Richt's calls the right ones - win or lose

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TAMPA, Fla. — There’s a little bit of poetic justice for Georgia fans to squeeze out of what might have seemed like a curious decision by coach Mark Richt to attempt a 42-yard field goal on third down in overtime.

After all, the public consensus seems to be that he never makes the right choice on fourth down.

So why not make a decision earlier?

That Richt never seems to be aggressive enough when it comes to converting fourth downs was another common complaint this season.

So why not throttle the starting tailback through the line when the opportunity presents itself in the red zone?

Decisions, decisions.

When they’re right, a coach is brilliant. When they’re wrong, a coach may as well climb under the team bus. Had Richt searched for his name on Twitter in the moments after he made those calls, when he briefly became one of the nation’s highest-trending topics, he would have read things that would make him cancel his Internet account and consider changing his name.

In the first quarter, Richt sent tailback Ken Malcome in to pick up 1 yard for a new set of downs at the Michigan State 5-yard line only to see him stuffed for a loss.

There was a time earlier this season when it was popular to chide Richt for sending in a kicker to finish a tailback’s job on fourth down.

After reviewing just how close to a first down the ball was spotted after the previous play, Richt made a call that riled everyone in the stadium. Fourth downs are fun. They make or break momentum swings. They take a lot of hard thinking, and Richt showed just how serious he was about making the right call when he burned a timeout to consider and plan for it.

“Once the ball got set and our guys in the booth got a better look at it, it looked like it was a yard or less. That’s where I decided to call timeout and decided to go for it right there.”

Believe it or not, Richt made what was arguably the safer bet on that one.
Walsh’s inconsistency aside, Malcome had rushed for 17 yards on four carries in the game to that point, or a little more than 4 yards per touch.

The more crucial call, the one that could have ended the game, came in overtime, when Richt opted to use a second down to center the ball between the hashes and bring out Walsh for a 42-yard field-goal attempt on third down.

Again, Richt’s call wasn’t that wild. In fact, it was downright conservative. He put faith in Walsh and burned a third down in order to give him a second chance if the snap was mishandled.

“The reason you do it on third down is, if you do happen to bobble the snap or some mishap, you do get another shot at it if something like that does happen,” Richt said. “I felt like (Walsh) could easily make the kick, putting the ball in the middle of the field. And that would have ended the game there if we would have made it.”

Shake your heads all you want wondering if Richt’s head was itself a bit shaken up when he made those calls. Whether you like the outcomes or not, he was right when he rushed Malcome up the middle on fourth down and when he sent out Walsh to end the game on third down.

Sometimes, though, even the best calls don’t make you any new friends or win you football games.

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d1zmljqg 01/03/12 - 06:54 am
How about the play calls made

How about the play calls made in the last two and half minutes of regulation? MSU played like a pro team, whereas, GA was taking hardly any time off the clock simply running into the MSU defense. After MSU got the ball the final outcome was no big surprise.

justthefacts 01/03/12 - 08:54 am
You can't blame MR for that

You can't blame MR for that kick. Walsh has to make that. UGA had plenty of chances to win the game. The 4th down and the missed kicks were crucial, but still....

David Parker
David Parker 01/03/12 - 09:20 am
Good season Dawgs. Not a fun

Good season Dawgs. Not a fun season, but not bad by any stretch. Build on it and we should be in for some bigger victory parties next season. and I look forward to that!

kiwiinamerica 01/03/12 - 11:14 am
FG try on 3rd down?? Gimme a

FG try on 3rd down?? Gimme a break. Try to get it CLOSER, Mark, unless of course you don't really trust your guys not to fumble it.

Oh......and a major choke by the kicker.

Brickbats all around.

sand gnat
sand gnat 01/03/12 - 03:50 pm
Typical Richt/Bobo game. Win

Typical Richt/Bobo game. Win the little ones. Lose the big ones. At least we can look forward to an even softer schedule next year.

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