SECCG thoughts, Round 3

Looking for a key to the game?  Skipping past the obvious – if Georgia’s in negative territory in turnover margin, it’s hard to see how it wins and if the Dawgs are +3, it’s hard to see how they lose – and after careful consideration, I’m not going to point to a personnel grouping, but to a formation.

I think this game is going to come down to how much success Georgia has out of its one-back, three-WR sets.  I base that on several factors.  First, and this is a purely subjective observation on my part, I think the offense has been more productive out of that formation than it has been out of the I.  Some of that is due to the flexibility Bobo has with deploying Murray from behind center, in the pistol or in straight shotgun.  Some of that is due to giving the backs more room to run with the defense not crowding the box (think Tech).

Second, and, again, subjectively speaking, Murray seems more comfortable with formations that give him more receiving options, especially since the Florida game.  He’s been better since with his check down options and that’s reflected in his passing numbers.

Third, it’s tactically advantageous for Bobo, as this post of Groo’s, ironically about ‘Bama wanting to do much the same thing, indicates.  If anything, Georgia, which has greater depth at wide receiver and two legitimate options at tight end, can spin more variations out of those sets than the Tide can.  The hope is that will cause more pressure to be put on Alabama’s defense – especially when mixed with the no-huddle – than it can handle, at least on a consistent basis.

That all sounds great, but there’s a catch.  And it’s a pretty big one:  Georgia loses a blocker in the backfield.  I’m not so sure how much that matters in the running game, because Alabama in its base defense is extremely formidable in shutting down the run, fullback or no fullback, but I fear it could be huge in pass protection.  If you’ll recall, Ole Miss pulled Georgia out of its three-wide sets by blitzing on almost every down in the first half of that game and sacking Murray repeatedly.  And Clowney made Georgia wish it had gone max-protect from the get go in Columbia.

The good news is that Alabama doesn’t blitz that much and that its line isn’t as physically freakish as South Carolina’s is.  But if the Tide’s secondary and linebacking corps are able to control Georgia’s receivers and/or confuse Murray, Saban’s defense will get to him just the same.  And that will likely force Bobo into pulling back to protect Murray more.  Unfortunately, I fear that’ll be the ball game.

Anyway, that’s what I’ll be watching in the Dome.  What’s your take on what’s key on Saturday?

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78 Comments

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78 responses to “SECCG thoughts, Round 3

  1. It is not about Alabama or Georgia winning or losing; it is about playing the game honorably. .. And it’s about……beating the spread.

  2. NC Dawg

    I really think Georgia is going to move the ball. The key, I think, will be how well Alabama is able to move the ball or score off Dawg turnovers. If those lost two items don’t happen or rarely happen, I think UGA wins.

  3. I agree, Senator. If Georgia can keep 3 WR’s on the field, they should win the game. If they have to bring in a second TE or FB, it means Georgia is not protecting the QB, and Georgia’s chances will be greatly diminished. Using up-tempo with this personnel grouping is Georgia’s best chance on offense.

    I did notice Jay Rome flexed out against Tech, which I don’t remember seeing before. That might give UGA the option to run with two TE’s, or to get that 3WR look from the same personnel grouping, allowing them to play quick tempo from a traditionally power set, too.

  4. John Denver's full of $hit

    Aaron Murray Pregame Jitters. That guy needs to run 100 miles today so he gets a good nights sleep.

  5. @gatriguy

    If we can get the screen game going. When we’ve been successful against Saban, it’s either been deep passes down the sideline, or a million different versions of the screen. I don’t think the OL can protect long enough for those deep passes, so the screen game is hugely important. Unfortunately, it’s blown since Stafford and Moreno left.

    • WF dawg

      You’re right; it hasn’t been good. But there’s enough evidence this year to say that it’s trending up. In fact, we ran it several times against UF, which also had a strong defensive front.

      I’m hoping we’ll take our shots down the sideline as well. Worked in 2004 with Greene and Brown/Gibson and in 2005’s SECCG with Shockley and Bailey.

      • Rocket Dawg

        The screen game only works when you have an overly aggresive defense with a strong pass rush. Alabama has neither. They are a disciplined group that keep their gap integrety, all screens are going to do is lose yards.

    • Lakatos Intolerant

      Love the thought, but I’m afraid we haven’t proven to be a great screen team thus far.

      If you go back and watch the ’07 game in ‘loosa, we literally HB/TB screen our way down the field on one of the first 2 or 3 drives. It was glorious and really loosened up the front 7, particularly the linebackers. Stafford just went to work after that.

      Could be an effective ploy if Bama is getting pressure with 4 or 5 – gives the big uglies a chance to get past the LOS and to the next level to run block, which is our line’s strength.

