This one might sting.
Daily Archives: August 26, 2011
This one might sting.
One of ESPN’s primary college football analysts sees big things in store for Florida this year. It’s because of all that talent some guy bequeathed to Will Muschamp.
“I think Florida’s going to be one of the most underrated teams,” said former coach Urban Meyer on an ESPN teleconference. “I think they’re loaded.”
Of course, that’s easy for Meyer to say after leaving the program following an 8-5 season last year. While he kicks off his broadcasting career with Chris Spielman at the Akron vs. Ohio State game on Sept. 3, the Gators start the Will Muschamp era with Florida Atlantic coming to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“If John Brantley gets some help at receiver and their running backs stay healthy, I think they’ll be good,” he said. “The defense will be outstanding with those young defensive linemen.”
Okay, so the Corch-gets-credit-if-they-win, Muschamp-gets-blame-if-they-lose meme is nicely set up there (of course, that begs the question of how you explain last year’s record… wait a minute… Addazio!). How many of his fellow talking heads do you think Meyer will have singing the same tune by season’s end?
One thing about the past offseason I’ve noticed and mentioned before is how much more visible a role Todd Grantham played in the recruiting process than his predecessor did. I don’t just mean that in the context of his energy on the recruiting trail (although there certainly was that), but also in terms of having a clear philosophy of the types of players he wanted to recruit to play in his defense.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Willie Martinez couldn’t recruit or didn’t have a strong idea about what kind of athletes he wanted to come play for him. But I sure thought about all of that as I read Dean Legge’s criticism of Georgia’s on-and-off recruiting from 2005-2009.
… What compounded the problem with the class of 2007 was Georgia’s class of 2005, which, as it turned out, was the worst of Richt’s career. Not only was Georgia limited in terms of scholarships in 2005 due to the large senior class that fall, the class started to fall apart even before it could make an impact.
Corey Moon, Tavares Kearney, Brandon Sesay, Ian Smith, Donavan Baldwin and Antavious Coates never took a meaningful snap in Athens. In other words, 35% of the class signed did nothing on the field. Jeff Owens, Marcus Washington and Roderick Battle all had at least one year’s worth of injuries – Owens got worse as his career went along. Bryan Evans was a liability the one year he started at safety. All in all the class of 2005 was a disaster, but it was made ok by a very strong class of 2006 – that is until the class of 2006 turned pro before the 2009 season.
Mohamed Massaquoi was the lone headliner in terms of NFL production in the class. Kade Weston is on the Patriots’ roster. But in terms of pure numbers, the 2005 class was the worst of the Richt era in terms of producing NFL talent. Some of that has to do with the small number signed. Some of that has to do with the number of players in the class that never player. Either way, it left Georgia, and Richt scrambling, and that’s why players like Evans were starting…
Certainly there was some bad luck in there, and I think Legge is being a bit unfair about some of the misses in the 2007 class he lists – Georgia offered Nesbitt as a safety, but he wanted a shot at quarterback, for example – but the end results are the end results, after all.
Which brings us to Legge’s observation that “Martinez may have been the scapegoat for really poor recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. Still, you are allowed to recruit.” There’s a certain chicken and egg quality to that, but there’s also an implication that Martinez didn’t have much responsibility with regard to recruiting. That strikes me as a little strange if true. But if so, I’m glad that Grantham appears to take a different approach. In any event, the timing couldn’t be much better. If recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program, the Dream Team is shaping up to be a transfusion for Georgia’s defense. Let’s hope it remains a steady one.
I wasn’t the only one who took a look at Boise State’s opener from last season for some insight. Over at Team Speed Kills, Year2 did the same and shared a few observations about what he saw, like this one:
… Watching Boise’s defense felt a lot like watching Auburn’s defense from a year ago. If you’re running it up the middle on them, or they guess correctly about what you want to do, they will stop you. They got a fair amount of pressure in the backfield too. However when Tyrod Taylor had time to throw, he picked apart the Bronco secondary. He posted a 169.2 passing efficiency for the game, his second-highest of the season against good teams. It would have been even higher if not for two obvious pass interference penalties that Boise’s secondary committed to prevent long plays from succeeding. Boise State also had issues with Taylor’s athleticism, as it doesn’t have elite athletes on defense to combat the other team’s elite athletes.
For what it’s worth, Aaron Murray’s passer rating in last year’s Auburn game was 170.83. And I doubt Boise State will be trotting out anyone like Nick Fairley.
But here’s the easier said than done part of his analysis.
… What Mike Bobo will want to do is find ways to get his elite athletes in space. Orson Charles sticks out to me as the biggest potential mismatch, but he’s got some good ones in Tavarres King and Isaiah Crowell also. He’ll also need to be productively unpredictable because you can gash Boise if the defense guesses incorrectly. BSU’s defense also had a distinct bend-but-don’t-break flavor to it, so Bobo can’t get impatient and stop taking what the defense gives him.
This part is spot on, though.
… If Georgia can come into it focused and treat it like any other game, it will have an excellent chance to win. I just don’t know where this team will be at mentally in the wake of last year, after the hype of the “Dream Team” recruiting class, and with the desire to vindicate the head coach.
Hell, nobody knows right now.
If I had to lay out my three keys to the game in descending order, this is what I’ve got:
- The lines on both sides of the ball have to play well.
- Whatever funk grabbed this team last season at crucial moments has to be fully banished.
- Mike Bobo needs to show up for an entire 60 minutes without thinking of the word “balanced”.
If you want to have some fun, take a look at Bill Connelly’s graphic representation of the power trends of the SEC schools over the last sixty years. A few random observations:
- Florida’s last season under Corch was worse than any of Zooker’s.
- Man, Tuberville’s last year at Auburn was awful.
- Good summary of why we’re ambivalent: Georgia’s only had one élite year in the last five, yet the overall trend line has been pretty stable.
- Miles may recruit as well as Saban, but the results haven’t been as strong.
- Admittedly, it’s a small body of work, but Dan Mullen seems to have a clue.
- Spurrier has momentum.
- Derek Dooley had better hope he doesn’t have momentum.
My, how things have changed on the defensive line.
Now it’s John Jenkins who’s been getting a look at end.
With the dual announcements that TAMU is exploring its options for departing the Big 12 and that the conference has formed an expansion committee, it would seem that the Aggies’ move to the SEC is now more a matter of when than if.
Okay, fine. Except I can’t see the conference sitting at an unbalanced thirteen and there doesn’t seem to be a fourteenth partner in the works.
… As for the identity of the 14th team, Williams said the topic barely came up at a meeting of SEC athletic directors last week. He did say that he joked with another athletic director that the SEC should bring in Yale.
“There was little discussion about who that fit would be, even if there was that fit,” he said.
But he did agree that for logistical purposes a 14th team would be ideal. “If you’re asking the question of how important it would be to balance out, you certainly would always want to have an even number based on the divisions you would have,” he said. “If there’s ever 13, 14 becomes an issue you really talk about.”
Maybe Slive is holding his expansion plan cards extremely close to his vest. But right now this still smacks more of TAMU’s earnest wish to move east driving things than anything else. And if that’s the case, Slive has some rather large loose ends he’ll have to gather up to make it all work – really, work better, because with more teams in the conference, there will have to be more money coming up to keep the existing members at the level they’re enjoying now.