Daily Archives: October 23, 2013

SEC pride

I couldn’t resist setting the record straight with the SEC’s Communications Director.

SEC!  SEC!  SEC!

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UPDATE:  More from your conference.

Here’s my question for Shaw:  as you’re drawing these distinctions, how much does player intent enter into your analysis?

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Filed under SEC Football

Contrast in styles

Don’t know how significant this is, but it’s still interesting to me.  Bobo, as I noted in the last post, tends to take the “we” approach when discussing the offense.  That’s not how Grantham goes about his business.  Remember when he bristled in response to the suggestion that the players were having problems getting the defensive signals on time?

Well, he may have called that “bull”, but it sounds like he paid attention.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s schemes and signals had appeared to confuse his young players most of this season. But at Vanderbilt the gameplan was simplified, according to one player, and the results showed.

“We didn’t have that complicated a game plan. A lot of guys understood it,” sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “That definitely was one of the better defensive games we played.”

As long as they get there, I don’t care what route they take.  There’s a game coming up with a Florida offense that’s the worst in the SEC.  It presents a good opportunity to build on what they’ve done in stretches in the last three games – but only stretches.  If “keep it simple, stupid” is what works, I can think of worse mantras to build a successful defense on.

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Filed under Georgia Football

There’s all kinds of execution.

How’s this for a stat?

The Bulldogs have run 100 plays from scrimmage since Green’s 57-yarder against Missouri and have gained just 403 yards.

If you didn’t like that one, I’ve got another for you.

“I’m leading the team in rushing touchdowns right now,” Murray said.

There seems to be a general consensus about the cause behind the Dawgs’ current woes.  Per Murray,

“The basic thing is doing your job,” Murray said. “And use this week and next week to really hone in on your craft, whatever it is. Whether it’s throwing the ball, running the ball, tackling, catching, blocking, snapping, kicking. Just focus in.

“It just seems like this year, everywhere — offense, defense, special teams — we have these mental breakdowns where we just, I don’t know if it’s take a play off or just don’t completely focus on what we need to do. And that’s what killing us this year.”

And from his offensive coordinator:

“They were a team that was going to blitz us and play three-deep zone and keep everything in front of them,” Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We had to do a good job of executing, and for the most part we did not.”

One thing I like about Bobo is that he strikes me as being sincere when he uses the word “we” talking about the offense.  The players may not be doing everything they’re expected to do, but he recognizes that he hasn’t been as consistent with his playcalling in the last two games, either.  I know that some of that comes from the uncertainty of dealing with players who’ve never seen the field before the Missouri game (in particular, some of the walk-on receivers don’t seem capable of much more than occupying a defensive back’s space) and some comes from an offensive line that’s been spotty in its blocking.  But we’ve also seen Bobo do a masterful job of orchestrating effective drives, like the one that led to Georgia’s first score against Missouri and the one that closed out the first half against Vanderbilt.

Some of what’s happened feels like the players and coaches are just waiting for the big play on offense.  Because up until recently, that’s worked.

Explosive plays are nice and they’ve been Georgia’s bread and butter the last two seasons.  Right now, though, the Dawgs are lacking in the skill position talent that can generate those big plays seemingly on their own.  Those cracks the offensive linemen make that let Gurley or Marshall create huge runs aren’t going to get the same results from Douglas and Green.  Chris Conley draws a lot more attention as Murray’s top target than he does when Bennett and Scott-Wesley (not to mention Mitchell) are out there flanking him.  I’m not sure the mental preparation has caught up to the physical limitations.

That’s not to say Georgia can’t score.  There are still working parts.  Murray’s there.  So is Lynch.  The line hasn’t suffered any injuries.  It’s all about recognizing what they’ve got to work with and utilizing what they’ve got better than the guys trying to stop them.

“Teams are going to make us execute, and they’re going to try not to give us any cheap ones,” Bobo said. “We’ve got to improve as a group with our assignments and make plays. We’ve got to find ways to get the ball to the guys who can make plays.”

Of course, getting Gurley back won’t hurt anything.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The wrath of Emmert

And so l’affaire Miami ends, not with a bang, but a whimper:  some scholarship losses and some minor recruiting restrictions, but the big ticket stuff – TV and postseason – remains intact and the school doesn’t get slapped with any sort of institutional penalty.  The NCAA will attempt to justify the punishment by emphasizing the cooperative nature of the school…

Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, the chair of the Committee on Infractions, cited Miami’s “unprecedented” self-imposed penalties and “commendable” level of cooperation as factors that weighed heavily in the decision regarding further penalties.

