Daily Archives: December 8, 2011

A magical year in Gainesville

A week ago, I asked the musical question “Is it possible for this to turn into any more of a lost season for Gator fans than it’s become?”

Why, yes, it can.

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UPDATE:  Spencer Hall has heard worse news.

64 Comments

Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat..., Gators, Gators...

Eyeballs on the tube and asses in the seats

This is why there’s resistance to expanding the postseason:

And to take it further…

Gee, I wonder how well the SECCG could have done had it been a meaningful game.  Suck it, San Jose State.

34 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Evolution at the school of Tebow

Interesting proposition from Michael Elkon:

Alexander’s line about forcing change where no natural pressure exists had me thinking about college football.  I remember having a conversation with a friend three years ago about how USC, Texas, and Florida were poised to dominate college football in the coming years.  They had the coaches, the systems, the fertile recruiting bases, and the rivals in turmoil to ensure a series of meetings with crystal balls on the line.  Leaving USC and their NCAA issues aside, as recently as two years ago, Texas and Florida were both coming off of years where they lost only one game: to national champion Alabama.  In the summer of 2010, we read numerous writers opine that both the Horns and Gators were moving away from the spread styles (pass-based for Texas and run-based for Florida) that they had favored in favor of more conventional, power-based attacks.  (I remember Tony Barnhart being especially pronounced in making this point, but I cannot for the life of me find a link to verify my memory.)

The results of this forced evolution (maybe devolution is a better term) have been disastrous.  Here is Florida’s national rank in yards per play from 2008 forward: 3, 2, 78, 67.  And here is Texas’s: 13, 57, 78, 67.  Both Florida and Texas had a style that worked for them and then have gone away from that style, whether by recruiting decisions or scheme.  They had evolved into approaches that moved the ball and then chose to eschew those approaches for something new.  Two years later, they are both picking up the pieces from those decisions to force change.

Here are a few things I wonder about in response:

  1. How much of this evolution is forced by decision and how much by scheme change?  Note that Florida’s decline starts in Corch’s last season – you know, the one when Tim Tebow had already moved on to fame and fortune in the NFL.  (Also note that Florida’s national ranking in ypp actually improved under Weis this season.)
  2. How much did Jeremy Foley buy into Meyer’s recruiting?  After seeing the post-Tebow decline begin, Florida’s AD elected to jump in with both feet and hire a guy who was intent upon changing to an offensive scheme for which Florida was presumably lacking the right kind of personnel.
  3. One of the few things I’ve agreed with Heisman Pundit about is the success of contrarian offensive scheming.  If most of the defenses you see are structured to stop spread attacks, is there not some value in running a pro-style power game?  It sure seems to have worked for the top two teams in the conference this season.  Plus, a pro-style scheme works particularly well for programs which are ultra-successful at recruiting (see, again, Alabama and LSU), which is something that Florida certainly can claim to be.
  4. Given that, how much time do you allow the evolution process to work out before declaring success or failure?  (If you’re a Georgia fan, you’re probably shrieking “Two years!” about now.)
  5. I’d like to hear Michael’s explanation for where Michigan fits into his theory.

37 Comments

Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Survival of the richest, Delany style

Jim Delany has no problem with BCS AQ bids being eliminated as long as the Big Ten’s automatic berth in the Rose Bowl is protected.  And before you question his sincerity – after all, he’s essentially saying he doesn’t care about the potential risk that his conference will be shut out of the title game more often than if there were even a plus-one in the postseason – Andy Staples reminds us that Delany’s attitude has been pretty consistent as to his conference’s fate in the BCS.

You can see why this doesn’t bother Delany.  Reducing the role of the BCS solely to determining the players in a title game that is open to every D-1 team while returning the bowls to their earlier every-man-for-themselves arrangement pretty much neutralizes the antitrust threat lobbed at the BCS.  And it leaves the regular season’s importance as a revenue generator for the Big Ten untouched.

Add that to the mid-major schools which have been picked off by the Big Six in the last couple of years and the pay for play proposal that the NCAA is considering (upon the suggestion of Delany and Slive, of course) and you can tell where this is headed.  Quite simply, we can expect to see the steady emasculation of a significant portion of the programs participating in D-1 football over the next few years.  What’s left of the mid-major conferences won’t have the resources to keep up with the Delanys.  And the Delanys could care less.

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UPDATE:  This is good.

So, here’s what’s brilliant about Delany proposing to revert to an old school bowl format: the non-AQ conferences are now defending the current BCS system.  The debate has been completely changed from providing more spots to non-AQ schools or a playoff to whether the current access to top bowls for non-AQ programs will be maintained.  Delany and the Big Ten presidents may or may not be truly pushing this proposal, but in either event it’s an incredible tactical maneuver to deflect the constant pressure on changes to the BCS overall.  What’s scary to the non-AQ schools is that this is pretty legitimate threat since the bowls, TV networks and AQ conferences (except for maybe the Big East) would all certainly prefer the Delany Proposal.  Therefore, the non-AQs are now having to fight for the status quo as opposed to trying to get anything more.  Delany completed turned the BCS access issue on its head.