  6. Jrod1229

    On top of that.. we run our best no huddle out of the 3 WR set as it gives us the most options.. especially if we use Jay Rome as a flex out occasionally. As we’ve seen Bama isn’t always as comfortable in a no huddle situash.. not because they aren’t in shape, but they are packaged base and if you can have them in their nickle/dime coverages you can open up the run.

    All that is predicated on forcing them into those coverages however.. early.

  7. Russ

    I think the key lies with our defense. We’ll have to tackle much better than we did against Tech. I saw too many “blow up” attempts at tackling than wrapping up and stopping the runner. Hence, Tech got lots of yards. Luckily, their midgets couldn’t get into the end zone. With Bama’s backs, that won’t cut it.

    I think our offense will find a way to move the ball somewhat. I think our defense is the key. Woof!

    • Jrod1229

      I don’t think that will be much of an issue.. tech is our little brother and sometimes you need to slap him around. Different mentality here.

  8. AusDawg85

    Biggest test of Bobo’s career. Recent history tells us that the coaches first prefer to see if the players can execute, so I agree that we’ll see that 3 WR set. But if the OL fails (and we’re still in the game because AM doesn’t turnover the ball in the face of being mauled) then what will Bobo do? Against USCe, he did not seem to make many adjustments (just an observation…not an informed view). But since then, we’ve all noted a lot of new play wrinkles, formations, etc.

    Which Bobo will we see? And more importantly, will the players finally execute on a big time stage to help make these adjustments work? 70% Jimmies and Joes, 30% X’s & O’s.

    • AusDawg85

      Another BIG concern on defense. If I’m Bama, looking at past film on the Dawgs, I’m throwing a LOT of little dink and dunk passes over the middle to my TE and in the flats to my RB’s. I’m not convinced we’ve ever found a way to stop the kind of momentum that generates for the opposing team’s offense.

      I will now lay awake all night in fear of being Boised….

      • The Lone Stranger

        I love how C-Rob has been playing the rush this season, but it is his occasional molasses feet defending the pass that is of concern. But overall, I am strangely sanguine about the outcome and may just put my money where the mouth be.

  9. sniffer

    I think our best option is to keep Bama guessing on defense, much like Bobo did against Chavis last year in the seccg. If we line up and try to play their style of smash mouth football, it will be tough going.

    • Otto

      LSU showed UGA how to play with Bama quick accurate passes with a strong ground game mixed in. Don’t go after the go pattern or get greedy. IMO the Bama secondary will make sure to limit big plays and our Defense will take a beating, the D must be fresh late in the game. UGA WRs (Mitchell) and RBs can make plays in space.

      Also I think subtle changes need to be made during the 3rd Qtr. Bama will adjust, they did against A&M and were coming back. UGA can not rely on any lead if there is one. I’d like to see RBs released from blocking assignment with some quick passes.

  10. Over the Top from Far Away

    I would afree with all of that. And the additional wrinkle on top – I think it comes down to the same for Alabama. Final wrinkle – who can hit the big play over the top? i see a lot of field goals in this game as the fields compress – sort of like LSU-Alabama last year. Anyone who can hit from distance once or twice is going to have a huge advantage in this game.

  11. Darrron Rovelll

    I think the key to the whole game for UGA comes down to how many times the announcers say the name “Jarvis Jones” on Saturday afternoon.

    Let’s face it … even with all of the NFL caliber talent on the field on both sides of the ball for both teams, Jones is the most talented & most impactful for either team. Jones pretty much won the UF game when Aaron Murray and the passing game struggled.

    While I hope that Murray has a stellar game, I still think we survive Bama with Murray playing subpar if Jarvis Jones is the best player on the field. However, even if Murray is lights out, I think we lose if Jarvis has a subpar game.

  12. Heathbar09

    As Herbstreit always says, I think it’ll come down to who can score more points. THAT is the key.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Indeed, sir, indeed. [nods knowingly]

    • Cojones

      Man, is that profound! And the one that scores the least amount of points, loses. I think I’m getting the hang of this game now.

      • Russ

        Well, I do agree with what Erk said. If we score, we may win. If they don’t score, we won’t lose. (Of course, this was before overtime rules.) So, I’m pulling for the shutout from Jarvis and the gang. ;)

  13. Objective Bama Fan

    First off, this is one of those games that make college football the greatest sport in the world. These type of games is what makes me, and probably all of you, so passionate about the SEC.

