Daily Archives: July 31, 2008

Mark Bradley: riddle me this.

I honestly don’t get Mark Bradley’s point to this exercise, but since he’s asking questions, I’ve got one to add.

Given this

The Yellow Jackets could begin the season with no one older than a sophomore starting at the so-called skill positions: quarterback, running back and receiver…

how realistic is it to expect Tech’s offense to be the functional equivalent of what Georgia faced in the Sugar Bowl in ’05?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Nice work if you can get it.

Reason #48367 as to why college football is infinitely more enjoyable than the NFL:  Favre offered $20 million to stay retired.

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Filed under General Idiocy, It's Just Bidness

“We can’t contend for the championship if we finish ninth or 10th in defense…”

Finally, somebody calls the preseason bluff on Florida’s defense.

Members of the media, if last week’s voting in the SEC preseason poll is any indication, scoff at the idea of defense winning championships.

The media overwhelmingly picked Florida — a program with just enough safeties to field a team — to win the SEC East and not, surprisingly, national favorite Georgia. The dynamic trio of quarterback Tim Tebow, receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Cornelius Ingram, it seems, outweighs the problems in Florida’s secondary.

That secondary sure sounds up in the air right now.

… Meyer moved Cade Holliday from receiver to free safety and said more changes are coming. The depth behind Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis at cornerback is also troublesome.

“We already met with a player, I don’t want to release it yet, but we’ll probably bump another good freshman player over from offense to defense and let him compete for one of those spots as well,” Meyer said.

And Will Hill.  Just curious – how many teams have won an SEC championship with a true freshman at strong safety?

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., SEC Football

The Tonys and the spread: it’s grrrrreat!

Tony Barnhart talks to Auburn OC Tony Franklin (who’s a “little different” because he listens to classical music – geez, nice cliché there, TB) about the spread offense that Franklin is installing at Tuberville U.

I liked this quote from Franklin about one of the goals of the spread and how easy it will be to meet that goal in a conference known for its defensive depth.   It points to a key reason why I think Georgia’s defense will be up to the challenge of SEC spread attacks this season.

“In football the defensive linemen are better athletes than the offensive linemen. That’s just the way it is. But you turn it into an even match by running a lot of plays that force the defensive front to run a lot to get to the ball. Early in the game they are feeling frisky and they will chase after everything. Some plays look like they are not working but they are because the defense is running a long way just to make the tackle.

“Most of the big plays in this offense come in the second and fourth quarters after the defense has gotten tired. This works very well in high school and at the Division II and Division I-AA level of college football because at that level teams don’t have the numbers on defense. It’s more difficult at this level because the good teams are so deep in defensive linemen. But in games where I knew we were overmatched physically, I spent the first quarter and third quarter just running plays hoping to get their defense tired. Then if we could just keep it close we might have a chance in the fourth quarter.”

By the way, although Barnhart tries to hint at it (“Note: Troy rolled up 488 yards in a 44-34 loss to Georgia last November“), Georgia’s defense didn’t run out of gas against Franklin’s offense last year.  Troy took advantage of Martinez rolling out his third string defenders late in the game – Troy’s last score came off of a 91 yard drive with less than a minute left.

Then there’s this:

The biggest misconception about the spread? “It is that the players who run this offense, particularly the linemen, are not tough. Go look at film of West Virginia’s offensive line or Texas Tech’s. Those guys are tough. People think guys aren’t tough because we’re not lining up in the I-formation and blowing people off the ball. But I’ve seen a lot of tough coaches get fired because they couldn’t score any points. Toughness is an attitude that good coaches teach their players. We have one of the top offensive line coaches in the country (Hugh Nall). Our guys are going to be very tough.”

We’ll see.  I raised this very question when Tuberville announced the change.  The stats suggest that SEC teams running pro-style offenses tend to do a better job scoring in the red zone.  If that’s not an indication of power versus power, what is it?  The other “toughness” issue raised isn’t about Auburn’s offense.  It’s about Auburn’s defense.  Those guys will be practicing daily against the spread, which, Franklin’s representations to the contrary, is a finesse offense.  As the season winds on, how are those defenders going to fare against power running teams?

It’ll be an interesting experiment to watch, that’s for sure.  And one thing we know – Tubby ain’t exactly the most patient human being in the world when it comes to coordinators.

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UPDATE: More thoughts on Franklin’s spread from Will Collier at From The Bleachers.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, Tony Franklin - Misunderstood Genius

Random bits of juicy goodness

A few things to look at today:

  • I tell you what – he doesn’t post much at The National Championship Issue, but what does get posted is always a great read.  Today, there’s a look at ranking the conferences by percentages of upset wins.  Pretty cool stuff.
  • The more I see about this kid, the happier I am that he’s an Oklahoma Sooner, as opposed to a Georgia Bulldog.  And Josh, based on that free style rap I saw, don’t quit your day job, man.
  • Ryan Perrilloux deals with life after Les.  I wonder what the club scene in Jacksonville, Alabama is like.
  • ESPN asks Is the Big 12 the nation’s toughest conference?
  • This has the potential to be awkward.  Will CBS promote it during its broadcasts?
  • Nice picture.
  • OK, Georgia Tech’s had its flagboys.  But Michigan with a male twirler?  Damn, son, that ain’t right.
  • One thing about SEC East scenarios:  they always seem to end with a sad comment about South Carolina’s history.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, The Blogosphere

They don’t write, they don’t call.

