|BEAU CABELL/The Macon Telegraph|
The Leather Helmet (a great blog that, it must be said again, should be bookmarked by every UGA fan) posted some comments coach Richt made regarding changes in the strength program. It was clear from his statements that he understood the need for a change and felt that Georgia had to make some adjustments in their approach.
“…I think there are different ways to skin a cat in strength, different philosophies. We aren’t saying that Coach Van isn’t a good strength coach, I’m not saying that at all, but I think there are different ways to do things, and I want to go a little bit more old school I guess. We’ll get after it a little bit differently. Like something I mentioned before, and by no means am I saying it’s just the strength area that we need to improve on when it comes to winning the fourth quarter and finishing, because coaching has to do with a lot of things. I’m sure that will be a big emphasis in our program is to make sure we truly finish the drill. We say finish the drill but are we really doing it? Did we do it this year? We did not.”
Clearly, coach Richt wasn’t blind to the lack of execution displayed on the football field this year. The team did not play up to their potential in 2010 and every one knows it.
Now, no one is saying that the hiring of Joe Tereshinski fixes all of those issues. However, the prevailing sentiment—amongst those who doubt the importance of the S&C program’s impact on the overall product on the football field—is that the move doesn’t matter much for next season’s prospects.
For those who believe that, no disrespect, but you are missing the overall point. S&C is as much about mental toughness, and a fighting mentality, as it is about lifting weights and running laps.
Heck, just read the mission statement:
The mission of the Strength & Conditioning program at the University of Georgia is to provide each student-athlete with the opportunity to perform at the highest level possible throughout his or her career. This is accomplished by helping the athletes become as physically and mentally competitive as possible…
…From a mental aspect, the athletes learn the importance of hard work and dedication. Each athlete is held accountable for not only their own work, but for that of their teammates as well. Each athlete is expected to be on time for all workouts, and work their hardest to get as much from his or her opportunity as possible. [emphasis added]
How many games were lost in the fourth quarter this season because Georgia failed to execute? How many defensive plays were blown due to poor focus? How many times did you watch Georgia’s line play and think to yourself, “these guys look tired and defeated by halftime”?
One of the most telling quotes about the team came from Justin Houston after the Auburn Loss, “There were just blown assignments. People weren’t where they were supposed to be and they capitalized on our mistakes. … Some guys weren’t as focused as they need to be and it hurt us. It’s been hurting us all season” [emphasis added].
Does that sound like a guy playing on a team that is Prepared? Communicating with each other? Mentally strong in the clutch?
No one here professes to be a coach, a player, or an expert, but here’s what is known: Georgia players were not always accountable, they weren’t always physically prepared, and they certainly did not perform at the highest level—at all times—and those things are all about strength and conditioning.
Should Richt escape criticism for not making a move quicker? No, absolutely not, I have been amongst a few that have pointed the finger at Richt and stated as much. That said, if Richt wasn’t going to be the man to go, then a change in the culture of Georgia football had to start somewhere and there was no place better than the S&C program—period.
Will this change translate into a 10 or 11 win season next year? That remains to be seen, as Richt stated “…the proof will be in the pudding…”
However, if nothing else, we can be assured the status quo will no longer be tolerated and, no matter your personal opinion on the issue, you have to agree that’s a good place to start.