Spring practice punditry: why bother?

Most pre-spring practice punditry drives me up the wall.  Here’s what College Football News had to say yesterday about the biggest challenges Alabama, Florida and Georgia face going into the 2010 season:

Why to be grouchy: Yeah, the defense should reload in a hurry with so much talent coming in from the last few recruiting hauls, but it might take a little while before everything jells after losing almost everyone up front and corner Javier Arenas and FS Justin Woodall. Considering Penn State, at Arkansas, Florida, at South Carolina, Ole Miss, at Tennessee, and as LSU form the bulk of the first two-thirds of the season, it’s asking a lot to get through unscathed.

The number one thing to work on is: Find Julio Jones. He might not have always been 100%, and it’s hard to not keep handing the ball off when the running game is so devastating, but the most talented player on the team might be No. 8 and his talents are going to waste. Here’s a player who might be a top ten draft pick next year and could be the first receiver off the board, and he only had one 100-yard game last season and finished with a mere 43 catches for 596 yards and four scores. A receiver of his caliber should have doubled those numbers … at least.

Why to be grouchy: And the head coach is … ? Meyer is supposed to be the main man, and he’s going to be roaming the sidelines after his health issues and the subsequent meltdown, but what happens if/when there another episode and scare? The future of the program is bright because of the talent coming in from the latest recruiting class, but the ball could drop at anytime on Meyer’s health and the team’s season could be up in the air in a hurry.

The number one thing to work on is: Keeping John Brantley upright. As good as the Florida line has been over the last few seasons, it struggled at times in pass protection last season. Part of the reason the line got tagged with 30 sacks allowed is because of Tebow’s style and running, but the protection wasn’t always up to national title snuff. Brantley will need time to work and the less he’s pressured early on, the better.

Why to be grouchy: There are a ton of question marks on both sides of the ball. The defensive front loses mega-strong tackles Jeff Owens, Kade Weston, and Geno Atkins, and not having LB Rennie Curran and SS Reshad Jones around to clean up all the messes will hurt. The schedule really is favorable enough to have a monster season, but Georgia has to be ready to rock right away with three road games in cour weeks at South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Colorado wrapped around a home date with Arkansas.

The number one thing to work on is: Turnover margin. Only Tulane and Miami University were worse in turnover margin. The Dawgs weren’t all that bad when it came to giving the ball away, although 28 turnovers are still too many, but the defense didn’t pick up the slack with a pathetic 12 takeaways and a nation-low two recovered fumbles. This year’s team isn’t going to be good enough to not own the turnover game.

See that mention of Georgia’s losses on the defensive front?  Keep that in mind when you read what CFN has to say today about the ten units needing work heading into spring practice.  Checking in at number six:  the Alabama linebacking corps.  Following at number five:  Florida’s linebacking corps.  And no mention at all of Georgia’s defensive line.

Now I certainly recognize that these are two different articles by two different authors, so I don’t expect some sort of lockstep approach here.  But when one of the pieces starts out like this,

Every school in America must deal with graduations, transfers, and early entries to some degree. A handful of programs, however, are reeling at the prospect of rebuilding from the ground up, cobbling together new units that have been ravaged by departures…

Everyone loses players, but when an entire unit takes a beating, it’s up to the staff and the holdovers to limit the damage and make a smooth landing. An inability to do so in the offseason could linger when the games count in the fall…

is it too much to expect a certain amount of editorial consistency?  If Fiutak is right about Georgia’s losses (and I think he is) and Cirminiello’s premise is valid, what is it about the situation on the defensive line – where the top three tackles have graduated, the top two defensive ends have moved to outside linebacker, the defensive end coach was let go and the scheme is changing from a 4-3 to a 3-4 – that doesn’t merit attention in comparison to the Alabama and Florida defensive units that do?

Don’t get me wrong here.  This isn’t a complaint about a school being left out of a list (hell, that’s a backhanded compliment, if you think about it).  It’s the why it’s left off that gets me.



Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

8 responses to “Spring practice punditry: why bother?

  1. Charles D.

    1. Alabama and Florida are higher profile programs thant UGA, thus, when a national-bent article is written, the players Bama and UF lost are more important than the ones UGA lost.

    2. UGA’s “mega-strong” defensive tackles were around for the 3 worst years of CMR’s tenure. They may have been good individual players, but may not be missed, because they did not provide much championship caliber play.

    Essentially, yes, UGA’s D-Line attrition is significant for the individual piece, but in the grand scheme of the current state of things, UGA’s individual position group rankings are irrellevant for any national discussion.


  2. Charles D.

    Iowa is easy. Bulaga may be a top 15 draft pick, and having 4 All-conference Offensive linemen is pretty staggering. Not to mention, if Stanzi doesn’t get hurt last year, they would have had a chance to play Bama for the MNC.

    Kansas, they are playing the Turner Gill angle, and Reesing was very accomplished. Briscoe was a phenomenal WR.

    Miami…you got me there. They had a heckuva run with Portis, James, McGahee and Gore, but that RB train went off the tracks a few years ago.


  3. jdawg

    Yeah we’re losing Owens, Atkins, and Weston. But, we’re replacing them with future All-World Abry Jones, and DeAngelo Tyson who is pretty good in his own right. It also helps that we’re changing schemes, meaning we need one less space eater anyway (Owens, Weston). The heralded trio above were very good/talented players but none of them are irreplaceable Pollack-type game changers. None of them will ever be accused of being high motor, all-go no quit guys…so I appreciate how they represented the university but it doesn’t cause me to lose sleep at night wondering how we’re going to replace them.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      What about Geathers and Lott? Those guys are 300 pounders who could fill a Cody-like role in the middle.


  4. Did I see that Dobbs has been put at DE as a down lineman? Thought he would be an OLB. Tyson & Geathers at Nose,Jones & Lott at DE sound right. Still short on depth & experience at DL & DB.


  5. Mike

    I agree with the Senator about the consistency of logic, or lack there-of.

    That said, Georgia is not only breaking in a new DC, but a new scheme.

    How well the UGA defenses does next year will depend a lot on two things;

    1.) Having a smart, physical nose guard
    2.) Having two smart, physical inside LB’ers.

    A good 3-4 depends a lot on those two conditions.

    The nose guard is basically a sacrificial lamp position, but to be successful, the player has to be very physical and very smart. (Think Bob Baumhower from the 80s Dolphins)

    And the inside LB’er have to know which gap to fill and be physical enough to shed the blocks from interior linemen.

    I suspect UGAs defense will struggle a bit in the early going.


  6. Dboy

    The Defense will struggle early next season, and maybe the entire season. There is inexperience at nearly every vital position from nose tackle to CB and safety. The trick will be improvement over time and the execution of fundamentals.

    Hopefully, the system will also create a little havoc for opposing offenses as well to offset things. There were certainly no surprises for even subpar QBs like crompton and garcia as they picked apart our secondary last year. Patience, my friends. We really need the OL and RBs to dominate the clock this year. Fortunatley, UF, UA, LSU have similar problems with inexperience at key posistions etc.