Hard as it might be to believe, we have reached the midpoint of the college football season for many of the SEC teams. We look at what's happened to each of them and where they might go from here.
What can we say about Georgia that hasn't already been said? The Dawgs have had a bad start to the year, all of which puts them on course for the worst season in Mark Richt's decade at the helm. Aside from annihilating Tennessee, 2010 has been a series of games that Georgia fans would rather forget.
But that shellacking of the Vols brings up the question I think is critical to the future of the Dawgs this year and perhaps in the future: Is Georgia a bad team, or a good team playing poorly? The two are not the same thing, and I'm not sure which is a stronger indictment of the coaching jobs currently being done in Athens. But it's an important question to answer as the program goes through what is likely to a two- or three-month-long soul-searching exercise.
Last year, as Georgia underwent its second disappointing season in a row relative to expectations, the focus was rightfully on the defense. Coordinator Willie Martinez had overseen diminishing returns basically every year he had led the defense, and that had been a huge factor in the Dawgs' unexpected losses. Fixing it fell to new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham Mission partially accomplished; despite some criticism here and there and a relatively strong schedule, Georgia's defense is better than average in the SEC. The rushing defense is solid and the passing defense is allowing a touch more than the average SEC team, but the combination is much better than what would likely have been expected if Martinez had returned.
Those defensive shortcomings, though, had distracted attention from an offense that wasn't as potent as it had been at it's high point during the Richt Era. With the defense apparently fixed, and given a first-year waiver for anything that wasn't, it became harder to ignore any issues on the other side of the ball, and Georgia fans haven't. So now the calls for a firing squad or a demotion have focused on Mike Bobo, who has the play-calling responsibilities for Georgia.
One wonders how long it will take the Bulldog faithful to ask this question: If both coordinators were part of the problem in 2008, 2009 and now 2010, what does it say about the man who hired them? Is it really possible to focus all the ire on the coordinators and not the head coach of the program? And where do things go if Mike Bobo is fired and next year is disappointing again?
All of that said, a finish of 4-2 or better and some sort of bowl berth would at least revive the hopes of Georgia fans that Richt is close to turning the ship around. With the goodwill he's built up in Athens and his track record of success, it would be a solid argument for giving him a chance to fix what's wrong. But it probably wouldn't keep fans and maybe the university administration from viewing 2011 as the year when Richt best show tangible progress instead of simply promising that better days are ahead.