Balance is nice. Scoring is nicer.

I know I’m probably going to come off sounding like an ass in this post, but here’s a quote from Mike Bobo Joe Cox that distills my concerns over his Mike Bobo’s playcalling this year:

… Georgia heads to Tennessee, where defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will be focused on adding more misery to the Bulldogs’ rushing attack.

“They like bringing down safeties into the box and being able to have that extra run support,” Cox said. “A lot of times they’re lining up saying, ‘You’re not going to run the ball. You’re going to have to beat us throwing the ball.’

“That’ll be tough because you want to have a balanced game plan. We’re just going to have to find ways to open up holes for the run game against all their looks.”

I’ve never coached.  I’m just a blogger with an opinion.  But since when did having a balanced game plan become the end instead of a means?

The playcaller’s job isn’t to be balanced.  It’s to call plays that generate yards and points.  If by running a balanced attack you can keep the defense on its heels to accomplish your goal of scoring, that’s great.  But sometimes you’ve got to settle for taking what the defense gives you.  If your opponent is going to play with eight or nine in the box – Lord knows we’ve seen plenty of that this year – you’ve got to take advantage of that and attack the defense where it’s short-handed with the pass.

I understand that sometimes the execution of the players comes into play.  If Cox isn’t in sync with his receivers, that leaves Bobo with tough options.  But that doesn’t explain the perplexing playcalling we’ve seen in almost every game in ’09, starting with Oklahoma State, where Bobo gets in a groove, slices up a defense for a score on an impressive drive… and then proceeds to fiddle around for a few series.

I posted after the OSU game that it struck me as if at some point in the first quarter Bobo realized he didn’t like the ratio of run/pass plays he’d called even though they had worked and just started calling plays to balance the ratio.  There have been moments I’ve felt like that in almost every game this year.

It’s great that Richt has enough confidence in his assistants to give them the room to operate.  But similarly to Fabris, you wonder if this encourages stubbornness in the face of reality.  And the reality right now is that the Georgia running game isn’t very functional.  Saying that your offense “has to open holes” isn’t a solution; it’s a hope.  Or, you could say, a means to the end of having a balanced attack.


Filed under Georgia Football

38 responses to “Balance is nice. Scoring is nicer.

  1. BooBoo

    Is that a quote from Bobo or from Cox? It seems like it’s Cox based on placement, but the qoute itself is unattributed.


  2. Mike

    Steve Spurrier used to say he wanted a balanced offense too. What he meant by it was this;

    Score a bunch of points via mostly the pass, then pound ’em with the running game to run out the clock.

    I agree with the point is that the job of an OC is to do what the defense gives you.

    Cox is such a inconsistent passer that teams are comfortable to challenging Cox to beat them via the air.


  3. cleetis

    Paul Johnson’s philosohy on offense is that “you run it, until they stop it”.


  4. Joe B.

    Seems like we have eschewed simplicity in many elements of the game to our detriment.

    According to our coaches, kickoff coverage is the most difficult thing in the world. Well, it really isn’t. You need 10 guys willing to risk injury to go get the man with the ball inside the 20 yard line. It is the most simple play on the football field, and our coaches have somehow managed to turn it into rocket science.

    As far as playcalling goes, I read a thing in SI with Peyton Manning in which he said that he only calls 5 or 6 different plays in a game. Obviously, when you include the variations that WR’s can run based on coverage and protection schemes, there is a lot more to what the Colts are doing than running the same, exact 5 plays over and over, but the concept is there.

    What made Charlie Weis so great as OC at New England is that he was not afraid to run the same play 6 or 7 straight plays.

    When CMR was the OC, it was fun to see him run a play in the 2nd quarter of a game against UAB to set something up for the 4th quarter against Auburn. He has a deep understanding and knowledge of the way to call plays, and I believe that he called each and every play with a goal for that play, as well as a goal for a variation of that play down the line. I do not feel that Bobo has the foresight to do that.

    Not to try and compare war and football, but it seems like our officers spend a lot of time in the tent figuring out elaborate plans to go 10 miles around a river, only to find out that the bridge was not guarded.


    • D.N. Nation

      “When CMR was the OC, it was fun to see him run a play in the 2nd quarter of a game against UAB to set something up for the 4th quarter against Auburn. He has a deep understanding and knowledge of the way to call plays, and I believe that he called each and every play with a goal for that play, as well as a goal for a variation of that play down the line. I do not feel that Bobo has the foresight to do that.”

      To each his own. I recall when CMR was the OC, us farting around once we got a 6- or 13-point lead, always assuming the defense would be stout enough for the win. Also, glorious, glorious field goals.


      • Joe B.

        By no means was CMR perfect as a play caller, but I think that everything he did was calculated.

        He would never have gone into a series thinking that he needed to run the ball three straight times to achieve balance.

        And while yes, it was maddening sometimes to settle for field goals and sitting on a 6-13 point lead, we never had a team hit us for a big play, then turn around and go 3 and out the next series, giving the ball right back to the opponent to go against our tired defense.

        I think that the defense was stouter then, in part because CMR tailored the gameplan to play ball control and field position.

