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The Hive Presents Ask Dr. Football
September 13, 2000
Got a question about your favorite college team? Ask the Doctor by clicking here or by emailing DrFootball@gojackets.com. The doctor is in. Dr. Football has been approved by Blue Cross/Blue Shield for participation in most preferred provider networks.
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Dr Football's Questions and Answers from 11/19/99
Dr Football's Questions and Answers from 12/1/99
Dr Football's Questions and Answers from 8/11/00
This Week's Questions
Before we start on this week's questions, I'd like to request a moment of silence, please, for the passing of a great member of the Georgia Tech family, Hall of Famer Rufus Guthrie. Ol' number 63 was a part of the 1962 offensive line that Bobby Dodd considered the best of any that he coached: Guthrie and Dave Watson at guard, Bobby Caldwell at center, Ed Griffin and Larry Stallings at tackle, Billy Martin and Ted Davis at end. Guthrie was an All-American that year and one of four linemen from that team that suited up for varying periods in the NFL. Their finest hour was a rainy November Saturday at Grant Field when they opened the hole for fullback Mike McNames to score the TD that beat defending national champ Alabama, 7-6. In the midst of a successful career in real estate, Guthrie died of brain cancer at the far-too-young age of 58. Rest in peace, Rufus.
Do you think we gave FSU something to think about?
- I'd say so, especially those arrogant Semen-hole fans who clogged up the Hive with their snotty remarks last week. I imagine they were all just a little nervous at the start of the fourth quarter. But still - all these close finishes don't mean a thing until Tech actually follows up with a knockout punch. I've had all the moral victories I can stand for a while.
What really grabs my butt were the penalties that killed the team's chances against FSU. With all the respect I have for Tech's coaching staff - and there's no doubt they are far more competent than the crew of clowns Jim Donnan has assembled in Athens - I will have to knock them a little for all the penalties the team's been flagged for in the first two games. An overabundance of penalties is partly the responsibility of the coaching staff - it's up to them to crack down on the players in practice and make them concentrate on avoiding things like jumping offside, and it's definitely up to the coaches to prevent things like illegal substitution penalties. Those are just unforgiveable.
In some ways, the defense was several orders of magnitude better against the Criminoles than it was during the entire lost season of 1999. They were flying to the ball and making good, crisp tackles. Special teams play was spotless - no long kick returns or anything like that. Even with the loss of Guenter Kryszon and Berwin Echols, the DL is doing a much better job of stuffing the run this year: in two games they've surrendered 81 rushing yards, an average of 40.5 per game. Georgia gave up almost twice that amount in their opening game to a running back operating behind a 1-AA offensive line, and the mutts are the team with two alleged All-Americans at defensive tackle. But pass coverage was much too loose - this is a problem dating back to the days of John Anselmo that O'Leary just can't seem to fix. The DL is still not putting enough pressure on the QB. Weinke was hardly ever hurried while sitting in the pocket and was only sacked once, late in the game, by Daryl Smith. Lots of room for improvement in those areas.
There is also lots of room for improvement in the OL, and I mean the entire line. Chris Brown and Brent Key, the senior leaders that the young guys look up to, were getting beat as badly as any of the youngsters. Optimistically, after facing a DL the caliber of FSU's, every other team the OL will face from now on will look like they're moving in slow motion. They can (and I hope will) do better.
- If Tech looks that good the rest of the season, can we run the table and finish 10-1?
- Absolutely not, and anyone who thinks that is as deluded as some of those fans 65 miles to the east. I see Tech losing a couple more games this season, largely because of the unresolved defensive problems listed above. The most dangerous team on the rest of the schedule, with the exception of Clemson, is North Carolina State. State has a tall, rangy freshman named Phillip Rivers at QB who can sling the ball all over the field - just ask the Indiana fans. If Tech shows up to play the Wolfpack with the same loose coverage they displayed against FSU, Rivers will light up the secondary just like his namesake David Rivers did for Virginia last year. Take nothing for granted. There's a long way to go yet.
- Has George Godsey finally earned the respect of the Tech fans?
