If Daniel Burnett were a football player, I think we all know what the Red & Black would have to say about this.
Daily Archives: November 29, 2010
Samuel L. Jackson, Dawg Walk participant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Boise State
- Ohio State
- My ballot is full of equivocation and second thoughts this week. For example, I still think Oregon is the best team in the country, but I’m not so sure the Ducks will beat Auburn in the title game should they face off.
- Curse you, Big Ten, for your stupid scheduling. At least that’s something that’ll change next year. In the meantime, it cost Michigan State a spot in my top ten.
- If Ohio State (Sagarin #64 SOS) and Wisconsin (Sagarin #71 SOS) deserve to be on my ballot, then so does Boise State (Sagarin #62 SOS). Take that, Gordon Gee.
- But Nevada still doesn’t.
- Still missing: ACC and Big East.
- This ballot took a while longer than the last few weeks’ to construct. Call it 35 minutes.
As the regular season is over, I thought I’d spice my last power poll up with a look at how every team did in net yards per conference game. There should be a rough correlation between net yardage and wins/losses. That’s a little distorted this season, as eight teams finished in positive territory, thanks to a truly egregious number racked up by Vanderbilt.
- Auburn (+91.70). Can you say team of destiny? I thought you could.
- Arkansas (+101.4). They got better as the season went along. With apologies to Gus Malzahn, Bobby Petrino is the best offensive mind in the SEC.
- LSU (+39.6). Les says some strange things and may have a few clock management issues, but as the net yardage number indicates, he can coach a little.
- Alabama (+62.0). Coach Saban, Coach Saban. You had the tape of the Georgia game and you still decided to take your foot off the gas against Auburn. Big mistake.
- South Carolina (+38.8). Closed with a great November, which is unusual for the Gamecocks. The Chicken Curse may indeed be dead.
- Mississippi State (-36.5). Classic overachiever story. Dan Mullen squeezed every drop he could out of his players this season.
- Georgia (+27.2). Really, almost a coin toss with Florida here. The Dawgs get the nod because their finish wasn’t as abysmal as the Gators’ was.
- Florida (+42.2). Yesterday, Mark Bradley referred to Urban Meyer as “my role model in all things”. That explains a lot. There’s no way this team should have finished with four conferences losses, or as badly as it did.
- Tennessee (-52.3). Call ‘em Kings of the Dipshits, if you’d prefer. But as poor as that net yardage number is, the Vols still finished with more conference wins than any of the last three teams on this list (and beat two of them).
- Kentucky (+6.0). They were one Marcus Lattimore injury away from having a completely forgettable season. Not an auspicious start for Joker Phillips’ head coaching career.
- Mississippi (-74.9). I don’t think Dan Mullen started the Houston Nutt-to-Colorado rumors that surfaced yesterday, but you can be damned sure he’ll be mentioning them on the recruiting trail this week.
- Vanderbilt (-245.4). Twelfth place with a thud. And, yes, that net yardage number is epically bad. No, make that apocalyptically bad.