ESPN’s Roundtable Georgia discussion

There’s lots of restatement of the obvious here:  the schedule, the returning starters, the end of the hot seat, Crowell, the offensive line, the suspensions, etc.

But David Pollack managed to toss out a couple of points that weren’t quite rote.  One was about Murray’s mechanics, but it was fairly specific, referring to his inability to change his arm angle throwing when he faced pressure.

The other, though, was more interesting.  He starts out at about the 4:45 mark noting that Georgia went more up tempo on offense this past season, but went on to argue that the offense needs to continue to evolve and “reinvent itself”.  Somehow, that’s a combination of being even more up tempo (don’t forget that the Dawgs were ninth nationally last season in the number of offensive plays run) and running the ball more.  I’m not sure how that all comes together.

I think Blackledge bails Pollack out with what Georgia really needs to see happen in order for the offense to take the next step.  Aaron Murray doesn’t, as he says, have to play lights out every game.  He needs to take charge and play consistently from game to game.  All in all, that’s a fair representation if this team is going to finish more successfully than it did last season.

Your thoughts?

60 Comments

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60 responses to “ESPN’s Roundtable Georgia discussion

  1. Scott

    Lay off the schedule. We get it, it is favorable…now talk about the team.

    • Bad M.

      When we have a tough schedule, we get put down. No way we can win. When we have a easier schedule, we get put down. When fl plays the Rainbow Warriors and the Citadel, they are odds-on national champs.
      You’re right. Let’s just move on.

  2. Jim

    We seem to be focused on the offense’s “tempo” as the reason we ran so many plays last year. And certainly it (along with the lack of a sustained, grind it out running game) deserves some credit for that. But don’t you also think having a defense that was capable of getting the opposing offense off the field had something to do with it too?

    To me that is what makes the comparison between the number of offensive plays run between years difficult – if the defense is horrible and we can’t get the other offense off the field, then we can’t run as many plays on offense ourselves.

    I wonder if the total number of plays would look different if we compared time of possession, number of possessions, plays per possession, etc in addition to just looking at the number of plays run.

    Similiarly – Boykin set the record for kickoff return yardage in his career. I thought Boykin was a very good kick returner, but the fact is that he got to return a lot more kicks than I’d like because our defense was giving up so many points there for a couple of years…

    • TomReagan

      Building off of Jim’s point, I don’t think that number of plays is the key to evaluating the tempo. The goal, at least in my mind, isn’t just to run a lot of plays, but to run them quickly. The advantage isn’t just that a defense is gassed in the 4th quarter when they’ve been on the field all day, but that they’re gassed by the time they’re defending the red zone because we’ve been getting snaps off super quick all the way down the field.

      Something else I’ve been meaning to point out about this tempo thing. Isn’t it ironic that UGA is considered to be lagging behind on this trend when Richt tried to put in the up tempo offense that he ran at FSU in his first season, but the officials put a stop to it and now we’re trying to catch up with the Joneses?

      • SCDawg

        “Isn’t it ironic that UGA is considered to be lagging behind on this trend when Richt tried to put in the up tempo offense that he ran at FSU in his first season, but the officials put a stop to it and now we’re trying to catch up with the Joneses?”

        That is a great point. I remember when Richt effectively abandoned the up tempo offense because and was complaining about how long the refs were standing over the ball.

    • But don’t you also think having a defense that was capable of getting the opposing offense off the field had something to do with it too?

      Sure, to some extent. So does turnover margin.

      But it’s not the dominant factor. If it were, you’d expect to see that statistical category full of teams with top defenses. Here’s last year’s top ten list: Houston, Clemson, Oklahoma, TAMU, Southern Miss, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa State, Arkansas State, Georgia.

      LSU was 63rd. Alabama finished 68th.

      • ChicagoDawg

        The focus on number of offensive plays per game as a meaningful KPI is a bit lost on me. It is an interesting stat I guess, but does not seem to indicate all that much. Wouldn’t a better measure of offensive performance be centered around productivity (i.e. points-to-possessions %, TDs vs FGs %, plays/downs per possession, turnovers per game [few/none being the ideal of course], etc.,)

        • Not sure what KPI stands for, but I’m not making a productivity argument here. I’m just saying there’s a correlation between a more up tempo offense and an increase in the number of offensive plays run.

          • ChicagoDawg

            Sorry, KPI is business-speak for (Key Performance Indicator). Wasn’t directed at you specifically. This metric was mentioned as a priority by the staff going into last season. Again, I am not suggesting it is not meaningful, but to me it would seem to be much lower on the list of stats that might be indicative of performance. Also, it could be very misleading. That is to say, the offense could produce many, many plays per game — only to have 6 turnovers or score 5 FGs. Also, you may have a ton of offensive plays because the opposing offense is torching your defense with big play/quick strick TDs.

