Monthly Archives: March 2009

Competition at kicker?

Coach Richt didn’t take too long to do something with Dexter Moody’s scholly.

Junior college kicker Brandon Bogotay has signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia football team according to an announcement Thursday by Bulldog head coach Mark Richt.

Bogotay, a native of San Diego, Calif., competed as a freshman at Grossmont College (El Cajon, Calif.) in 2008 and was named to the Southern Conference’s All-Conference First Team. He finished 15-of-23 on field goals, including a long kick of 52 yards, and was listed at the No. 3 spot on the California Community College Athletic Association’s list for most points scored kicking last season with 72.

“We’re excited to have Brandon joining our 2009 signing class and look forward to him competing on our kickoff, field goal, and extra point teams,” said Richt.

I believe in some circles that’s referred to as “message sending”.  We’ll see how Walsh responds to the challenge.

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UPDATE: Marc Weiszer has some more details about Bogotay – and some video!  Groo adds some info on his kickoffs here.

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Filed under Georgia Football

A kindler, gentler Kiffin watch

Now this is nothing if not weird.  Yesterday I was pondering a post about Junior – yeah, I know, that’s not weird for GTP – but one that would be stripped of any references to his last two months’ worth of antics or snarky comments about his body of work with the Ray-dahs.  In other words, I wanted to see what kind of substance there was to Kiffin’s days at USC when he ran the Trojan offense and to determine what sort of scheme he might be bringing to Knoxville.  I even mosied over to the invaluable Trojan Football Analysis site to see what I could dig up there.

So imagine my surprise and pleasure when I came across this post by Chris at Smart Football, who started with the same interest I had, but would up doing a far better job of putting the picture together than I ever could.  God bless the Internets.  I say that he does a better job because he also takes the time to incorporate what Jim Chaney, UT’s offensive coordinator, did in the same role at Purdue.  The whole thing is insightful and well worth your time.

Here’s Chris’ early upshot as to what he thinks we’ll see on the field from Tennessee.

… don’t expect an Urban Meyer or Rich Rodriguez style spread offense, but neither should you expect the old West Coast Offense either. The formations will likely be basic one-back ones, though with a mixture of four- and five-wide, but with the ability to “get big” with tight-ends and fullbacks when the situation allows. In other words, they will be multiple.

Okay, that’s fine, but will it work?  That’s where things get a bit dicier, at least from a predictive standpoint.  Chris is inclined to give Kiffin and Cheney the benefit of the doubt – two guys who succeeded at the college level, at least – when he writes

… other than his stint in Oakland (where offense goes to die, just ask Randy Moss) Kiffin sports some some fairly impressive offensive credentials, i.e. his years at Southern Cal first under Norm Chow and later as co-offensive coordinator with Steve Sarkisian. To aid him in bringing potency to the offense is the Vols’ new OC, Jim Chaney, who is best known as the offensive whiz who brought basketball-on-grass to Purdue (along with Joe Tiller and Drew Brees). Chaney is most recently of the St. Louis Rams with Scott Linehan, but, much like Kiffin’s time in Oakland, the less said about that the better.

On the other hand, HeismanPundit has a much lower opinion of Kiffin’s abilities as a coordinator.

… he will bring a complicated pro-style offense to Tennessee that the players will struggle to learn.  He hangs his hat on his work with the 2005 USC offense, but that offense was built by Norm Chow and comprised of players who were already developed.   A close look at that season reveals a lot of unnecessary struggles and some questionable calls, including the decision to keep Reggie Bush on the bench for the crucial 4th and 2 against Texas.  And ultimately, that team could not win a title despite having maybe the greatest offensive talent ever.  The 2006 USC offense was inconsistent and anemic despite being loaded with talent.

I thought I’d take a look at some the numbers the Southern Cal offense generated from 2004 (the last year that Chow was the offensive coordinator) through 2006 (the two years that Kiffin ran the offense) to see if any patterns emerged that might shed some light on Kiffin’s ability.  I looked at points per game, total yardage and yards per play, the numbers as well as the national ranking for each, and here’s what I came up with.

Year PPG Ntl. Rank Tot. Yards Ntl. Rank YPP Ntl. Rank
2004 38.2 6 5838 9 6.3 6
2005 49.1 2 7537 1 7.5 1
2006 30.5 18 5094 24 5.9 26

Those 2005 numbers are pretty hellacious, aren’t they?  But that drop off in 2006 is noticeable, as well.  My feeling is that’s what happens when your starting backfield, including two Heisman Trophy winners, depart.  (I’ve seen some mention of the fact that a large part of the blame for the decline in ’06 was due to the injuries that were racked up at the fullback position, but in light of Chris’ comments about the reliance on a lot of one back sets in Kiffin’s formations, I tend to discount that a good bit.)  Nobody looks as smart when the talent level drops.

