Daily Archives: February 26, 2010

There’s more to it than directional kicking.

The new kid on the block has some big shoes to fill.

Richt said that Warren Belin will coach the kickoff-coverage team, Bryan McClendon will handle the punt return and block units, and John Lilly will coordinate special-teams meeting and practice schedules. All of those roles previously were handled by Jon Fabris, fired in December.

The good thing is that there’s nowhere to go but up.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Footloose: inviting the snark

Damned if these quotes don’t make you bite your (virtual) tongue.

“It’s a whole lot different, especially with the footwork that Coach (Scott) Lakatos is teaching us,” Rambo said of working with his new defensive backs coach. “Most of the people in the NFL run the same thing as Coach Lakatos is teaching us. It’s a whole different footwork thing from Coach Martinez.”

And not to bash Willie Martinez, but here’s how Branden Smith discussed learning that new footwork:

“Backpedaling, coming out of the breaks, turning – those are different,” Smith said. “The footwork that Coach Lakatos is teaching us right now, I’ve done it in high school, so it’s nothing new and it’s easier to learn.”

Good enough for high school and the NFL.  Easier to learn.  One day, somebody will explain to me what was going on with the defensive staff over the past three seasons.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Blind Sided

You know, for a guy who’s got a lot to say (h/t The Wiz) about a lot of things, Ed Orgeron sure is tight-lipped about one incident:

Question: Soon after you arrived here, the controversy arose regarding your contact with Tennessee recruits and/or their parents. Has anything come of that?

Orgeron: I don’t want to comment on that. Everything’s good.

Q: So there have been no repercussions from that?

Orgeron: I don’t want to comment on it.

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Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull

Butts-Mehre roundup: everybody’s talking.

Except for Searels, of course.

Seriously, lots of stuff to digest, courtesy of the beat writers who’ve done a great job feeding us with something to tide us over for a week or so until spring practice gets underway.

Here are a few quotes I took away and some observations:

Mike Bobo and the quarterback situation. Obviously, this is an area that’s going to get an enormous amount of scrutiny all the way into the fall.  I’m not going to speculate on the winner of the battle right now, but two quotes from Bobo are illuminating in terms of his mindset.

First off, it sounds like he learned something from the last time Georgia went into a season without an established starter at the position.

… After Shockley led the Bulldogs to the ’05 SEC title, Tereshinski was listed atop an ’06 spring depth chart based on seniority and was followed by Barnes, Cox and Stafford, who was an early enrollee. Nobody emerged that April, and it wasn’t until 13 days before the opener against Western Kentucky when head coach Mark Richt announced Tereshinski as the starter and Cox the backup.

“We probably should have weeded it down a little bit sooner from my personal experience of it,” Bobo said. “It’s just tough to get that many guys quality reps to get them ready for the season, so I don’t see us going that far this year.”

Does that mean that we should expect some weeding out at the position in the spring?  Sounds like it to me.

And here’s a bit of a surprising mea culpa.

Bobo acknowledged that inexperienced quarterbacks –- all three candidates are inexperienced –- tend to be susceptible to mistakes. But “we just have to do a better job of managing that position and managing those mistakes this year where [last] year we probably didn’t,” he said.

Everybody better get on board the turnover margin train this year.

Shifting sands on defense. It sounds like Grantham has already started down the path of personnel evaluation.

–Get to know your new Georgia defensive terminology. The inside guys go by “mo” and “mike.” Marcus Dowtin says he’s playing the “mo” along with Christian Robinson.
“I kind of wanted to play outside, but Coach (Todd) Grantham wants me to play a certain spot so that’s what I’m going to play,” said Dowtin, who said he’s happy with the way he’s adapting to the new system.
Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble are lining up at the “mike.”
“As far as I can see I think the mike position will have a little more stress on them then they had in the 4-3 defense,” Dowtin said. “Linemen will be able to come a little quicker but we’ll be able to adjust to it easily.”

–Gamble said that Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington and Montez Robinson are slated to be outside linebackers in the new 3-4 scheme.
Grantham “told us right now you’re here, but you might be somewhere else by the time camp comes around or even after camp,” Gamble said. “You might be playing another position when the season starts. Pretty much you try to learn everything that’s going on so you won’t be lost.”

I bet that’s not the last time we hear the word “lost” when it comes to defense.  But as long as it’s limited to spring and fall practice, that’s okay.

