Strengths and weaknesses

Friend of the blog Ed Kilgore had a comment last week that I wanted to revisit:

Assuming we might now go a couple of weeks without additional attrition, it’s increasingly clear the ’14 Dawgs will be an outfit with large strengths harnessed to one big weakness and a question mark. When Phil Steele’s unit ratings come out, I betcha Georgia is in the top five nationally at RB, WR and LB. That would be amazing, and usually the sign of a serious national championship contender. But Lord only knows where we would rank in the secondary (not in the top 50), and the OL rating has to be relatively mediocre at present.

I think Steele will also have the d-line ranked respectfully.  But special teams will likely also fall into the “Lord only knows” group.  (For 2013, he ranked Morgan 3rd in the country and the rest of special teams 107th.)

Overall, Ed’s spot on, it seems to me.  This year’s edition of Georgia football will marry big pluses to some very shaky minuses.  Which is where coaching comes in, figuring out how to maximize the strong suits to work around the flaws.  Shoot me if you like, but I’m not particularly worried about Bobo holding up his end of the deal on that.  Last year, despite all the injuries, Georgia’s offense managed to average 112.6 yards per game more than its opponents allowed.  Steele ranks that tenth best nationally.

Defensively?  Maybe Pruitt’s got more to work with than we suspect.  Steele measured Georgia’s 2013 defense holding its opponents below their average yards per game.  Obviously, that doesn’t tell the entire story.  Special teams killed Georgia on several occasions.  So did a poor turnover margin.  (Georgia was +1 in its wins and minus-8 in its losses.)  Turnover margin is partly random and partly good preparation, so there’s only so much you can do beyond putting your faith in our old friend regression to the mean. (Improvement in this category certainly couldn’t hurt.)  But special teams have been crying for a fix for several seasons.  Now would be a good time to do something about that.

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23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Stats Geek!

23 responses to “Strengths and weaknesses

  1. If the 2 lines of scrimmage are solid, there isn’t a game on the schedule that shouldn’t be winnable. If you look at our losses last year, the lines of scrimmage were the difference in every one.

    1) Clemson – offensive line was pretty horrible. The 2nd quarter when they couldn’t block anyone and the series on the goal line where we had the poor FG snap lost that game.
    2) Missouri – the tackles got schooled by Mizzou. The defensive line got really no push and left the DBs exposed.
    3) Vandy – once again, poor play for most of the game of the offensive line. Two possessions in the red zone where we got FGs instead of TDs made all of the difference.
    4) Auburn – until the 4th quarter, both lines of scrimmage were flat out awful. If they played the first 45 minutes like they did the last 12, the fluke never happens.
    5) Nebraska – the offensive line wasn’t very good especially in the run game. Except for 1 play, the defense played well enough to win.

    The season comes down to whether Houston or Theus is an upgrade at left tackle over Gates.

  2. I’m less concerned about the OL than most, apparently. It won’t be an Alabama OL that dominates opponents, but it will be solid. The punt team and secondary will most likely be abortions, though. But at this point my expectations are so low for both units that perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • My real concern about the OL is that they can’t find anyone to fill the left guard slot, which results in a ripple effect of moving Houston from RT and Theus from LT.

      • Great point, Senator. Greg Pyke appears to be the answer to replace Burnette at right guard. We seem to do pretty good job of recruiting guards especially when we think they are supposed to be tackles. I shudder to think what happens if a tackle gets hurt, drives on a suspended license, emerges from an alley, or gets caught passed out drunk on a toilet downtown this summer. Is it August yet?

      • I think they’ll find someone, to be honest. I don’t think Theus moves from the LT spot.

      • So you’re sold Theus actually steps up at LT like he’s being hyped?

        LT, QB, CB. Those spots scare me big time going into next year (I think JJ Green is at S, so I’m comfortable there, for now).

      • Mayor

        I’ve been saying it for months: Georgia is 1 player short in the O-line. If the coaches had signed just 1 of those JC tranfers that got snapped up by Bama, A&M and Ole Miss, the Georgia O-line would be pretty solid. But noooooooo………….

        • charlottedawg

          Long term planning and thoughtful management are not “the Georgia way”.