- He's certainly earned my respect. Coming into the season, I had my doubts about whether Godsey should be the starter, but the kid has gone out there and done the job. He's smart, he keeps his head in the game, he's aware of his limitations and plays within them, and he doesn't get rattled, even when the other team is out there head-hunting. So far, he's been most impressive in the fourth quarter when the game's on the line. Case in point: late in the fourth quarter against the Criminoles, Jamal Reynolds put on a typical late hit (I'm sure it was sanctioned by Mickey Andrews) and knocked Godsey flat on the ground (and got nailed for roughing the passer). George got up, dropped back into the pocket on the next play, and zipped a TD pass to Jon Muyres. Gotta love a kid who can do that.
Godsey isn't as quick, doesn't have the arm, and isn't as talented athletically as LaVonya Quintelle Carter, but guess what? He put up better numbers against the defending national champs than Carter did against a team on an 18-game conference losing streak. Gotta love a kid who can do that.
- What's the situation with the cornerbacks?
- I think it's safe to say that Jonathan Cox has earned a starting job at CB, even when Marvious Hester comes back from his injury. I hope the coaching staff is wise enough to put Cox at CB and leave him there for the next four years. The guy has that natural instinct to go after the ball - look at the way he pounced on that fumble by McCray, and the way he knocked down that pass on fourth and five. Damn, he's good.
- Do you think Tech's performance against FSU will finally shut up those idiots at the Atlanta newspapers?
- Perhaps the best aspect of the game was that the defense showed what arrogant, ignorant, lazy blowhards Terence Moore and Mark Bradley are. They've been taunting Tech's defense in print for months and had decreed that there was no way Tech could hang with a program like FSU. What do you say now, boys?
- What do you think of the quarterback rotation Tech has used?
- I thought it was an absolutely brilliant move to run Jermaine Crenshaw into the FSU game - he gave the team a spark, forced FSU to spread its defense out, and enabled Tech to finally start moving the ball. Crenshaw and Godsey did a great job of alternating at QB on that third quarter TD drive. The contrast between Crenshaw the runner and Godsey the passer knocked FSU back on their heels and got Tech back into the game.
I hope the coaches continue rotating the QBs to take advantage of the individual strengths of each. Crenshaw has the most athletic ability and runs the ball as effectively as Joe Hamilton did - if he could only throw the ball as well as Joe did! Andy Hall has a stronger arm than Godsey and has more ability to improvise when a play breaks down. Godsey knows the offense, doesn't get "happy feet" when he's being pressured, and can hit the open man when the opportunity presents itself. Why not mix them up? It's like having a great setup man and closer in baseball - let's go ahead and use them all to keep the other team in a hole.
- What about the special teams? Haven't they been great?
- You are correct, sir. The improvement in special teams play over last year is downright astonishing. Against both Central Florida and FSU, Tech nailed them on every punt and kickoff return and showed a solid kicking game. I'd also like to give a pat on the back to Alex Tetterton, the deep snapper. Alex has been quick enough to zip down the field and get in on several tackles already. The only special teams flub I can think of was Luke Manget's missed field goal against Central Florida.
- Is it too early to talk about the most overrated team of the year?
- It's never too early for that. I said going into the season that Georgia and Miami were the two most overrated teams in college football, and it didn't take them long to prove me right. I also said LaVonya Quintelle Carter was the most overrated player in college football, and he only took two games to show how accurate my assessment was.
Just think about it: only two games into the season, and we know for sure that there will be no national championship, no undefeated season, and no SEC championship for the mutts. There will be no Heisman Trophy for LaVonya Quintelle Carter. In fact, I wonder how many mutt fans still want to argue that Carter is a better quarterback than Joe Hamilton?
A tip of the hat here to the Gamecocks. They proved, once again, that Georgia is going to have to do more than just walk onto the field to win a game. All those "Top 5" recruiting classes don't mean squat when your coach is incompetent and your QB chokes up under pressure.
It's incredible to consider that sportswriters were ranking Georgia as high as number three in the nation in some preseason polls. What could they have been smoking? It was obvious to everyone on the Hive that there was no way Georgia could be that good - and we were right.
This could be the start of a major meltdown for the mutts. I see Georgia losing to Florida and Tennessee for sure, and possibly losing another two games out of the three against Tech, Auburn and Kentucky. How long will Jim Donnan survive then?
- What's happened to the SEC?
