Daily Archives: October 20, 2013

And the hits just keep on coming.

Conley and Harvey-Clemons don’t need surgery, but are questionable for the Florida game.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Observations from the armchair: Georgia-Vanderbilt

Trust me, these are the posts that make it hard to blog about college football.

  • If there’s anything that surprised me about what Vanderbilt did or didn’t do, it’s that the Commodores never came after Barber very hard.  Of course, that thought first came to me right before the disastrous last punt attempt, so maybe they had things figured out all along.
  • The crappiest thing about losing that game was wasting Shaq Wiggins’ pick-six.
  • Speaking of Shaq, the CBS broadcast crew was the worst pairing I’ve had to listen to all season.  Tim Brando is one of those irritating people who’s incredibly full of himself without even a sliver of awareness that his audience fails to share his high opinion of himself.
  • Injury problem #1:  Vanderbilt had absolutely no fear of Georgia’s downfield passing game.  None.
  • Injury problem #2:  Vanderbilt respected Georgia’s running backs, but respect isn’t the same thing as fear.  Douglas can bust through a line and pick up tough yardage.  Green’s got some quicks and shiftiness.  Gurley possesses both and Marshall has a higher gear than either.
  • But the biggest problem on offense right now isn’t injury related.  It’s that neither the offensive coordinator nor the starting quarterback trust the pass blocking.  Combine that with a secondary not overly concerned about getting challenged deep, and Murray saw his window get squeezed tighter and tighter.
  • Are we at the point now where Marshall Morgan is the part of special teams we’re most comfortable with?  Boy.
  • Swann sure looked a lot more comfortable playing the star position than he did at corner.
  • Mauger and Moore weren’t great, but at least they both made contributions, which is a heckuva lot more than we saw out of them against Missouri.
  • Defense was better on third-down conversions, but the offense was awful in that regard.
  • I still don’t understand why Georgia continues to get so little production out of its tight ends.
  • Murray was way too locked in to getting the ball to Conley, given how much attention Vandy’s defense was paying to Conley.
  • Again, another week I would have thrown a bunch more screen passes than Bobo called.
  • I was amazed at how much the refs were letting Vanderbilt’s players use their hands.  On the play he was tossed, Drew was held, rather blatantly.  And Krause clearly pushed off on his 41-yard reception.  Of course, if they’re not gonna call it, I’d do it, too.
  • I’d like to know what Franklin was thinking when he called for a field goal with 20 seconds left in the game.
  • And, yeah, the Conley injury on the Hail Mary to end the game was the cherry on top of the sundae.

I think Mark Richt went into this season knowing exactly what he had on offense and defense and knew that it was going to be something of a high wire act to hold things together, particular with that September schedule. September was managed well, but what Richt wasn’t counting on were the rash of injuries (who could?) and the beyond craptastic special teams play.  Yesterday’s game plan still had at its heart a feeling that the offense could more than carry its share of the load and by the time the coaches realized that wasn’t the case, the ball was being snapped over Barber’s head.

At some point, they need to realize which kids can do their jobs, plug them in place and quit farting around with pulling players in and out of roles for no apparent reason.  Assuming Gurley and Bennett are indeed back for the Florida game, things will start looking up as a result of the talent upgrade.  But it’s time to quit assuming there’s enough talent to overcome the mistakes on and off the field.  That’s a lesson that should have been learned as they walked out of Neyland Stadium.  Hopefully it won’t take any more losses for that to sink in.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Maybe he should have taken a knee.

With all the upsets and all that was at stake yesterday, it’s only natural that there would be some bad feelings in the aftermath.

“I’m not a diplomat and I don’t care if I’m a diplomat. All I care about is winning games and that the kids get better and we play hard, and I think it was shit that he threw the ball at the end of the game like he did. You can print that, and you can send it to him and he can comment too. I think it was low class and I think it was bullshit to throw the ball when the game is completely over against our kids that are basically our scout team.”

Yeah, that was rough watching a team that was winning… wait, what?

Washington State continued to throw the ball late into the game with the outcome no longer in doubt, and Aliotti made it clear that he wasn’t happy with Cougars’ head coach Mike Leach’s aggressiveness until the final whistle.

“I’m pissed off that they scored those last two touchdowns,” Aliotti said.

That was in a game in which Oregon won 62-38.  Mike Leach had some nerve trying to run his offense in the fourth quarter.

Nick Aliotti’s panties are in a wad because his team defensive stats aren’t everything they could have been.

Over the course of the evening, Halliday broke the Autzen Stadium for passing attempts (89), completions (58), and total plays (93) and the Pac-12 records for both passess attempted and completed, which were set by Arizona’s Matt Scott last season.

In fact, the 89 passing attempts surpassed the conference level and broke former Purdue quaterback Drew Brees’ FBS record of 83.