I’ve got a question for you:  which football program in a BCS conference is the most invisible right now?  The team that even if you spotted Stewart Mandel’s buddies from Montana a map and a cable subscription to ESPN would still completely escape their notice?

I thought I’d see if I could identify the school through the process of elimination – who, outside of conference roundup articles or Phil Steele’s obsessiveness, never gets mentioned.

First, get rid of the national powers, the teams likely to be ranked in the top 15 or so in the country going into this season:  Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Clemmins, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal, Oregon, Arizona State, South Florida, Rutgers and West Virginia.  We hear about them regularly.

Next, eliminate the “cult of personality” schools.  The ones that are identified with cultural icons/living legends (whether in their minds or others), for better or worse:  Alabama, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Penn State, Texas Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, California, Illinois, Arizona State and Purdue.

Schools with fat head coaches – gone.  Tennessee, Kansas and Maryland.  People like talking about fat coaches.  (Notre Dame gets an honorable mention here.)

Teams that are so bad they get noticed:  Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Duke, Syracuse and Stanford.

Teams with head coaches that look like Freddie Mercury:  Washington State.

Everybody likes to talk about new head coaches.  It’s that whole “hope springs eternal” vibe.  For 2008, this would include Ole Miss, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Texas A & M and Baylor.

Schools living off the past.  The danger here is that the discussion turns, sooner or later, to whether the past glories can be recaptured. If they can’t, at some point, these programs don’t get any more attention.  Examples include Miami, Louisville, Kansas State and Boston College.

Schools with a Wannstache:  Pittsburgh.

Schools with crusty, cranky or truculent SOBs:  Oklahoma State, Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia and Michigan State.

Schools with head coaches that march to a different beat:  Colorado and Wake Forest.

Programs that are headed by coaches on death watch:  Iowa and Washington.

When the dust settles, that leaves us with the following:

  • Indiana – Terry Hoeppner’s was a heart warming story, but I doubt anyone not a true fan of the school knows anything else that’s happened to this program in the last 25 years.
  • N. C. State – Tom O’Brien may be the most colorless head coach in college football.  I even had to check to see if his last name was spelled with an “e” or an “a”.
  • Iowa State.  Name the town the school is located in.
  • Northwestern.  Not too bad, not too good.  Just there.
  • Oregon State.  For what it’s worth, the Beavers are getting new uniforms this year.
  • Connecticut.  A boring Big East team.  Yeah, they went to a bowl game last year.  Can you name it?

Forced to pick, I’d go with NC State.  Outside of O’Brien, I couldn’t give you the name of a single person affiliated with the program unless I looked it up.  I’m not even sure I could tell you what the Wolfpack’s record was exactly last season.  Things just haven’t been the same since the Chest left.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under College Football

Fun and loathing in Orlando

There’s a pretty entertaining interview with the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi over at The Big Lead.  (Although I’m afraid I’m gonna have to take a pass on that Weurffel-Tebow 2024 presidential ticket.)

Bianchi is asked about George O’Leary’s current tiff with his paper, and here’s what he has to say about that.

Q: So what’s the deal with George O’Leary? In your years as a journalist, surely you’ve come across coaches that have decided they don’t want to cooperate with the local media. Have you dealt with this sort of thing before? How, as a journalist, do you handle it? How long do you think he keeps this act up before the athletic department steps in and tells him that’s enough?

I totally understand O’Leary being upset with the Sentinel’s aggressive investigative coverage in the death of UCF football player Ereck Plancher. No coach or athletic official likes to have his methods questioned. What I don’t understand is O’Leary boycotting the only media outlet that covers his team home and away. It’s like Richard Scott, a sports writer in Alabama, told me recently, “That’s like saying no to the only girl who wants to date you.” O’Leary’s stance is hurting everybody — the Sentinel, the team, the fans and the coach’s reputation. I think O’Leary and the Sentinel will come to a working arrangement in the next few days as fall practice gets under way.

Judging from a line from the piece O’Leary had published in the Sentinel over the weekend,

When fall practice begins, I expect to reach an understanding with the Sentinel so we can work together again. It is in both of our interests for that to happen…

I suspect that’s right.

That’s not to say that what O’Leary’s doing isn’t mock worthy.  Aside from being shortsighted, it continues to draw attention to a matter that O’Leary and UCF would no doubt prefer to see be less public.  Plus, it brings back that whole resume debacle.  In other words, it’s dumb.  As Bianchi notes when he says this:

On a four-star scale, with four being the best, how do you grade of The Dark Knight: I haven’t seen it, but one of our headline writers just dubbed George O’Leary “The Silent Knight” because of his boycott of the The Sentinel. I give that a four.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles