Mental Identity

The most overlooked quality in college football is identity. Identity trumps even talent. What a college football coach tries to do is establish an identity in his teams, his program. These are not grownup professional men that know exactly what to do week in and week out like many do in the big business that is the NFL. They are younger and less experienced in life, thus more easily manipulated by state of mind. The mentality of a team is what pushes them to win games and costs them games that could have been won.

Georgia has struggled with Florida primarily because we do not have the mental belief that we will win in J-Ville. Our kids – and that is what they are – know that we have not had much success down there and buy into a mentality that causes us to lose as soon as anything starts to go wrong. Conversely, Florida knows they have been able to pull this game out and has an undeniable belief that they will win. That’s been their identity.

The reason UGA struggled early last season was that we suffered from an identity crisis without Moreno crashing though the line and finding holes. He mentally refused to lose, and the more we gave him the rock throughout his brief career, the more we won. When we threw more as Stafford developed, we were not nearly as strong because we did not have Moreno willing us to victory on every carry. Without Moreno last season, the spotlight shone on running backs that did not have the mentality to lead a squad, and our whole team slumped. We had no identity.

I expect Florida to suffer an identity crisis this season without their stellar defensive coordinator and winner quarterback. Just as I expect ACC champ GA Tech to suffer an identity crisis without their best runner and big wideout. And I expect Coach Mark Richt to have a big season, because he has had his best seasons coaching in the years immediately following his worst. That is who he is: Someone that will not settle for less than 10 wins (a total reached in 6 of his 9 seasons as head coach).