Steele on Georgia

You can read his preview here.

Basically, he ranks Georgia eighth, but picks Florida to win the East.  Why?  I’d say look here:

SPECIAL TEAMS – I was shocked at where UGA finished in my ST rankings in ’11. In the L10Y UGA has had 8 Top 24 ST finishes (5 top 7). K Blair Walsh (#6DC MIN) was a 2-time Groza semi and P Drew Butler (Ray Guy ’09) both ret’d along with some dangerous RM like Brandon Boykin (24.3 KR) and Brandon Smith (14.3 PR). They finished #7 in my ST rankings in ’10 and I called them the best ST unit in the country. It was shocking as Walsh (55-68 car FG’s) hit just 21-35 (L56). Butler still avg 44.2 but his net dropped from 40.6 in ’10 to 35.8. UGA avg 6.7 on PR before a 92 yd td in the bowl and avg 21.6 on KR. They all’d 4 return td’s and Richt said “Our ST’s were mostly average to scary.” UGA plummeted to #81 and TY lose their K/P combo plus their top RM and could drop even further.

By the way, Steele ranks Florida’s special teams as the best in the nation.

To understand how bad he thinks the Dawgs’ special teams play could be, in his national rankings Steele notes that Georgia was the only team in the country with six of its individual units finishing in his Top 6 (QB, RB, Receiver, D-line, LB and DB).  That, plus a favorable schedule, wasn’t enough to overcome the special teams weakness.

A couple of interesting sidenotes to bring to your attention are (1) Georgia isn’t the only upper tier SEC team with weak special teams, as he ranks Alabama 11th in the conference and South Carolina a slot behind Georgia at 14 and (2) Steele ranks Georgia as fourth-best in improved defensive points, a level of improvement I find difficult to meet if special teams play is even worse than it was last year.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

48 responses to “Steele on Georgia

  1. gastr1

    Honestly I can’t see how it could be worse. The punting and field goal stats were average from above-average performers, so it would be fair to expect that we get about that again this year; and the return units were frigging awful on all fronts and should improve solely because of more coaching attention to that issue. Sounds like about the same on balance, but i expect improvement, honestly…I can take a missed FG and a bad punt here and there if the return teams can be counted on to do better than one TD against per game.

    • The other Doug

      Yeah, I can’t see it being worse.

      • Macallanlover

        Agree. Lke the offensive line unit, I don’t think we will be above average but there just isn’t much further to drop with ST or OL.

    • PhillyDawg

      We have a freshman kicker and punter coming in. Believe me, as bad as it was last year, it can get worse. The unknown is a scary thing.

  2. Ubiquitous GA Alum

    Steele is like a pollster … When he says what I like, he’s the awesome, otherwise, his methods are flawed, etc …

  3. Connor

    The situation with Walsh was unique. A 4 year starter who was hitting roughly 90% of his kicks the previous two years suddenly gets the yips. You simply don’t let a 60% field goal kicker have 35 shots in a season, unless you’re convinced right up to his last snap that he’s really a 90% kicker. It was so bizarre. There’s no way that Richt trots the team out for 35 kicks this year. I think you’ll see us more aggressive inside the 40 yard line. It might not make a difference in the wins and losses, but there’s no way we miss 14 FGs this year.

    • Governor Milledge

      That would be an interesting angle to look at, # of FG attempts by a first-year kicker, either at UGA historically or nationally (and break it down by length of attempt).

      There’s no way we would’ve run the ball up the middle to try and only center it during OT vs Mich St if that historically 90% accurate, 4 year starter, was not in the equation

  4. Florida winning the East? I think Steele is trying to get too cute with his numbers and forgot to use a little common sense.

    • King Jericho

      My thoughts exactly. They have a 2nd year coach that proved nothing to me last year, have about average talent by SEC standards, and question marks all over there team, yet they’re more likely to win than the reigning East champions? Maybe it’s my UGA shades blocking the view, but I’m just not seeing it. S. Carolina, sure, Florida, no, not reasonably anyways.

      • Be careful not to overplay that second-year coach point. Meyer and Chizik both won MNCs in their second year in the SEC.

        • Spence

          Most years CMR would have won based on 2002 results.

          • Skeptic Dawg

            But yet he did not. Yet again the Gaytor factor came into play. The hallmark of Richt’s coaching career has been dropping games his team should have won. Richt is the living example of “if’s and but’s…”.

            • Yes, those one-loss, SEC championship seasons do suck. Especially that first one after a twenty-year drought.

