Category Archives: Georgia Football

It ain’t last year anymore.

Here’s an interesting factoid to digest.

Clemson’s defense may be better, but it’ll need to be.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

Fill in the blank

Let’s face it – we’re excited about all areas of play today, but the part we’ve got the keenest interest in is the defense.  So after the dust settles tonight, how do you hope this sentence is completed?

“That was Georgia’s best defensive effort since…”

The home run would be the first half of the 2011 SECCG, which was the high water mark of the Grantham era, but I’d be thrilled to say Florida 2012.  That being said, as long as I could say better than any game from last season, I would consider that a good start.

What say you?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Opening thoughts about the opener

Some openers are easier to get a handle on than others.  The Clemson game isn’t one of those, because of several key departures/suspensions on both sides of the ball for both schools.

  • If last year was a battle of the offensive superstars – Boyd!  Murray!  Gurley!  Watkins! – tomorrow’s game shapes up as a battle of the coordinators.  No doubt Chad Morris would like to go TAMU all over the Georgia defense’s ass and no doubt we’d like to see Jeremy Pruitt prove that he’s not all about having superstar talent at FSU.
  • That being said, Todd Gurley.
  • One big reason the line has stayed over a touchdown is where the game is being played.  It’s not just about the emotion of the crowd, either.  Hopefully the noise will disrupt the Clemson offense and the Georgia offensive line can avoid the mistakes that bogged the offense down at times last year.  Not to mention Mason should have more confidence getting his first start in a friendly stadium.
  • Gurley may be the biggest name on the field – although Vic Beasley looks like a sure-fire first round NFL talent to me – but this game I think comes down to which offensive line manages to hold its own the best.  I have no idea which line that is.
  • Another big flip worth keeping in the back of your head is the kicking game.  This year, it’s Clemson that has to replace a starting place kicker.  Georgia gets to come out of the gate with Marshall Morgan.
  • If there was a drinking game for tomorrow, it would have to include taking a shot every time an announcer describes one of the starting quarterbacks as waiting patiently for his turn, wouldn’t it?
  • I’m not going to miss Tajh Boyd’s running one bit.  But I hope the Georgia defense is prepared for Deshaun Watson’s.
  • I know job one for the Tigers’ defense is Todd Gurley, but, barring a turnover fest, can Clemson win this game without being able to run the ball successfully?  I don’t think so.
  • It’s going to be humid and in the 90s, so I hope all that talk about improved conditioning and substitution wasn’t just talk.  South Carolina wilted under the pressure of TAMU running 99 plays last night and you know Morris wouldn’t mind duplicating the experience.
  • Boy, would I love for tomorrow night to be Isaiah McKenzie’s coming out party.  I don’t think he’ll get a lot of touches, but he’s going to get a few shots in the return game and on offense, too.
  • Let’s hope nobody gets hurt celebrating a touchdown this year.
  • I don’t think this is going to be a low-scoring affair, because I don’t think Georgia will be able to protect its vulnerable secondary for the entire game and because Bobo worked Venables pretty good in last year’s game.  But I’m not expecting a score in the mid-70s, either.

You guys have any other thoughts?

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

Where I’m at

Some random thoughts and beliefs before the opener on what I expect this season (no doubt I’ll abandon plenty of them as things progress):

  • Mason brings a different skill set to the table than the one his predecessor did.  But I’m pretty confident that Bobo will be very good at scheming around his new QB’s strengths and weaknesses.  So I think Mason will put up numbers that will at least be serviceable.  What I don’t know yet is whether he can match Murray’s will to drive the team against top opponents in crunch time that we finally saw emerge in the 2012 SECCG.
  • Last night demonstrated that there isn’t a complete team in the SEC East this season.  What lessons does Georgia draw from that?
  • As we saw last season, the offensive line doesn’t have to be dominant for the offense to be successful.  But greater consistency would be huge.  I don’t think Theus is going to be a step down at left tackle, because Gates never was suited to play that spot anyway.  But the other tackle spot worries me.  So does Burnette’s departure.
  • I think Floyd, Jenkins and Carter are going to be pass rushing beasts.  And no one will be happier about that than their mates in the secondary.
  • Speaking of the secondary, I assume we’re about to find out that playing fundamentally sound football trumps talent.  What I don’t know is by how much.
  • Outside of Marshall Morgan, you could tell me anything about Georgia’s special teams and I’d probably believe you.  It shouldn’t be hard for the return teams to improve, but that doesn’t mean they will.  And I’m not sure Collin Barber has gotten over the effects of the concussion he suffered last season.
  • The guys I have the most faith in are Gurley and Marshall (duh).  The kid I have the most hope for is McKenzie.
  • The change in scheme from Grantham to Pruitt that I think will have the biggest payoff for the defense is the redefining of the role of the Star defender and the associated removal of a linebacker in obvious passing situations.
  • I’m really intrigued by how well Quayvon Hicks manages to handle his increased responsibilities this season.  I also wonder if we’re about to see the most diminished role for the fullback that we’ve had under Richt.
  • As much as I’d like to see a pass rusher emerge on the d-line, I’ll be happier if those guys can do their jobs as well against the run as they did for much of last year.
  • I hope Mitchell and Scott-Wesley get back soon, but for some reason I feel strangely pessimistic that’s going to happen.  And I’m keeping my fingers crossed as to Jay Rome’s health.
  • There are a lot of ifs you can point to, but the if with the biggest upside for Georgia this season is if this team can swing back from being in the hole with turnover margin.
  • I think there are at least a couple of losses on the schedule, because it’s hard for me to discount the flaws in too many areas early on.  But I agree with Bill Connelly that Georgia has the highest ceiling of any team in the East.  If the coaches manage the rehab job faster than I expect, look out.