    Obviously, my perspective comes from the other side. Here are the things that make me cautiously optimistic about Bama’s chances. First, our defense matches up better against a pro style offense. It is the fast paced spread that we have trouble matching up with. Secondly, our defense is better equipt to handle a non-mobile QB. I am not saying that Murray can’t scramble, but he isn’t going to beat us with his legs. If we can get pressure on Murray, then we make can get him to make some mistakes. Thirdly, for the first time in my memory, we have a decent short range field goal kicker. Inside the 20, he is money. However, if we have to kick from outside the 20….. we are screwed.

    Which brings me to the things that scare the bejesus out of me: first, our long range kicker is, let’s say inconsistent at best. If this game comes down to Bama trying a field goal from outside the 20 to win the game, we will lose. Secondly, he cannot put the ball in the endzone on kickoffs. Therefore, y’alls return guys will have chances to carry one back to the house, or in the very least, put y’all in good field positions. If this game comes down to field position, then that puts Georgia in better shape than Bama. Thirdly, from my perspective, both offenses are extremely similar, quite incredibly even. Both have consistent QBs, good running games, and a few play makers on the outside. However, I think Georgia has a few more game changers on the defensive side of the ball than Bama has. If Jones has a great day, then Bama my be in trouble.

    Overall, I think this will be a geat game. I think it will be one of those sitting on the edge of your seat, lead changing back and forth, one possession game type games. There is one thing that I will say that will definitely happen. Come saturday night, either you guys or me will have the worst weekend of the year. If Bama loses, then the wife will know to carry the kids upstairs, because I will be drinking my blues away. If Bama wins, then the wife will know to carry the kids upstairs, because I will be doing some celebatory drinking with the guys.

    Again, good luck, and hopefully, we will have one heck of a game.

    • William

      Wow, that was incredibly insightful and balanced. Hat tip to you sir, as I believe you may be the first rational Bama fan I have encountered. I hope for a good game from both teams, although obviouslly a different outcome than you. Thank you for the comments. I’d wish good luck, but I’d rather be honest with you (since you have displayed some real class). Hope your beer is cold and your seat is comfy.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        Bryant Denny that comes by here fairly regularly is a good cat, too.

        • Objective Bama Fan

          BD is great guy and has a great Bama blog over at Tidebits.com

          • Cojones

            We know.

            You live up to your handle, OBF. Several Bama folks come over here and blog occasionally, but this game has brought the fan best from both sides blogging rationally. I’ll bet the respect will last well beyond the game outcome.

            For the fans of a team favored by a TD, yall don’t smack talk over here like some others would if put in a similar position.

    • Macallanlover

      Good comment Bama Fan. You are right about you being better geared against pro-style offenses, and having a better, more reliable FG kicker for intermediate kicks. I do think our offense is a little more diversified, with more playmakers than yours but that is offset by your consistency on defense to not give us the big play we have lived off of all season. Intriquing game. Let’s hope it plays out with the best both teams have to offer.

      I agree Bama should be a slight favorite, but think the intabgibles and better talent might win out over the better fundamental team. Not going to say it will be “one for the ages”, but all the ingredients are there for this to happen. Go Dawgs!!

    • James Stephenson

      If bama loses, why be sad? You have 2 mncs in three years.

      • Objective Bama Fan

        Every year is a different year. I have never been an addict of anything (well, except college football), but I would equate it to that. Once you get that “high” after you watch your team win it all, then you crave it that much more the next season.

        • WF dawg

          A good word for us UGA fans who swear we’d never ask for another thing out of Georgia football if we could just win one MNC.

    • The other Doug

      Great points. I think you over estimate our FG kicker. Actually, it’s the extra points that make us nervous.

  14. King Jericho

    If I recall correctly, Murray and the offense came out of the gate GUNS BLAZING in last year’s SECCG against LSU. I definitely believe had we executed on those plays and gone up 21-0, we’re looking at a totally different outcome. Football is such a game of momentum, I totally believe that if the Georgia offense comes out and executes slightly better than they did in the first half of the SECCG last year, we’re seeing the whole TAMU/Bama game all over again. Except I think we hold Bama down better than TAMU did. This isn’t just about Murray like so many people want to say, it’s about the whole team’s execution.

    • DawgBiscuit

      I’m with you. I think our best chance is to come out “guns blazing” and try to punch Bama in the mouth like aTm did. If we start off ultraconservative and afraid to try anything other than running between the tackles, we will get down early. There’s no reason not to go all out because it won’t matter whether a loss is by 3 or 30, but a win means a shot at the NC. We have to play like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  15. Macallanlover

    I feel we should begin with backfield blocking help and ease off if we see we can. It would be a tremendous downer to have Murray ripped like he was against SC and Ole Miss. I would rather have a three and out pn the forst seroes with incomplete passes than lose 8-10 yards on a sack. I say that because psychologically for the team, and the atmosphere in the Dome it would be a big hole to work out of. I believe we can survive the pass rush of Bama so I don’t think we will have to use max-protect much this game. Both teams are going to have several 3 and outs, imo. I would certainly love to have a successful opening drive but I don’t want to start from bad field position in what looks to be a tight game. I still think using the pass to open up the running game is necessary for us getting the balance we need to be effective in this match-up.