It’s probably not fair, but HP’s comment about the disjointed nature of the playcalling in the MNC game against Texas brings to mind an unfortunate comparison to the surgical precision Chow brought to the title game the year before – with that same backfield that ran up those great numbers under Kiffin.

All of which indicates to me that his is a system that’s talent-dependent.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  Kiffin’s certainly brought in the horses to go out and get skilled players.  But Knoxville this year ain’t the Los Angeles of 2005; the Vols are woefully short at quarterback, offensive line and wide receiver at present.  Nor is that the kind of thing that gets fixed rapidly, as Tennessee fans will find out next year when it looks likely that Kiffin will be starting a true freshman at quarterback.

So you’d think that down the road if the recruiting is as special as it’s costing, there’ll be an uptick.  There are two things to keep in mind, though:   how patient are they in Knoxville and how much more formidable are SEC defenses than those in the Pac-10?

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere

Read all about it.

This looks like a fun read.

“Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia,” written by the late Rich Whitt, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, examines the internal power struggle between Adams and athletics director Vince Dooley and how the controversy resulted in the split between the Board of Regents and the UGA Foundation. By all accounts, Adams is made out to be the bad guy.

If you want a little taste of what the book covers, here’s a link to the table of contents, per Amazon.  Chapter 5 ought to be a hoot and a half, all by itself.  And check out the blurbs on the back cover – none too flattering (about the school, not the book).

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UPDATE: Hoo, boy. (h/t David Hale)

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Filed under Michael Adams Wants To Rule The World

Maybe necessity is the mother of re-invention.

I think it’s a common feeling amongst the Bulldawg faithful that sooner or later a Richt-coached team will play in and win a BCS title game.  Programs that win roughly eighty percent of their games don’t grow on trees and you have to figure that a level of success like that pays off eventually.

But after you read this column by Bruce Feldman, it may give you some pause for thought about that.  College coaches like Richt may be facing the football equivalent of the ticking biological clock.

… Almost all the coaches who have won BCS titles have done so in their first four years at their programs. Look at the list:

  • 2009 Florida: Urban Meyer’s 4th year
  • 2008 LSU: Les Miles’ 3rd year
  • 2007 Florida: Meyer’s 2nd year
  • 2006 Texas: Mack Brown’s 8th year
  • 2005 USC: Pete Carroll’s 4th year
  • 2004 LSU: Nick Saban’s 4th year
  • 2003 Ohio State: Jim Tressel’s 2nd year
  • 2002 Miami: Larry Coker’s 1st year
  • 2001 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops’ 2nd year
  • 2000 FSU: Bobby Bowden’s 24th year
  • 1999 Tennessee: Phil Fulmer’s 7th year

You will notice that the coach on that list with the most seniority is Richt’s mentor, at 24 years.  But from there, the amount of time spent as head coach drops significantly, as no other man on the list had a decade of service under his belt before winning the title game.  Mark Richt, as we all know, is entering his ninth year as the Georgia head coach.

Feldman goes on to speculate as to some reasons why the spoils tend to go to the recently hired victors.

… To me that is reflective of a couple of factors: 1.) Coaches who come in bringing a new energy to a program can have huge success; 2.) In many cases they’ve inherited situations with programs that have the talent base but are eager for a change in direction. (Some players initially will respond better to a hard-line staff. Others to a “players’ coach”. Either way, the shift can be the key.) 3.) Successful coaching staffs can get stale over time and players/recruits, just like fans, can be swayed by the next new thing around and they want to be part of a fancy turnaround project.

That sounds like what the UT athletic director tells himself every night before he falls asleep.  On the other hand, see if any of this resonates with you:

… That also leads to the flip side to this thing. I’ve always thought that coaches, like most other professionals, get better with added experience, but there are certainly other elements that can fly in the face of that: People do tend to get complacent; the message might no longer be fresh; maybe a coach’s enthusiasm isn’t quite what it once was when there was more determination to prove you belong.

Hi there, 2008!  That being said, Richt ain’t no dummy, and when you read stuff like this

…His idea to fix things is going back to the same attitude he had when he was a first-year coach at Georgia. No detail is too small. No practice is too physical and no mistake is too minor.

In other words, no cutting corners.

“In a lot of ways, we just want to make sure we have a focus on detail,” Richt said. “I remember the very first practice here. We took the coaches and the trainers and the managers, and we went onto the practice field and got the clock going and the horn blowing and we stood where we were going to be for flex and then the horn blew and we transitioned to where we were going to be next and the managers transitioned and the trainers transitioned.

“So when the kids came out, we were organized. We were ready. We’ve got to get that kind of mentality back, not leaving any detail for chance.”

