First Cocktail Party thoughts: look to find a reason to disbelieve

I’ll bounce around on both sides as the week progresses, but I’m gonna start in Debbie Downer mode.

We’ve all focused on the shortcomings of the defense, but if you ask me, there’s an equally troubling development that’s cropped up at a most inopportune time.  I’ll let Year2 explain.

Thanks to the magic of SEC video box scores, I took some time to break down Georgia’s rushing game in conference play based on whether it had a numbers advantage up front or not. I wanted to get an idea as to why the UGA rushing game had worked so well earlier in the year but not so well in the past two games…

Anyway, so what caused the drop off in these rushing averages over the course of the last two games? It’s pretty simple: a lack of big plays.

Only nine of UGA’s 31 rushes against Tennessee went for more than five yards, but three of those nine were big home runs. Take out the touchdown runs of 51, 72, and 75 yards, and they rush for just 3.54 YPC on the game against one of the league’s iffier run defenses. Todd Gurley’s 44-yard run against Mizzou by itself raises the average by 1.4 YPC from 3.57 to the 4.97 you see above. UGA had just one run of over ten yards, a 15-yarder to start the game, against South Carolina, and it likewise had just one rush, for 12 yards, of more than ten against Kentucky.

Now South Carolina I can understand – a bad combination of Lorenzo Ward’s excellent game plan, the collective freak out by Georgia’s staff and offensive linemen over Jadeveon Clowney and a game score that led to an abandonment of the running game – but Kentucky?  Kentucky’s run defense… well, Kentucky’s run defense isn’t good.  And, no, it wasn’t as if the UK defense was set up to shut down the run.  For one thing, the Wildcats’ pass defense is even worse and those guys needed all hands on deck for that.  For another, Year2 counted and found,

… you’re probably expecting me to say that Kentucky loaded up on the run just like the Gamecocks did. After all, Murray had another excellent game going 30-for-38 (78.9%) for 427 yards, four TDs, no INTs, and a passing efficiency of 208.1. However, Kentucky didn’t do that. Georgia had an advantage on 14 rushes versus 11 rushes against equal numbers. The Wildcats didn’t focus on the run particularly hard; UGA’s big guys up front just couldn’t get a consistent push or open holes with regularity for the backs. That goes for even when they had a numerical advantage.[Emphasis added.]

That was my impression watching, as well.  The offensive line has disappeared in the last two weeks.  I don’t know if the guys were shell-shocked after the debacle in Columbia, but it was obvious that UK’s line played more physically.  With Florida next, that’s not a good place to be.

… Against pro-style running attacks that are similar to the Bulldogs’, Florida rarely has loaded up the box against the run. In the few times they do equal up the numbers, it’s usually because they’re playing nickel (six-man front) against a one-back, no TE/FB look from the offense. Will Muschamp partially does this thanks to great line play and partially because his safeties are excellent at coming up in run support. Josh Evans and Matt Elam are actually the team’s leading tacklers, and you’ll see them a lot in run play defense this weekend.

Georgia’s offensive line has to have a better game this weekend than last, full stop. If it doesn’t then Evans and Elam will be able to stay back more for passing coverage, something that will hurt Murray’s chances through the air. Murray bailed out the running game with his arm in Lexington, but he probably won’t be able to against the nation’s third-best passing efficiency defense. If Gurley and Marshall don’t get openings to make some more of those big plays again, then we’re going to see yet another Florida win in Jacksonville.

You never know if one thing is the be-all and end-all, but I will say that if Georgia can’t run a lick Saturday and has to rely solely on Murray and the receivers to move the ball, it’s going to make things a lot tougher.  In that case, you can expect the Gators to press Georgia’s receivers in the hope of disrupting the Dawg passing attack just as South Carolina did.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Florida doesn’t have a single player who’s as disruptive as Clowney.  The bad news is that Kentucky didn’t, either.  And Florida’s defensive line is far deeper and more talented than UK’s.

Georgia’s offensive line doesn’t have to be fabulous Saturday.  But it does need to show up and hold its own.

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72 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

72 responses to “First Cocktail Party thoughts: look to find a reason to disbelieve

  1. 69Dawg

    That early season Kool-Aid has run out. We are who we are and the OL sucks. The D guys are just playing out the string and waiting for Pro day. UF by at least 2 TD’s.

  2. ScoutDawg

    I think I will start drinking now.

