Category Archives: Georgia Football

A couple more details about Arky-Georgia

That thing about Arkansas spitting the bit against SEC teams in the fourth quarter… turns out it’s an “it’s in their heads” thing.

Arkansas spent two weeks working on its fourth quarter flaws after suffering a 35-28 overtime loss to Texas A&M. The struggles — at least on offense — didn’t end in the 14-13 loss to Alabama in Razorback Stadium last Saturday.

Arkansas was scoreless in the fourth quarter against a Southeastern Conference opponent for the third time this season. Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama have now outscored the Razorbacks 38-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I saw drives that didn’t get going, drives that stalled out,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said Monday. “It’s kind of been a continuing theme for us, unfortunately in SEC play, and it’s something I’m really began to hone in and be aware of last week and tried to make certain adjustments. But it’s something I’ve challenged our offensive staff with, and our players. Obviously, the biggest failure for us overall is to not put points on the board in the fourth quarter, and to win close games.”

The Razorbacks could manage only 35 yards on 16 plays against the Crimson Tide, struggling to move the ball with the game on the line. Arkansas had four possessions, but went three-plays-and-out twice, was stuffed on fourth down on its third chance and quarterback Brandon Allen threw an interception at the end.

“That’s where most of our mental mistakes are coming,” Allen said. “We have a lot of mental errors in the fourth quarter and you can’t do that if you want to win games. It’s up to us just to polish things off and going into the fourth quarter and staying mentally sharp and doing things we’ve been doing the whole game.”

The fourth-quarter struggles in SEC games go back to last season, when the Hogs also lost late leads against Mississippi State and LSU. In all, Arkansas has been outscored 62-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime of its past five conference games dating back to the 2013 season. The Hogs led in the fourth quarter of each one.

But tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. said the issues aren’t limited to one theme.

“It’s a myriad of different things that have popped up for us,” Lunney said. “I think whatever it has been, whatever it should have been or could have been, when we play a good fourth quarter and we win, that’ll be our answer. So we’re working towards that and hopefully it will come sooner than later.”

Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman said the ongoing struggles are frustrating for everyone involved. But he added the coaching will attempt another tactic when the fourth quarter arrives against Georgia on Saturday.

“We’re going to coach them in the fourth quarter like we did in the first three and see if that will help,” Pittman said. “I think that we’ve become a little tighter with the players and I think they’ve become tighter when we do. So we’re going to coach them to go out there and have fun just like they did in the first, second and third quarters. We just need to be more upbeat and more positive with them at that point.

“If you play three quarters of ball a lot of things have gone right and some things have gone wrong and you’ve got to flush it. We’re going to start the fourth like we start the beginning of a game and see if that will help us. I bet it will.”

I’ll take that bet, Sam.  It’s the kind of thing that’s a lot easier to say than it is to do.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind if Georgia enters the fourth quarter in a tight game.

Also, the Georgia has been ridiculously good managing field position thing?  It’s even better.  In fact, it’s the best.

Give me another dose of that and positive turnover margin, and I like Georgia’s chances on Saturday a lot.

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With All Deliberate Speed

Why am I not surprised?

It’s the Georgia Way.

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“Wait, that was Brendan Langley?”

We all knew that the defense was going to be a work in progress this season.  It’s just that we hoped to see a learning curve showing steady progression.  Don’t look now, but maybe we are.

Through the first four games, Georgia’s defense was allowing an average of 338.8 yards per game, 4.7 yards per play, 22.8 points per game and had three interceptions. Take out that 66-0 win against lowly Troy, and yards per game increases to 379.7 yards, and points per game shoots up to 30.3. South Carolina and Tennessee averaged 6.2 and 5.1 yards per play, respectively, against the Bulldogs.

Since then, the Bulldogs have given up 233.5 yards per game, 17 points, 4.2 yards per play, and the opponents’ third-down conversation rate decreased from 31.7 percent to 10 percent. Georgia also has five interceptions.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, opponents’ points per drive against the Dawgs is down from 1.65 through the first four games to .65 in the past two.

Now I know that the quality of offenses Georgia faced in the last two games is less than what it was in the first four, but that defense we saw against Missouri flat out looked like it could ball.

Some of what I’m seeing may be the result of players who are developing a real sense of trust in Pruitt.

Swann said it’s all just “part of the business.”

“I just received a phone call, ‘You’re playing star.’ And that’s all it was. Whatever Coach calls me and says, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “We pretty much know (where we will play) through Monday. We know early enough to where we can get those reps at that position to the point to where we know what’s going on when we get in the game.”

And some of it’s players simply getting more comfortable with what they’re asked to do on the field.

Players are evolving within the defense, but they are also using their words more to make things work. They are asking teammates and coaches more questions. Guys are getting calls right more often. The Dawgs are now performing well, both physically and vocally.

“We know that when we communicate, we execute,” Bailey said. “When we don’t, things fall apart.

“It’s helping us learn his defense a lot better.”

All I can say is that if you’re not sold on things getting better simply by what Pruitt got out of Langley last weekend, I don’t know what to tell you.

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One thing we’re ignoring…

… is an area where Georgia appears to have a huge advantage over Arkansas:  special teams.

F/+ Special Teams

11 (3.9%)

109 (-3.2%)

(Georgia is listed first.)

