Get ready.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the bye week before the South Carolina game, you wanna know something else that’s important about Georgia’s two 2014 bye weeks?  As a general rule, Mark Richt teams are quite good coming out of bye weeks.

Mark Richt is 24-9 (73%) off bye weeks in 13 years at Georgia, a number that may not seem impressive until you remember that he’s played SEC teams after the majority of his open dates.

Richt’s most recent post-bye defeat came last season when the Bulldogs lost 24-19 to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl after a month off between the postseason and their thrilling 41-34 over Georgia Tech in the regular season finale.

In 2014, Georgia, like Florida State, will need to take advantage of their favorable bye-week placements before divisional games with South Carolina (Saturday, Sept. 13) and Florida(Saturday, Nov. 1).

To be sure, it’s no guarantee of success.  But it suggests Georgia tends to do well with an extra degree of preparation.

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Change of pace

Sounds like Malzahn’s offense is The Next Big Thing in SEC Land.

“Their scheme they had was significant. Everybody’s looking at it,” Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel said. “That’s what we do. We steal. Everybody steals what other people do.”

It’s not just the scheme that’s attractive; it’s the change of pace.

“There are some really interesting concepts in that offense,” Pinkel said. “Gus was ahead of the change. He was leading the band on that. He did a remarkable job. You’re going to see more of that. I guarantee it.”

Florida, for one, is making a move. After four years of offensive stagnancy, the Gators have pinned their hopes on new coordinator Kurt Roper, who is coming over from Duke after the Blue Devils’ ACC title-game appearance last year.

His offense ran 72.6 plays per game last season, primarily out of the shotgun, and was able to gouge defenses both through the air (3,474 yards) and on the ground (2,492).

Ringing any bells?

“We have the players to make this offense work,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “We have offensive line that can block one-on-one. We have running backs and skill position players that can make people miss in space. That’s a word you’re going to hear a lot, is ‘space.’ This offense creates space and, when you get that space, that’s when big plays happen.”

Based on last year’s results, why wouldn’t you be interested?

The Tigers were one of eight SEC teams to see increases in plays per game from 2012 to 2013, and the league as a whole ticked up its average from 68.0 to 69.7.

Six teams — Mississippi, Missouri, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Auburn — ran more than 70 plays per game. All but Mississippi State ranked in the top six in the league in total offense.

Correlation ain’t causation, as we all know, but that kind of statistical linkage is going to get attention.  If you find that compelling, though, what do you make of this chart compiled by John Pennington?

2013 Defensive Comparison

School Avg. Seconds/Play Avg. Points/Game Allowed (SEC Rank)
Texas A&M 21.87 32.2 (14)
Ole Miss 22.78 23.7 (7)
Missouri 24.17 23.1 (6)
Georgia 24.25 29.0 (10)
Auburn 25.17 24.7 (9)
Tennessee 25.80 29.0 (10)
Kentucky 26.04 31.2 (13)
Miss. State 27.14 23.0 (5)
S. Carolina 27.14 20.3 (2)
LSU 27.56 22.0 (4)
Vanderbilt 28.08 24.6 (8)
Arkansas 28.29 30.8 (12)
Alabama 30.22 13.9 (1)
Florida 30.70 21.1 (3)

Interesting.  Not one of the five fastest offenses ranked among the league’s top seven in terms of points-per-game-allowed.  On the flip side, five of the SEC’s most stingy defenses also happened to be paired with offenses that used more time in between snaps.

2012 told much the same story.

2012 Defensive Comparison

Schools Avg. Seconds/Play Avg. Points/Game Allowed (SEC Rank)
Texas A&M 21.43 21.8 (7)
Tennessee 21.83 35.7 (14)
Ole Miss 22.75 27.6 (9)
Kentucky 23.51 31.0 (13)
Arkansas 24.03 30.4 (12)
Missouri 24.83 28.4 (11)
Georgia 25.56 19.6 (6)
Vanderbilt 26.93 18.7 (5)
LSU 27.00 17.5 (3)
S. Carolina 27.12 18.2 (4)
Miss. State 27.60 23.3 (8)
Alabama 30.19 10.9 (1)
Florida 30.60 14.5 (2)
Auburn 30.68 28.3 (10)

So here’s the question you’ve gotta ask yourself if you’re Will Muschamp:  how much of your team’s defensive prowess over the last two seasons was the result of the deliberate pace you set on offense?  Because if it turns out that the answer is more than just a little, how are you going to react when your defense gives up more points in the context of a faster paced offensive scheme?  (In other words, Pat Dooley raises a fair question in this column of his.)

