Monthly Archives: November 2010

Back to the well, one more time

I thought yesterday’s post about Mike Bobo spoke for itself, but I feel a need to respond to something that John Pennington wrote about it at MrSEC.com.  Here’s part of what he posted:

… After yelling at officials and quarterbacks, football fans most often bark at offensive coordinators.  They just don’t like them.  They think they could do a better job than their school’s play-caller.  And that view leads some down a dangerous path.

For example… I like the folks at “Get The Picture,” a Georgia-centric blog.  I don’t know them, but I like their site, I should say.  But today they took umbrage — and I hate it when umbrage is taken — with Richt’s 30-plus-points defense of Bobo.

“Georgia dropped two of those seven games, including one to a Florida team which offense was borderline pathetic over the second half of the season.  Bobo’s responsibility isn’t simply to make sure his offense scores a bunch of points.  It’s to make sure that it scores more points than the other team does.”

Oh, my.  So if Georgia lost a game 100-99 it would be the offense’s fault for not scoring enough?

Georgia fans need to realize that the defense was the big problem in Athens in 2009.  That unit showed improvement in 2010, but it was still the Dawgs’ main concern…

About his last point, I don’t think there’s any question about that.

… Saturday’s outcome did not provide a pretty facelift for Georgia’s defensive numbers.

The Bulldogs are allowing 149.2 rushing yards a game, which is more than last season’s average (126.2) under former coordinator Willie Martinez, and their 335.8 average in total yards allowed is close to last year’s 339.4-yard clip. Georgia has allowed 30 or more points five times for a third straight season, and this year’s team almost had a sixth by allowing 29 in the loss at Colorado…

But if we all agree that the defense is the team’s main concern this season, isn’t it logical for that to be factored into Bobo’s approach in running the offense and calling plays?  The point, after all, is to win.  With Georgia’s shaky defense, that meant being ready for games where the Dawgs would have to outscore the opponent in a shoot out.  It’s certainly nice to score thirty points or more game after game, but if the other guy is getting forty, how much good is the scoring streak doing you?

Going back to the Tech game, since that’s what inspired my post in the first place, it’s worth taking a look at the Jackets’ passing defense stats in each game this season.  One of those passer rating numbers is unlike the others.  It’s not just that Aaron Murray was having a career night; he was shredding Tech’s defense at an unprecedented rate.

And Bobo knew that.  Here’s the most inspired set of play calls we saw from him in the second half.

Georgia at 5:06 GT UGA
1st and 10 at UGA 36 Aaron Murray pass complete to A.J. Green for 17 yards to the GTech 47 for a 1ST down. 21 21
1st and 10 at GT 47 Aaron Murray pass complete to A.J. Green for 17 yards to the GTech 30 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at GT 30 Aaron Murray pass complete to A.J. Green for 14 yards to the GTech 16 for a 1ST down.

Three straight downfield shots to A.J.  Al Groh was forcing coverage in his direction and still couldn’t come up with a defensive stop.  It was pure in-your-face football, the kind of “we’re gonna run this until you stop it” play calling that to my mind marks a great coordinator.  That drive wrapped up late in the third quarter.  For the rest of the game, Murray attempted three passes (he was sacked on another play).  Green got one pass thrown his way – a swing pass that resulted in a three-yard gain.

That’s what all that “keeping your foot on the gas” talk is about.  Georgia’s two best players on offense are A.J. Green and Aaron Murray.  It’s not a close call.  And they were both performing at a very high level Saturday night – close to unstoppable, as overused a cliché as that word can be sometimes.  So why would you stop giving them chances to make plays?

Look at it this way:  if Paul Johnson had abandoned the dive play in the middle of the game and had Tevin Washington throw the ball twenty-five times, we all would have mocked him for it.  And rightfully so.  Aaron Murray’s downfield passing game was Georgia’s equivalent to Tech’s dive play.  By ditching it in the fourth quarter, all Mike Bobo accomplished was to give Al Groh a sense of relief.  If a lawyer or a doctor did something like that, we’d call it malpractice.  And, again, the crazy part is that for much of the game, and just like in many other games earlier in the season, we saw a Mike Bobo who coached far better than that.

Contrary to what Pennington suggests, I’m not interested in running Mike Bobo out of Athens.  (And Richt’s already indicated that’s not happening, so even if I were interested in jumping up on that soapbox and yelling, it really wouldn’t matter.)  Mike Bobo’s a terrific quarterbacks coach and a frustratingly inconsistent offensive coordinator who’s got it in him to be a very good one if he’d trust himself more.

That’s all I’m bitching about.

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154 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“I think someone smelled the vodka.”

If Daniel Burnett were a football player, I think we all know what the Red & Black would have to say about this.

46 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

Hopefully, he was in a transitional period.

Samuel L. Jackson, Dawg Walk participant.

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Kiffin watch: missin’ you.

Can’t add anything to this tender thought from Bruce Pearl:

3 Comments

Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Surely you jest, SEC.

I didn’t expect Aaron Murray to be named SEC Offensive Player of the Week – they ought to rename the award in honor of Cam Newton and retire it – but I figured he was a lock for SEC Freshman of the Week.

Wrong, Bacon Breath.

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray: He completed 20 of 38 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in Tennessee’s 24-14 win against Kentucky. He threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the Vols established a 14-7 halftime lead.

I see.  Murray threw for more touchdowns with zero interceptions and at a higher completion percentage.  That halftime lead thing there, though, is dynamite.  Too bad Murray couldn’t match… oh, wait.

Just for basic comparison here – Murray’s passer rating against Georgia Tech was 250.86.  Going through the list of the top twelve quarterbacks in the conference by rating, Murray’s performance has only been topped twice all season – Stephen Garcia racked up a 268.60 against Troy and Cam Newton (naturally) had a 261.09 rating against UT-Chattanooga.

