Category Archives: Georgia Football

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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Hot, hot heat

Here’s something to chew over.

In the estimation of first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the 6-4, 230-pound Floyd was the most under-utilized talent on Georgia’s defense last season. Even so, the sophomore from Eastman managed to start eight games and collect 55 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Pruitt wants more out of Floyd.

Hopefully that will start with Pruitt not having Floyd drop into coverage, where he looked like a fish out of water last year.

Now, it’s drool time.

[Lorenzo] Carter, as it turns out, may allow the Bulldogs to do just that. Carter’s incredible physical prowess and 4.6 speed has allowed Georgia to put him into situations in which they’d normally be counting on Floyd. That, in turn, allows the Bulldogs to move Floyd around and play a game of “Find 84” with opposing offensive lines.

That’s not to mention Jenkins, who at 6-3, 252 has lost 20 pounds since the end of last season and is moving around better than ever. He plays the new “Jack” defensive end position that usually lines up opposite the Sam.

“He looks like a totally different player from the spring and some of last year’s game to now,” Sherrer said. “He’s a lot quicker, he’s a lot more explosive, he’s made a lot more plays. He struggled to finish some before; he was right there but just couldn’t finish. Now he’s finishing some plays. He’s playing with more confidence and he’s had a sensational camp.”

If you’re Pruitt – hell, if you’re me – you know the best way to protect a shaky secondary is to generate a fierce pass rush.  Given that the best rusher on the d-line seems to be in the coaches’ doghouse, where do you turn to generate the heat you need?  So, will Pruitt get creative with the deployment of his OLBs?  Does he have a choice?

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Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Well, if it worked once

Swann figures Clemson will target the unproven guys in the secondary.

“It was the same thing last year,” he said.

Who’s proven in the secondary?

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Some measured happy talk

As optimism goes, this is fairly guarded talk from Damian Swann about the 2014 defense:

So when asked Tuesday if he thinks Georgia fans will see an improved defense, cornerback Damian Swann replied “Eventually.”

“I wouldn’t say it’ll be one right out the gate, but we’re going to get better,” Swann said. “The athleticism is not a problem. The communication won’t be a problem. I think our biggest challenge is going to be the inexperience. But I think once those guys get settled in and really figure out college football – the lights, the cameras, the crowd – then I think all my guys will be fine.”

They were inexperienced in 2013, and look how that turned out.  You really do have to think, though, that if they can avoid last year’s weekly confuse-a-thon, there will be a learning curve that points upwards.  It will be the thing by which we probably should measure Pruitt and Grantham.

“The communication is a lot better,” Swann said. “Guys knowing what to do is a lot better. Noticing formations, noticing small things, it’s gotten a lot better due to the coaching and preparation. I think Coach Pruitt has put us in a great spot to at least be able to go out and compete Saturday.”

We’ll know soon enough.

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“This depth chart, I wouldn’t go too crazy about right now, to be honest with you.”

Georgia, where they settle on a depth chart before they actually, you know, decide on who’s going to play.

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