Think about the biggest impact that can have on a game – field position – and consider how important that’s been to Georgia’s success this season.

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Big Hogs, little Dawgs

Have you heard that Arkansas’ offensive line is manned by large human beings?  No kidding.

Left tackle Dan Skipper is listed as 6-foot-10 and 326 pounds. That’s the same height as the tallest player on Georgia’s basketball team — 6-10 freshman center Osahen Iduwe.

The line averages 328.4 pounds, bigger than any other NFL line.

“Just really huge up front and that’s by design,” coach Mark Richt said. “Those guys are looking to knock people out of the way.”

But I’m feeling a little of that is overplayed, based on experience.  Remember when Georgia sported the largest offensive line on the planet?  Good times, then.  Only Boise State wasn’t that impressed.

Size is nice.  Good execution is nicer.  Read Cory’s breakdown of Arkansas’ running game and note that what killed Texas Tech wasn’t size so much as it was not getting lined up properly to fill the gaps.

However – the good news is that every SEC team for the past 15 tries has beaten the Razorbacks. Even the Texas A&M defense – as bad as it is – found a way to limit the damage of the Arkansas offense. As Coach Richt said in his press conference, Georgia will scheme to make Arkansas throw the ball. If they can do that, they have the ability to find success, rush the passer, and create opportunities for turnovers. The big question is if Georgia’s front 7 is up for the challenge.

Pruitt’s got a game plan.

Arkansas is coming off a game in which it threw the ball 40 times in its 14-13 loss to Alabama last week when it was held to 89 yards rushing on 39 carries.

“We know what they’re going to do and we’ve got to stop it,” Wilson said. “We prefer them to run the ball. That’s what we like to do. We like to stop the run.”

The question is, will Georgia’s defense execute it?

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Eye of the beholder, baby.

Saturday looks like a tough game for Georgia.  Don’t take my word for that.

There’s no way Arkansas can get a “moral victory” out of Saturday. Win or it’s a disappointment, especially if Gurley doesn’t play.

Funny thing about that is Mr. S&P+, Bill Connelly, rates Georgia’s chance of success Saturday at 80.4%.  (His cohort with the F/+ ratings has Georgia seventh nationally and Arkansas outside the top 25.)

Now I’m not trying to dismiss the game, as I, too, think it’s gonna be a battle.  In fact, I like the keys to the game set up in that post.

Keys to the Game

  1. Break even or win the turnover battle. A win would be really nice, but it’s not completely necessary unless Arkansas fails in other areas. Losing could be disastrous. Georgia hasn’t lost it yet, and has lost a game in which it went +2 (South Carolina).
  2. Record fewer than 15 yards per point. Same as last week, Arkansas needs to maximize its yards. The Hogs are 0-3 when recording more than 15 yards per point, so this is kind of necessary. Holding Georgia above 15 yards per point would almost guarantee a victory, but it’s not completely necessary.
  3. Win the spike rate. Arkansas lost it badly last week (44.1 percent to 28.3 percent). That means 44.1 percent of Arkansas’ offensive snaps went for no gain, lost yardage, or a turnover. Against a team running a similar offense, Arkansas needs to win it this week.
  4. Win the field position battle. Arkansas also lost the field position battle badly last week, averaging 12 yards worse per possession (37 to 25) in starting field position. Alabama has a great punter, but Arkansas is not interesting in letting D.J. Dean actually field punts. Sam Irwin-Hill didn’t have a great game punting the ball, either. Georgia’s offense sans Todd Gurley lacks explosiveness, so forcing the Dawgs to drive the length of the field for every point is essential.
  5. Hold Georgia below 33 percent success rate rushing, and under 9.5 isoYPP rushing. Arkansas held Alabama to 24 percent and 7.83 isoYPP rushing, so this should not be a tall order. Against Alabama, Arkansas loaded up the box, shut down the run, and forced Blake Sims to win the game with his arm, which he was barely able to do. Hutson Mason doesn’t have the benefit of a dominant defense or ultra-talented receivers, so if Arkansas can shut down Georgia’s run game, the Hogs should win, perhaps by a large margin.

Don’t let Georgia get on the plus side of turnover margin, don’t let Georgia control field position, shut down Georgia’s running game… yeah, I think any team that can do all that beats this Dawgs team.  The thing is, doing those things has been Georgia’s modus operandi all season, and the team has been pretty good at them.

Stats can be useful, and I do think it’s clear from the stats that this year’s Arkansas team is a better squad than last year’s.  But learning how to win isn’t a stat, it’s a state of mind.  And it’s something that a team on a long conference losing streak still hasn’t got figured out, kind of like Tennessee.

And to illustrate that with a stat I heard today on Seth’s and Gentry’s podcast, in Arkansas’ last five SEC losses, it’s been outscored 48-0 in the fourth quarter.  Think Georgia’s conditioning may be a factor?

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Georgia’s 2015 schedule

You can see it in all its glory here.

If you don’t have the strength to click, highlights are:

  • cupcake opener
  • cupcake SEC opener in Week 2
  • another cupcake before the Alabama game
  • one open date, before the Florida game
  • Georgia Southern precedes the Tech game

I guess Spurrier can complain that Georgia will have worked through all the suspensions before the ‘Cocks come calling.

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