7 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big Ten Football

Something you’ll never see at a Nick Saban press conference.

Actually, I’m not sure if any coach besides Mike Leach would do something like this:

My roommate was going to ask Leach a question for me
since I couldn’t make it, but instead I got a phone call from The Captain himself! So I got to ask me question directly. I asked, “How do you think Tuel and the receiving corp fit with your Air Raid offense?”
He kind of chuckled and said, “The receiving corp looks great, I’m confident they will do well, there are some things that need to be moved around, but that’s to be expected.”I’m in shock, I called my roommate back right after that to make sure I wasn’t pranked, she said it was really him. She was going to ask the question and he said “why doesn’t he just ask me, call him for me”

15 Comments

Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

Coverage, in 3-4 time

This is one of those passages where you go from “duh, of course” to “damn, that makes sense”:

I really, truly believe that for a person implementing a 3-4 scheme, choosing the coverage first is crucial. The 3-4 has a lot of moving parts, more so than just about any other defense, and often has changing responsibilities with regards to force, contain, spill, all those terms we love to use to define good defense. The difference between the 3-4 and other defenses, in my experience, is that the 3-4 has the interesting feature that the front and the coverage are intertwined. If you want to run a certain coverage, you need to do certain things with your front. There is a minor assumption that is working behind all of this: you want to rush at least 4. If you don’t mind rushing 3 and dropping 8, well, no biggie. But if you’re going to rush 4 in the 3-4, you need to marry the front and the coverage. You have to make a conscious decision about what you’re doing.

There’s a lot more there to chew on.  Definitely worth a read if you’re trying to get a handle on what Grantham is up to.

(h/t Smart Football)

30 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Georgia’s not-so-special special teams

If we can step away from Bobofest ’11 for a minute, there’s an area of the team that deserves more scrutiny than it’s getting.

Going into the season, Georgia’s special teams were expected to be a team strength.  Several pundits described them as the best in the nation – and why not?  Blair Walsh and Drew Butler had already received awards for their kicking prowess.  Brandon Boykin was an electrifying kick returner.  Branden Smith turned into one of the better punt returners in the conference.  And the coverage teams ranked in the top two or three in the SEC.

Instead, 2011 brought a drop in performance on almost every front.

PUNT RETURNS
AVG TD
2010
UGA 10.62 0
OPP 5.13 0
2011
UGA 6.68 0
OPP 16.09 2

Branden Smith was Georgia’s leading returner last season.  His average yards per return was 14.3.  This season’s leading returner, Brandon Boykin, averaged 6.77 yards per return.  As for punt coverage, Georgia went from third to last in the SEC and was the only school to give up two touchdowns via punt returns.

The poor work of the return team obscured somewhat Drew Butler’s consistency.  In fact, Butler improved from third in the conference in 2010 to second this season.

KICKOFF RETURNS
AVG TD
2010
UGA 20.8 1
OPP 19.54 0
2011
UGA 22.4 0
OPP 23.47 2

Georgia’s average return improved slightly, but seemed less explosive.  For whatever reason, opponents didn’t try to avoid Boykin nearly as much.  Georgia had nine different players who fielded kickoffs in 2010.  Only three did this season.

Kickoff coverage was disastrous.  The Dawgs declined from second in the conference in 2010 to dead last this season in that department.  The two touchdowns yielded was tops in the SEC.

That’s not the whole story for kickoff coverage.  It’s even worse when you consider that Georgia’s kickers went from producing 15 touchbacks in 2010 to 24 this season.

PLACE KICKING
FG% XP%
2010
UGA 83.3 97.9
OPP 70 97.1
2011
UGA 60.6 100
OPP 81.8 90.9

Nothing but ugly there.  Georgia made 20 of 24 field goal attempts in 2010.  This year, it was 20 of 33.  That equates to a missed field goal per game.

The overall picture is disappointing, to say the least.  Special teams cost the Dawgs the South Carolina game (keep in mind that these numbers don’t take into account Ingram’s touchdown on the fake punt, because that’s treated as a running play for statistical purposes), made several wins much closer affairs than they should have been and had a dramatic impact on the momentum in the SECCG.

Some of the shortcomings can be blamed on personnel.  Walsh’s slump may seem inexplicable given his solid effort before this year, but it still happened.  And the coaches let things stagger along on the coverage units until after the many coverage debacles we saw in Jacksonville.  Some was strategic, though.  In the wake of the South Carolina game, Georgia played more and more punt safe as the season went on.  That certainly helped stop the fake punt problems, but it also limited the return game.

In any event, the staff has its work cut out for itself next season, as both Walsh and Butler will be replaced by either freshmen or walk-ons.  I guess one way to look at the future is that it can’t get any worse than the present, but given the likely high expectations Georgia will have for next year, that’s hardly good enough.

57 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!