Tyler Bray’s rating on Saturday worked out to 137.72.  There are six starting quarterbacks in the SEC whose average ratings for the season are higher than that.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

TCU is tired of that prefix.

In what should be the death of the Mountain West as a relevant player in the BCS, TCU is rumored to have accepted an invitation to join the Big East.

The winners and losers from this are pretty obvious, which means I expect the political hacks to redouble their efforts.

27 Comments

Filed under Big East Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

About that scoring streak…

Richt told the media yesterday that he doesn’t anticipate making any changes to his staff in the offseason.  In response to a pointed question about Mike Bobo, Richt had this to say:

“All I can say, if I’m not mistaken, we broke some kind of school record of consecutive games of over 30 points and a lot of really good things happened offensively,” Richt said. “The bottom line is whoever calls plays is going to get critiqued, they’re going to get criticized. It’s just the nature of the beast.”

In fairness, there’s some truth to that.  The Dawgs finished the season scoring 30 or more points in seven straight games.  That’s not exactly chopped liver; no other SEC team, including the high-powered outfits at Auburn and Arkansas, can make a similar claim.  It’s particularly impressive when you consider that Georgia is still doing things primarily out of pro sets, as opposed to the newfangled spread.

But it’s not the whole truth.  Georgia dropped two of those seven games, including one to a Florida team which offense was borderline pathetic over the second half of the season.  Bobo’s responsibility isn’t simply to make sure his offense scores a bunch of points.  It’s to make sure that it scores more points than the other team does.  And there lies the rub about his success as a coordinator.  Context is a bitch when your team goes 6-6.

Context in this case is supplied in this Ben Dukes post about Georgia’s defense.  Blame it on a coordinator whose NFL experience left him ill-prepared for the college spread attack, or blame it on personnel shortcomings which arose as a natural result of a scheme change, but the fact is that Georgia’s defense had a hard time all season with offenses that ran the ball out of spread/option schemes.  If you’re Bobo, maybe you can tell yourself mid-year that your defense will get better as it climbs the learning curve, but by the time the last two games of the year rolled around, it should have been obvious that wasn’t going to happen.  Georgia’s defense needed every bit of help it could get from their offensive mates.

Bobo’s pulling in the reins against Auburn was a dumb decision, because Auburn’s offense had proven itself to be explosive all season and it was wishful thinking to believe that the Dawg defense would succeed where so many other schools failed.  But if that call was dumb, doing the same thing against Georgia Tech was even dumber, because Bobo had just seen that exact strategy flop.  Against the Jackets, by the time Georgia got the ball back in the second half clinging to a seven-point lead, it was plain that neither team’s defense could stop the other’s offense.  Based on what was taking place on the field, Bobo had no justification for taking his foot off the gas, but he did it anyway.

And staying aggressive against Tech and pushing that lead back out to fourteen would have made a difference.  For all Mark Bradley’s chirping about it, Paul Johnson’s decision to wave Washaun Ealey into the end zone wasn’t that big a deal because the Tech offense was going to have to go the length of the field in a very short time to get a shot at a tie game.  Which meant they were going to have to throw the ball, which is about as far out of their comfort zone as you can get them.  (ESPN had an interesting stat about Tech’s undefeated record under Johnson when it scores 30 or more points in a game.  I would like to see Johnson’s record in games where Tech trailed by a touchdown or more with less than two minutes to play.)

Getting Tech’s offense out of its comfort zone got Georgia’s defense in its.  Todd Grantham may not be that familiar with the triple option, but he knows what to do when the other team is down by eight with a minute to go.  The most striking thing I saw watching the replay was the body language of Georgia’s defense on their last two series of the game – “finally, something we can handle!”  It’s no surprise that after floundering around for the better part of three quarters, they came around with newfound energy and two solid stops with the game on the line.

And that’s my point.  Bobo, had he pushed the offense at 35-28 and gotten the game out to 42-28, would have forced Johnson’s hand much earlier and made Grantham’s job that much easier.  That’s the lesson Bobo hasn’t learned yet, or won’t admit to himself.

For all the talk we’ve heard over the years about how Urban Meyer’s offense was going to change the SEC, I’m wondering if we’ve finally hit that new era (ironic, if that’s true, given the state of Florida’s offense this season).  The two highest ranked teams in the conference, including the one which will play in the BCS title game if it wins this Saturday in Atlanta, finished sixth and ninth in total defense.  The winner of the SEC East did little better, finishing fifth.  The top four teams in total defense, including the last two national champions, combined for fourteen conference losses.

Maybe it’s not your father’s SEC anymore.  Now the goal on defense may not be to be good, but merely good enough.  And the better the offense, the greater the margin of error on defense.  It’s something Mike Bobo and Mark Richt need to ponder this winter.

113 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Bird in the Hand

Vanderbilt is rumored to be very interested in hiring Gus Malzahn as its next head coach.  While I’d be happy to see Malzahn buried at a place that isn’t ever going to attract the kind of talent that Auburn gets, I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen, mainly because he’s going to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, names out there this offseason.

But what’s really puzzling about this is that if Vanderbilt is looking for an offensive guru to revive its football fortunes, it’s already got somebody on staff who fits the bill in Herb Hand.  Hand would seem to have an ideal resume:  he’s a Rich Rodriguez protegé who worked with Malzahn at Tulsa and per Brophy, taught Gus a thing or two about the power running game.

Besides, isn’t a guy who says something like this worthy of consideration?  I’d sure line up an interview.

9 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Please, God…

Or Gator Bowl committee, make this happen.  If nothing else, it ought to provide fodder for at least three good EDSBS posts.

Who says minor bowl games can’t be fun?

23 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., The Adventures of Zook, The Blogosphere