    • HahiraDawg

      Yes, this is also why the coin toss will be a big deal. I bet both teams would prefer to start with their D, force the other to prove it can execute initially. Much mo will be determined by the first O’s drive. I bet 1/4 of the game will be determined by the coin toss. By second quarter everyone will have settled down to a real football game if someone hasn’t already pulled off a TA&M on the other.

      • Cojones

        The opposite take to that would be to elect to receive to put points on the board early and let the opponent play from behind the 8 ball.

  16. DB

    I remember as a kid and a huge Dallas Cowboy fan that Dallas was playing the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs. Dallas had the best defense in the NFL. Fran Tarkenton and the Vikings won that day. They asked Fran after the game how Minnesota won and he said they won by throwing it on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down and if the coach would let him throwing it on 4th down.

    • Macallanlover

      Yes, and that would be true if the run were open to us, run it down their throats. We fire every bullet in our arsenal and leave it all on the field. I can accept any result if we goes balls out for 4 quarters tomorrow. These chances are too precious to squander.

      Our team. Our time. No regrets. Live it guys; you wanted it, you got it. Let’s rock.

  17. paul

    To beat Alabama all eleven men on the field at any given time have to play fundamentally sound and play consistently every single play for sixty full minutes. Alabama prefers to beat you into submission by wearing you down and exploiting of the opportunities you give them. We cannot afford to take plays off or lose focus. We cannot give the ball away. Anytime we cross their thirty we must come away with points. Preferably seven.

  18. JN

    Richt & Bobo’s mentality the past several weeks and in particular, this week.

    Richt has always had this keen ability to find ways to move the ball well when he puts his nose to the grindstone and has somewhat of a “screw it” attitude (LSU 04, 05, SECCG last year, etc). I think the result is a combination of Richt’s ability’s as well as his demeanor/attitude leaking into the players. If he’s had that type demeanor this past week, I really like our chances.

    From a player standpoint though, if UGA’s offensive line plays physical and has a very good night, the Dawgs win.

  19. OKDawg

    Mettenberger had success in 2 receiver sets, and Murray can too. It will make it harder on our Dawgs, and the running game will have to contribute more if we are forced into that. We can still win from that formation. But you’re right, Senator, if we can stay in 3 receivers – Bama’s in trouble.

  20. Bryant Denny

    Good posts by both the Senator and Groo.

    From our perspective, how we deploy TE Michael Williams is a key indicator to watch. At times, our RT D.J. Fluker, who is a huge human, has had trouble in pass protection, especially against speedier rushers. The anecdote to that has been keeping Williams in, either as tight end or H, to help out. If Williams is free to move, it means Fluker is doing his job and we can call what we want.

    My keys to the game: third down conversion rate, turnovers and who’s better mentally. If we have stats in the first two like LSU and A&M, we have a hard time getting jiggy with it in Miami. (That’s some genius insight right there.)

    • The Lone Stranger

      Everyone is always working to get jiggy with it. I’ll retort, BD, with similar concerns at the RT position in the UGa camp. Got the Freshman Theus in there and he has been spotty in certain games and situations. He’ll have never played in a more momentous game in all his life, and no one can predict how it will hit him.

      I am also interested in watching what The Grantham does with the Safeties. Does he give the Bama receivers respect and pull them away from the LOS or does he use Williams up tighter in anticipation of the blast-ahead run game?

      • Bryant Denny

        That’s a great point, too.

        It reminds me of Julio and Green. Those guys forced a double team. You HAD to account for them. That, in turn, limited what a D could do to the run game. For us, Cooper is a legitimate threat – short, middle or deep. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s accounted for.

        • Silver Creek Dawg

          BD,

          Is Saban really gonna pull Chris Black’s redshirt? If he does, give us a breakdown on his skill set. If he doesn’t, I have a feeling it plays into UGA’s hands a bit by not giving McCarron an extra threat on the outside.

          • Objective Bama Fan

            Granted, I don’t have first hand knowledge, but during fall camp the beat reporters were extremely high on him. As a matter of fact, before he was hurt, they said that he showed the most promise and the most likely to see the field this year as a freshman.