… it makes you think that he’s already reached the same conclusion that Feldman did.  And is determined to do something about it.

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Riding Kiffin’s coattails at the AJ-C

Tony Barnhart may have gone the early buyout route at the AJ-C last year, but he’s playing straight out of the paper’s online playbook with today’s post.  It’s not the subject matter, which is little more than the “Junior – Crazy Like A Fox!” meme that’s making the rounds, it’s that Barnhart presents it with a twist, as the header indicates:

Kiffin takes page from Spurrier’s playbook

Uh huh.  You know, obnoxious coach takes one for the team and all that.  (Except that Spurrier came out of the gate in Gainesville going 9-2.  Nobody in his right mind is expecting anything near that for UT this season.)  It’s a trite comparison, but no matter – we’re only in it for the page hits and comments anyway!

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UPDATE: Terence Moore gets in on the act.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Media Punditry/Foibles

Getting it done in spring practice

I’m pleased to see that the coaches keep identifying the symptoms that many of us have seen over the past couple of seasons that indicated there were problems with the team’s mindset.

Georgia is putting an extra emphasis this spring on building a defense better equipped to stop opposing teams from the type of killer surges that quickly took the Bulldogs out of games last season.

In three losses last season – against Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech – Georgia did not react well to adversity.

“We’ve definitely got to improve in areas like sudden change,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “When things go bad, handling adversity better. We gave up most of our points in the third and fourth quarter. That’s when a lot of our big plays were given up, too.

“We’re working harder at it. Being more conscious of it. Not letting it happen. Those things will be stressed in the spring.”

And I’m not trying to make light of what Martinez is saying about it, but exactly how do you work on “handling adversity better” in the spring?

“The thing is changing the momentum of the game,” Martinez said. “That comes with leadership and that comes with mental toughness, physical toughness and playmaking – making something happen. You try to teach it and coach it and relate it to your players and bottom line, get it done.”

The good thing I keep seeing with these kinds of comments is that the staff and players seem to be embracing the idea that nothing should be taken for granted.  It’s also a plus that nobody’s pointing at last year’s schedule or injury situation as an excuse.  But still, the wheels aren’t going to come off the wagon in the spring as they did against ‘Bama in the first quarter last year… or against Florida in the third quarter… or against Tech… well, you get the idea.

I suspect we’re all going to be holding our breath a little until one of those moments come once the season’s underway and we see how the team reacts.

Speaking of collective breath-holding, here’s another area to watch.

… Richt said King has a slight advantage in the blocking game due to the extra year of experience and game-day snaps he has gotten that Thomas has not. After watching both of them in practice, however, neither has shown they’re ready to take over for the departed Knowshon Moreno just yet.

“We need to get both those guys quite a bit more reps in pass protection to be able to start separating them,” Richt said.

Sure, it’s way too soon to judge, but let’s hope that offensive line jells the way we’re counting on.  A little margin for error in blitz pickup won’t hurt in the least when it comes to dealing with adversity.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Slow news day

It’s just a feeling I have, but it’s articles like this that cause people to become bloggers.  Not in the sense that they become inspired to write great things, though.  More like in the sense that a fifteen year old with a computer in his mom’s basement is motivated to believe that he could deliver better insight and analysis.

After all, Troy Aikman thinks Matthew Stafford’s going to be great.  And he’s reached that conclusion after watch Staff play a lot, right?  Not exactly.

“I like him,” said Aikman. “I think he’s extremely motivated, a great young talent with a good head on his shoulders. He’s gonna be a real asset to somebody. … I didn’t get a chance to watch him a lot…

Oh.  Well, then he must have watched Stafford work out in person to have a strong idea about his skill set.

… and I haven’t worked him out, obviously.

Forget that, too, then.

So what’s Aikman hanging his hat on that makes him interview-worthy about Stafford’s pro prospects.  Well, Matt started in the SEC.

… But he also comes in to the league with 34 collegiate starts under his belt. Conversely, Matt Ryan — who came with the reputation of being a polished prospect, and proved to be one — started 32 games as a Boston College Eagle.

“That’s more football than I played when I came out and I was in college for five years,” Aikman said. “That’s more football than a lot of guys have played before they came out. Just based on experience, I think he’s played in plenty of football games, and played in enough big games, playing in the SEC.

“So I don’t know that coming back for his senior year would’ve helped him. … I think he’d played enough football so he was probably ready.”

Hey, that settles it for me.  Just think of all the quarterbacks that have started in the SEC in the past few years that are succeeding in the NFL today.  Right.

I’m not really wagging a finger at Aikman here.  He’s just promoting someone he knows and likes.  But for TSN to be passing this along as if it’s particularly newsworthy is embarrassing.

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