            • Hilton Head Dawg

              I tend to agree with ChicagoDawg on this one. I think the coaching staff is looking at the number of offensive plays in much the same manner that a new sales manager looks at the total number of sales calls. The more calls made on makes on a daily basis = more closing opportunities. Same with offensive possessions…more touches = more points.

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                The danger IMHO is that you run an up-tempo offense, don’t keep the ball and your D is right back out there on the field. If you go up-tempo you better damn well better make first downs.

                • Brodie Bruce

                  I think they could run more plays faster if Crowell would jog back to the huddle instead of getting in the other team’s talking shit for 20 seconds after every 2 yard gain.

                  Imagine what he’ll do when he finally breaks a long one–I’ll bet he stops and curses out the other coach.

  3. Macallanlover

    First, Todd Blackledge is simply the best analyst in CFB broadcast media. He gets it, and his analysis seems to always be balanced. I have missed seeing him as much with all the split Saturday night viewing options.

    Secondly, UGA’s schedule has been singled out now for over a year now with the 2011 and 2012 season being spotlighted. They play in the SEC, and have to play the West Champion a minimum of one time to win ANYTHING. Enough said. (Please note Oregon, USC, Ohio State, FSU, Oklahoma, etc., also miss playing LSU and Bama this season, and can win their conference without playing either of them. Let’s discuss how they are ducking the West powers for a while.) What a bunch of crap. There is no way to back into an SEC title, especially since 1992.

    Go back over the years and see the schedules the Texas, Nebraska, Miami, Penn State, Michigan, etc. etc., teams have played and claimed a #1 Ranking. Did any of them play the Top 6 teams in the SEC? Very suspicious.

    • What fresh hell is this?

      well said

      • Uglydawg

        I agree about Todd Blackledge. He is the best.
        We’d better get used to hearing the weak schedule mantra. It’s going to be used in an attempt to keep Georgia down in the ratings….why? Because the Big 12 and the yankee sports media are desperate to end the SEC’s lock on the MNC. The double standard will persist. Believe it. If Boise could have run the tables last year, they would have been installed in the championship game with barley a whimper compared to what will happen if Georgia manages it do it this year.
        I think our worrys about it are probably unneccesary. Georgia’s schedule is tough enough that it will still take a lot of things going right to run it. Murphy’s law is always in play.
        I do predict that IF UGA magically won the East, Spurrier will say something to diminish Georgia’s standing in the polls. You know, if he makes one of his smarky, low-class comments, it will be repeated on ESPN…heralded as THE authoritve evidence that the Dogs are undeserving, until we all want to puke.
        Why would Stevie do that? Think about it.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Good points Ug. The media, particularly ESPN, has never been a friend to UGA. I can foresee a situation where UGA goes through the regular season, say 11-1, and beats the West Champion thereby winning the SEC Championship but gets shut out of the BCSNCG because of media bias resulting in a lower ranking than the Dawgs deserve. 2007 all over again.

          • Skeptic Dawg

            If by 2007 all over again you mean dropping 2 games to lesser teams and failing to qualify for the SEC championship game and the national title game, then I agree with you. If the Dawgs beat either USC or UT that year they likely would have been in both title games. The did not, so they were not.

            • Mayor of Dawgtown

              No. By 2007 I mean being ranked #2 in the polls and having a media campaign conducted against you so that on the final week you get leapfrogged and locked out of the BCSNCG. That has never happened either before or since. I would remind you that the other team in the running for that slot in the BCSNCG also had 2 losses, one of which was to KENTUCKY, but still got in. I will go to my grave believing that the Dawgs had a better team than LSU that year.

              • AthensHomerDawg

                Kentucky was a top 20 team when they took LSU to triple overtime. The bigger surprise to me was an un-ranked Arky taking them to triple OT and then winning it. UT got better all year …… especially after Georgia. Almost bested LSU. Ainge(?) came apart in the 4th throwing two int’s. Following that season The Pumpkin King lost his coaching nucleus ….. UT then showed him the door. UT finishied ’07 at number 12 in the nation. LSU wouldn’t have beaten the Dawgs in Hotlanta and the Richt would have his Crystal ball if they would have played OSU. Woulda… Coulda … Shoulda…. !
                2012 is gonna rock. Seriously. My Dad is 81 and he has tickets. He says “we are taking it to the house this year.” He’s going to the Mizzou game. My sister is having a fit worrying and asking me what to do about it. I said “Damn Sis….. better get a plane ticket cause I’m hooking up with Pop!”