Trinton Sturdivant has a new nickname. Via David Hale,

“When we’re talking about our objectives as an offense and what we want to accomplish this spring, we want to establish depth at the offensive line with out counting on Trinton Sturdivant,” Bobo said. “He’s a luxury. We think he’s going to be back, he’s ahead of schedule, he’s doing great, but we have to establish depth besides him.”

In each of the past two seasons, Georgia shuffled replacements at left tackle after Sturdivant’s injuries, and in both cases, it took the offensive line a while to find its groove.

So this season, Bobo hopes to have a group ready to play with or without Sturdivant – which likely means opening with senior Clint Boling filling the left tackle job, where he worked at the ends of both the 2008 and 2009 season and performed well enough to earn All-SEC honors.

Of course, while that’s the plan for now, it’s certainly not etched in stone if that luxury becomes a reality, Bobo said.

“If we get ‘The Luxury,’ he’ll probably be at left tackle,” Bobo said of Sturdivant. “Whoever those best five are, we’re going to put them in the best position where we think they can be successful. If Trinton’s out there, and he’s one of our best five, my bet is he’d be at left tackle.”

Nice luxury to have.

There are a lot of decisions left to be made. As is indicated in Hale’s projection of a depth chart, that’s especially true on the defensive side of the ball.  And then there’s the fate of directional kicking…

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Filed under Georgia Football

I love it when he talks all statistic-y like that.

You readers know I’m a huge fan of Chris Brown’s Smart Football blog.  And you also know that “regression to the mean” is one of my big mantras for Georgia’s prospects this season.  So if Chris posts something on that subject, I’m gonna pay attention.

Linking to a WSJ piece, he references the following with regard to non-BCS bowl teams,

… The reason is a statistical principle called regression to the mean that is critical in sports, yet poorly understood. A player’s or team’s actual performance is an imperfect indicator of underlying ability. Luck — or statistical noise, if you prefer — also plays a role. Generally those who do well are better than average, but they’ve also probably had more luck than average. And the opposite is true of players or teams that do badly. SI . . . isn’t accounting for the underlying forces that are pushing these above-average teams — losing teams need not apply — back to average. After all, some of the teams that missed the bowl games this year are going to qualify next year…

and then adds this qualifier

I agree with this, but would only add that path dependence is likely a strong mitigant of mean regression when it comes to the biggest BCS teams, due to recruiting advantages and so on.

My first thought on reading that is well, dayum.  I don’t want to hear about strong mitigants after a season when Georgia finished minus-16 in turnover margin.  Then I clicked on his link to the definition of “path dependence” and got this:

Path dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant.[1]

The phrase is regularly used to mean one of two things (Pierson 2004):

  • Some authors use path dependence to mean simply “history matters” – a broad concept;
  • Others use it to mean that institutions are self reinforcing – a narrow concept.

It is the narrow concept that has the most explanatory force and of which the discussions below are examples. The claim “history matters” is trivially true and reduces simply to “everything has causes”.

If I understand that correctly, Mark Richt’s decision to replace three members of his defensive staff ought to serve as a mitigant to the mitigant.  Particularly so, given the macro changes to the entire scheme, but also on the micro level in terms of changes in technique, like this:

… Rambo spoke excitedly about his off-season work and Georgia’s new defensive backs coach, Scott Lakatos.

“I take notes on everything he says, know[ing] it’ll help me out in the long run,” Rambo said. “It’s a whole lot different, especially with the footwork Coach Lakatos is teaching us. Most of the people in the NFL run the same thing Coach Lakatos is teaching us. . . . I’ll imagine myself making more plays this year.”

Am I reading too much into all of this and feeling more optimism than is justified?  What do you guys think?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

If the best things in life are free, then conference expansion…

Here’s the “no shit, Sherlock” comment of the year so far:

… The three big factors Big Ten presidents and athletic directors say any new member would have to bring to the discussion are academic credentials, a strong geographic fit and money.

Stanley Ikenberry was the president at Illinois the last time the Big Ten expanded, adding Penn State in 1990. He says the decision to admit Penn State was driven less by money than by academics — the Nittany Lions were a good scholarly fit as long as they didn’t cost the conference money.

Ikenberry, now back as interim president while Illinois searches for a new leader, acknowledges that this time, money will be a much bigger factor.

Dopey obviousness aside, there are actually several relevant points raised in the article about what has to be weighed in making the call to expand, both from the aspect of the conference and the invitee(s).  It’s a good read.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness