Here is a situation that cries out for Penn Wagers.
11 Games since a Texas A&M offensive lineman has been called for holding. The Aggies’ streak stretches from a holding call in the second game of the 2011 season. Texas A&M’s offensive interior, which returns four starters for 2012, managed to avoid being flagged for holding even though the Aggies averaged 41 passes per game in 2011.
Welcome to the SEC, boys.
The good news about Georgia’s kickoff coverage team? Kirk Olivadotti isn’t a man who sounds like he’s in need of a challenge.
When Kirk Olivadotti found out about college football’s new touchback rules, he went to work. Should the fact a touchback will now be brought out five yards longer, to the 25-yard line, change his kickoff strategy?
Olivadotti , the assistant coach in charge of the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage, came to a conclusion: No, not really.
The strategy is still going to be to try to boot the kickoff through the end zone, or at least far enough that there is no return.
“To me, a 75-yard drive or an 80-yard drive, that’s still a long way to go,” Olivadotti said.
The bad news? They’ve still got to get it there and cover it. That’s been a little spotty so far.
Part of the solution is putting more veterans and starters on kick coverage. Olivadotti said he had winnowed it down to 14 players for the unit, but he would like to expand that, in case of injuries or players not being available as the game goes on. He didn’t break down the veteran-to-freshman breakdown of the unit, but said there were “a couple freshman that will have a chance to be on it,” but may not open the season on the unit.
So far in the preseason, according to Olivadotti , the performance of the kick coverage unit has been “some good, some bad.”
Over at Team Speed Kills, cocknfire’s EA’s NCAA Football ’13 simulation of the upcoming season has resulted in a national championship for your undefeated Georgia Bulldogs.
Paul Myerberg’s South Carolina preview (#10, and, no, Georgia hasn’t shown up yet) is solid. I especially like the way he sums up how Spurrier has his program settled:
What you love about South Carolina is its ability to tackle these issues. For one, the system should be so simplistic in its overall goals – move the football on the ground, avoid turnovers – that every lineman on the second tier should be able to step into a starting role and keep this offense clicking. As noted, the issues in the secondary can be offset by a healthy pass rush; there’s every reason to think that Clowney and Taylor are going to give U.S.C. one of the best edge-rushing tandems in college football. That’s how you fix the sort of issues that could be unfixable elsewhere: with coaching, for one, but also talent, and the latter is something U.S.C. continues to add every February.
When you have superlative talents like Lattimore and Clowney, you don’t need to complicate things. Special teams look a little messy (gee, where have I heard that from?) and I’m not as convinced that Clowney and Taylor are going to cure whatever might ail the ‘Cocks secondary, mainly because it looks like this year’s slate of opponents possesses more formidable passing attacks than what South Carolina faced in 2011, but if Lattimore stays healthy, Myerberg’s conclusion that another 10-win season is in the works is a reasonable one.
We’ve already had the Da’Rick Rogers suspension laid on us, but there are a few other things popping up on the radar all of a sudden that may be worth monitoring:
- It looks like there may be a little more to that Mississippi State coaching change than was first described, as now the school confirms an NCAA investigation. Dan Mullen can try the “remain calm, all is well” approach if he likes, but you never know how big a distraction these things can turn out to be until you’re in the middle of it.
- I don’t know about you, but I tend to think having a running quarterback who has to miss practice due to back spasms with a week to go before the season starter isn’t a good thing.
- And they’re really having to stretch to patch together an offensive line at Missouri right now. That may turn out to have a much bigger impact on the Georgia game than the suspensions, in case anybody in the media cares to pay attention. I guarantee you Todd Grantham is.
Bill Connelly’s Georgia preview is out and it’s nigh on impeccable. I mean, I could get on him for burying the lede about why the fan base grew restless with Richt – more than anything, it was over sticking with the defensive coordinator overseeing this decline: “Despite all the high recruiting rankings in the world, the Dawgs’ defense had fallen from 14th in Def. F/+ in 2007, to 68th in 2008 and 41st in 2009” – but that would be nitpicking.
Really, there’s a ton of statistical analysis that you should spend some time going over. Start with this bit about the offense:
Still, Georgia fielded a top-20 offense because of a top-five passing game. Bobo kept things both simple and old-school; “simple” in that Murray faced as few no-win situations as possible (Georgia ran the ball 47 percent of the time on passing downs, much higher than the national average of 33 percent, meaning a disproportionate number of Georgia’s passes took place on pass-friendly standard downs), and “old-school” in that Georgia went downfield often. Only one running back (Crowell) was targeted more than six times all season, and of the five most frequently targeted wideouts, only one averaged fewer than 14.7 yards per catch. Bobo wants little to do with the east-and-west stuff; he wants to go north, using play-action to open up downfield routes whenever possible. That Georgia was effective as it was with this despite the complete and total lack of run game tells you that the Bulldogs could be unstoppable if they could figure out how to move the ball just a little on the ground.
More than anything, 2012 is going to be about the offensive line.