It’s not just Florida that should be asking how hard to mash the accelerator pedal.  Note Georgia’s numbers and consider that we’re told Hutson Mason is more comfortable playing in a faster paced offense than Aaron Murray was.

But also remember ultimately that the participants in the last SECCG were two of the faster paced teams in the SEC, neither of which finished in the top five in scoring offense.  Does Boom strike you as the kind of coach who can live with that sort of trade-off?  (I’d probably argue that Richt is.)

I don’t have any answers here, except to note that I bet there will be more than a coach or two questioning his approach as the season progresses.  That’s probably not a recipe for success in 2014.

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Filed under SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Some random d-line thoughts

Two things about this Gentry Estes piece on the defensive line:  (1) as nervous as we are about the state of the line in the wake of Taylor’s dismissal, can you imagine how much worse it would be if Garner had still been the position coach last season and he and Grantham had stuck with their “play the starters until they drop” approach?; and (2)  is there a picture of Tracy Rocker at work that isn’t intimidating as shit?

(Photo by John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications)

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To everything, there is a season.

I’m not sure how big a deal it’ll turn out to be in the vast scheme of things, but one thing about Georgia’s schedule I like is the week off between the Clemson and South Carolina games.  Ordinarily, early bye weeks strike me as kind of a waste, but in this case, it’ll give the staff the chance to prepare thoroughly for each opponent.  With a new quarterback and the total overhaul on defense, that seems useful.

Meanwhile, South Carolina faces two potent offenses in Texas A&M and East Carolina before hosting Georgia, and its defensive coordinator still expects to have his game plan for Georgia prepared before the start of preseason camp. Knowing Spurrier, the ‘Cocks won’t wait until game week to start implementing it, either.

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The smoove stylings of Paul Johnson, recruiter

Because nothing sells a program like a slight touch of desperation

Georgia Tech could also get a couple of commitments today: Brad and Scott Morgan, twin offensive linemen from Etowah High School, are considering accepting offers from the Yellow Jackets, according to JacketsOnline.com’s Kelly Quinlan.

The twins got offered personally by Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson on Wednesday under one condition: “We have to commit right away,” per Brad, who was ready to do it but his brother wanted a little time to think about it.

Think?  Shoot, son, don’t you know thinking just gets you in trouble?

In case Johnson’s looking for an even less subtle approach, here’s a golden oldie that should work wonders.

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Georgia’s underappreciated oasis?

Oh, Seth, you’re such a tease.

Yes, three starters departed Georgia’s offensive line after last season. And yet as preseason practice begins, there’s a sense of stability and clarity on what has been in recent years the biggest question mark on the offense.

You have a three-year starter at center. You have three other players basically guaranteed a starting spot. There is probably more depth on this year’s offensive line than there has been in years. For all the chaos of Georgia’s offseason, none of it touched the offensive line, and it’s reflected on the depth chart.

Spring practice was very productive for offensive line coach Will Friend, making it a less daunting task for this preseason. If all goes well, he can pick his starting five and top backups by mid-August and then ratchet up the planning for Clemson and South Carolina.

I can think of few better developments for Georgia’s chances this season than a stabilized offensive line.  And there’s no question the progress of Greg Pyke has been a big deal.  But, man… I watched these guys last year, you know?

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Jesse Palmer’s preseason homerism

“National analyst” Jesse Palmer has this to say about Florida’s 2014 chances:  “If Florida can stay healthy, then I think the sky is the limit.”

That’s mighty deep.

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