Daily Archives: August 19, 2013

“Nevermind”, says the NCAA.

Gosh, it’s almost like it never happened.

Almost.

At least somebody there has enough sense to look into making sure this PR nightmare never crops up again:

As a part of the ongoing review of NCAA rules, our members will examine the organized competition rules, especially as it impacts those returning from military service.

On to the next snafu…

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Filed under The NCAA

Georgia 2013: addition by subtraction?

Here’s how Glenn Guilbeau of Gannett’s Louisiana Newspapers, the only sports writer in the country who picked Georgia No. 1 in the preseason AP poll, explained his vote to the AJ-C‘s Chip Towers:

“Georgia easily could have won it all last year and they return most of their offense and (Aaron) Murray from that team. And I think it’s good that they don’t return that defense. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t return players from a bad unit, you know? So I think that’s a good thing, too. And I just think it might be their turn.  I think that’s what happens; sometimes it’s just a team’s turn.”

I think “bad” is a little strong to describe a defense that finished 32nd nationally in total defense, but I won’t argue that last season’s defense lived up to its potential.  I also don’t know if I buy Guilbeau’s rationale about the departures.  For every thought I have about how disappointing the run defense was over the last four games, I remember Jarvis Jones and wonder if his production can truly be replaced (and don’t answer that question until you first go back and reflect on what he did against Missouri and Florida).  I think about how well Grantham and Georgia have recruited on defense the past three years; then I remember how green this year’s secondary will be when it tries to defense Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd.

We’ll have to wait for the empirical evidence to know for sure, of course.  But I think what’s implicit in Guilbeau’s vote is a belief that the offense is good enough to overcome whatever defensive shortcomings may exist, whether early on or for longer.  We’ll have to see about that, too.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“If Todd Grantham learned anything from Nick Saban though, it would be the need to stress fundamentals.”

No, this isn’t written in code.

UGA plays a mix of combination coverage and man/man coverage schemes, but is primarily a C2 zone defense with rolling C3 against spread formations in their Nickel package. Since the one-gap 3-4 is a pressuring defense like the Under 4-3, the man coverage is primarily based on man/man pressing packages using a single high safety and a “robber” underneath that is usually a linebacker. In any man/man scheme, the cover man is aligned with the correct leverage to funnel his receiver inside to the FS or to the boundary – i.e., towards the cover man’s best help. An alternative commonly used is 2 Man, with dual high safeties, that operates on the same concept.

It’s from Shakin the Southland‘s DrB’s exhaustive – and, boy, do I mean exhaustive – analysis of Georgia’s 3-4 defensive scheme.  It’ll take you a while to wade through it, but it’s worth the effort.

Oh, and bonus points awarded for the brief slap at Al Groh’s Georgia Tech run defense.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

And now, my favorite play from last season.

It wasn’t a game decider and it didn’t come in regular season play, but there is just something about that Murray to Conley 87-yard TD pass in the Cap One Bowl that makes me go schwiiinnng!  You can read what Murray had to say about the play here.

“They brought a full-house blitz, man-to-man coverage blitz. I think about seven guys, leaving the last four in coverage on our four receivers. Perfect. Just how you draw it up, exactly what you want to do,” Murray said.

Tight end Arthur Lynch walls off Conley’s defender, Cornhuskers cornerback Ciante Evans, with a key block to spring him into the open field. Meanwhile, left tackle Kenarious Gates sprints into the open field and upends Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford at the 24, cutting off the last defender who has any chance of catching Conley.

The Georgia receiver, meanwhile, turns on the afterburners and sprints down the middle of the field for the win-clinching touchdown.

Great call, great throw, great catch, great run.  But what really sealed the deal for me was that block Gates threw to open up the middle of the field for Conley after the reception.  It looked like the parting of the Red Sea out there.

“Kenarious Gates made an unbelievable block downfield, which a lot of people won’t see, but he did a great job of chopping Conley’s guy down at the knees and Conley did the rest of the work from there,” Murray said. “It was a pretty impressive run. I’ve never seen him run so fast in my life. He was galloping pretty nicely down the field and … just really sealed the deal for us.”

Sweet.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Judging Aaron Murray

In light of this weekend’s discussion/trollfest at GTP about Aaron Murray’s college career, I thought this was a timely observation:

“In my opinion, he doesn’t have to prove anything,” right guard Chris Burnette said. “But I know the outside opinion is for him to just continue to do well and even better in the big games. Honestly, he’s a great leader of our team. Anytime we do well in a big game, he has a large part of it.

“Especially being a quarterback, I think a lot of the blame can get lumped on him when it’s not really his fault. I feel like if we come out and achieve our goals this year, I don’t think anybody will really be able to say too much about him.”

Well, about that last point, I think Burnette perhaps underestimates the tenaciousness of a certain part of the fan base (I can already hear the “how come it took him four years?” criticism).  But I digress.

What I’m more interested about is an existential question:  how much credit does a quarterback deserve for his team’s wins and losses?  (A question, by the way, not for trolls or blind homers, as we already know the nature of your responses.)  On the one hand, quarterback is the most important position on the field.  On the other, even Johnny Football doesn’t play defense or special teams.

And shouldn’t some of your perception depend on what’s put on a quarterback’s shoulders?  David Greene is Georgia’s all-time winning quarterback (and my personal favorite), but I don’t think anybody would seriously argue that he was as physically gifted a quarterback as Shockley, Stafford or Murray.  His leadership skills were superb, though, and he had the luxury of being asked to be a game manager for much of his career because VanGorder’s defenses were so stout.  So how do you rate the credit for, say, beating a mediocre at best UAB team at home 16-13?