            • Jim

              Thank you. People seem to forget we crapped ourselves twice that year. The performance in Knoxville was perhaps the worst in the Richt era.

              • The performance in Knoxville was perhaps the worst in the Richt era.

                I’d say 2009 in Knoxville could give the 2007 game a run for worst performance under Richt.

                • Jim

                  Unfortunately i agree. While we are at it, lets throw in the sugar bowl against WVU and the blackout against ‘bama. Were in not for 2nd half comebacks in those games they might take the cake. As much as i hate it, there are probably a few more for consideration as well (Colorado)

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    Well, if we are going to compare epic fails….the 2nd half against LSU in the 2011 SEC Championship game and the 2nd half of the bowl game later against Michigan State come to mind. But hey, those must not really have happened because the HC got a 4 year contract extension. Mere figments of imagination as those results would go against the meme that all our problems have been fixed.

                • Dawg19

                  2007 was worse because of the damage it caused to the season AND because that team was loaded. Look how good they became that year.

                  The 2009 game was just a sign of things to come…

        • Uglydawg

          And, yes, I am a paranoid.

    • ChicagoDawg

      Agreed, Blackledge is the only one of that crew that strikes me as having anything interesting to say. The other fill dead air, in typical ESPN analyst fasion, with cliches and/or hyperbole.

    • Normaltown Mike

      this is true only because Bob Davie & Terry Bowden have left the booth for the sidelines.

    • Joe

      Sick and tired of no big game wins Arkansas being the bellwether when Auburn,just won a NC (and beat ALA 6 times in a row while we were dominating them) is seen as some kind of gimme all of a sudden.

      Arkansas lost to AL and LSU (about the same score we did in the case of LSU) and nearly lost to Vandy about as close to a loss as our game was.

      Spare me that Arkm is in any way so much better than UGA.

    • AusDawg85

      Agree about Blackledge…but damn difficult to forgive him for his Sugar Bowl heroics against us. Bastard!

  4. Lrgk9

    Murray needs to eliminate HIS mistakes.
    Those pick 6′s are poison.

    • Dave

      Saban repeatedly has proved that a mediocre offense that doesn’t make mistakes and a lights-out defense can easily win NCs. We have that template for this year.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        Mediocre seems relative to me. 2009 featured a Heisman winner. 2011 featured a back some NFL scouts are calling the best in a generation. 2 Outland Trophy winners in 4 years. Two QBs on NFL rosters (ok, 3rd strong – but getting paid).

        That’s a level of mediocre most teams would take in a heartbeat.

  5. Gravidy

    At the very end, Ol’ Herbie said the offense always get the blame in Athens. Damn, that dude has a short memory. There have been a mere two seasons played since Lil’ Willie Two Thumbs left town. I seem to remember him getting a bit of heat…maybe just a time or two.

  6. As much as I love Pollack, he talks too much on t.v. and he needs to stop hanging out with Jesse Palmer.

    • Cojones

      One reason he talks so much is because he is the best prepared. He knows his facts well and speaks his own thoughts. That will make him more popular as he proceeds along on his career. He will be bigger than most sitting at that table.

  7. From an outsider’s POV, what you need is for Murray to limit the turnovers against good defenses. If he does that, Georgia beats South Carolina and Michigan St. and gives LSU a close game. There are other issues, such as fielding a more consistently excellent running game, but Murray is the main issue that I can see. He looks like a Heisman contender against mid-tier teams, and he continues putting up good yardage / TD numbers against better teams, but the turnovers in the big games are killers.

    • I think that’s some of it, certainly. But Murray tends to let his mechanics slip when he’s under consistent defensive pressure and it affects his accuracy. That’s how he can go from throwing lights out like he did against Auburn to missing nine throws in a row against Florida.

      I don’t think he ever really trusted his line’s pass protection, or the backs’ ability to pick up the blitz, last year. Which leaves me a little pessimistic about the potential for his improvement this year.

      • That makes sense, and is something that you guys have picked up on that I haven’t, not having watched him as closely. Anyways, interesting discussion here. Murray is a curious one, because he’s such an excellent player at times, but a liability in key situations.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Give Murray a break, Bluto. It’s hard to complete passes and conversely easy to fumble or throw an INT when a monster like Clowney has got hold of you. I blame the O-line for that, not Murray.

        • AusDawg85

          No, the NFL proved it was Murray’s fault by drafting all our linemen.

          (I simply LOVE this meme for its pure absurdity!)

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Help me out here. How many of those passes happened after he took that big hit on his plant leg and was on the bike to keep it from getting stiff?