              • Senator,

                You’ve likely been a Georgia fan longer than I’ve been alive (sorry for dating myself and possibly you🙂 ). Were our fans this bad in the early ’80s (last time we had an extended run of success) with the inflated sense of where Georgia football fits into the national scene or is this a recent phenomenon?

                It feels like those that came of age as UGA fans after Richt was hired have no sense for how low UGA football was during the latter part of Dooley’s tenure/entire decade of the ’90s. While I probably fall into that same age category, I remember going to the Vanderbilt game in ’94 as a kid and the Florida game in ’95 and experiencing those lows.

                Is Mark Richt free of fault during his tenure? Absolutely not. As you have posted before, he was asleep at the wheel for a few years and the infrastructure of the program nearly washed away. However, I’ll be damned if he’s not the best coach we’ve ever had in Athens. Dooley never had a decade long run like he has. The man is truly a victim of his own success. He spoiled us all from 2002-2005. Some people need to study up on UGA history before making asinine statements about the first SEC Championship season in two decades. I can only speak for myself, but that 2002 season was easily the most fun full season I’ve ever had as a Georgia fan with the second half of 2007 coming a close second.

                • Well, it’s hard to say that there was an inflated sense of things in the early 80’s, because Georgia really was a national power for a 4-year stretch. The problem was recruiting started to slide after that and the program really missed Erk.

                  A lot of what you’re sensing now is simply that the Internet gives people a more visible way of expressing their frustrations with the program.

                  I do agree some of the expectations are unreasonable. Georgia isn’t going to hire Nick Saban, and Walker-type athletes, the ones who can single-handedly elevate a program, are generational. Given Georgia’s historical record, Richt’s tenure has to be described as successful.

                  That being said, Richt deserves some of what’s been thrown his way. I don’t see how any fair observer can deny that he let the program slide after the 2007 season. I have a sense that he realizes the error he made, but I compare turning a program around to turning a battleship around. Neither is a quick process. And patience isn’t a virtue in the current version of the SEC.

                  • Uglydawg

                    Well, Audit didn’t ask me, but please indulge me….
                    There was no internet (circa 1980), and even now on the internet blogs, people who are angry or just having negative feelings seem to be a bit more expressive….in my opinion of course. So who knows?
                    No coach is flawless. Dooley had, in 1980, what Chizic had in 2010…a player who could take over a game and always did. I can’t see Chizic as the number three coach in the SEC based just on that year.
                    I think CMR has been a work in progress. He should be “hitting his stride” over the next few years. But having said “No coach is flawless”, I believe the one looming error he committed was inserting DJS into the game in Jax. where he promptly threw a td pass to a Florida defender. That was the year Georgia could have won the crystal ball. Having scraped the scab off of that wound, I’ll repeat..CMR is a work in progress but nearing a maturity that should be very satisfying to us Dawg fans.

                    • Two things about that ’02 Florida game that people lose track of: first, I don’t think the Shockley pick-six was the game-killer as much as going 0-13 on third down conversions was; and second, there were two undefeated teams ahead of Georgia all season, so even if the Dawgs had won in Jax, there was no guarantee they would have played in the title game.

                    • Uglydawg

                      That is an ugly statistic…0 and 13 on third down attempts will usually get you killed. Also, the other side of the coin (platooning QB’s) is that DJ was well prepared to lead the team when DG left.

                    • I was watching the game at a friend’s apartment in Athens. We kept discussing that 0-13 stat the rest of the night. We also may or may not have broken a coffee table in anger that night. I blame Bobo (or more aptly, the Natty Light).

              • PhillyDawg

                Just because I love saying it, MNCs require quite a bit of uncontrollable luck. Florida has never gone undefeated and won the MNC.

        • King Jericho

          True, but I don’t see Florida having a Tebow or Newton this year running a juggernaut, high-powered offense this year. Who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised, but I’m sure hoping not.

          • JunkYard Dawg '00

            Don’t sleep on Isiah Crowell this year… IF the O-line can slap around a few linebackers this year I think he’s in for a big year. One that makes us forget about the frustration of last years immaturity. I know it was a small sample size and he gave reasons for fans to be concerned but at times he showed some flashes of beast mode last year!

    • CharlotteDawg

      Underestimate Florida at your own peril, plenty of coaching regimes have had awesome year 2s that spring boarded them to stretches of dominance after lackluster first years. Saban and Stoops both had 7 win first years then undefeated regular seasons in year two. That and our record against the Gators after having beat them the previous year, well sucks. Not saying we shouldn’t man up, punch them in the nose, and stop shooting ourselves in the foot in Jax. But I would be surprised if UF sucked this year.

