The Wiz has the story on game times and number of plays run in this post. Not much changed from a statistical standpoint:
… In 2007, the average game had 143.43 plays. Thus far in 2008, the average is 134.61 plays. That breaks down to a loss of 8.82 plays a game. Last week the number was 8.7.
The time of an average game remained the same, 3:10, despite a 5:18 marathon between Western Carolina and Florida State. That game had two weather delays totaling 2:14.
Subjectively speaking, it strikes me that coaches seem to be able to affect the pace of the game more than before, particularly in terms of how the 40-second clock is utilized. The change of pace between the first quarter and the third quarter in Athens last Saturday was palpable (especially to those of us sitting in the heat).
The other thing that leaves me slightly optimistic at the moment is that so far, unlike with the ’06 clock rules changes, the current version of the rules doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on the ability of teams to make comebacks late in the game. We’ll see if that’s just an early aberration, or a good sign of things to come.
First off, start with this post of Paul’s about Georgia’s actual track record on this series. It’s hard for me to argue with his conclusion.
… In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter how well the Chickens play. If Georgia plays well, we’re going to win this game going away. The two games that we’ve lost in Columbia since conference expansion were 1996 and 2000. In those two games, Georgia surrendered 10 total turnovers.
Other games have been slowed by incredibly poorly timed mental miscues such as:
2002 – Tyson Browning fumbles in the South Carolina red zone on his first career carry.
2004 – UGA surrenders a safety and David Greene throws a pick six early.
2006 – Three INTs by Matthew Stafford keep the score from being even more out of hand than the 18-0 scoreboard indicated.
Protect the ball, play focused, and Dawgs win big. Screw around with these jokers, and it’s a sure fire headache.
South Carolina’s Kenny McKinley didn’t practice Monday night, and there wasn’t much hope bouncing around about the senior receiver playing Saturday against No. 2 Georgia.
“No, we didn’t expect him to do anything,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “If he makes any progress, it’ll be later in the week.”
McKinley pulled his right hamstring early in Thursday’s loss at Vanderbilt and didn’t return. McKinley said he was hit from behind on a crossing route and his leg “whipped up and I couldn’t hardly walk.”
Spurrier’s circling of the wagons with the media…
For a variety of reasons, Spurrier is using his veto power this week when it comes to interview requests. A slew of assistant coaches and players weren’t made available by Spurrier on Monday night.
Among the assistants: Receivers coach and play-caller Steve Spurrier Jr. , offensive line coach John Hunt and special teams and tight ends coach Ray Rychleski.
The players: Quarterback Tommy Beecher, receiver Barnes and running back Brian Maddox.
“Well, sometimes we don’t put players on the list because they don’t want to talk to you guys,” Spurrier said. “A lot of times you want to talk to guys that aren’t playing. Nothing good can come out of talking to guys that aren’t playing. … We don’t just open up everybody to the media.”
Spurrier was asked if the assistants didn’t wish to talk. He said yes.
and the uncertainty at quarterback…
Spurrier said both Beecher and Chris Smelley are both “scheduled” to play against Georgia. A starter hasn’t been named.
and it strikes me that you’ve got a team that’s going to have a difficult time recovering, both mentally and in terms of offensive ability, if it gets down early to a quality opponent. The trick here is for Georgia not to take anything for granted.
As Jason points out over at Eleven Warriors, that’s quite a line on this week’s Game of the Century.
The line for Saturday’s game started in the 9.5-10 range on Sunday, quickly moved north of 11 and has settled back into 10-10.5 territory. Vegas does get a lot of money coming in from Southern California, but what’s telling is that the line hasn’t come down much in the last day or so. This spread is surely the largest of the Tressel era outside of maybe his inaugural season and most definitely unheard of in a matchup of top five teams. Hell, Nebraska was only getting 9 last year.
Don’t forget, USC’s opening day win, while impressive, came against an ACC school that soundly defeated Richmond last weekend 16-0 (it was still 3-0 midway through the fourth quarter).
If Tressel can’t get his team to put some kind of chip on its shoulder as motivation for this game, he’s not as good a coach as I think he is.
You think we’re outraged over The Hurdle being dissed on ESPN? That’s nothing compared to what’s getting stirred up down in the Sunshine State after noted straight shooter Urban Meyer elected to drive and kick a winningnecessarysomewhat needed meaningless field goal with his team up by twenty with twenty five seconds left in a home game against a team coming off a 5-7 season and starting a redshirt freshman quarterback in his first game.
You’d think somebody who’s been around the block with Florida like Randy Shannon would understand. But noooooo.
“I’ll just say this one statement,” Shannon said on Sunday. “Sometimes when you do things, and people see what type of person you really are, you turn a lot of people off. Now, whatever you want to get out of that, I won’t say it again. But it helped us. It helped us more than you’ll ever know.”
Meyer took the right approach in responding. He patronized Shannon.
“It was a great football game,” Meyer said. “Why don’t we talk about the players that played a great, hard-nosed football game and quit measuring up to worrying about Florida. I learned a long time ago just coach your team and take care of yourself. Special teams, offense and defense occupies all our time. So I’m good, we’ve got to move on.”
Yeah, just coach and move on. That sounds like the kind of wisdom a man learns through his own life experience, doesn’t it. It reminds me of something Meyer said recently.
In his new book, “Urban’s Way,” Florida coach Urban Meyer makes it clear that Georgia’s excessive celebration following its opening touchdown last season was a “big deal” and something that he will remember “forever.”
“That wasn’t right. It was a bad deal,” Meyer says in the book, which is scheduled for a September release. “And it will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. … So we’ll handle it. And it’s going to be a big deal.”
Well, the head coach may be magnanimous in victory, but the GPOOE™ is not pleased. At all.
“(Meyer) has tried to work guys into being better people on the field, off the field, never says anything bad about anybody, always tries to do the right thing. He tries to take young boys and make them into men and do the right thing. We play with character and strength on the field and off and I don’t think you usually see many cheap shots or anything wrong that we do. Yeah, maybe we’re going try to score through the whole game. That’s our job. We like playing football.
Whatever. (Although I will give Tebow credit for not losing his perspective over the Celebration the way his head coach did.)
From our selfish standpoint, you’ve gotta appreciate the likely psychological effect of the field goal call on the lead up to this year’s Georgia-Florida battle. Meyer undercut all of the righteous indignation he ginned up over last year’s WLOCP with the field goal. And don’t think the media won’t bring it up if given the chance, which the media will create by asking Meyer and his team about the Celebration. It’ll be too much of an opportunity to ignore.
Gamesmanship is gamesmanship, whether it takes place at the beginning of a game – when at least you’ve got the opportunity to respond to it – or at the end. Just ask LSU.
UPDATE: Leave it to the fine folks at Gator County to indulge in some hair splitting.
… Ho hum, another coach making himself the victim, grasping at something to inspire his team.
Look it up, Randy. Kicking a field goal at the end of the game is well within the rules — not like telling your players to run on the field and celebrate, intentionally drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
And if you want to bring up the Georgia Incident of last year and the fact that Meyer is on record as saying he would make “a big deal out of it” on Nov. 1, consider the fact that what the Bulldogs did was not legal — and that Meyer never uttered a word about it until he did an interview for his book.
The “Georgia Incident”. Sounds ominous. No wonder Meyer can’t forget about it.