Wise to Play it Safe?

Sorry for the delay in getting a new post.  Nate E is currently suffering in New Zealand, and I was temping the wrath of Gustav by spending Labor Day weekend in the Florida panhandle.  So let’s see, what did we miss since our last post? Oh yeah, a lot. 

The wait for football is finally over and the opening weekend didn’t disappoint.  We had our share of upsets, downsets, and Div 1AA teams having the pleasure of being humiliated on national TV.  Gotta love it. 

All of the top 5 teams pretty much demolished their opponents, but the closest of those games was Georgia vs Georgia Southern, with the Bulldogs winning by a “mere” 24 points.  After taking a 38-0 lead, Head Coach Mark Richt pulled his starters, which was a wise move in  my humble opinion.  You don’t want to lose your premier players in a game you already know you’re going to win. As it was they still lost Jeff Owens, which is big.  It was only after the Dawgs started making substitutions that Georgia Southern managed to score 21 points.  But when you look at the box scores at the end of the day, it looks like a number 1 Georgia team had more trouble with their inferior opponent than the other Top 5 teams did.  And that probably factored in why USC leap-frogged them into the number 1 ranking yesterday.

So my question for the day is this: should a team pull their starters in a game they’re assured of winning, or should they keep them in to make the win as convincing as possible?  I think it’s a tough call actually. I’m sure most of the coaches probably did that this weekend. I didn’t get to see most of the games, so I can’t say for sure.  But in Georgia’s case, the final score could have played a role in the change in rankings.  So is it worth it?

I think so.  You don’t want to risk losing the whole season in order to run up the score on a game you’ve already won.  I’m not saying Georgia should still be number 1.  USC is obviously stacked, as are all of the teams in the Top 5.  Any one of them has a strong case for a top ranking.  I’m just saying that when all is said and done, what they need to do to stay in the running for the national championship is beat the many tough teams they’ve got on their schedule, not beat Georgia Southern 50-0. 

And they’ll need their best players to do that.

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4 Responses to “Wise to Play it Safe?”

  1. You’re right – the longer-term, full-season perspective is better than the short-sighted, run-up-the-score approach.

    But maybe voters can acknowledge the wisdom of this approach and lower Georgia’s ranking by observing back-ups (who – most likely – will be needed eventually) that aren’t as strong as other teams…

  2. twonateshow Says:

    Good insight, Wolgs. I agree. Georgia is a great team, but perhaps the game showed that they may not be quite as deep as some of the other teams. Guess we’ll find out as the season goes on.

  3. southerngent Says:

    As a UGA fan, I have no problem with Coach Richt pulling guys and letting Southern score some. This isn’t our year for a championship, in my opinion, and there’s something to be said for generating goodwill for the state as a whole.

    Unless we’re playing Tech, at which point, Coach Richt had better crush the throats of the jackets in the first quarter and never let up. Ever.

  4. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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