Defense is getting buttah and buttah.

Giving the devil his due, it’s fair to say that Todd Grantham is having a helluva year as Louisville’s defensive coordinator.  Just because I’m surprised doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve credit.  (In fact, you could make a good case that he’s earned his million dollar paycheck more than his boss has.)

But as a Georgia fan, that’s not very important to me.  What is important is how the job Jeremy Pruitt is doing this year compares to what Grantham turned in on that front last season.  And from that perspective, it’s no contest.  Pruitt is crushing Grantham.

… Below are the major defensive categories with their averages as well as their national ranking. The first number is the 2013 Grantham defense and the second is the 2014 Pruitt Defense. I have placed the better statistic in bold.

  • Points Per Game: 29 (79th) / 20 (19th)

  • Yards Allowed Per Game: 375 (45th) / 320 (16th)

  • Rush Yards Allowed Per Game: 148 (43rd) / 105 (16th)

  • Pass Yards Allowed Per Game: 227 (59th) / 215 (46th)

  • Interceptions: 7 ALL YEAR (109th) / 10 THROUGH 7 GAMES (13th)

  • Fumbles Forced: 10 ALL YEAR (75th) / 6 THOUGH 7 GAMES (52nd)

  • Turnover Margin: -7 (101st) / +13 (1st)

  • Tackles for Loss: 81 ALL YEAR (45th) / 45 THROUGH 7 GAMES (45th)

  • Sacks: 33 ALL YEAR (29th) / 18 THROUGH 7 GAMES (33rd)

  • Passes Broken Up: 55 ALL YEAR (62nd) / 32 THROUGH 7 GAMES (60th) 

  • 3rd Down Conversion %: 39.49% (64th) / 30.61% (18th)

The first item on that list is the most important, of course.  And that nine-point difference is huge.  How huge?  This huge:

Georgia is 9 points better on defense than it was in 2013. If you take 9 points off of all 5 Georgia losses in 2013, Georgia wins against Clemson, Vandy, Auburn, and Nebraska. That is pretty significant when you look at it from that perspective. What that really means is that Georgia is 2 scoring possessions better than 2013 and that is pretty impressive.

Again, to be fair, I don’t think you can chalk all of that up to a change in defensive coordinators.  Shoring up special teams play has also contributed to that swing in defensive scoring.  But in any event, I think it’s okay to be happy with the switch from Grantham to Pruitt now.

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Friday morning buffet

Some pre-weekend nibbles for your reading pleasure:

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Big 12 Football, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, The NCAA, Wit And Wisdom From The Hat

“In fact he admires Gurley.”

Now he tells us.  I’m sure that will make everything okay now.

Funny how that hindsight stuff works.

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My kind of Gator

Jeff Driskel has been, to say the least, a disappointment.  But it sounds like he’s had a heckuva supporting cast.

But Driskel’s biggest problem just might be his teammates. “I don’t think those guys really totally believe in him or want to play for him anymore,” the assistant said.

Not that Florida’s offensive woes are entirely Driskel’s fault. The assistant also placed significant blame on senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar, who didn’t start for the first time since 2012 in Saturday’s loss and hardly played after repeated drops in previous games.

“He thinks he’s the next NFL dude,” the assistant said. “He’s nothing. He’s just a guy out there filling a spot.”

I bet when’s he’s out there, he’s one of the loudest woofers, though.

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“It’s Todd’s final year. He’s got a lot to do.”

You gotta love Nick Chubb.

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“To me, it’s a depth thing. That’s what separates the South.”

UT athletic director Steve Patterson may be the biggest jerk working in college athletics, but he’s not stupid.  His announcement this week that, should things play out in the legal arena such that O’Bannon is the law of the land, Texas is prepared to pay its student-athletes $10,000 a year is a clever shot across the bow.  It doesn’t cost him anything now to say it, it’s nothing he could avoid paying in the future if the courts rule against him, and in the meantime his athletic department will reap the benefits of his planting the first flag with a dollar sign on it in the minds of recruits.  That’s well-played in my book, especially from a guy who’s been dismissive of the entire effort to compensate student-athletes more fairly.

But I doubt it’s the end of the matter.  Not even close.  He may be cracking open the door, but I suspect there will be other schools ready to push it far more open.

Long term, let’s face it:  if there’s one thing that can trump demographics, it’s money.  They may not be growing the five-star talent in the Rust Belt at the rate they way they are in the Sun Belt, but Big Ten money spends just as well down here.  Besides, it’s good for BTN ratings.

Can you say bidding wars?  I thought you could.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

North Carolina’s “paper classes”

The North Carolina academic scandal that’s unfolding makes what the Harricks did look like small potatoes.

The academic fraud in the university’s African-American studies department was first revealed three years ago. But a new investigation shows that the fake classes were even more common than previously thought, and that athletes in particular benefited from the classes, in some cases at the behest of their academic counselors. Previous investigations had found no ties to campus athletics.

On campus, the fake classes, which at least 3,100 students took, were hardly a secret. They were particularly popular with athletes, who made up about half of enrollments. Nearly a quarter of students who took the classes were football and basketball players. And the classes made a difference: good grades that students didn’t have to work for made more than 80 eligible to graduate who otherwise would have flunked out.

The big question, of course, is what the NCAA intends to do about it.  This situation cuts at the core of what the NCAA likes to proclaim is what collegiate athletics is supposed to be about.  In that sense, it’s a far more troubling problem than what Mark Emmert rushed to deal with at Penn State.

The early indication appears to be that there won’t be a rush to judgment.

There is a lot of gray area for the NCAA to work through.  The parties directly responsible for managing the fake classes aren’t facing criminal charges and cooperated with the investigation.  But the report clearly points fingers at the two.  The trickier part the NCAA will have to navigate is that while there was widespread knowledge throughout the campus of what was going on with these classes, the report does not directly implicate higher-ups.  As the New York Times puts it,

Although the report found no evidence that high-level university officials knew about the fake classes, it faulted the university for missing numerous warning signs over many years.

Deciding who gets to skate and how much institutional blame is merited is where the NCAA is going to spend most of its time in review of the situation.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA