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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rallying the Troops

For all the talk of a new attitude this spring, one of 2008's biggest culprits was evident once again during Georgia's scrimmage Monday.

"When things were going well on one side of the ball or another, they had enthusiasm. When they weren't, they had their head down a little bit," head coach Mark Richt said. "They have to be able to recover from a bad play. We've got to be able to handle a little adversity when things don't go just right."

Momentum can swing in a heartbeat in any game, but in three losses in 2008, Georgia had trouble halting the floods.

Against Alabama, the Crimson Tide rolled to a 31-0 first-half lead before the Bulldogs could finally regroup in the locker room. Against Florida, a series of mishaps and missed opportunities left Georgia on the short end of the scoreboard in the first half, and the dam broke in the second, as the Gators ran up a 49-3 score before the Bulldogs' second-team offense finally found the end zone late in the fourth quarter. And against Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets turned a strong first-half performance by the Bulldogs' defense into a third-quarter track meet, outscoring Georgia 26-0 in the frame.

When things went bad, Georgia's players allowed them to get really bad.

"We've got to understand things aren't always going to go out way, and we've got to be able to recover right away and play ball," Richt said.

Up and down the roster, players have preached a new level of enthusiasm and a desire to overachieve in 2009 as much as last season's team underachieved. But Monday was the perfect recreation of last year's failures, and quarterback Joe Cox said it's up to Georgia's seniors to change that attitude.

"It's mainly just getting the older guys to speak up and say, 'So what if you get stopped on one drive. Next time we get the ball we're going to score,'" Cox said. "You could definitely see it, and even on the defensive side of the ball, where it was sort of like, here we go again. But that's something that we've been working on."

And now is the time to work on it, Cox said. Coaches can harp on the need for an on-field attitude adjustment all season, but the changes have to begin with the players, and that means speaking up when heads are down.

"It's the same type of intensity you get in mat drills where you keep getting sent back over and over again," Cox said. "We've been working on that all spring. It's going to be a process. You can't just have that type of thing going on and just one day turn the switch where people are upbeat every second of the day."

Last season, just two seniors started all 12 games for Georgia, and many of the younger players on the field were reluctant to take on the vocal leadership role needed to halt a big run by the opposition.

Instead, once the snowball started rolling down the hill, there was no one who stepped up to prevent the avalanche.

The coaching staff has addressed the problem, Cox said, and several of the seniors have preached the message, too. But if things are to be different in 2009, Cox said that mentality must change now.

"Coach Richt addressed it, and us as seniors are working hard to change it and make sure everyone understands it's going to take everyone being full-speed, 100 percent into the game on every play, no matter what's going on," Cox said. "If something bad happens, keep playing as hard as you can and get it back to where the momentum swings our way again."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That definitely explains a lot about our failures last year. I feel like injuries played a pretty big role in that also because players probably not only got down mentally but physically as well. Once we finally have all our healthy players back, I think being able to sub fresh players will help out with the attitude. I really like this role that Joe Cox is taking on and I'm glad that they're addressing these kind of problems during practice.