  3. Franklin Tenny Dawg

    Good read, but the article doesn’t cause me a lot of concern. If I was concerned, I would be stressing out all week about our offensive line and whether they could hold up against the Florida D-line. I already know the answer, they won’t. Makes the week a lot less stressful.

    • WFdawg

      65% chance we lose by more than 2 TDs.
      30% chance we lose by fewer than 2 TDs.
      5% chance we win.

      At this point, it’s healthier for me not to get my hopes up.

  4. David

    For a guy who’s been in the arena you think he’d know that SEC games are won and lost up front. Our skill guys are as good as anyone else in the country but we’re severely lacking in talent in depth on the line of scrimmage.

  5. Went back to the Tenn game to see where the break down I believe started. Up 27-7 early in the 2nd qtr, the Dawgs have been outscored 94-60 since. Its like they have been sleepwalking since that lead. UT got back in the game off of turnovers and a short field. The USC game was just a repeat of the blackout in 08, or the Tenn beat down in 07. This game Sat is a program shifter one way or another. We have no chance if we do not run the football for at least 100yds. Zero excuse to be pushed around up front by UK. Malcolm Mitchell sat out last yrs game so not having Bennett is a push. I just want some property destroyed and a W.

    • Will (the other one)

      Our running in the UT game in the 4th quarter in particular was far more predictable (thanks again for trying to run out the clock instead of trying to score from the tail end of the 3rd on, Bobo!) That’s part of the reason UK got the ball back late Saturday too. The OLine can’t run block effectively when the other team is 99% certain a run up the gut is coming, and we don’t adjust at all, or until it’s 3rd down.

  6. NC Dawg

    Agreed, 69Dawg, we are who we are. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pull off a win. The talent is there, though some of it is immature and the OL is both young and thin in ranks. If Murray is ever going to show up big in a big game, this is the time. The defense is certainly talented and capable enough. I’m hoping that everything comes together in Jacksonville. It would be so sweet, especially after the debacle in Columbia..

  7. bfrazier34

    Just gonna make sure to drink heavily at the tailgate. That’s all.

  8. reipar

    The OL has only become a concern because the defense is playing so bad we know we will have to score a lot of points to even have a chance.

    • NC Dawg

      Can’t quite agree there. D has been playing awful, but the OL has been getting mangled since the Tennessee game.

      • reipar

        Playing against USCe down by 21 points as soon as you get off the bus is gonna be tough on any OL in the country. Your offense has a lot less pressure to execute on every single drive when you know you can play for field possession and your defense is not going to give up 24 to 40 points.

      • Cojones

        Look closely. The D has been mangled every game, not just beginning in the Ten game. They were mangled in several games last year, but the fan euphoria index blocked it from the minds of many fans even though it was called to their attention. It has been here all along (ability to run on our D), but we refused to recognize it and listened to the coaching platitudes of it being corrected after every game.

        I still hope for any correction to stop the bleeding resulting from gashing wounds caused by opponents’s running game AND THEIR RUNNING QBs.

  9. Hogbody Spradlin

    Would it be too much to ask to have a Florida game where we don’t help them?

  10. Rebar

    I’m completely flummoxed as to who we are. I expected struggles with the offensive line, but this defense has me wondering why they all came back if this was all they were gonna do. I have faith in Murray, but no one on the other side of the ball. I hope we win, but if we do, I’m going to be even more confused as to why Kentucky was able to push us around. “Lord preserve us and protect us, we’ve been drinking whiskey for breakfast”.

    • Connor

      The final chapter has yet to be written, but it appears that we are a team that is marginally better than the worst teams in the conference and significantly worse than the best teams. If we don’t win this week there will be no further opportunities to prove we can hang with the elite teams in the SEC, but we’ll still have a chance to prove we’re better than really bad teams.
      Why that is the case is probably a discussion that will take us most of the way to next August.

    • sniffer

      It would be easy to say the Dawgs were looking ahead to FL and not taking KY too serious. And I think there is some truth to that. Getting Stripling and Wilson in the game is evidence that Grantham was expecting an easy game from the Cats. We have stubborn coaches intent on sticking to the game plan, adjustments be damned (of, maybe, our adjustments aren’t effective). This prevents us, the fans, from thinking this game will be any different.

  11. I tried to tell y’all…

    I got blasted for making the same point at the beginning of October after the Tennessee game. We are pedestrian in the run game without the long runs. Even worse, we’ve all but stopped running the ball out of sets that give us structural advantages (I’m thinking the pistol, as an example) to break those runs.

    Can we win without the 70 yard runs? Yes. Can we win if we run the ball 32 times for 73 yards? No way.