That’s a luxury Stafford didn’t enjoy, except perhaps over the second half of the 2007 season.  And I can point to games like Kentucky and Georgia Tech in 2008, when Georgia doesn’t even stay in those games if Stafford didn’t pick the offense up on his shoulders and carry it.  (Alas, that wasn’t enough against Tech.)  But I can also point to games when Stafford didn’t handle the pressure well at all.  How much blame does Stafford deserve for overcompensating for a defense that couldn’t hold up?

Which brings us to Aaron Murray.

Statistically, Murray is going to wind up as Georgia’s greatest ever at the position.  But, fairly or unfairly, he’s got the big game flop label hanging around his neck.  He also hasn’t hoisted an SEC championship trophy.  How do you apportion credit or blame for games like the 2011 South Carolina craziness, when Murray had two big turnovers, but also registered the highest passer rating against the Gamecocks’ defense that season and kept his team in the game with four TD passes?  And how do you score his work in last year’s painful SECCG?  After all, his wasn’t the offense that abandoned the passing game for much of the night.  But he threw a crucial interception at the end of the first half and when all was said and done finished five yards shy of a signature win.

I’m not expecting definitive answers here, at least not if you don’t have an agenda.  But I’d like to know where you think Murray stands and why.  Lay your thoughts on me in the comments.

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Filed under Georgia Football

What is this “common sense” you speak of?

Hey, Steven Rhodes and the NCAA?  It’s a process.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn released a statement in reference to Rhodes’ situation Sunday night that said, “The NCAA has provided an initial review of the case and will continue to work with the university. The process is ongoing and a final decision has not yet been made.”

Is it possible to shame the NCAA?

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Georgia Tech recruiting: you win some, you lose some.

If you can get past the fan boy gushing, there is an interesting observation to be made about this post on Georgia Tech’s quarterbacks.  Paul Johnson took a kid away from Nick Saban.

Getting back to the Yellow Jackets, when was the last time a major BCS team had a state 100 meter sprint champion playing at the QB position?  Just the thought of Coach Paul Johnson having a weapon like Justin Thomas at QB just puts a smile on my face thinking about the possibilities that can be employed with his unique knowledge of this offense and ability to call plays in game situations.  This is just one of the reasons that every Yellow Jackets fan should be looking forward to this season on the Flats with high expectations.  Toss in a very experienced and hopefully healthy offensive line and the potential is present for perhaps the best season offensively from the QB slot alone.

Lest we forget that the best coach in college football, Nick Saban at Alabama, wanted Justin Thomas on his team just not as a QB.  That speaks volumes about the play making ability of him as an athlete no matter where he was going to play on the field.  Also don’t forget that Justin was not only a long time oral commitment to Bama, but the MVP in the Alabama AAAAAA State Championship Game his team won, as well as the state 100 meter Champion.  Nick Saban showed lots of class in telling Justin and his family in advance of him ever signing a national letter of intent that he was not going to be receiving any playing time as a QB.  That just opened up the door for Paul Johnson to bring in a great player as more times than not, a high school QB will still want to be playing that same position in college.

To some extent, I think that last point’s correct.  Pat White’s the most notable recent example of that.  And maybe Thomas turns out to be Tech’s version of White.  If Tech gets really lucky with a kid like that, it can elevate the program.  There is a recruiting niche that Paul Johnson can take advantage of.

There are a few problems, though.  For one, some of those high school quarterbacks he mentions may want to play the same position in college, but not on the Flats.  (Nick Marshall turned Tech down to play DB at Georgia; that didn’t work out, but he’s now the starting QB at Auburn.)

Another problem is that while some niches open up for Johnson, others close.  His is never going to be an offense that attracts top-flight receivers or offensive tackles out of high school.

Third, he’s still got to recruit defensive players.  And there, it’s a straight up battle with everybody else.

The triple option makes Tech competitive in the ACC.  Anything more means Johnson has to manage those recruiting tradeoffs at a very favorable level.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

How many returners does it take to screw in a light bulb?

You know the old saw “if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one?  Well, after reading this Seth Emerson article and this in particular…

The unresolved issues around the team revolve around who will return punts and kicks. It will be a rotation of three or four names at both spots, with Malcolm Mitchell involved in both. Tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have been mentioned for kickoffs, the question there is whether the team will pull the trigger on that intriguing possibility.

… I’m wondering if the same applies to returners.

I’m not trying to be too snarky here, although, Lord knows, Richt’s recent approach to the punt return game certainly invites sarcasm.  I simply wonder what deploying three or four returners says about Georgia’s special teams options.  Is it a case of too much depth, or not having a guy who can take charge of the position?  Are they looking for a primary guy who gets a little help now and then?  Is Richt still committed to finding a Logan Gray successor come hell or high water?

I can see the benefit of spreading the wealth with regard to spreading the injury risk.  On the other hand, you would think that if chemistry and timing is supposed to develop between a return man and his blockers, using multiple returners would inhibit those.

For what it’s worth, of the top ten punt returners last season, seven handled at least 70% of their team’s returns and none handled less than half.  (Georgia didn’t have anyone ranked in the top 75.)  It was different for kickoff returns, as there weren’t nearly as many among the top ten who handled a high percentage of those.  The average appears to be about half.  (Malcolm Mitchell, who had 50% of Georgia’s kickoff returns, finished 66th nationally.)

Any ideas about what we may find in store for Georgia’s return games this season?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Anchor down.

Coming off a nine-win season, back-to-back bowl game appearances for the first time in school history and Vanderbilt can’t sell as many football season tickets as last year?

For once, James Franklin is right to feel ticked off.

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Filed under James Franklin Is Ready To Rumble