  8. Bubs

    I would like for Murray to be nearly invisible this season. No Heisman talk, no spotlight, no nonsense, just football. Put up numbers that a game-manager expects to put up and do that for 12-14 games. (I don’t know about his mechanics in different situations, but I know the kid is an above-average SEC QB who can win us games when he doesn’t do something stupid). Put the bulk of the pressure on the Defense to hold out opponents to under 17 a game (The offense will score enough to make this hold up). That’s our recipe for success.

    We will only go as far as our D will take us, much like last year, but improved line and RB play could put us over the hump (for the record I’m not expecting our line and RBs to be much better than last year, but they really don’t have to be).

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      ^This. +1.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      It’s difficult to know exactly which way to go here, because when we try to “manage” games, build a lead, and put it all on the defense, the bad guys seem to creep back up on us in the 4th quarter and we regret being conservative.

      I think one answer – for sure – is that if something on offense is working in the first half, KEEP DOING IT after halftime. It makes no sense to circle the wagons right before you’ve really put it away. If passing is working, then IT’S WORKING – often passing when they can’t defend you is *safer* than running the ball and going 3 and out – you’re turning the ball over on downs to avoid turning the ball over!

    • Cojones

      Yea! People talking good football. Criticizing what is true is a long shot from bashing the team, players and coaches.

      Murray is finally discussed for his all around abilities. His performance and the O line are intimately entwined. Yet he isn’t perfect by a long shot. He wins our hearts and minds by his gutsy, man-like performances that makes us wish him well. There is no doubt he can be spooked and for good reason. Hope his peripheral vision doesn’t dictate some bad throws this year. That would mean the line is doing OK.

      Grantham’s D allowed late game points in all our losses last year and hope they respond by playing the hardest 4th qtr of any team this year. Those points were as responsible for us losing as any other part of the team. That’s why it’s called a team sport: all facets have to perform well together. Agree with Bub, if the D holds the other team to !7 and under, we have the O to beat everyone.

  9. OC77

    I think Murray’s problem with mechanics isn’t going to be fixed, you don’t take a guy who has done it 3 years at UGA and then try and change his mechanics. Nor can you change his height. What you MIGHT be able to do is teach him to throw more to the outlet receiver as soon as he recognizes a blitz, like Hutson Mason did so well on G-Day (Richt even commented on Mason doing this during the G-Day game). This will be difficult too, old habits die hard.

  10. FortWorthDawg

    I think Schlabaugh’s comments about Georgia staying out of their own way are VERY relavent. If we can’t get are best players on the field to play it really doesn’t matter how we perform, we will eventually get beat. It also speaks to the leadership of this team when your tops players are STILL getting in trouble and haveing to sit games. It’s really time the upper classment start setting the example on and OFF the field.

  11. fishook dawg

    I agree with Todd Blackridge that for UGA to win the east and maybe even the SECCG, Murray has to finally step up and protect the football. With Crowell, Malcome, Marshall & Gurly behind him to run the ball, it’s got to make passing the ball alot easier to do. As far as there so called easy schedule, I don’t think playing Tennessee, MIssouri,Flordia, Auburn, South Carolina & even Vandy and Georgia Tech this year is that easy considering all those team except maybe USC were young last year and now have alot of game experience.

  12. WrinkleFree

    Murray struggles when blitzed, Pollack was right. According to the ESPN guys, Murray’s accuracy drops to 53%, and 3rd down td’s from 9 when not blitzed to 2 when blitzed. Also yards per pass drops by 40%. He has to learn how to find a secondary option.
    http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/34269/going-deeper-into-lsu-georgia-game

  13. Bryant Denny

    To win in the SEC, at some point a team has to be able to run the ball. If you guys can find a consistent running game (and find it early) 2012 is going to be a great season for y’all, regardless of how difficult the schedule is or isn’t.

    • Cojones

      It’s obvious all the way over there, is it? And it’s easier to talk about a running game when you have the best line in the SEC (and probably the country) this year. Us be watching you while you be watching us

      This may be the “Man up!” year for the UGA RBs. Your comment is well received.

      • Bryant Denny

        Didn’t y’all have more OL picked than us? :)

        • Macallanlover

          Yes, but the OL is best measured as a unit, not any individual talent. Doesn’t mean you cannot run the short yardage plays behind a particular player more often, but even that is blown up by one missed assignment. UGA has shuffled way too many players to cover up depth issues over the past several years to be consistent at running the ball. Solid RBs have covered up the severity of the problem and the lack of consistency. Your point about having a running game.

  14. Bryant Denny

    Another great thing about college football: You can dominate a team by running 90 or so plays per game or you can dominate a team by running the ball 60 times. Either way, it’s fun to watch the life being sucked out of a team – and you could play both of these philosophies in successive weeks. College Football – the best game around.