As Promised: My Thoughts on Ga-Ga Tech

Of all the possible deaths that can befall a space traveler who is unfortunate enough to wander into the wrong part of the universe, the death that results from falling into a black hole is perhaps the most gruesome that can possibly be imagined.  Why?  Tidal forces.

Tidal forces are a consequence of the fact that gravitational forces vary in different parts of a gravitational field.  Specifically, the closer you are to an object with a gravitational field, the stronger the gravitational force is, and the farther away you are from the object, the weaker the gravitational force is.  For example, the force of the earth’s gravity is stronger upon your feet than it is upon your head (when you are standing up), because your feet are closer to the earth than your head.  So if you were falling toward the earth, your feet would fall a little bit faster than your head.  This difference between the speed at which your feet fall and the speed at which your head falls is a tidal force.

Of course, you never feel the effects of tidal forces here on earth.  This is because the earth’s gravity is only strong enough to keep us from floating off into outer space.  But suppose that instead of falling toward the earth, you were falling toward a black hole?  Now, a black hole’s gravity is much stronger than that of the earth.  It is so strong, in fact, that nothing can escape it.  Not even light.  Not even O. J. Simpson.

Suppose you were way out in space and you started falling toward a black hole.  Your feet would fall just a little bit faster than your head.  Suppose that at a given time your head was at Point A and your feet were at Point B.  By the time your head reaches Point B it will be falling as fast as your feet were falling when they were at Point B, but at that time they will have reached Point C, which is farther from Point B than Point B is from Point A, and they will be falling faster than they were at Point B.  And by the time your head reaches Point C it will be falling as fast as your feet were when they were at Point C, but your feet will have moved on to Point D (which is even farther from Point C than Point C is from Point B or Point B is from Point A) where they will be falling even faster still.  The net result of this is that as you fall toward the black hole, you will gradually STRE-E-E-E-E-E-E-T-T-T-C-H out into a really long shape.

At first this stretching sensation will feel good; after all, everyone loves to stretch.  But you are not made of plastic or rubber or Play-Doh or anything of that nature.  So you will not keep stretching out forever; eventually you will snap in two somewhere around your pelvic region or thereabouts.  Then the upper portion of your body and the lower portion of your body will both continue to fall, stretching out as they fall, until they eventually snap in two somewhere around the middle.  Those pieces will continue to stretch and fall, eventually snapping in two.  And so on and so forth, until you are nothing more than a really really long stream of atoms swirling in single file toward the center of the black hole.  And I would imagine that as those atoms approach the center of the black hole they would break apart into protons, neutrons, electrons, and then into quarks, leptons, hadrons, neutrinos, etc. and then into whatever it is that quarks, leptons, hadrons, and neutrinos are made of, and so on and so forth.

This death by repeated bifurcation and disintegration into atomic and subatomic material as one is being pulled into a black hole is one of the most gruesome deaths that can possibly befall any unfortunate space traveler who wanders into the wrong part of deep space.

Now what was I talking about?  Oh yeah, Georgia-Georgia Tech.

I am at a complete and utter loss to explain what happened last Saturday.  The closest I can figure is that Georgia’s defense must have fallen into a black hole.  (How’s that for a segue?)

The bottom line is that Georgia should have won that game.  A better coached Georgia team would have won that game.

The triple option offense which Paul Johnson has implemented at Georgia Tech is really quite simple to defend.  You see, it’s all about assignments.  Every player on the defensive unit has a counterpart on the other team that he is supposed to cover come hell or high water.  That is his assignment.  If every player on the defensive unit carries out his assignment, then all is hunky-dory.  Now, a really good coach like Paul Johnson, working with the quality of talent that is available to him at a major Division 1-A program like Georgia Tech, will put in all sorts of crazy wrinkles in an attempt to complicate the lives of opposing defensive coordinators and give them all kinds of fits, especially when they only have one week to prepare.  But if every defensive player carries out his assignment, then all is still hunky-dory.

