually, each player was better prepared physically for the task of competing in the SEC, rather than losing to a directional school from Florida.
In the end I think the team was better prepared mentally for the challenges of the 4th quarter this past season, but perhaps not as much physically when the opponent was top tier. And you can also argue that the team was better prepared mentally for the challenges of the 2011 season. This shouldn't be solely attributed to Coach T as the team had a group of existing leadership eager to grab the wheel as well. But when you couple the off season dietary and workout complaints with the actual results on the field, I think it's fair to say that the move from Coach Van to Coach T has been a successful one.
What do we need to look for in the upcoming months to continue the evaluation? Continued focus on TEAM me mentality and even stronger more flexible players.