Reverse-engineering the SEC

The Columbia Tribune has a fascinating article about how Missouri is changing its approach on offense and defense to reflect the change in styles it faces going from the Big 12 to the SEC.  If you’re like me in thinking how TAMU and Missouri affect the SEC style of play and vice versa is the most interesting thing to come out of conference expansion, you’ll want to read the whole thing, but as a Georgia fan, you might want to zero in on one specific part:

A few obvious trends emerged from the film study. SEC offenses generally work at a slower tempo than teams in the Big 12, where no-huddle systems are more common. That means SEC games feature fewer plays.

SEC offenses averaged 65.5 snaps last year; Big 12 teams averaged 76.2. Over the course of a season, those extra snaps mean Big 12 defenses played the equivalent of two additional games. Last season, Missouri’s offense averaged 74.8 plays; the defense averaged 73.1.

Alabama, which led the country in every major defensive category, had its defense on the field for a national-low 720 plays, only 55.4 per game. Having the No. 1 third-down defense played a big part in limiting Alabama’s defensive snaps, but the SEC’s grind-it-out pace helped, too.

The average Big 12 league game last year averaged 154.5 plays from scrimmage, compared to 129.5 in the SEC.

Steckel believes the SEC’s methodical pace could allow for more liberal use of specialized sub packages on defense, a luxury Missouri couldn’t always afford in the Big 12.

“The Big 12 is so fast-paced, you don’t have time to substitute people,” he said. “You have to have your base, nickel and dimes conditioned and trained to do all those different things.”

Blame Bobo if you like, but that’s not Georgia’s story.  On offense, the Dawgs led the SEC in plays run last season.  Their 1016 total would have placed them fourth in last year’s Big 12.

Interestingly, though, in total plays per game, Georgia averaged just under 135, which is considerably less than last year’s Big 12 average.  That would seem to suggest that Grantham’s bunch was pretty good at limiting plays.  Anyway, the question is, will this be an advantage for the Dawgs on September 8th?  Will Missouri’s preparation for a slower-paced SEC hurt the Tigers’ ability to defend Georgia’s no-huddle, or will it simply be something they’re used to?


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, SEC Football

27 responses to “Reverse-engineering the SEC

  1. BWD

    Does UGA’s play total account for the SECCG? That might skew the total play numbers a bit.

  2. Saint Johns Dawg

    I still believe, and despite the “bottom 5-6 teams in each league being equal” comparison, that Mizzou and TAMU will find the athletes on D in the SEC are better equipped to handle their offense. Speed and power rules.

  3. Chuck

    I think I recall that CMR and Bobo wanted to run even more plays but had to abandon some no-huddle looks because the SEC officials actually slowed things down enough to take away the advantage. Assuming the officials continue to add a few seconds between plays, Big 12 newbies might have another reason to alter their thinking.

    • Brian

      That quote was from around 2004. I think the league dropped that policy a couple of years ago. Malzahn’s offenses were predicated on a similar philosophy.

  4. Krautdawg

    Another way of reading the article is that Mizzou’s D might be *more* prepared for our no-huddle than other SEC defenses.

    As you can see, I desperately need more Happy Talk.

    • Trbodawg

      That’s how I read it. Our offense is going to appear to them as a middling Big 12 one.

      • Krautdawg

        On the one hand, I’d agree (unless & until we develop a solid run game). On the other hand, it might simply be that a pass-based hurry-up attack becomes ‘middling’ against SEC defenses. What worries me is that Mizzou defenders with experience won’t be ‘mental mismatches’ who will let game speed create bad decisions. They’ll stay disciplined against all of our personnel groups, in other words.

        On the bright side, Richt & Bobo have never said they went no-huddle to confuse the defense. They’re doing it to run more plays. If they call plays that leverage mismatches, discipline won’t matter. The end result is that I’ll need bourbon.

  5. IveyLeaguer

    That’s good stuff there, Blutarsky.

    I, for one, hope the SEC officials keep slowing the pace down. In these days of complex offense and liberal substitution, I don’t like the offense gaining an advantage by keeping the defense from substituting. The defense should be allowed the 5-10 seconds it takes to get their personnel groups on the field.

    Lot of interesting stuff in that article.

    • hailtogeorgia

      I may be wrong about this, but isn’t the rule that if the offense subs, the defense has to be allowed to sub as well?

      My personal opinion is that if the offense isn’t subbing, then there’s no reason for the defense to get 5-10 seconds to sub.

      • IveyLeaguer

        Not sure. They implemented that rule (at least in the SEC) in the early days of Richt when we were having so much success with it. Nobody else was really doing it. So Richt just gave it up altogether.

        Then, some 3- 4 years ago, teams started doing it against us, and it was OK. Don’t know what happened, but I wondered why we didn’t bring it back. By then, Bobo was running the offense, so no way to know.

        What I do know is if we’re going to run it, and if the rules are permitting it again (not allowing the defense to substitute) I wish we’d run the same version Richt was running.

        The Bobo version of the no-huddle is nothing like the Richt version and it stinks, for a number of reasons.

  6. Cosmic Dawg

    Still wondering why running more plays is the goal. Teams that set out to score more points may run more plays, but do teams that set out to run more plays score more points?

    I have a sneaking suspicion there may be a wrong idea of causality at work here.

    I could see doing this if the strength of your team was offense, particularly your o-line and backs, just to wear out the other team with a hundred 5 yard gains while you kept fresh personnel in the game. But this is not the case with us.

    And I haven’t heard much around here to suggest it’s to catch the other team’s D off guard, given the comments on SEC officials slowing the snap down.

    It actually sounds like the end goal is “run more plays.”. If someone understands this, I would really be interested in getting schooled about this.

    • hailtogeorgia

      Per my understanding, the logic isn’t necessarily that running more plays means that you WILL score more points, it’s that running more plays gives you more opportunities to score. That is to say, much of what prompted this was having multiple playmakers on offense and wanting to get them a certain amount of touches. In terms of probability, the more times we can put the ball in the hands of our playmakers, the more likely it is that one of them will eventually break one for a TD or a big gain. Using Bluto’s numbers, Georgia ran almost eight more plays last year than the SEC average. Divide those plays between three playmakers (perhaps Marshall, Gurley, and King), and eventually, one of them is going to make something happen.

      So ultimately, what I’m saying is that, while it may not guarantee you score more points, it certainly doesn’t decrease your chances.

  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The no-huddle is great if you gain yardage. If you don’t, your D is back on the field faster than you can say “draggin’ ass in the fourth quarter.”

    • Cojones

      Ahh! So Bobo is still to blame for the D draggin it’s ass? So, the faster Bobo’s O scores and gets off the field, the more he is responsible for the Ds’ draggin ass? So, the more efficient and disciplined the O is so as not to commit time-killing penalties, the more Bobo is at fault for the D’s draggin it’s ass? So, Murray’s improved accuracy and additional longer throws to Tavarres, leading us to score more quickly, will be laid at the feet of Bobo who is the most responsible person and coach on our team for the D draggin it’s ass?! So…………

      • IveyLeaguer

        That’s the most twisted, perverted piece of garbage I’ve seen posted in a while. Mayor didn’t say that. He didn’t bring Bobo into it, and frankly the Bobo dramatizations are not only old and worn, but foolish as well.

        Bobo has had legitimate issues, and it’s only fair they be discussed. If you’re going to talk Georgia football, and leave that out, you’re not going to come anywhere close to getting at reality.

        This is what Mayor said: “The no-huddle is great if you gain yardage. If you don’t, your D is back on the field faster than you can say ‘draggin’ ass in the fourth quarter’.” It’s the only thing he said, and his statement is 100% accurate.

        If you want to discuss that legitimately, then great, that’s what makes good football talk. But there’s nothing worse than a poster who twists and remakes what another poster has said honestly and forthrightly, as you did here, so you can be argumentative.

        This seems be a habit of yours. Please find some character. Don’t be argumentative and intellectually dishonest. It’s destructive to good football talk. Nobody deserves crap like that thrown at them when it isn’t provoked.

        • Ivey, your reaction to Cojones’ post about Bobo is almost as funny as Cojones’ post about Bobo. Relax dude.

        • Cojones

          I fart generally in your direction.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            Actually, the point of my post was that if Mizzou and A&M try that fast-paced offense in the SEC it may backfire on them because pretty much across the board SEC defenses are stouter than the Ds those 2 teams faced in the Big 12.

        • Cojones

          Guess next time I’ll have to put the smiley face at the end, but always thought that would signify to the reader that I think he’s not snarky enough to catch it.

          Bo- I grew up across the Flint from where you are.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            I get that your post above was intended to be sarcasm, Cojones. Interestingly, CVD said almost the same thing after the 1974 season and was serious. In 1974 UGA under Dooley switched to the Veer offense. Matt Robinson was the starting QB although Ray Goff played, too. That team scored lots of points and scored them fast. The problem was that method violated Dooley’s normal style of play back then which was to hold the ball, run clock, and keep the other team’s O off the field. The UGA D was always gassed at the end of the game and the opponents seemed to always score at the end to snatch away the victory. That Georgia team went 6-5 in the regular season and lost the bowl. CVD scrapped that offense and went back to his normal O the next season.

            • Cojones

              Actually, I was more going for the humor of our kaleidoscope coaching opinions on here. I had another line that would be reasoning convoluted twice, but the wording would have been much larger. If the humor to the reasoning didn’t get through by the third one, then the fourth one would make the post appear specious. After working a little on the word arrangements, I didn’t notice a lot of little things (ex: “couple”, singular, suddenly became plural) until they jumped out after posting.

              I watched Dooley teams in those early years. Back then he didn’t have the team horses, but did have special players at spots. He made the most of it by doing the opposite of what you noted in ’74. I’m in agreement that Dooley felt that the longer the O had the ball, the more you kept their O off the field. The game plan was to retain possession longer, but for a different reason. He left the D up to Erk. In the late sixties he won a few using that philosophy (most coaches agreed and did the same) by coming from behind near the last, notably with the big Bama win. Remember the Kirby Moore years? Also back then punting was a big weapon in years when you couldn’t match athletes with other schools and I remember Spike Jones with a warm feeling. A good kicker could change games. Tennessee would go one up on everyone with the only difference in teams residing in the kicker. My point is that philosophies of coaches ebb and flow according to that particular team’s vagaries. Today is no different.

  8. lrgk9

    The Defense not getting time to substitute… ergo, significant cross training across the defense. Having the same players capable of mixing and matching fronts and coverages based on down and distance. Our boy Grantham ain’t behind no curve…

    “C’mon Meat, throw me that weak-ass shit!” Crash Davis

  9. E dawg

    I just farted

  10. hailtogeorgia

    While I don’t doubt that the Big 12 runs more plays due to their offenses being more fast paced, I also wonder if that isn’t influenced slightly by weak defenses…if the defenses can’t make stops on third down, the offenses will naturally run more plays, yes?