The field position trap

Brian Fremeau makes an interesting point about the win over Tennessee.

… On seven occasions [this season], a team has overcome a field position value deficit of at least 10 points, including Georgia’s victory over Tennessee this past weekend.

The Bulldogs started six drives at or inside their own 20-yard line, including two drives pinned all the way back at their own one-yard line. Tennessee held Georgia to 14 total yards on three of those drives in the first half, and followed up each of those three possessions with a short-field touchdown drive of their own. Field position was a bit more even in the second half, and Georgia took advantage to pull out a 51-44 victory.

Partly because of this and partly because of what happened in last year’s game, I expect Richt to go pretty conservative on special teams Saturday night.  You can probably guess what McGowan’s instructions are as the go-to guy on punt returns, just like you can expect Gurley to be less aggressive on kickoffs.  And the over/under on punt safe formations has likely taken a jump.

I can’t say that I blame Richt too much for that, but there’s a risk he runs.  That risk is that Georgia winds up with lousy field position anyway.  If that happens and Bobo decides to play it close to the vest against a talented, aggressive Carolina defense… well, we saw that show last week.  When I said this game may come down to how many times Georgia is forced to start inside its own 10-yard line, I wasn’t being facetious.

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22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

22 responses to “The field position trap

  1. frowertr

    Sentator you basically took the words right out of my mouth. So what if McGowan catches the ball. He isn’t exactly a speedster and he may be lucky to make it to the 15 before he gets tackled and we are right back in the same position we were last week with crappy field position. I still like Gurley or Mitchell returning the ball. Yeah we have had a few miscues but these guys catch and run the ball all week long during practice. It is not like they forget how to do it during kickoff returns.

    Hopefully the USC kicker and has a leg big enough to simply kick it out of the endzone and then this whole discussion becomes academic.

    Second thought, so long we we keep them from scoring we won’t have to worry about kickoff returns at all either. ;)

    • Sanford222view

      McGowan would replace Mitchell on punt returns not kickoff returns.

    • Bobby

      I don’t think we’ll be much better off for playing it safe on punt returns. We should play it safe on KORs also, but if SC’s KO doesn’t have much air time, we turn Gurley loose. That’s a good, safe strategy. Maybe it’s playing it too safe, but so far, we haven’t shown that we’re really capable of explosive returns. Conversely, we have shown that we are quite prone to return team disasters. Across the board–whether on offense or kick/punt returns–avoiding disaster is the key to winning this ballgame. If we avoid catastrophe, we can win this game even if most offensive drives result in punts and our defense gives up 175 yds to Lattimore.

      I think our run game is good enough to run b/w the tackles consistently. SC’s secondary is not good enough to cover our receivers, and even though SC has a hellacious pass rush, they’re not going to get to the AM every play (shouldn’t anyway). As long as AM takes his sacks w/o turning the ball over or w/o making some freshman mistake like running backwards to try to outrun Clowney, we’ll be fine. Go 3-and-out; punt; be ready to go back out after a defensive stop. Eventually, our offensive scores, even if it’s on a big play.

      Remember, SC’s front 7 was just as good last year, perhaps better. The only difference is that SC’s secondary is nowhere near as good as last year’s squad. They are not bullet proof.

  2. Uglydawg

    If I were Spurrier, I would have my kicker kick high and aim for the ten yard line. This puts a lot of pressure on the fielder. There will be no mistakes made on kicks that are obvious touch-backs. It’s the ones the fielder has to make a decision on that can precipitate a game changing mistake. Given Georgia’s recent history on handling that decision, look for kicks aimed at the corners of the field..not the endzone.
    I would put Christian Lemay back to handle returns…or at least try him at it in practice. Anyway, I’m sure CMR is addressing the problem.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      But, But, But…that would mean that all these folks who were whining about Logan Gray were….I just don’t know how else to say…Wrong!

      These good decision-makers back there handling punts…they are kinda like condums for the kicking game.

      FWIW….McGowan may be this year’s version of the Logan Gray Condum, but if you watch him on special teams, he what I would call slow, ya know?

      • paul

        It drove me insane that literally for years we never even attempted to return a punt. Logan Gray for the fair catch. While I hope we don’t revert back into the ‘just catch it and be done with it’ mentality, one or two fair catches would make me happy at this point. Mitchell is a beast on both sides of the ball but a punt returner he ain’t.