“I’ve never been in a game where the team throws the ball 89 times,” defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. “Usually a team doesn’t get 89 snaps. I knew they were going to throw it a lot, I think they rushed for like four yards…we’re going to have some great run stats.”

Man, if there’s an Alabama-Oregon national title match up, Nick Saban may not be the biggest jerk on the field.  Imagine that.

15 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football

Targeting the targeting rule

I know I risk coming off sounding like I’ve got a mouthful of sour grapes here, but that’s not my intention.  Really, this post isn’t inspired by the two awful calls that went against Georgia yesterday so much as it is by a non-call I saw in last night’s LSU-Ole Miss game.  It came on a play when it was clear that two players came together in a moment of awkward, random helmet contact.  Hugh Freeze screamed bloody murder about it, but there was no call. In fact, the crew chief went out of his way to state there was no targeting involved on the play.

All I could think when I saw that was “judgment, it’s a wonderful thing”.

I get the pressure the NCAA is under to do something about the concussion issue.  I don’t think any right-minded person can object to well-minded efforts to protect the long-term health and well-being of players.  The problem we’re seeing, though, isn’t because of protection.  It’s because the NCAA has chosen with the way it’s constructed the targeting rules to go after players’ intentions when they strike another player to change those. And therein lies the rub.

Officials aren’t mind readers.  To expect them to know what’s in the heart of a kid who makes a play, often in split-second conditions, while being pressured by coaches on the sidelines and fans in the stands, is asking for something that’s less than reasonable.  And I think officials and their conference supervisors knew just that when the new regime was imposed upon them by the NCAA and raised Cain in response.  Which is how we got this absurd review framework that lets a penalty stand even if the targeting call is overturned.  It’s nothing more than a fig leaf created to enable officials not to feel constrained to throw a flag for targeting.

But that’s not the most absurd part of this.  Consider the SEC’s response to the Drew penalty, which was upheld by the replay official.

Here is the statement in verbatim, including the capital letters:

“Rule 9-1-4. No player shall target and initiate CONTACT TO THE HEAD OR NECK area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow OR SHOULDER. By rule, when in question, it is a foul.

“Also note that a replay official must have indisputable video evidence that there was no such contact to overturn the call on the field.”

The wrong word is capitalized there.  The key word is TARGET.  You see the dilemma that’s been created here.  The penalty is made as severe as it is – a possible ejection and a resulting penalty even if no foul occurred – because the NCAA’s stated purpose is to stop players from intending to hit other players in certain dangerous ways.  But the review official is only looking at whether contact in a particular form took place.  In other words, once a flag is thrown for targeting, the hit itself is the sole evidence of intent.

This is incredibly counterproductive for two reasons.  First, if you’re trying to change players’ hearts and minds about how they hit and tackle, this accomplishes little, because the players and their coaches will realize soon enough that even after they change striking behavior, the mistakes and penalties will still happen.  And second, you’ve given the officials no incentive to try to discern the intention behind the contact, because they know that the guy in the replay booth will only be looking to make sure that wasn’t an obvious mistake by the official who threw the flag about the physical evidence and that the penalty will still be marked off, consequences be damned.

I would call this insane, but I think the NCAA is scared shitless about losing a concussion lawsuit and “err on the side of caution” are the words they want everyone to live by.  If the cost for that is the occasional screw job we saw Georgia get yesterday, that’s the price of progress.  That’s why I expect Steve Shaw’s comments about those two calls to be muted, assuming he makes any public comments at all.  (Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me if a few quiet off-the-record words about being more careful get directed towards that LSU-Ole Miss crew, too.)  And I wouldn’t be so convinced that offseason changes to the targeting rule are a slam dunk.  Bean counters rule, man.

76 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

SEC Holocaust Day

The 2007 season has always been my benchmark for the wild and crazy side of college football (not coincidently, it’s my favorite season of all those I’ve followed closely).  But I can’t remember a day in 2007 that had as much craziness packed into it as the carnage we witnessed yesterday.  Five ranked SEC teams took hits yesterday, three of those losses coming at the hands of unranked opponents.  (Nationally, add to that numbers 3, 8 and 9 going down, and you’ve got as chaotic a week as imaginable.)

My team was one of those that came out on the receiving end of the bloodshed, so there’s that.  But if you’re an Auburn or Missouri fan, you’ve got to be one ecstatic camper right now.  It’s mid-October and your teams control their destinies to make it to the SECCG.  Malzahn and Pinkel have to be the runaway candidates for conference coach of the year right now.

I wonder if I ought to compose this week’s SEC Power Poll ballot by putting every team but Alabama and Kentucky in a hat and drawing names randomly.  I’ve had crazier ideas.

30 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

See if this works.

Okay, I keed, I keed.

Try to get the venting out of your systems today.  I don’t want to see the comments section devolve into a permanent state of toxicity.  We’re better than that, really.

71 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff