On Sunday at Dawgsports, T. Kyle posed one of his two question queries indicating Manic Kyle and Depressive Kyle are yet again fighting each other for supremacy in the psyche of Mr. King. The source of the querry isn't germane to the situation, but the question is. Should Manic Kyle or Depresive Kyle be unleashed?
While the easy and popular answer might be let Depressive Kyle reign, if for no other reason than it might be better, psychologically speaking, to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed, I am willing to say Manic Kyle should be unleashed. Now, I am not one to make bold predictions, and won't begin to do so now. My reasons for believing Manic Kyle should be unleashed are less about this season and more about the DNA level of the
football athletic program at Georgia.
- Mark Richt is showing he is capable of changes many thought he wasn't. While the specific query Kyle posed might not be germane to the situation, the answer should encourage him. Back in 2001, Mark Richt noted that he had a lot to learn about coaching football after a couple of clock management issues, including running Jasper Sanks into the line with less than 20 seconds to play and no time outs against Auburn, and learn he did. For the past two seasons, he stuck with assistant coaches that in hind sight might not have been getting the job done, but once his mind was made, he acted decisively. As I noted when those coaches were given their walking papers, great leaders give the people they ask so much of a chance to show the faith placed in them isn't misplaced. That is the best way to ensure people you trust will follow you into battle. The firings and willingness to abandon the only defense he knows anything about illustrates that he still knows he has stuff to learn. The willingness to listen to his new coaches about the kicking game is further evidence of that.
- The pundits are placing too much emphasis on past performance in predicting this season's outcomes. I believe this to be the case for both Georgia and their opponents. Aaron Murray isn't Joe Cox, John Brantley isn't Tim Tebow, Josh Chapman isn't Terrence Cody, Teryl Austin isn't Charlie Strong, Todd Grantham isn't Willie Martinez. All could end up being exactly the same as their predecessors. I don't have a crystal ball to look into, but if Aaron Murray does what David Greene did his freshman season, with the running game Bobo will have at his disposal, Georgia's offense will be fine. There will be growing pains for the new defense, but no more so than changing from a 3-3-5 to a straight 3-4 for Florida. As a kicker, Georgia's two biggest issues defensively under Willie Martinez was the read and react nature of the defense and inability to make proper tackles look to be improved. Much improved. Looking through that list, though, which would you lay odds on improving on their predecessor's performances?
- The 3-4 will pay dividends this season. I touched on this above, but the primary issues with Georgia's defensive efforts were about personnel, tackling technique and a defense that was too predicated on...being defensive. All of the quotes from the new defensive staff are decidedly focused on two of these issues. Scott Lakatos' rhetorical "who has been teaching you to tackle" question shows the other is being addressed. Putting the best players on the field and giving them a strategy that unleashes the hounds is a big winner, to me.
- The basketball program is moving in the right direction. A lot. Mark Fox has shown he can recruit the AAU circuit the way we need him to. He has shown he can coach up players. There is no reason to believe given the chance to coach up a team that has bought into his systems, has been playing it for two seasons and has an improvement in talent, the improvement won't be marked. 22-25 wins marked.
- David Perno is sill a good baseball coach. He didn't suddenly become bad this past season. This season was a conglomeration of too many bad outings and an over-reliance on the starters. He made necessary changes to address those problems. Not sure that he has, but I also feel the changes were necessary, either way.
- Greg McGarity. The loss of Damon Evans was big to me, not just because of the way his downfall happened. I love Damon. He is a DGD and was a great leader for the athletic department. I hated to see him go and didn't see anyway the search was going to end so emphatically positive. It did. The Greg McGarity hire brings a man with terrific experience and great character to lead the athletics department. He is a Damn Good Dawg of the highest order, to boot.
I've been wrong before. I do not deny this. Aaron Murray could be more like Preston Smith than David Green. John Brantley could make the folks in Gainesville take The Speech plaque down. Stephen Garcia could be all that Steve Spurrier has long dreamed. Todd Grantham's coaching ability could be more like Todd from the Wedding Crashers' coaching ability. However, based on rational observation, the 8 win season from 2009 seems likely to be the floor by which future bloggers (or whatever) look back in 40 years and tells folks to calm down, a down season doesn't=ceiling. Mark Richt has proven he is too good a coach to let 'good enough' be his goal.
One final thing to remember. Mark Richt's mentor suffered through a similar swoon after a few years on the job. He stumbled to a couple of mediocre seasons, made some adjustments, then went on a run of 14 straight 10 win seasons and won two national championships. His teams never finished ranked lower 5th in the nation during that time. I believe in the long view. The long view has shown time and again to be worth it. Mark Richt is in this for the long haul. There is nothing about Mark Richt that makes me think what Kyle though in the beginning: He is the next coach at the University of Georgia to lead the Bulldogs to a National Championship.