Category Archives: ‘Cock Envy

When in doubt, play more “Sandstorm”.

I’ve heard it in a couple of places (here’s an example), that South Carolina’s defense could have an easier go of things this week against Georgia’s offense than against East Carolina’s.  I’m really not sure why that’s so.  Last season’s offense, with true freshmen running backs and walk on receivers carrying significant shares of the load, finished seventeenth nationally in yards per game.  And that offense gained more yards on the Gamecock defense than any other team South Carolina faced.

Yeah, given the key personnel losses on both sides, I know these aren’t the same teams this year.  But I also find it hard to argue with this:

Obviously, players’ mindsets matter in their performance, as would history if it factors into the coaches’ game plans. That might be why Georgia has practiced this week with the techno song Sandstorm blaring, or why Mark Richt insists that the game “could get a little bloody.” But these things are tough to quantify and should matter less than talent, preparation, and game-planning, where Georgia seems to have the edge.

Now I realize the article goes on to qualify things a bit with this observation.

South Carolina’s switch to the 3-4 has been less than smooth so far, leaving them 123rd in yards allowed per game and lowering their Defensive S&P+ to 100.2 (58th in the country) after ranking 22nd last season. Both Texas A&M and Eastern Carolina do run varieties of the air raid offense, however, so it’s possible that their defensive weakness is less to do with the 3-4 transition or the lack of effective defensive ends (i.e., Jadeveon Clowney) and more to do with the particular offenses it has seen this season. Maybe.

But here’s where I think Mike Bobo has an advantage over East Carolina’s offensive coordinator.  He’s got options and flexibility at his disposal that an Air Raid coordinator doesn’t.

Regardless, that probably will affect Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s offensive strategy and South Carolina’s defensive strategy. It could turn into a cat-and-mouse game where Georgia knows that the Gamecocks will be heavily stacking the box against Heisman-candidate Todd Gurley and the fleet of running backs behind him, so Bobo instead opts for an air raid-lite attack with screens and packaged play passes to freshmen Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie and intermediate, middle-of-the-field strikes to Michael Bennett and Chris Conley. Or not, and Bobo simply dares the Gamecocks defense to beat his running backs.

Either way, Lorenzo Ward’s got some guessing to do and some choices to make.  Based on last year’s results, he’s got to be a little nervous about that.  And I don’t think the cure for that particular fever will be more “Sandstorm”.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

Thinking outside the box

And there’s more good stuff here about how South Carolina’s run defense may fare against Todd Gurley tomorrow.  In particular, check this out:

The Gamecocks averaged at least 6.8 defenders in the box each year from 2011 to 2013. This year, having faced the pass-heavy offenses of Texas A&M and East Carolina, they average 6.1 defenders in the box, second-fewest in the SEC.

South Carolina has keyed on Gurley, who has faced an average of 7.0 defenders in the box in their two meetings. If the Gamecocks are to avoid falling to 0-2 in the SEC, they will probably need to key in on Gurley again and not let him get to the second level unimpeded.

I’m guessing we’re not going to see that many I-formation sets from Bobo early on.  Single back sets, with three receivers and a tight end, will force Carolina’s defense to spread out.  If Ward chooses not to take that bait, I think Bobo will take his chances with Mason looking for Bennett and Conley being covered by those green defensive backs with little or no safety help.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“… He’s showed that you can’t game plan against him.”

Maybe it’s just me, but a defense that’s admittedly having tackling problems taking on a back who rushed for 102 yards after contact in his last start sounds like it may be in for a challenging day.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

First thoughts on Georgia-South Carolina

Mark Richt was impressed with what Texas A&M did to South Carolina’s defense, but doesn’t see it as an offensive template for Georgia this Saturday.

“We’re not going to try to look at Texas A&M’s game plan and mimic it. There are some things we may be able to use, but we don’t have the stable of receivers they have and we have these running backs that we need to get the ball in their hands.”

Mike Bobo, however, sounds more open-minded about what he might take from TAMU’s success.

