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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Martinez: 'It Starts With Me'

It's hard to quantify what people have been the most angry about when it comes to Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez (other than the losses, of course), but if I had to guess the complaint I've heard the most in the wake of Georgia's latest meltdown against Georgia Tech, it's that fans don't feel Martinez has taken enough responsibility for the defense's poor performance.

That probably wasn't an entirely fair portrayal, but Martinez hadn't come out and blamed himself in any interviews that I had heard, so it's easy to see where fans find fault. After talking with Martinez at length Wednesday, however, I think it's pretty clear that a.) he is taking a great deal of responsibility for the defense's failures and b.) he fully expects to be back next season.

Martinez said the defense has been average this season, which on the aggregate, it has. But rather than playing 12 average ballgames, the Dawgs have played 6 or 7 really good ones, and 5 or 6 really bad ones.

The biggest problem, Martinez said, is the defense's propensity toward giving up so many big plays, and that he blames on poor execution -- blown assignments, missed tackles, etc. He's not exactly laying all the blame for that at the players' feet though.

"It's part of your philosophy that you can't do, and I think leadership has a lot to do with it," Martinez said. "I mean that not just in the secondary, but defensively as a whole not allowing it to happen. And it starts with me. You have to feed that down to your players, and I take full responsibility for that. We've just got to get better. It's an integrity part of defense that just can't happen, and it's got to be coming from me down to them. It just can't happen."

The frustrating part for Martinez -- and likely for most fans -- is the incredible inconsistency from one game to the next, one half to the next and one play to the next.

"The most disappointing thing is that, you take the three losses, but in particular the last one, and we played outstanding in the first half," Martinez said. "You take the second half, and we played the complete opposite. It wasn't that they did anything different, it was just executing, tackling. But it wasn't the same intensity, it wasn't the same focus, and again, that comes down on me, and we've got to do a better job. We've got to play 60 minutes, and we didn't do that in big games."

That type of inconsistent mental approach to the game -- which players like Rennie Curran and Corvey Irvin have talked about repeatedly this season -- is a factor of leadership and maturity, Martinez said. Players simply aren't maintaining focus.

So when asked if he thought there was room for great improvement -- particularly in the secondary -- with so many players returning next year, Martinez wasn't exactly doing cartwheels about the future.

"Sometimes you get returners back, but it doesn't really give you success," he said. "You'd like to think that, you've got more experience, but how hungry are you coming back? Those are the things we're going to address we are addressing right now. We're not waiting until January. We're getting better right now. Our goal is to play our best ballgame this year on Jan. 1. We're treating these practices like fall camp, and that includes our young players, to create an edge and bring it to the ballgame. Then when you have that kind of experience coming back, hopefully it starts right now. We'll see what kind of leaders we have, what kind of group we have, what kind of experience is going to help us succeed."

So what do you think? Does any of this change your feelings on Willie's tenure at Georgia? Are you more or less willing to give him a second chance next year?

ALSO SEE: If things had played out differently five years ago, Willie Martinez could have been coaching in the Capital One Bowl this year from the other sideline.


Chazington said...

Martinez just dosen't look like a leader of men to me. I believe he knows the X's and O's as well as anyone. I believe he is a good man. He just dosen't seem to inspire his players to love him enough or fear him enough to follow him up that hill into enemy fire.

You can't teach it. He can't learn it. He a'int got it. So, we'll have to suffer through until Richt is forced to make a move.

Anonymous said...

"ou take the second half, and we played the complete opposite. It wasn't that they did anything different", sorry but thats not true, CPJ even said as much, they adjusted there crack backs to block down on the containman(DE and OLB), leaving the safety or corners to excute containment, Martinez never adjusted to that the entire second half. Thats COACHING, or lack of coaching. Also no mention of the "chest bump tackles"

Its funny because Coach Donnan said the same thing on the radio after the game, CPJ adjusted and Martinez did not, Martinez has relied on talent to make a play as opposed to adjusting the game plan, thats why theres great 1/2s and terrible 1/2s, the game plan works 1 half and doesn't the next, CM has a history of bad halfs.

Sorry I rambled on(no pun i'm as Big a DAWG fan as there is), just venting.

Anonymous said...

Few things would make be happier than Willie being sucessful because that would mean the Dawgs are successful. However, you could see these problems before the WV game and it has only become worse so I am doubtful it will change. We will have to wait for another year for Richt to do anything. Richt's real problems will begin when we no longer have an offense that can (sometimes) score alot. All heck will break lose then.

12th Man Dawg Fan said...

Everyone talks about this starting with the WV game. Didn't WM make some pretty good adjustments at the half there? Seems like we pretty much shut them out (maybe one score) in the second half.

Or am I misrembering the game? I had been drinking blueberry moonshine before....

Anonymous said...

With all due respect 12th Man Dawg Fan, why did we have to spot WV 28 points, before we started stopping their offense? Why did we have to spot Alabama 31 points in the first half before we started to stop them? Why did we have to spot UT 28 points in the first half in 07? Why did we have to spot UT 37 points in the second half of 06? There are many more examples, but these were just the worst ones I could remember.

I think that Chazington has it right. The players are not inspired by WM and are not ready to fight for him. Please understand, there is a reason why General Patton's soldiers would walk through fire for him and it was not because he knew the x's and o's of war.

David Hale said...

Anon -- I added some additional thoughts for discussion in CWM's favor today, but I think of all the arguments against him, that is the best one. The bad halves have been a continuous problem since CWM took over, which leads me to believe there is a real issue with in-game adjustments (rather than pre-game or halftime adjustments). And while I do believe most of the players truly LIKE CWM, there's a difference between liking someone and running through a wall for them. As we've seen this year, there are definitely a few players (ahem, Reshad Jones, ahem) that aren't willing to do that.

Anonymous said...

You can talk about runs against us, 26 by Tech, 49-3 by Florida, 31 by Bama, what the vols did in 2007, what West Virginia did as I sat down in my seat - you can go look them all up - every one.

It's not just that we are lousy on defense.

We have sorry special teams.

We have not returned kickoffs in the Coach Richt Era.

We have not kicked the ball off well at all in the Coach Richt Era.

We are very undisciplined on special teams (kicking off out of bounds, etc.), on offense, and on defense.

We are very undisciplined off the field. Sure, we had 11 arrested and suspended this season and counting.

We have had as many as 17 suspensions some seasons in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit 4 and 5 and 6 Top 10 Quarterbacks in the nation on the same roster in the Coach Richt Era. Then, we don't have a single Tight End or Defensive End in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit zero Offensive Linemen for 3 and 4 years in a row in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit 5 OL the following season, and redshirt every single one in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit 8 OL in one year in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit and carry 2 and 3 kickers on scholarship in the Coach Richt Era.

We go down there to Jacksonville and stink up the place in the Coach Richt Era.

Auburn fires, according to his mom Olive, Tuberville and Coach Richt does not have a winning record against Tubs either.

Now, Paul Johnson has a Winning Record against Coach Richt in the Coach Richt Era.

We recruit kids who are trouble makers in the Coach Richt Era.

Thugs in the Coach Richt Era.

We lose home games in the Coach Richt Era.

We average in the Coach Richt Era of 8 years now an average finish in the Final AP Polls of Number 15.

We're not that good in the Coach Richt Era, and it is NOT all defense.