          • Hasn’t been. We might be getting into it now, I hope so. But the OL recruiting is a big mystery to me. I have no clue why we haven’t been able to do it.
            ~~~

      • Joe Schmoe

        As I have commented before, it seems like a very bad strategy to make three positions on the OL weaknesses (LT / RT / LG) in order to address one weakness (LG). Why would we play Theus and Houston out of position to try to address LG (although I don’t really think Houston is a SEC tackle)? Aren’t the tackles more important positions?

      • DawgByte

        I expect Pyke and Kublanow to lock down the Guard positions.

        • +1. Almost positive about that. Just hope they stay healthy. We say we have 7 or 8 who can play, but I suspect it’s only 4 or 5, and they aren’t All-SEC types.

          Can’t help but wonder if Richt’s thinking on the OL changed, maybe our recruiting would as well. I disagree with him that you only need a mediocre OL. This is the SEC, not FSU with soft schedules.

          IMHO, Richt needs to change his OL standard, and demand top-tier OL’s. If he did that, we just might recruit a lot better OL.
          ~~~

    • Macallanlover

      That is a fair point PW, we don’t have to be dominant with the offensive firepower we have at RB and, hopefully, the QBs ability to play off of that. Our OL hasn’t been a strong point for so long that we should be used to not counting on them to be a difference maker. As the Senator point out, we have holes, and usually do a “musical chairs” type rotation that makes it impossible to ever have an idea how we will do in the trenches in any given matchup.

      I would give us a solid chance to be good on offense if we can just be “neutral” at the OL, and that seems possible. Lord knows what we would do if we ever had a really top drawer OL. Someone please go to the Midwest and get some of those corn-fed boys Wisconsin gets every year. Hell, just get us some of the throwaways that TN, LSU, and Bama get.

  3. DawgPhan

    I guess seeing the offense score points in buckets with bad OL play has been feeling good about the offense.

    The defense has been pretty bad so any improvement there and I think UGA has a great season. Just not convinced that the defense is going to be any better, especially playing a bunch of guys who have been on campus for about 6 weeks.

  4. Will Trane

    Hutson Mason. 2 games. Aaron Murray. 3+ years. Never was QB experience more on display than in the Auburn game. And the D? Well they held their own in the 2nd half for Murray to go. Can Mason do that right out of the box in 2014. Clemson and South Carolina will tell me. 2-0?
    History: 1980 – 1982. Last big era for the Dawgs.
    The comes the Jan Kemp situation. Followed by the Damon Evans pany raid to north metro Atlanta. Then the relationship between Donnan and Adams…at least $200,000. Now Donnan is not guilty on 41 Federal counts.
    In the meantime. Well, suspensions, drug violations, transfers to Ole Miss, MSU, Auburn, LSU.
    Here is a suggestion AD Dept, Athletic Board, and Regents. Get your damn act together!

  5. Joe Schmoe

    This post is exactly what I wanted to point out when I saw the post about UGA being in the top 5 schools for players drafted over the past decade or so. The major problem that Richt has is not overall talent but rather roster management. Every year we seem to have a position or two that is a total achilles’ heel that ends up keeping us from getting over the top. Look at our defense: stacked at DL and LB but set to be offset by a train wreck of a secondary. Offense: unbelievable talent at the skill positions set to be offset by weak OL (again).

    If we were just able to spread the talent more evenly over the roster we would be very well positioned to win championships.

  6. I Wanna Red Cup

    Gurly and Marshall have a way of making the OL better.

  7. Mayor

    I don’t want to beat this to death but Georgia is still in the O-lineman acquisition business. We never seem to NOT be short of O-linemen. Did anyone notice how many O-linemen were drafted in the first 2 rounds of the NFL draft last week? This is fundamental to having a good football team. Sort of like having good DBs and good STs…er…..wait…

  8. 69Dawg

    We certainly do not put as much recruiting emphasis on the OL as Alabama and Auburn. We seem to go after one really good tackle and a bunch of also played types. The last Olineman Georgia had drafted was whom? I’m sure I’m forgetting a few but they are a few.

  9. Dboy

    “Turnover margin is partly random and partly good preparation”

    Senator, you have come a long way.