Daily Archives: April 16, 2010

Out of the mouths of recruits…

The denizens at The Hive have their panties in a bit of a wad over this comment from Mitchell County wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, who is being recruited by Georgia and Georgia Tech (and currently lists Georgia as his number one choice):

… What about Georgia Tech? Scott-Wesley committed to Stanford last fall, but it was a February offer from Georgia Tech that caused him to de-commit and open up recruiting again. Scott-Wesley is an Honor Student with a 3.5 GPA.

“They didn’t make my top five,” he said. “The offense really killed it for them. Georgia Tech uses a Wing-T offense, and I am a wide receiver, so it really doesn’t match well with me.”

Scott-Wesley said that Georgia Tech’s coaches are trying to change his mind, saying that they will find creative ways to get him the football. “They said they would use me at A-Back, and also at wide receiver. They would get me involved in both the passing and running game … but I don’t know about all of that.”

Well, of all the nerve.  It’s hard to believe that a kid who noticed that Georgia threw the ball twice as much as Tech did last season might be skeptical about how he would be deployed during his college career.

But… Demaryious Thomas!  He’s gonna be a first round NFL pick!  He’s better than A.J. Green!

That’s interesting, now that you mention it.

… I’m watching the Georgia Tech offense. The Yellow Jackets run the flexbone, an option offense made famous by Paul Johnson and by the service academies he coached. Georgia Tech is the only major-conference school to run the scheme, which is so odd that it bears no resemblance to any other major college offense, let alone an NFL system.

In the flexbone, almost every pass is either a tunnel screen or a play-action pass, usually off a rollout. Thomas’ long receptions usually began with a play fake (often to Dwyer), with one or another wing backs drifting toward the sideline for an option pitch. All of this run action sucks up the secondary, sending safeties and corners toward the quarterback, Dwyer, and the pitch men. Thomas usually starts his route by pretending to block a corner or safety, then runs a fly pattern. If the quarterback rolls to his side, Thomas twists into a corner route. The cornerback, worried about the option first, doesn’t have a chance.

It’s exciting, but the scheme does much more work than Thomas does.

That’s not meant as a criticism of Johnson’s offense.  It is what it is.  The plus is that there’s going to be an opportunity for certain kids to excel in it that wouldn’t stand a chance in a more conventional offense.  Josh(ua) Nesbitt, for example.

The flip side is that there aren’t going to be a ton of opportunities for the wide receivers.  Tech’s bunch caught less than sixty passes combined last season.  For some perspective, there were 65 individual players on the D-1 level in 2009 that had at least sixty receptions.  Like it or not, Jacket fans, the recruiting market is going to reflect that reality.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Byeing time

In the wake of Alabama lobbying the SEC to do something about the conference schedule in light of the number of the teams the Tide faces this season coming off bye weeks, Year2 does something that strikes me as being quite sensible:  he takes a look at how much of an effect bye weeks have had in the SEC in contributing to wins and losses.

The answer is not much, or at least not as much as most people expect.

… In three of the four situations I looked at, coming off of a bye week was a hindrance if it had an effect at all. In the case of underdogs, coming off of a bye week might help if it does anything at all. While for the most part bye weeks make little difference, the fact that Alabama is projected to be really good actually puts them into the one situation where opponents off of bye weeks are more dangerous than usual.

Now he explores the subject in the context of ‘Bama’s scheduling issue this season, but I found it interesting that the one area where he perceives a statistical advantage from the bye week, that of the underdog having enjoyed the off week, is impacted by the Zooker’s two wins over Georgia in ’02 and ’03.  Obviously, reasonable minds can differ on how much of an impact the bye week had on those games (can you attribute DJ’s brain fart on the pick six, or Foster’s body boogie to the off week?), but if you attribute those two losses more to the general mojo of the series than to the schedule, there really isn’t anything statistically significant to this category either.

Obviously, others’ mileage may be different.  But maybe it’s just a matter of degree.

Also, it might be worth exploring the timing of the bye week to see if there are parts of the season when it proves more beneficial than others.

All of this is not to say that the SEC needs to get its act together about this.  Year2′s final conclusion is compelling stuff simply from the perspective of general fairness.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Eye of the beholder

"Turn left onto Good Intentions Road."