    • ChicagoDawg

      Yeah, but that is like saying a defense is great, except for those times when they allow big plays…..but not for those 28 points of busted plays, the defense played lights out.

      • I’d much rather have 32 rushes for 150 yards with no run over 12 yards than 32 rushes for 150 yards with one 75 yard run and 31 at 2.41 yards per run.

        Every time.

        • ChicagoDawg

          Of course, theoretically all you need is 3.33 yds per carry and you play keep away with every series resulting in a TD. However, that is not reality. Big plays are part of every successful defense and are typically what define poor defenses.

          • ChicagoDawg

            CORRECTION: Big plays made are part of almost every successful offense and big plays yielded are typically what define poor defenses.

    • Krautdawg

      I agreed with you then to a limited extent. I thought that running when UT put 8 in the box was a risk/reward choice — good chance you get stopped, but if you block right & the back beats their one free man, you get an explosive TD.

      If we take out such big-play situations, I have to agree with you fully. We have a tough time sustaining drives with running plays, and it’s unclear what advantage those short runs give us. Does it make the other team “honor the run” and open the middle of the field? Not really if they can stop it without committing an extra man.

    • Cojones

      Tyler, not blasting you, but calling your attention to what was written back then. Most of us felt that the yardage expressed without the big running plays is nothing new . Year2 bringing it up again doesn’t make it any more legitimate.

      Go back and you will see that some of us mentioned that , by viewing the stat with the long runs omitted will result in the same perceived “fault” for every team and RBs in general. I think someone even mentioned a few of Herc’s big games demonstrating the same thing: Remove the long yardage from the stats and it demonstrates that nearly all teams and RBs fall in the short yardage “three yards and a cloud of dust” category. Someone new bringing up our old addressed analysis doesn’t give anymore credence to this stat.

      You don’t need a manufactured stat to be able to view with your own eyes that the line isn’t opening the holes consistently for the RBs. Some of you really good knowledgeable football fans should be able to review film and look at the way other teams have found out how to consistently block and penetrate our O line, figure out the observations by analysis and do what many of you have been itching to do for some time; Tell us what’s happening in the blocking schemes and how the staff can coach to prevent it. Most of us have angst and frustration over what is happening consistently to our line. Some of you could help the rest of us by analysing player actions (both UGA and opponents). Please make it soon.

      This post is snark-free.

      • Will do (not that I am a great football mind) and well received.

      • Will (the other one)

        I’d say for the UT game I’d also like to see an average per carry breakdown from the 1st 3 quarters minus long runs, because that also excludes the “Bobo attempting to run out the clock and a blind man could see the run coming” plays at the end of the game.

  12. DawgPhan

    part of me thinks that it is UF’s turn to give up 3 quick scores and play from behind. regression to the mean baby!

    • ChicagoDawg

      Speaking of regressions to the mean….I am too lazy to look up stats, but it feels like this defense has not gotten a meaningful turnover all year. This is one of the biggest differences vs last year’s performance. Perhaps the stats tell a different story, but that seems to be the situation.

      • D.N. Nation

        Uh?

        Mizzou: Jarvis Jones picks off James Franklin to set up a score to make it a two-score game midway through the 4th, then forces a fumble to set up a score to make it a three-score game.

        UT: Interception, fumble recovery, interception on UT’s last three drives.

        I’d say those were meaningful, no?

        • ChicagoDawg

          Yeah, fair point on those examples. Whatever the case, it does not feel as though the rate of turnovers has been the same, but again perhaps that is just feelings betraying facts. Most likely because in the two games you cite the defense yielded more points than their play last year would have led us to expect coming into this season — especially the UT result.

        • Bevo

          Very. In both cases the defense sealed the game with those turnovers.

  13. ChicagoDawg

    For me, it all comes down to how the defense performs (especially in the face of turnovers) — period. In Kentucky, as bizarre as this sounds, there was a need to hit the panic button so as to match TDs in the first half. Consequently, they could not stubbornly stay with the run and establish a ground game that would likely produce a home run or two. To Bobo’s credit, he made that adjustment to start slinging it around and Aaron happened to be on last Saturday night. My big fear is we see a repeat of Columbia or the Boise situation, whereby there is an immediate 14 or 17pt deficit. At which point, the defense completely goes un-hinged and the offense is forced to be one dimensional. This of course allows the opposing defenses to sell out against the pass — further worsening the situation.

    • Cojones

      Those are general observations and recaps, but they effectively express the entire set of problems and our response on the field.