        Hale put up some stats about our % of 3 and outs over the last couple of years and it is staggering.


        • D.N. Nation

          I saw enough of Richt playcalling in 2006, thanks.


          • I miss Richt as OC.

            2006 was a weak set of players.

            Richt called the plays in 2002 and 2005, and that worked out brilliantly.


            • 2002–All senior O Line, Musa Smith, Ben Watson, Fred Gibson, Damian Gary, Terence Edwards.

              2005–DJ, Max-Jean, Chester, Fernando, Leonard Pope, MoMass and Thomas Brown.

              I would certainly hope Richt would be able to score points with that offense. What about his dicking around in 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2004 especially. Lest we forget, we only scored 13 points on Marshall that year, only beat SCU and Arkansas by 4, and needed Greene and Ball to save our ass against Tech.

              Richt had plenty of clunkers as OC too.


  5. mykiesee

    I’ve heard coaches talk about how the running game opens up things for the passing game. I’ve also heard coaches say that the passing game can open up things for the running game. Makes sense to me. Why can’t Booboo see it?


    • Dupesdawg

      That can apply at times, but in my coaching experience, it doesn’t quite reciprocate as much as you would like it to.

      Being able to run the ball makes LBs and DBs think before they break to their zone or man, and thinking defenders are what you want to create on offense.

      Passing to open up the run can work, but linemen who are successful run blockers as well as pass blockers can be harder to come by than you think.

      Being able to run the ball is key to any successful offense, even a pass happy one like Texas Tech.


  6. Prov

    “It’s great that Richt has enough confidence in his assistants to give them the room to operate. But similarly to Fabris, you wonder if this encourages stubbornness in the face of reality.”

    I’ve often wondered how CMR approaches assistants when things continually fail to work on the field. Does he sit them down for a talking to or raise his voice and get in their faces? Both methods have their place, but if one doesn’t have the fear of consequence they are likely to never change.


  7. JaxDawg

    seems I read something on this or PWD’s blog recently giving Bobo a hard time for saying the exact thing that the Senator agrees with.

    Yes – if your date won’t let you screw her but will give you a bj then you take what you can get.

    Either way – you’re winner.

    Football ain’t much different.


  8. SilverDawgFrank

    Let me bring a different perspective. And this is probably tangential to the issue, but maybe not. The mindset of an individual is the central driving force of that person—and experience has taught me that the baseline mindset of an individual plays itself out in all aspects of a person’s life—marriage, career, choices of everything in a person’s life.

    Show me a 55 year old spinster teaching English literature and I’ll more often than not show you a person who has a less than creative take on love, hate, passion, life itself. I said more often than not.

    I do not know any coach on the staff personally. And what follows in not an indictment of anyone’s charater or mindset. Unless it affects on-field performance

    That being said, what I do know about the staff is they are “family” to each other, that they carry their belief systems into all areas of their lives, football included. That is admirable. Unless.

    Unless the mindset is law-is-law and unbending. Rigid. Uncreative. This is the way “it is supposed to be” sort of mindset. That is it, so be it sorta thing.

    Just wondering. How much of that sort of rigidity, if and only if that is the case, is held to esteem at the expense of being creative and adaptive on the field?

    Would I want a “play-by-the-book that I always have played by” drill sargeant coaching a group of super talents who, because they are young men, do think outside the box as a rule of thumb?

    Or would I want a “never have thought outside the box” guy running an office of over 100 people? Or even a defensive unit of 15? Or a special teams coach with the same attitude?

    Rigidity is a dangerous thing.

    Just a thought.


  9. Hobnail_Boot

    This has been a problem for a long time now. Reference the 2007 SCU game when Knowshon was ripping the Carolina defense a new one, and Bobo decided to have Stafford throw it once we got in the red zone.


  10. Great post. You can make the same criticism of Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey with the Falcons.


  11. 69Dawg

    Lets look at the head staff.
    Head Coach – Great Christian man, former OC with a winning program who waited for the right job to come along. Only negative about him from his former boss was “I don’t know if Mark is mean enough to be a head coach.” Nuff said.

    OC – One year coaching QB’s at a Div 1AA school. Called home to give the staff a UGA alumni and to take some load off of HC/OC. Fans call for HC to give up OC duties so Mikie gets the job (I know Callaway was an OC like I was a boy toy to Madonna). Bobo lacks experience and it is demonstrated by his play calling (FSU redux).

    DC – Old college buddy to HC. Never coached at a major college but HC liked the D he and VG put up against FSU in one game. VG leaves and WM gets promotion. Willie is in over his head but he fixes this by running the same D that we always ran only with less success.

    I could go on but I won’t. Bottom line we will see no changes at the end of the year unless one of the assistant coaches gets kicked upstairs as is our custom. Perhaps we can create a job Fab can do that would challenge him more than making boring kick offs exciting beyond any fan’s wildest nightmares.


    • “Perhaps we can create a job Fab can do that would challenge him more than making boring kick offs exciting beyond any fan’s wildest nightmares.”


      We need a new OC, DC, and ST coach.

      It is just that simple.

      I appreciate the time they put in, and their loyalty, but it is time for a change. Things are not working. They have not been working for 3-4 years now.

      Change is needed.


    • 2 SEC titles, 3 SEC East titles, 3 Sugar Bowls

      Only negative about him from his former boss was “I don’t know if Mark is mean enough to be a head coach.” Nuff said.



      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I still count 2007 as a shared SEC East title. I don’t care what anyone says a tiebreaker just decides who gets to go to the SEC Championship Game. That makes 4 SEC East titles.


  12. Your #2 2007 Georgia Bulldogs

    “Things are not working. They have not been working for 3-4 years now.”

    Um. What?


  13. Rocketdawg

    Hehe my thoughts exactly…CMR has been plenty successful in the recent past that I believe he has earned the benefit of the doubt.

    Patience guys…..patience.


  14. Coastal Dawg

    Patience was for last year. We were promised changed after a team with that much talent wet the bed in a huge way.

    Special teams – especially kick off coverage has been an issue for years.

    Our defense, with 4 or 5 future NFL players in the front seven gets pushed up the field until we decide to tighten up in the red zone. The result, at the end of the game we are worn out, miss tackles ( another recurring theme) and give up two scoring drives at the end.

    How many times during this season have you watched us lay 8 to 10 yards off the receivers on a 3rd on 5? the answer, too many. When a man-child says our pass rush is tenative becaseu we don’t want to get burned by play action, you have a fundamental problem with your defensive philosophy. He is a suggestion. Pin your ears back adn get to whoever has the ball.

    Running backs carrying the ball in the wrong hand and players running kickoffs and interceptions out of the end zone are peewee league mistakes.

    As for punt returns, what in teh name of Chuck Carswell are we doing. have we decided the only way to be sure we don’t have another fake punt disaster is to play punt safe and fair catch. Only a few years ago we led the conference in PRs. How many game changers did we get fom Damien Gary, Thomas Flowers and Mikey Henderson? Put B Smith or Troupe or any of these young wide recievers that the coaches can’t seem to remember to get on the field out there and let them get some game time.

    I love Mark Richt, I would want my son to play for him, but it is time for some accountability from this coaching staff.


  15. Coastal Dawg

    Sorry for so many typos, but I am worked up.


  16. Keep hoping, fans. Don’t let anyone tell you that hindsight is 20/20, or that you are being a crazy fanbase. One day you will catch me in a candy-cane net, and all your dreams will come true.

    A good offensive coordinator should be able to move the ball at will against any defense. And, a good defensive coordinator should be able to stop any offense from moving the ball. And, because this is Obama’s unicorn land, mutually-contradictory propositions are no problem at all!

    The other team will always be coached by robots who simply plug in an algorithm called “cower and let us score” because in the world I come from offenses only fail to score because the o coordinator called dumb plays. There is no such thing in my world as the other team just making a great play, or the other coordinator calling rocks to your scissors. These things do not happen. You really can have it all.

    Hugs and Kisses!


  17. Frank

    Unless you are really a whole lot better than the other team the only way to beat them loading the box is to throw and burn them. Then you make them play honest. Pounding the ball into the teeth of a loaded box gives them exactly what they want. Audible out and make them pay.


  18. Toom

    B-I-N-G-O! This drives me absolutely crazy. I’m not ready to form an opinion on Paul Johnson but he does run plays until they are stopped. We have some marvelous plays that work and in fact look unstoppable and you’ll never see them again. I remember the Peach Bowl when Bobo first took over, I had never seen us run such creative counters, run plays and that was that. Likewise the first drive of OSU. Why does it seem like we crave variety over good solid gameplanning?


  19. Xon

    We run those plays more often than you think. Selective memory kicks in and we tend to remember the times they ended spectacularly or terribly, but not the boring 2 yard gains. Unless someone is actually going to break down some film and show us all that yes, indeed, Bobo hasn’t called the same counter plays that he called in the 06 Peach Bowl for the last 2 1/2 season… Anybody?


  20. Rocketdawg

    I would disagree that patience is not for this year. If you look at our two deep we have exactly 6 Seniors on Defense and 2 Seniors on Offense ON THE TWO DEEP DEPTH CHART!!!! How in the world can you expect that young of a team to play consistantly from week to week? I am not making excuses but each phase of the game has shown brilliance at least once this year just unfortunately not at the same time. Do any of you recall how putrid the Florida Defense was in 2007? The result was a monster D in ’08 and ’09. We should still hit 8 or 9 wins this year (which was considered a good year in the Donnan/Goff years and would be a great year at most schools).

    As far as the playcalling goes, sometimes I think Bobo falls in love with certain plays or players and calls them too much. The reverse that went for a TD vs SCar should not have been called vs LSU last week. Every team we play for the next two years will look for that play since it was a big gainer for us. That play shouldn’t see the light of day again for a couple of seasons (much like the fumblerooski ball fake that Greene/Shockley pulled off to perfection). What we need to do is man up on the O line and knock somebody off the damn ball so we can run.