Been there, done that.

Jerry Hinnen, over at the War Eagle Reader, has, in his Georgia-Auburn recap, a detailed breakdown of Auburn’s longest gain of the game, a 34-yard pass to the tight end.  It’s well done, with pictures and analysis.  In Jerry’s mind, it’s evidence that even if “Malzahn’s offense isn’t as consistent yet as we’d like, there’s not much doubting his ingenuity.” To me, it’s just further evidence that Malzahn let himself get outcoached by Martinez – a pretty rare occurrence this season.

Why do I say that?  Well, look at Jerry’s breakdown:  five paragraphs worth, with accompanying pictures.  There are players doing this, players doing that, Todd is pump faking, Fannin is directing traffic… you get the idea.  It’s a very clever play call.

But if you’re a Georgia fan, it all comes down to two things, both of which Jerry happens to capture in still shots.

First, there’s no pass rush.

Second, it’s a throw to the tight end.  Over the middle.  You can see the coverage in your mind’s eye, can’t you?


Here’s Jerry’s conclusion from the play:

Malzahn is certainly too clever for his own good sometimes. But he’s also often too clever for his opponent’s good, too, and his shrewdness in establishing tendencies and then playing off of them–swing, swing, LOOK A SWING psych hahahahaha–are a big reason Auburn has gone from 105th in offensive yards-per-play to 21st in the space of a single offseason.

There’s no denying that the Tigers are much improved on the offensive side of the ball this year.  But it’s the first line of that paragraph that described what happened last Saturday night.

Tight ends in much less complicated offenses than Malzahn’s have made careers off of Georgia’s pass defense this season.  I’m not sure if Aaron Hernandez had a man within four yards of him after he left the line of scrimmage the entire day in Jacksonville.  Hell, Vandy’s tight ends feasted on Georgia’s D.

So, sure, it was a clever call, in a miss-the-forest-for-the-trees kind of way.  Because it was the only completion to the tight end the entire game. First rule for having a good game plan:  take what the other guy gives you until he stops it.  Malzahn never went there; instead, we got to see Lee Ziemba’s first catch of the year.  That’s how you wind up with an offense that only scored three points after the first two drives.  And how Willie gets credit for the win.



Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

13 responses to “Been there, done that.

  1. rbubp

    Let me guess…it was not an obvious passing situation, they play-faked, and we were in cover 2?

    Ok, so let me go see if that’s all accurate.


    • rbubp

      Not an obvious passing situation? Check–2nd and 5.

      Cover 2? Check.

      Play fake? Not quite–fake on swing pass in the flat to the halfback. Exactly the same effect. Check.

      Freeze the lbs and send the TE out in the seam between the safeties? Check, check, check, check, check….


  2. ScooBoo

    I’m certainly no football expert, and haven’t been “in the arena” since the 9th grade, but here is what I see.

    I see a 3 man pass rush, which would mean the LBs are dropping back into coverage. One of the LBs are “supposed” to pick up the TE.

    In the 2nd screen shot, if the LB is in the TE’s hip pocket like he is “supposed” to be, that’s a pick.

    I haven’t been happy with the D for the past couple of years, but to blame this play on CWM is just blind hatred.

    This was a completion because of a “Jimmie or Joe”, not a “X or O”.


    • mcboyt

      There are four men rushing the passer. Two in clear view (Dobbs #58 in foreground, and it looks like Tyson #94 on the 39 yard line), and then there is a Georgia defender blocked by Auburn #73 and one blocked by #50. Four defenders on five linemen, getting no pressure.

      There are two receivers playing basically safety valve routes in the first picture, and both are covered loosely by linebackers. The linebacker that should have taken on Trott was biting on the swing pass, letting him go by free.

      That leaves four men in the secondary to trip over themselves while covering two wideouts on the sidelines and a tight end down the middle, along with a lb running along behind hollering “wait up!”


      • ScooBoo

        That still leaves 3 LBs in coverage and 1 of those LBs had responsibility for the TE.

        The swing pass was defended by the guy on the 44 yd line, who is now turned upfield knowing the pass is not going to him. Is it CWM’s fault that the LB bit on the fake swing pass? No, it is not.

        I didn’t reply to this post to defend Martinez. I am just pointing out that you should at least be honest in your criticism. This was a blown assignment by the LB plain and simple.


  3. Well, no doubt that the UGa defense won the Dawg D vs. AU O battle overall, and if you want to say Martinez outcoached Malzahn, I guess I won’t argue. Dr. Gustav has had better games.

    But simplifying Malzahn’s game to “LOL, throw to Ziemba”–as a lot of people have done, and which that post was kind of a response to–isn’t doing justice to the fact that Auburn moved the ball fairly well (remember, five different Auburn drives finished in Dawg territory without points) and that execution problems were at least as much to blame as anything Malzahn did. Malzahn’s not at fault for Todd throwing the ball to no one instead of the wide open receiver on the game’s critical possession, for the Dawg defensive line repeatedly beating Auburn’s o-line, for Burns drawing an idiotic shift flag on that final desperate drive, etc.

    Did Martinez outcoach Malzahn? Eh, maybe. But the story of Auburn’s offensive failures over the last three quarters go way, way deeper than that, and given what Malzahn had to work with (and how far he’s taken this offense) I don’t see the point in holding last Saturday against him.



    • All I know is that I felt a palpable sense of relief every time it was clear Auburn wasn’t going to pass. The Ziemba play was just icing on the cake.

      If it makes you feel any better, Mike Bobo wasn’t exactly covering himself in glory with his playcalling on Georgia’s first two possessions, either.


    • Sparrow

      I could be wrong (and probably am, seeing as how the Senator has already responded), but I took the point of the post to be that Malzahn essentially beat himself. His game plan, while rediculously advanced, failed to exploit one of the biggest and most glaring weaknesses of our defense. As far as I’m concerned, CWM just got lucky.


      • rbubp

        As far as I can tell Malzahn, on this play at least, put a lot of window-dressing on the exact same sort of plays that have been successfully run against us all year….
        AND IS THE STANDARD FORMULA FOR ATTACKING THE COVER 2. You can look up on wikipedia, for pete’s sake.

        Malzahn gets credit for calling the right play with a wrinkle that UGA may nit have seen, but innovation? Not on this play, at least–not when you’re doing something that any middle school coach can read about on the internets.


        • Sparrow

          not sure if that was directed at my comment or Jerry’s… FWIW, I’m not crediting Malzahn with innovation on that play or talking about that play at all. That one play (the only completion to a TE, as was pointed out) was the sole example of Malzahn applying a textbook attack to one of the known weaknesses of Cover 2. His failure to do so more frequently is not a credit to CWM. It’s just an oversight by Malzahn.


  4. keith

    scooboo….you don’t know that the LB had single coverage on the TE. In CWMs’ scheme he more often that not runs a zone and in this instance that is exactly what it looks like.


    • rbubp

      And that’s why it’s so important to pressure the QB–because given time he will find the receiver in the seams if the correct play has been called. Without time the play cannot develop correctly, and he throws to early (closer to the LB) or inaccurately.


    • ScooBoo

      Not from the replay that I saw.