“You’ll see us do that some,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “You’ll see us in three-receiver sets. You probably won’t see us in four-receiver sets or five like we might’ve done a couple of years earlier just because of depth at receiver. There will probably always be a tight end on the field. But we’ll try to give them multiple looks and see how they line up.”

In truth, they both sound like they’re getting to the same place.  And why not?  As Bill Connelly points out in his game preview, South Carolina’s pass defense has been noticeably weaker than its run defense this season.  The question is whether Mike Bobo and Hutson Mason can take advantage of that.  Bill thinks that Georgia will have to open things up down the field more than the Dawgs did against Clemson.

The last time these teams played, Georgia won because of the passing game. Gurley averaged just 4.4 yards per carry, but Aaron Murray completed 17 of 23 passes at 18.2 yards per completion. He found Justin Scott-Wesley for a game-changing 85-yard score. He found Michael Bennett for a 32-yarder. Keith Marshall had a 48-yard catch-and-run. Hutson Mason averaged seven yards per completion against Clemson, but only six of Murray’s 17 completions last year gained seven or fewer yards.

I’m not quite so convinced of that.  Will Georgia need to throw more than it did against Clemson?  Most likely.  But TAMU ripped the ‘Cock defense with short and medium range targeted throws that took advantage of sloppy fundamentals.  SC hasn’t shown that it plays well in space or tackles well (or at least not until the fourth quarter against ECU).  If Mason and his receivers are on the same page, there’s no reason to think they can’t have success in the passing game without having to go bombs away.

As far as the running game goes, Todd Gurley’s right about one thing.  With the way South Carolina deploys its safeties, if a Georgia running back manages to break through the first level, there’s room to roam.  If that means pounding away until the opportunity presents itself, I don’t think Georgia would have a problem with that, at least as long as the scoring is under control.  If South Carolina can open up a lead, that may change Bobo’s strategy.

Which brings us to the other side of the ball.  Can Georgia slow Mike Davis down?  If so, we saw what happened against Clemson when Pruitt forced an offense into one dimension.  Whereas Carolina’s defense has been generous on third downs, Bill points out that Dylan Thompson isn’t nearly as good when he’s forced into passing downs.  Bill describes what the Gamecocks need to do:

With Davis’ skill and Georgia’s secondary issues, South Carolina should have the advantage on first down, second-and-short or medium, and third-and-short. Keep it in that range.

From here, it looks like the biggest key to the game may be Georgia’s pass rush.  Keeping Thompson off-balance would be big.  Mike Davis is a terrific back, but he’s not gonna beat the Dawgs by himself.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

When things changed

Over at The Blawg House, Cory Brinson takes a look at when Georgia’s fortunes as a road team changed in the South Carolina series.

I’d humbly like to suggest another turning point.  From 2002 through 2008, your typical Georgia-South Carolina game was a real low scoring grinder.  The average score during that time was roughly 18-10.

Then I wrote what may still be my favorite post at GTP.  Since then, each team has scored at least 35 points three times, and Carolina hit the 30-point mark, something it had never done against a Richt defense before 2009, on another occasion.  The games may still be nailbiters, but there isn’t much grinding going on anymore.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

Big ‘uns

Wow.  South Carolina’s starting offensive tackles are listed at 6’8″, 344 and 6’6″, 333.  Those are some large human beings.

I don’t know how quick they are, but it probably takes an extra half-second to run around them.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy

Your small sample size stat of the day

I know, I know… we’re only two games in, but check out who’s last in the SEC in defensive third down conversions.  Then, check out the national stats.  Astoundingly bad.

Most of the bleeding is coming on passing plays where the opponent needs less than 10 yards to pick up the first down.  Opponents are 11 of 18 converting in those situations.

You can question Mason and the receivers all you want, but that’s the kind of distance situation Georgia’s passing game is more than capable of handling.  Especially with a better running threat to brace it than either of South Carolina’s previous opponents have.  I expect Bobo will come prepared to exploit it.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Stats Geek!