Anything you guys want to add?

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Friday morning buffet

We’re getting closer.  Hungry yet?

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Filed under Big Ten Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Pac-12 Football, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Reinvention

Good piece from Brandon Larrabee on how Steve Spurrier turned the South Carolina program around includes this observation:

In a way, it’s not really surprising to say that facilities, recruiting and coaching all played a role in South Carolina’s emergence as a power in the SEC East. What is perhaps somewhat surprising is that Steve Spurrier — who won a half-dozen SEC titles and a national championship at Florida doing things his way — was able to oversee that kind of reinvention in the twilight of his career.

Larrabee is referring to the reinvention of the program there, but I think Spurrier also reinvented his approach to running a program as well.  Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re somebody who’s had a great deal of success over a long period doing things in a particular way.  You have to tip your hat to Spurrier for pulling that off.

You also have to wonder if Mark Richt can pull off the same trick.  It’s apparent to me that Richt is in the second phase of reinventing his approach to running the Georgia program since the dark days of the 2009 season, although I’m not sure whether it’s best to characterize what’s been happening this offseason as a continuation of what he started when he dismissed Willie Martinez and the rest of the defensive staff, or if this is a separate development.  In any event, it’s apparent that in some ways, business as usual in 2014 isn’t the same business as usual we saw over the previous four seasons.

2009 saw a complete breakdown in confidence between the staff and players.  That breakdown has largely been mended, I feel.  But it may have masked other issues that came to light later, issues which I would sort of group together under the heading of not paying enough attention to details.  That’s how you get the nitpicking crazy stuff about special teams breakdowns I’ve highlighted this week.  It’s also how you get poor roster management.

So maybe the new blood that’s arrived has put a charge into Richt, a charge leading him to focus on the details more than he did before.  Last year was a valuable experience in that we finally saw a Georgia team that may have lost its composure now and then, but never failed to show up for a game – something we couldn’t say about the prior two seasons (or many seasons before that, honestly), even if both 2011 and 2012 saw SECCG trips along the way. That’s the sign of a team that’s bought back in to what the coaches have to offer.  The next step from that is to keep up that focus on all the details, which is over time what separates teams with talent from teams that win consistently.

Is Georgia there yet?  I am skeptical you can turn a battleship that quickly, but Richt has surprised me before.  Even if there isn’t a complete transformation, there should be early signs of it we should see in the opener if all the preseason talk we’ve gotten is more than just that.  I’ll be rooting for reinvention.

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Sweatin’ the small stuff

To reiterate a point made in a post the other day,

What has changed, according to players, is the intensity of teaching.

“Definitely stressing more fundamental-wise and trying to focus on some of the little things,” said senior Kosta Vavlas, a special teams standout. “I mean prior (to this year) we kind of just jumped in, going all the way through without breaking each phase of each game down.”

Defensive players, especially in the secondary, have talked often about the detailed coaching that they’re getting from first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, and receiver Reggie Davis made it sound like that was happening — from all coaches — on special teams.

“Coaches are definitely paying attention to details this year,” Davis said, adding for emphasis, “Small, small details.”

Davis muffed three punts last year.

“They’re really cracking down on just looking the ball all the way in, especially because of what I did last year,” Davis said.

Sure, a lot of that can be characterized as happy talk.  And who’s to say it’s going to pay off in a big way this season?  But tolerating that kind of stuff sure goes a long way towards explaining the many moments of special teams epic fail, 2013 version.

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