… but the reality is that the only thing unprecedented about this was that Donna Shalala had Mark Emmert’s balls in a vice.

Keep in mind what the NCAA is walking away from here.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

As bad as it all was, there was no way that Emmert was prepared to risk going to court and having the NCAA’s dirty investigative laundry aired out to dry for all to see.  Shalala knew that.  And Emmert knew that Shalala knew.

A cynic might observe that since there wasn’t any money at stake, the NCAA’s heart wasn’t in litigating, anyway.

There will be much gnashing of teeth over this decision.  I’m long past the point of being angered by the NCAA’s erratic enforcement of what Emmert considers important.  That he continues to be propped up despite this doesn’t faze me anymore.

The only thing that still gets me is how anyone can seriously suggest that the solution to the problem rests in giving Mark Emmert more authority.

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Filed under The NCAA

There, there, now. The SEC’s gonna make it all better.

What a crock.

Georgia coach Mark Richt and Athletic Director Greg McGarity have had extensive conversations with SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw and other league administrators about the targeting calls that went against the Bulldogs in this past Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. We won’t likely ever know what came from those discussions, but you can bet something did.

Would you bet on something you’ll never see?

To be clear, the crew working the Georgia-Vanderbilt game blew at least one call. But Shaw through an SEC spokesman declined comment to the AJC on Monday and the league office refused to disclose whether there might be any discipline forthcoming as a result of those reviews.

“Steve doesn’t talk about individual calls,” said Herb Vincent, the SEC’s associate commissioner for communications. “He has a conversation with all the officials after the games. He’ll have discussions with the coach about anything he sees that may be of concern. But those conversations are never public. All that stuff is dealt with in private.”

Yes, why should there be any open accountability?  It’s not like anybody saw what happened Saturday… well, except for everyone who saw what happened.

It really amazes me the lengths to which the conference goes to protect the delicate fee-fees of its officiating crews.  The SEC is more than happy, as is the case with its peers, to chastise a coach publicly for criticizing poor work from referees, but heaven forbid a public reprimand from the conference when one of its employees blows a call. (Or two.)  And remember, this wasn’t your ordinary in the heat of the moment boo-boo.  This one had legs.

Obviously, Saturday’s crew butchered the call on Ramik Wilson. The Georgia linebacker did everything as he had been taught when he hit receiver Jonathan Krause shoulder to chest and separated him from the ball on a fourth-and-four in the fourth quarter.  Wilson’s ejection was overturned by replay but the 15-yard penalty stood – there is currently no provision to reverse that — and Vanderbilt retained possession and went on to score a touchdown rather than turning over the ball on downs.

If you’ve looked at replays, you’ll notice that the umpire Tom Quick, who was standing right in front of the play and saw the whole thing unfold, did not throw a flag. He signaled for an incomplete pass. The official that did throw a flag – late in fact — was field judge Michael Williams. Williams was positioned across the field, a significant distance from the play, and in front of the Vanderbilt bench.

Has anyone in the SEC office considered the possibility that official, public criticism of a decision like that might actually have the effect of curbing some of the more egregious flag throwing?  Obviously, not seriously.  But the quiet chats and threats of losing out on choice bowl assignments aren’t doing much to rein these guys in from taking matters into their own hands when they feel like it.  Maybe a little open shame would be a good thing.

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Filed under SEC Football

Say hello to Aaron Murray’s leetle fren’.

Is this gushing?  I think this is gushing.

Todd Gurley was back at practice on Tuesday and, according to quarterback Aaron Murray, he was a sight for sore eyes.

“Beautiful as always,” said Murray, asked after practice how Gurley looked. “I was looking at him and I was like, ‘goodness, gracious that dude is huge.’ I mean he’s a pretty sucker to look at. He looked good. He did everything. Y’all see us when we do run polish. He did every rep with me and he looked good. I asked him how he felt and he said he feels good. We’ve got another two weeks so he’ll be full go by Florida hopefully. It’s definitely great to have him back.”

Love is a many splendored thing, y’all.  I know just how he feels.  And I doubt you’ll hear a bigger cheer in Jacksonville than when we see number 3 step on the field.  Hopefully.

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