  14. Frank

    If the weather forecast holds for Saturday in Jacksonville—likely rain with winds of 24 mph, the game will be won or lost in the trenches and on turnovers.

    I’ve been in Debbie Downer mode since the train wreck in Columbia. The Kentucky game nearly put me in an institution.

    Sad that my only hope for a win over the Gators rests with the gods of the raindrop, slippery balls and mud.

    • Cojones

      The gods work both ways on a wet field, but you should contact the staff and ask if they will devote a practice or two under a hose and on a muddy field. Jax does have natural turf, doesn’t it? We should get a leg up anyway that we can.

      How hard is that forecast? Above 50%?

      • Cojones

        It does conjure up the 60s game where we trounced their ass in a driving rainstorm. Dooley brought tennis shoes for all players to wear and help in assuring good footage. Worked too.

  15. PTC DAWG

    I never have liked some who starts with “you take away” this or that..

    You take away any TD runs and a back hasn’t scored.

    You all know about Uncle Claude and his balls.

  16. Ginny

    Sure hope the team doesn’t read these blogs. Commenters have turned into a bunch of Skeptic Dawgs. I haven’t seen anything out of this Florida team that tells me they’re unbeatable. This isn’t the 2008 or 2009 team. Not ours, not theirs. Have a little faith.

    • j4k372

      They have a stout defense and an offense that is getting better and better as their QB gets more reps under his belt. They have beaten LSU, USCe, and TAMU. We haven’t beaten a team with a winning record. I don’t like it any more than you do, for that matter I can guarantee I like it far less than you do.

  17. For Georgia to win, they have to play like a completely different team than they have been all year. They need to be dominant on defense from the start and not sleepwalk through the first quarter. They need to be sound on special teams. They need to find what works on offense and keep doing that until Florida adjusts, then find something else. If they do all of those things, then they can win. If they fail in any one area, they’ll lose.

    Hey, it happened in 2007, so maybe they bottled some of what they were drinking and can break it out again.

  18. Scorpio Jones, III

    It seems to me what happened to South Carolina in Gainesville is very similar to what happened to us in Columbia.

    Both teams got the very best from a team at home, playing up to a loud crowd and helped out by early the visitors’ screwups of one kind or another.

    I don’t know what this means for a site that is far more neutral than either Columbia or Gainesville, but it probably means something.

    I don’t think either Georgia or Florida is good enough to get down big early and make the long slog to a comeback late

    If we can survive the first quarter or so with no major fuckups, we got a shot, but Florida’s kicking game is not one that I want to get into a field position thing with.

    Florida is probably not as good as South Carolina helped them look, Georgia is probably not as bad as they helped themselves look against South Carolina.

    • Cojones

      All true Scorp. And with a divided crowd, the sound can’t be ratcheted up like at home sites so that shouldn’t be an excuse this time. One thing is sure; we have to get after them with high energy from the start.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        I think we should know pretty early how it is going to go. Whether that is a good or bad thing remains to be seen. I think both teams are “delicate” emotionally, in the sense that early fuck ups may have a bigger impact on them than say….Bammer (sigh).

        Both teams will be sky-high, and a test for coaching control.

        That’s as far as I am willing to go this morning. I am off to the hat store to see if anything speaks to me.

  19. Scorpio Jones, III

    FWIW, I think the horror over the Kentucky game is way, way overblown.

    • Biggus Rickus

      It’s carryover from the horror of South Carolina. If that game had at least been competitive people would just be chalking the Kentucky game up to looking ahead.

  20. Heathbar09

    I’ll just start carrying over my heavy drinking from the first drive of the KY game to this Saturday. Who’s with me???

    Lewis Grizzard didn’t call it the “Annual Celebration of the Repeal of Prohibition” for nothing!

  21. Scorpio Jones, III

    Ya know, my whole life I have been aware there is an association between drinking whiskey and college football…have never understood this…but then I don’t drink in church, either.

  22. Cojones

    The O line is not new news to us and probably is the most obvious problem. It causes most of the running problems.

    The thinking in the Ken game seemed to be making up for not sticking with the run game in the SC game and Ken, not being stupid , was prepared for that. With what we thought was better conditioned players, we were prepared to continue until the 4th qtr and our opponent’s tiring players to leave the runners with bigger blocked holes. That didn’t happen, so Richt sought to get out with a win- nothing fancy.

    Short passes will be at a premium in this game. Getting the ball to our RBs in open space (screens and short RB/FB/TE passes) is obviously a way to get around some of the problem (although it didn’t work so well for FU’s Rainey last year). Another is bringing blockers into the backfield and run a couple of Student Body Right and Left plays with the tight ends (Rome and surprise with Smith). That can create some wider spacing for RBs, FBs to run and give the O line a little leverage to work with. All of the above can drive an over-the-top passing game. I offer these in a way to help cheer up the masses to the fact that there are many ways to skin this gator and a lot of them will work.

    My opinion is the only experienced nuance that I can bring. Many of the rest of you can provide plays and details that are not simplistic like mine. Now is when you should express them in order to aid in fan recovery. Come on. You have been invited.

  23. Dawg19

    More pleasant thoughts…

  24. Skeptic Dawg

    The problems are the same with different players and different coaches…player development. The kids UGA brings in are recruited by every other SEC school. They are talented kids. The staff and team are good enough to beat the sisters of the poor and the bottom-feeding SEC teams. However, the coaching and player development is not there to be an upper level squad. This and the scholarship issue. Richt is not committed to being a top tier program, and we have been watching this play out on the field for 6 years now. We have seen the same issues year after year now with no correction or answers. Until there is a change made, we will continue to suffer through the same results. GATA!

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Has it ever occurred to you that what you described above is an institutional problem and not just a problem with the HC? Perhaps what you describe (including CMR himself) are manifestations of a deeper problem. If you do not address the underlying causes then you can have a revolving door of coaches but things will not change.

      • Skeptic Dawg

        I can not speak to the institutional issues due to a lack of “inside sources”. But, how would institutional issues slow player development? How would those same issues prevent Richt from signing a full recruiting class? This once I can see. Not the player development.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          My impression is that the opposition to oversigning is from Adams although McGarity and CMR are going along with it. One may say, “so what,” sign at least a full class but getting the numbers exactly right so you don’t have to grayshirt or yank a scholly away is one of the reasons I believe UGA undersigns. But the institutional issue is a complicated issue most of which is subterranean. I wrote a post a year or 2 about this and manifestations of same which I recall you read and commented on.

          • Skeptic Dawg

            Yes, I recall your post a year or so ago. While I have nothing to add in that department, I believe we all see a lack of player development. No one will confuse Bobo with Chow. But, as many here have said before, Bobo is calling Richt’s plays. So to toss one is to toss both. The one arguement to that is the manner in which one calls said plays. As far as the O-line goes, that is matter that can be handled with the current staff. Neither starting tackle is ready for top end SEC play. Guys are playing out of position for how many years now? The coaches see the same struggles that we do. Yet the continue to stick their head in the sand. Long term issues such as this and ST’s are what kills me. In addition to continued uninspired play on a yearly basis. Neither of those have to do with institutional issues. Want kicking help? Butler would offer it up for free, and I am sure he has. Take advantage of guys like Kevin Butler.

      • j4k372

        CMR has talent on this football team (and a weak schedule). Our problem is the coaching. It’s tragic. Even more tragic are the people that like to blame Willie Martinez, the S&C program, and now institutional problems.

  25. Russ

    As much as I dislike the Ol’ Ball Sack, his comment quoted here at the top of the page is probably the most relevant and intelligent. He’s played both teams with wildly divergent results, yet he thinks it will be a close game.

    I think we can win. However, the recent unpleasantness at USCe and UK doesn’t give me great comfort. I need Uncle Larry to tell me how it’s always a struggle to win in Lexington at night, regardless of records or team strength.

  26. Senator ,the comment about pressing our receivers,just like South Carolina did is the problem i haven’t seen discussed enough. That problem is exactly what I observed and could not figure out. When corners are that tight isn’t there a standard response to that like slants or fades . My point,if there is one, is as much as we’ve bitched about our O-line in the uSC game isn’t there some fault to be laid at the feet of our receivers if they can’t beat press coverage and do it quickly. I bring this up because I expect your right that Da Gator will press cover unless we make them pay for doing it..
    My major concern is that Murray comes out with case of nerves he has had in almost all our big games. Is Valium a banned substance in the NCAA? Stay calm,carry on. Stay close and pull a Dooley. PHuck PHlorida and let’s make Boom’s head explode.

    • Slants work. So should that back shoulder fade they used effectively in last year’s game. I’d also try what worked well against Michigan State’s front – max-protect, 2-man deep routes. If the line can hold UF off just long enough, I’d like my chances for either King or Mitchell to beat the coverage.

      I also think Marlon Brown is physical enough to beat the press.