  5. stoopnagle

    Honey Badger don’t give a ****

  6. With the kick-off rules change, I would expect to see us try to kick every ball into the endzone. Hopefully, that negates the kick-off coverage issue. With more defensive starters on punt coverage and additional focus, we see improvement in punt coverage. If we shore up those areas and don’t get fooled on fake punts, I think we’ll be serviceable in the ST department. The freshman specialists don’t have to be all-Americans but just execute solidly for us to neutralize a weakness. I think we have plenty of athletes that could be solid return men (B Smith, Mitchell, Swann, etc.).

    • With the kick-off rules change, I would expect to see us try to kick every ball into the endzone.

      That is a very good point. If the freshman has the leg, that’s the strategy I’d expect them to pursue at the start if they’re rational. If they get the kinks worked out on strategy and timing later, then they can experiment with directional kicking.

    • gastr1

      “don’t get fooled on fake punts”

      Everyone needs to bring a headset to toss on the field at SCU this year.

  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Until CMR makes STs a priority I am afraid there will be no significant improvement. So far there has been a lot of talk and little action.

    • So far there has been a lot of talk and little action.

      Trust me, I get the frustration with ST’s last year. But dude, there haven’t been any games played since last season. Not sure where you get the “little action” part. There’s no way to know what the team has been doing this offseason to rectify the problem until Labor Day weekend.

      • Macallanlover

        While I agree there is no justification for the “little action” claim, CMR seems to have a blind eye to STs based on his past actions (or lack of), and the amount of time he allocates to STs. I hope he is awake on this issue now as everyone seems to see it but him…based on the past attitude.

        Why the hell doesn’t he take the reigns on this since we all know we cannot afford an additional coach for this task. It would send the signal that we are committed to stepping this up as a priority.

        • I concur and this is a criticism that I agree with completely.

          Westerdawg’s post that the Senator linked to when discussing Richt’s new contract either last week or the week before was spot on. Richt was asleep at the wheel and allowed the infrastructure of the program to erode. The new contract pretty much confirmed that McGarity doesn’t believe that Richt deserves the benefit of the doubt anymore. Only time (and employment status in 2013/2014) will tell whether he learned his lesson or not.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          My “little action” point was exactly what Mac stated above– plus CMR has not made anyone the head of STs. As there seems to be no other reasonable alternative available, he needs to take over that role himself and it appears that he just won’t do it.

    • All that said, my only real hope is that it’s not possible to be any worse than last year. At least I hope it’s not.

  8. charlottedawg

    Am i having selective memory in that I remember some pretty awesome special teams play under Richt? Off the top of my head we blocked a punt in each of our SEC championships, and we’ve had a string of good kickers as well as return guys like Bennet, Coutu, Boykin and Damien Gary. How the hell did we go from that to sending Logan Gray out to fair catch or the craptastic special teams last year? More importantly how do we go back to special teams being an asset instead of a liability?

  9. sUGArdaddy

    Richt said all spring that ST were a priority. The senator talked about it a lot. Richt was quoted often about getting the best guys on the field. I don’t know what else he can do besides making it a point of emphasis. When Richt does that, we usually turn things around in that area.

    • Uglydawg

      Good points being made here. The ones I hope are closest to reality are, 1. The new kick off rules negate the return problems there, unless we get penalized back to the 15 yard line for a kickoff.
      2. It can’t be any worse…
      3. CMR has promised to address it…it would be hard to ignore the problem.
      4 Surely CMR will do the math and see that wagering for three with a 60% chance of getting them is not always preferable to wagering for seven with a 40 percent chance of getting them. (I admit I made up the percentages, but I think they’re conservative. The math should work as long as the chance to succeed at seven is at least half of the chance at three). Add to this the advantage it gives to rest the defense for a few more plays and keep the other teams offense on the bench….and It’s an obvious conclusion that Saban, with his also “sub-par” STs proved last year. You win championships scoring touchdowns.

  10. FRED

    CMR has never had a good special team. Do ya think maybe some day he will take it seriously?

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      He will when he has a very good team that has a lot of potential to go very far but loses to a lesser program like South Carolina, even when the offense and defense outplay them, because of ST breakdowns that cause his job to be put in jeopardy…wait…er…didn’t that happen last season?

  11. JAX

    Florida can suck my dick.