- Nothing at all. It's just a very overrated conference, and some of the more intelligent fans are starting to realize it. The UCLA-Alabama game is a prime example. Tony Barnhart, who's nothing more than a lapdog for Roy Kramer, kept writing in preseason that a PAC-10 school just couldn't compete physically with those brutes from the SEC. Well, the Bruins had 396 yards in total offense to 265 for Alabama, controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes to under 23 for the Crimson Tide, and did a much better job of playing smash-mouth football on defense. DeShaun Foster ripped through the Alabama defense for 187 yards, which is incredible when you consider that this was a defense that allowed an average of only 74.5 yards rushing last season. But let's look at those numbers a little more closely.
Yes, Alabama allowed 74.5 yards per game rushing last year, but that statistic is more a reflection of the weaknesses of the teams the Tide played than of Alabama's strengths on defense. Look at the teams on the Crimson Tide schedule and where they ranked among the 114 Division I schools in rushing: Vanderbilt (88), Southern Miss (84), Mississippi State (98), Louisiana Tech (113), LSU (108) and Auburn (112). When Alabama finally dared to play a team this year with a decent offensive line and a strong running back (UCLA and DeShaun Foster), the results were a lot different.
The same goes for Georgia's "young, talented and deep" defense of 1999, the one that Kevin Ramsey was going to elevate to the top tier in college football, according to Mark Bradley. Georgia had impressive defensive rushing statistics for the season, but look at the teams on the schedule and where they finished among Division I schools: LSU (108), South Carolina (105), Kentucky (110), Auburn (112), and Vanderbilt (88), all of them among the weakest teams in the country at running the ball. When Georgia had to play teams with a strong running game like Florida, Georgia Tech, and Tennessee, the rushing yards surrendered went up dramatically.
What we're seeing here is the same old double standard we've seen for years when sportswriters - who are typically dumb, lazy and incompetent - compare their beloved SEC to any other conference. Georgia Tech holds Central Florida to 255 yards, but all the Atlanta sportswriters can say is that it proves the Jackets are weak on defense. Georgia gives up almost as many yards TO A DIVISION 1-AA TEAM and they're voted into the Top 10. What's wrong with this picture? At least South Carolina exposed the mutts for the frauds they are.
- Tech had a lot of bad weather at its opening game with Virginia Tech. What's the weather forecast for the Georgia football team?
- It looks like there'll be a lot less snow in Athens, at least for the first five games.
- When it comes to stadium capacity, does size really matter?
- It's really sad and pathetic when the only smack you can come up with is that "our stadium is bigger than yours." What else can Georgia fans say? They've never made it to an SEC championship game. They haven't been close to an SEC championship since 1983 and they won't get there this year. They haven't beaten Tennessee since 1988. They've been 1-9 against Florida since 1989. They can't even beat a team that lost 18 SEC games in a row. They let a 5-6 Auburn team run up 38 points against them at their place. They haven't beaten their in-state rival for two years running, and now George O'Leary and company are out-recruiting them as well. What's left? Well, by God, they've got a stadium that seats 86,000 and Tech's stadium only has a 46,000 capacity. That's really awesome.
Even a Fork Union Military Academy student could figure out that stadium size has no correlation to a team's ability on the field. If it did, then Tennessee would beat Georgia year after year because Neyland Stadium seats 21,000 more people than Sanford Stadium. Uh, wait a minute. Tennessee DOES beat Georgia every year.
Actually, if you look at the comparative sizes of the two schools' fan bases, Georgia Tech does a much better job than Georgia in terms of game attendance. For a college football team, there are two major components of its fan base: the students on campus and the alumni who live within the state. On any given Saturday, those two groups will make up 90 percent of the fans at any college football game. The team with the bigger fan base will naturally be able to fill up a bigger stadium.
Georgia has about 2.5 times as many students as Tech (30,000 to 13,000), so that's a big edge in fan numbers right there. Georgia has an even bigger edge in the number of alumni living in-state, because the great majority of its alums can usually find a job here. Because of Tech's narrower, more specialized curriculum, a great majority of its alumni are required to go out of state to pursue a career. The typical Georgia graduate sells insurance in Hazlehurst; the typical Tech graduate designs fiber-optic networks in the Silicon Valley. Which one is more likely to show up at their school's game on Saturday? I would estimate that Georgia's fan base - active students plus in-state alumni - outnumbers Tech's by at least ten to one, and that's probably a conservative estimate.