Now here is the really insidious part of the triple option:  It demands an awful lot in the way of discipline from opposing defenses.  Every player on the defensive unit has to carry out his assignment on every snap of the football from the opening kickoff to the final horn.  The vast majority of problems that you run into in attempting to defend the triple option result from somebody failing to carry out his assignment for whatever reason (i. e. somebody failed to tackle his man, somebody just completely shirked his assignment and tried to get fancy and make a play on his own).

Georgia did a good enough job defending the triple option in the first half.  Good enough to limit Georgia Tech to 191 yards total offense while Matthew Stafford, Mohamed Massaquoi, A. J. Green, Knowshon Moreno and friends staked Georgia to a seemingly insurmountable 28-12 halftime lead.  But with Willie Martinez’s defense being what it is, you had to figure that sooner or later somebody would miss an assignment and problems would start.

And sure enough, it happened.  On the very first play from scrimmage of the second half.  took the pitch from Josh Nesbitt and raced untouched around right end for a 60-yard touchdown.  One snap, six points.  With the subsequent two-point conversion, Georgia’s lead was instantaneously cut in half.

After a three-and-out, Georgia Tech got the ball back near midfield, and then gobbled up 5 and 6 yards at a time as they marched to another easy score–also helped along the way by the defense’s inability to get a stop on fourth down and a pass interference penalty.  Just like that, Georgia’s once seemingly insurmountable lead had evaporated.

After a fumble on the kickoff, Georgia Tech was back in business on Georgia’s end of the field.  All they needed was one snap of the ball to get the touchdown.  On the next series Georgia Tech would add a field goal.

Things had spun so badly out of control by this point that Mark Richt had to call a meeting for the entire team prior to the ensuing kickoff to remind them that there was still a lot of football left to be played.  Alas, it was too late; by this point the game was already lost.  Never again that afternoon would Georgia touch the ball with a chance to take the lead.

Now, Matthew Stafford and friends showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight as they scored two touchdowns to keep Georgia in the game during the fourth quarter.  But the defense failed them at every turn.  First they gave up another long touchdown run, during which the entire defensive unit, including Willie Martinez, was left open-jawed in gaping awe and wonder as Roddy Jones blazed down the right sideline.  Then, at the end they gave Georgia Tech a first down that allowed them to run out the clock and win the game.

Throughout the second half, Georgia’s defense was manifestly unprepared to stop what Georgia Tech was doing on offense.  What makes this even more inexcusable is the fact that Georgia had two weeks to prepare for this game while Georgia Tech had only one.

Georgia should have won this game.  A better coached Georgia team would have won this game.

During the coming weeks leading up to the bowl game and beyond, Mark Richt is going to be assessing a lot of things.  But one thing he needs to assess is the quality of coaching on the defensive side of the ball.  This is not the first time during this season, or any other year during Willie Martinez’s tenure, that the defense has failed Georgia.

Now, I get that Mark Richt does not want to be like Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, who went through assistant coaches like a woman goes through shoes.  This is good–up to a point.  The problem is that if a certain area of the team is not performing up to standard, and you refuse to make the changes that need to be made to bring it up to standard, sooner or later the piano is going to fall on YOUR head.

Loyalty is a two-way street.  If Mark Richt is willing to let the piano fall on his head for the sake of Willie Martinez, then he needs to expect the same of Willie Martinez.  He needs to demand gut-level honest answers from Willie Martinez–not just about what went wrong defensively over the course of 2008–but why did it keep going wrong.  Was the defense simply not being prepared properly?  Are our defensive players just not good enough to keep up with their offensive counterparts at Alabama, LSU, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn, or Georgia Tech?  Or are they simply tuning out what Willie Martinez and his assistants are trying to teach them?

Georgia started out the 2008 season No. 1 in the entire country.  Georgia ends the 2008 season at No. 2–in its own state.  Much of the blame for this can–and should–be laid directly at the feet of Willie Martinez.

And as I drift off to sleep tonight, that popping sound I hear is the sound of Willie Martinez’s body bifurcating and disintegrating as it descends into that black hole on the other side of the universe.