          • Bryant Denny

            I’m guessing he’s not, that Black is for emergency purposes. But he is supposed to be special.

  21. Rocket Dawg

    That is the connundrum: A 3 or 4 wide fast tempo no huddle attack or the 2 back I formation “max protect” type set.

    The spread sets have given Bama a hard time in the past and they let Murray identify the coverage better since you can’t disguse as well when you are spread out. I like this because it gets defenders out of the box which should open the run and Murray can decide where to go with the ball based on the pre-snap read. Saban (and Smart, although I feel like he is a puppet) gave Stafford fits in ’08 with disguised coverage out of the 3-4, this negates that to a degree. The disadvantages of this set is it puts the Oline in a situation where they HAVE to win their one on one match ups (5 vs 6 in the box) and I am still not 100% sure we can do that.

    The I formation 2 back sets allow for Max Protect and should keep Murray upright with Bama’s less than stellar pass rush, the negative is that you don’t get a lot of 1 on 1 on the outside and it puts one (or two) more defenders in the box to stop the run which I think plays to Bama’s advantage.

  22. AlphaDawg

    We have one chance in this game. We HAVE TO SCORE MORE POINTS.

    Now lets stop the chatter and “LETS GET IT ON!!!!”

  23. TennesseeDawg

    Dawgs are going to see a lot of press coverage by Alabama. It worked against them with USCe and Florida so Alabama is going to try and jam up our WRs. The WRs have got to get off the ball and make Bama pay for it.

    • NC Dawg

      The key there is for Murray to really be on his game early, hit the short stuff (screens and slants), and thus open up the whole offense.

  24. Turd Ferguson

    Add me to the list of people who think this basically comes down to Aaron Murray. If he’s the better QB tomorrow, we win. And frankly, that’s what scares the hell out of me. As much as I love the guy.

  25. Debby Balcer

    Our team, our time, no regrets. I believe the DAWGS won’t quit. They have a chip on their shoulder and they will play lights out. I will be the Dome loud and proud of our team.

  26. this game is going to be decided by one-three key momentum shifting head scratching plays from either squad. that’s why the play, for the unexplainable.

  27. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    Can our front 7 hold up against Bama’s offensive line for 60 minutes?

  28. Cosmic Dawg

    You have got to know that Bama is going to try and rattle Aaron early and often, surely they roll the dice on their so-so secondary and do a lot of blitzing right out of the gate, right?

    Which is why I am glad, as The Senator pointed out, that Murray has been looking to his check down receivers more and more and we’ve been getting the TE’s into the game more, too. If we swat them on the nose a few times when they’re blitzing, then we can maybe open up some bigger plays against their average secondary.

    But here is another question – is it the short passes under pressure that get so many of Murray’s passes knocked down? I am only guessing, but I think he does have a lot of passes batted down, not all his interceptions are downfield, as I recall.

    I do hope they encourage him to run if he has the opportunity – I know we were worried about him getting hurt, but this is for all the marbles, let him follow his instincts. I also think that will make him feel more comfortable back there, knowing he doesn’t just have to sit in the pocket waiting to get creamed if nothing is there because they told him to stop scrambling….we can’t assume that his fewer scrambles are the reason for his increased QB rating from years past – he may just be getting better regardless.

  29. Rik Smits

    The nose tackle is key to both 3-4 style defenses. Who is more likely to command a 2nd blocker John Jenkins/Kwame Geathers (vs. Barrett Jones) or Jesse Williams (vs. David Andrews)?

  30. Junior

    I really think focusing on stopping the Bama run is key. Getting pressure on AJ is another huge need. The way I look at it, there are many equal attributes between the two teams. However, I think the Georgia defense has a better ability to impact the outcome of a game. Force AJ to be their offense and give him some headaches to deal with. Taking a cue from your article, spreading them out is to me the best offensive plan. Obviously, being able to adjust the sets based on what our former defensive captain is throwing at our former QB will be a huge factor as well. It will be a chess match between them. The talent is there, it would be nice to see a complete SECCG performance. Looking for great performances from the allstars on this team. Time to GATA BABY!!!!!

  31. AusDawg85

    Things we won’t see…

    Georgia wins the toss…and elects to receive!
    First play…PA to Gurley, catch King going deep down the left side.
    Richt going for it on 4th down from the Bama 29 in the first half.
    An onside kick…that works.
    Mitchell taking a knee 2 yards deep in the endzone.
    Murray faking the zone read, then fumbling the ball, catching it, running scared left, and finding Lynch all alone in the endzone a la Manziel…which is really a good thing…probably.

    Thing I most want to see…

    Bama coeds with boo boo faces as we take the victory formation!