Tech has a 46,000-seat stadium and will soon expand it to 55,000 or 60,000. With a fan base that's at least 10 times bigger than Tech's, Georgia should be filling up a 460,000-seat stadium every Saturday. And yet, there are times when they can't even fill the 86,000 seats they've got. Who's doing the better job at energizing their fan base?
- Let's talk some more about the coaching decisions in last year's Tech-Georgia game. Don't you think Donnan's call to run the ball one more time was the dumbest thing you've ever seen? Wasn't O'Leary's decision to kick on third down a great call?
- Tech fans have had a lot of fun reliving the last few plays of the Georgia game (hey, so have I), but I'll go against the conventional wisdom here and say that Donnan's decision to run the ball one more time wasn't necessarily that bad a call. There was another game that Thanksgiving weekend that came down to a very similar situation at the end of the game. I'm talking about Nebraska-Colorado, and if you remember that game, the Buffs had the ball on Nebraska's two-yard line and chose to kick. It should have been an easy chip-shot for the winning field goal, but the Colorado kicker was wide, and Nebraska eventually won it. The same fate could easily have befallen Hap Hines if Donnan had gone for a field goal (and I say that even though Hap is family - his cousin married my niece). Bottom line, if Georgia had kicked the ball, the field goal might have missed and the game would still have gone into overtime. Who knows? So I wouldn't be as hard on Donnan as some people have been over that decision.
That's not to say that Donnan is a great game day coach, because he isn't. His decision to run Charles Grant on a toss sweep on fourth down failed to make the first down and killed a possible scoring drive for Georgia; it also knocked Grant out for the rest of the game with a knee injury. It has been said that Donnan decided to run the ball against Tech because he wanted to rub it in and beat the Jackets by a touchdown instead of a field goal. If true, then he was a greedy little bastard and got just what he deserved. The desire to run up the score is a poor basis for a decision in a game as big as this one.
Donnan should also take a big share of the blame for Georgia's loss to Tech in 1998. Georgia dominated Tech in the third quarter of that game by giving the ball to Olandis Gary and building up a 19-7 lead. All Donnan had to do was keep calling Gary's number and the game would have been over early in the fourth quarter. Instead, he stopped calling the run and had Carter throw the ball on almost every down. Carter, as usual, overthrew his receivers and Georgia didn't score during the last 18 minutes of the game, giving Tech time to come back and win it. Donnan later told the media he stopped running the ball because Tech "split their defensive ends out a little wider." Say what? If all it took to neutralize a running back was to split the ends a little wider, then Tech could easily have stopped Thomas Jones dead in his tracks the last two years. That's a ludicrous explanation, and it sounds like some excuse Donnan fabricated to hide the fact that he called a dumb game.
And of course, last weekend's South Carolina game put all of Donnan's shortcomings on glaring display. He couldn't get his players motivated. He wasn't smart enough to make adjustments against the Carolina defense. He spent most of the second half kissing up to LaVonya Quintelle Carter when he should have been kicking his butt all over the sidelines for throwing those interceptions. This guy is just plain out incompetent.
One last observation: Georgia's best linebacker, Boss Bailey, is lost for the season because he wrecked his knee covering a kickoff in the Georgia Southern game. Why in the hell did the Georgia coaches have their best linebacker playing on special teams? Another example of dumb coaching.
O'Leary is another matter. His call to kick the field goal on third down against Georgia was absolutely brilliant, and I think it shows how much he's matured as a head coach. In his first couple of seasons at the flats, O'Leary made some baffling tactical decisions. The worst was in the 1995 Georgia game, where he went conservative and tried to sit on a 14-0 lead. Big mistake. The way college teams throw the ball around these days, the game has become like slow-pitch softball: no lead is safe, especially a 14-0 lead. I don't think O'Leary would make that same mistake again, because he has grown and learned as a head coach. It doesn't hurt that he also has Ralph Friedgen to argue with him on the play calling. O'Leary made a great call to go for the field goal on third down, but let's not forget the decision he made at the coin flip for overtime. Tech won the toss and O'Leary gave Georgia the ball first, which gave him the flexibility to go for the field goal when Tech got the ball back on Marvious Hester's interception. By then kicking the ball on third down, O'Leary gave the team a margin of error if something should go wrong - as it did. Unlike Donnan, O'Leary wasn't trying to "run up the score" - he just wanted to win. And he did. Thank you, George.
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