Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Simple? I like simple.

Let’s hope Pruitt’s emphasis on creating turnovers pays off.

Moore said Pruitt is doing a great job with individuals breaking down what they need to do with the ball in the air.

It can be seen on the practice field at Georgia this preseason.

“Go attack the ball! Go attack the ball!” Pruitt called out to the defensive backs in a recent practice drill. “Hands on top. Go get it!”

Freshman cornerback Shaq Jones has heard a lot of that: “Basically, what Coach Pruitt is telling us is just to attack. Just attack every play.”

That didn’t translate to any interceptions in Georgia’s first scrimmage, but there was a forced fumble recovered by the defense.

“We’re stripping at the ball when we’re going against the offense, we’re ripping it out,” cornerback Damian Swann said. “We’re trying to make it habits where we can create turnovers, where we can get the offense the ball back so they can go score or we can take the ball and go score with it. That’s one of the keys to winning in this league, you’ve got to be in that top bunch when it comes to takeaways.”

What I like about Pruitt’s approach is that it’s not just about stripping the ball.  It starts with players doing their fundamentals properly.

“If you want to create turnovers you have to practice turnovers,” Pruitt said on the day he was introduced as Georgia’s defensive coordinator. “There’s more to it. You can put yourself in position to finish on an interception but you’ve got to actually catch the ball, you’ve got to watch it all the way to the tub. When the ball is on the ground you’ve got to secure it, you’ve got to get your hands underneath the ball and you’ve got to recover a fumble. There are a lot of details to it that I think get overlooked.”

Those details are being taught in practice by Pruitt on a daily basis.

“That’s something he really emphasizes playing the ball, but right now we’re just really focusing on getting lined up and following through with our assignment,” walk-on safety Lucas Redd said. “The rest will take care of itself. We’ll be able to play the ball because we’re going to be in the right spots once we have a better idea where we’re supposed to be lined up.”

And even at Florida State, where Pruitt inherited a talented defense, his emphasis on takeaways had an immediate impact:  “In Pruitt’s one season at Florida State, the Seminoles tied for second in the nation with 35 turnovers gained a year after they ranked 66th with 21.”

If nothing else, it’s hard to see how things could be any worse in that department than they were last season, when Georgia ranked second to last in the SEC in turnovers gained.

Speaking of last season, they’re keeping it real in Louisville(h/t CardDawg)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Mason and trust in the not-so year of the quarterback

Pat Forde returns to the “SEC, it’s not your quarterbacks’ year” meme in this post.  First, one interesting factual nugget:

Interestingly in a pass-first era, there also were the most rushing yards produced and allowed in 2013, but not the most passing yards produced and allowed. That happened in 2001.

Sounds like that means there might be an entirely different, yet equally valid reason this year’s conference may be more run-oriented.  But Forde may have a good point of his own when he notes,

In an effort to win turnover margin, expect a very conservative September in a lot of SEC locales. Until coaches know they can trust their young quarterbacks, they’re not going to place the weight of the world on their shoulder pads.

In light of that, how much comfort should be taken with Mason’s avoidance of throwing picks in practice in the spring and fall?  Certainly it’s no guarantee of perfection come September, but if it’s an indication of emphasis and Mason’s appreciation of its importance, he may be farther along the trust curve than some of his peers, which should be good news for Georgia’s offense.

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UPDATE:  A little more about Mason, from an unnamed coach who faced Georgia last season.

Hutson Mason’s got some game reps under his belt, and that’s an advantage. It’s not like he’s stepping into a role where he’s playing for the first time. The depth in their backfield is phenomenal. That helps for Mason’s transition, because you’re not going to have to lean on his arm to win ball games. Having a strong run game can only open up throwing lanes for the quarterback — and the strength of their offense will be their running…

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Filed under SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Quayvon Hicks is all in with Mike Bobo’s latest wrinkle.

I’d say I’m in the “wait ’til I see it” camp, but there’s no denying that Bobo has been consistent about adding new things to Georgia’s offense over the past few seasons, so let’s see what the H-back can bring.

When Hicks talks about his role, he sounds a bit like Bobo, analyzing the direction of the game and its offenses.

“Everybody is straying away from that power-I, I-formation scheme,” Hicks said. “When it works in the SEC, you’ve gotta have the foundation of running the ball, especially in our backfield. But I would say just the traditional football of running it, pounding it, (the trend) is straying away from that.

“So it would speed up our game (to use Hicks at H-back). And to basically play how they play in the NFL, out West, that football where you may be in that I-formation, maybe you’ll be in that spread offense. But you’re constantly going, and you’re going, you’ve gotta wear down the defense. So I think what Bobo is doing is he’s opening up a lot of doors, not only for me but for our players.”

Between what Pruitt’s up to bringing the secondary back to competence and Bobo’s tinkering, the opener sure looks ever more intriguing.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Friday morning buffet

Tidbits to sample at week’s end…

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The Evil Genius

Is something afoot on offense?

Originally, I thought the move of Hicks to H-back was a quasi-gimmick, based on a shortage of bodies at tight end and on Hicks not being the best blocking option at fullback.  But based on something Emerson wrote yesterday, I’m starting to rethink that a bit.

It turns out that Quayvon Hicks won’t be alone at the newly-installed H-back spot.

Freshman Jeb Blazevich, who signed as a tight end, will also be at H-back, according to Bobo. The position is a hybrid of fullback and tight end, and while it’s been used for a long time at the pro level, it’s new to Georgia’s offense.

Hicks and Blazevich will both participate in the tight ends meetings, and be coached by tight ends coach John Lilly. But they will also work with running backs coach Bryan McClendon for some drills.

Bobo indicated that how much the H-back is incorporated in the offense is yet to be decided.

“We’re gonna have to see really how it unfolds as a team, offensively, what our best personnel groups, and what our identity becomes, for us to move the ball,” Bobo said. “And that changes year to year. Everybody sees Georgia as two-back team, which we do, but last year we were a one-back team 74 percent of the time, with three receivers, one tight end, one back. So it’s really going to depend on who our best personnel is who gives us the best chance to move the ball.”

If he’s serious about using the position, there are a lot of tantalizing things he could do with it.  Consider me intrigued at this point.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

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

Auburn wants a more balanced offense. The question is why.

This kind of talk drives me crazy.

“That was really probably the No. 1 priority in the spring, to be more balanced,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “We led the country in rushing last year. When you do that, defenses have to take some chances. We’ve got to do a better job this year of making them pay when they do take chances. … We feel like we have some receivers that can stretch the field and make some plays.”

The article is about the addition of stud WR D’haquille Williams, and I get that it never hurts to add more talent to an offense.  But Gus directed an offense that was second in scoring and second in total offense in the SEC last season, despite throwing the ball less than 30% of the time.  Why should he care about balance?

The answer is he shouldn’t.  At least not until opposing defenses begin to show they’re getting a handle on what Auburn’s doing.

I’m guessing this is simply random, meaningless coachspeak, because he’s got a pretty sharp offensive mind.  But if he wants to try to show otherwise, I won’t complain.  That’s the kind of thinking that worked so well for Chizik.

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