  3. Sanford222view

    I just hope Vasser has continued practicing his tackling of Mitchell in the end zone on kickoff returns this week. Malcolm seems to want to take every kick out no matter how deep it has been kicked and he doesn’t ever seem to get back out to the 25.

    • bulldogbry

      Is that Vassar or that Vavlas guy doing that? Whoever it is, I’m thankful.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        It was Vassar. I think he did some of that in HS too. Vavlas was a co-ST MVP last year. They both have long hair.

        • Gravidy

          It was neither. It was Kyle Karempelis. He wears 33 like Vasser. At least that’s who it was when I noticed it.

          • AthensHomerDawg

            Whahhhh the heck. We run out of numbers? There are two 27’s and two 29’s as well. Only one #1 though. ;-)

            • ThePetis

              Don’t forget about Aaron Murray on the punt coverage.

              • Governor Milledge

                Or on the punting unit… personnel shift on the 4th and short ‘fake punt’ look against UT will crop up again in an exciting situation this year

          • jryuuu

            i believe gravidy is correct, it’s usually KK when i’ve been watching.

  4. Beer Money

    I’ll say this, a McGowan fair catch at the 15 or a touchback is much better than fielding a punt while running backwards inside your own ten or fumbling a punt. Until we get the kinks worked out, I say reel ‘em in. Saturday night is too important for special teams catastrophe.

    Also, Marhsall has to get the extra point down. We simply cannot be giving up any cheap points.

    • Bobby

      Even if Mitchell was a punt-returning stud, I don’t think the risk is worth the reward at this point. After losing Bennett (DGD), we need to make sure that Mitchell is good to go on offense. The last thing we need is him getting concussed or tearing a ligament. We have enough to worry about w/ him pulling a hamstring on deep routes.

  5. bulldogbry

    I guess my issue is, why are we the only team that concedes we’re better off with a fair catch? You’re telling me there’s other teams that don’t get about 10 yards every punt?

    • Bobby

      I think it’s just a reality w/ our personnel at this point. Or maybe it’s just a product of the coaching. There may not be enough emphasis on decision-making in the PR game. If that’s the case, I can’t say that I disagree with the coaching decision. Based on our team’s strengths and weaknesses, I think we’re better off focusing on kicking and punt coverage or defense. In the past seasons, we have given up many more yards on KO or punt than we got back in the return game.

      On returns, we should play it safe until the kicking/punting team makes a bad KO/punt; then, we can exploit it. Until we have another Brandon Boykin, though, I don’t think we should be doing anything risky.

  6. Cojones

    Interesting points on both sides of aggressive STs. If McGowan’s back there, he brings sure hands AND a big load that some of you have forgotten about. Our speed players appear confused and are covered by high kicks to the 5-10yd line. That’s exactly what was predicted by the new kickoff rule.

    If a kicker is good enough to place it high and accurately, that is a weapon that will be used like a whore. Getting too cute will put us back to the sideline kicks we didn’t come to love and embrace. Remember? Throughout these posts , many are proposing what all teams have already prepared for; – like proposing it will be the first time the coaching staff will have considered using the rule advantageously. C’mon Dawgs. Let’s understand that we are shellshocked from the past and are too nervous to let anything new take over during this fright stage. Let the coaches handle it with what they know they have and let’s quit setting up the “be damned if you do/don’t”.

    This should be a great game with weird plays, straight forward plays and dumb plays. Some worry about what Spurrier will pull, but do you have to be reminded of which coach lived off Spurrier when he was at FSU? Calm down. We have the best coach possible to be fielded vs SOS and we have the athletes who can win the game , barring snakebite and weird shit. We should have the confidence of knowing this team can do it while not being so foolish as to think it is a given. And you are going to see heart from a “No Regrets” team.

    Get ready to enjoy. GO DAWGS!!

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Man, did you read that stuff about the last time we played these people in October?

      I just hope I don’t peak too early.

  7. Cosmic Dawg

    On punt returns, the person charged with catching a football kicked a mile into the air with a herd of buffalo charging him should not be the same person making the decision to fair catch or run. He should have three punt buddies – like a FG kicker, the biggest, nastiest dudes on the team – lined up 5 yds in front of him. The middle guy monitors the charging buffalo and says fair catch or run, so the catcher is not having to look at two things at once – the ball and the buffalo.

    I have not been in the arena…I wonder if that would work to calm the yipes.

  8. W Cobb Dawg

    Assuming our D is going to stop scu. So if McGowan is the PR, I’d like to see us go after punts for the block. If we’re just going to fair catch anyway, we should keep the pressure on their punter all game.