After all the bad publicity the SEC endured last year as a result of Mark Curles’ crew, it amazes me somewhat that the NCAA is willing to double down on punishing subjective behavior in a football game.  And make no mistake about it, that’s the real problem with making the taunting penalty a live ball foul.

… The NCAA rule book tries to be specific on the matter of taunting, and most of the examples offered hardly require interpretation.

Players can’t use “threatening or obscene language or gestures,” such as “imitating the slashing of a throat.” They can’t stand over a fallen opponent and beat their chest. They can’t point any part of their anatomy or the ball itself at an opponent. Going into the stands is definitely verboten. So is pretending to fire a weapon, and even cupping a hand around the ear, as in the “I-can’t-hear-you” pantomime.

But just about everything else falls into a gray area.

Players can get whistled for “obviously altering stride,” a penalty previously called only on “Dancing with the Stars.” And how about “bowing at the waist after a good play”?

Asking referees to pass judgment on what constitutes taunting from a group that’s quite different generationally and culturally puts the officials in a tough spot.  And that’s what’s really going on here.  The refs are being asked to impose the world view of people like Indiana head coach Bill Lynch.

… Lynch called taunting an area that needed to be cleaned up and said he supported taking away scores.

“Just run it into the end zone, how hard is that?” he said after a spring practice. “It is a team game and that’s what makes it such a great game.”

Don’t get me wrong.  Lynch is certainly entitled to his aesthetic opinion of the sport.  But I’m hard pressed to see how that necessarily equates to what I thought was the real purpose of preventing taunting, which is to prevent bad blood on the field from escalating an emotion-laden game into something… well, like this:

In other words, if the kids aren’t offended, how much should it matter that the refs are?

And that’s not the only problem I see here.  Mack Brown puts his finger on something else that’s inevitable when you make this a judgment call.

“I am most concerned about the taunting rule,” Brown said. “I don’t disagree with it, but I am worried about the consistency in how the rule is interpreted, especially when it can cost a team a touchdown. It can be looked at so differently by the various officiating groups around the country and a call would have such a major impact on games that in fairness, it’s crucial that it is called the same way for everyone.”

Ponder that as you remember that this is Verle Sorgen’s world and the Pac-10 is just living in it.

And don’t think these guys don’t know that problems with this rule are inevitable.  Here’s a sample of some thoughts on that:

… Say some mammoth defensive lineman causes a fumble, then bends over to catch his breath even as the teammate who scooped up the loose ball is running it back for a score? Fair or foul?

“That’s a good one,” Teaff said. “I imagine it’s one of those cases where the refs may have to go back and take another look.”

… Parry said the decision to implement the rule in 2011 gives players and coaches ample advance warning.

“This gives the players a year’s notice that we’re going to be tougher on sportsmanship. Last year it was mentioned that this could become a possibility,” Parry said.

He also predicted the penalty would be called “very rarely.”

“If it’s close to diving into the end zone, most likely it would be ruled that the act ended while in the end zone. We’ll be lenient,” Parry said. “It’s really if it’s really bad, for example, if a guy flips the bird at the 10 or high-steps backwards into the end zone or starts a forward roll at the 3-yard line.”

… Wait until some overzealous ref decides some player slowed down too much, stepped too high, pranced too merrily, looked back over his shoulder too long or launched himself too early into the end zone – and then calls taunting in the final seconds of a game on a hot, boozy afternoon with first place on the line in the SEC. Better yet, he needs a replay to make the determination.

No doubt coaches, players and especially fans will take it all in stride – on their way to storming the field.

“Nothing’s perfect,” said Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “I’m sure something, or some situation will come up down the road that’s going to cause a lot of people some consternation. And when that happens, we’ll look at the rule and decide if it needs adjusting…”

Here’s a novel thought:  why not get it right in the first place?  Why not start by limiting the rule to penalize specifically designated acts, with no gray areas for the referees to impose their subjectivity?

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UPDATE: Shorter Tony Barnhart:  Don’t give me any of that Emerson nonsense, the NCAA got it right.

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Filed under The NCAA