Daily Archives: October 25, 2012

And now I take my leave of you…

I’ll be heading out to Amelia Island in a couple of hours or so and that means posting over the next few days will be sporadic at best, as I’ll be at the mercy of Verizon and my internal alcohol level.  I’ll do what I can, but don’t expect miracles.

In the meantime, y’all behave while I’m gone.  Think happy thoughts.

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Filed under GTP Stuff

“In the blink of an eye, you can go from the class of your division to an afterthought.”

That really is the story of the SEC East this year, isn’t it?  First Georgia, then South Carolina and now it’s Florida’s turn.  But Georgia’s got a chance to reinvent the narrative.

There’s a lot of good stuff in Bill Connelly’s Cocktail Party preview (not that I’d expect anything less).  Although he’s pessimistic about Georgia’s chances, here’s the statistical nugget that gives me some hope:

How much resistance can the Dawgs offer at the moment? That answer will probably be determined by first-and-10. The advantages the Gators have on passing downs are dramatic — Florida’s offense ranks ninth on passing downs, Georgia’s defense ranks 79th; Florida’s defense ranks sixth on passing downs, Georgia’s offense ranks 52nd — but the tables can be turned a bit on standard downs. Even having played without Michael Bennett for a couple of games, Georgia still has the No. 1 standard downs offense in the country.  [Emphasis added.]

Now Bill goes on to point out that Florida’s defense is none too shabby on standard downs – better than South Carolina’s, in fact, and we know how that went three weeks ago – but still.  Georgia is probably going to have to throw to set up the run and fortunately that’s been a strength this season.  Bobo just needs to tell the little voice inside his head whispering “balance” to take a hike and go dance with what’s brung him to what is still the second-best SEC team in total offense.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Life after Abry

Abry Jones is out this Saturday.

My guess is that Grantham’s been gameplanning with Jones’ absence in mind for some time now.  And it’s not as if he’s been a mainstay on the d-line since the Vanderbilt game anyway.

But Grantham’s got some hard decisions to make.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham admitted after the game that he had to play nose tackles John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers together more than planned, because of Abry Jones’ injury. On Sunday, Richt said the team could get more of a look at sophomore defensive end Ray Drew, and senior Cornelius Washington – normally an edge rusher – could see snaps inside. Jenkins and Geathers will also continue to play at the same time.

“It’ll probably be a little of all those things,” Richt said.

I’m probably in a minority on this, but I haven’t been a big fan of playing Jenkins and Geathers together – at least not as much as they’ve been deployed that way.  I think Georgia’s missed having a fresher force up the middle late in several games and it’s showed in how certain teams have been able to run the ball in the fourth quarter with some success (UT and UK come to mind).

And forcing things up the middle is big Saturday.  Georgia needs to contain Jeff Driskel – keep him in the pocket and force his runs to stay inside.  But that also means the two nose players have to do their part, especially since the Gator quarterback is a big sucker.  It would be a good time for Ray Drew to step up and pitch in so that Grantham can rotate more at the nose spot.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Not so special teams

I know some of y’all tend to downplay what the players say to the media, but there are times when that stuff is revealing.  Take, for example, something Collin Barber said in response to Richt’s statement that he may assume direct responsibility for special teams coaching this coming offseason.

“We have coach (John) Lilly who does Pride — the punt team — but it would be nice to have …a guy that knows about punting and kicking and not just coverage in what we’re doing,” said Barber, who still at times turns to personal kicking coach Marc Nolan in Roswell. “It would be great to have a specific coach to do the basic drills of kicking and punting.”

I know for 2012, that’s all horse-is-out-of-the-barn stuff, but one area that Georgia is going to be at a severe disadvantage on Saturday is punting.

Florida sophomore punter Kyle Christy leads the nation with a 47.9-yard average, and the Gators lead the nation in net punting at 44.2. Georgia has a freshman punter in Collin Barber and is last in the SEC in net punting at 33.8.

Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis is 12 of 14 on field goals.

“When you play like we do, you better be good in special teams and you better have good specialists,” said Florida coach Will Muschamp, whose team is 11th in the SEC in total offense. “You better have a punter who can flip the field and coverage units that can handle that. And you better have a field-goal kicker who can take points.”

And that’s the thing here.  Even if Georgia’s defense comes to play and even if Georgia avoids a meltdown on the turnover front, if this turns into a grind it out type of game, the net punting differential over the course of the day winds up killing Georgia’s field position.  And we know how well the Dawg offense tends to handle poor field position.

That’s what can happen when you take special teams play for granted.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

One battle the Dawgs can’t lose.

In my humble opinion, one of the big reasons behind Florida’s improvement this season is turnover margin.  Last season, the Gators finished dead last in the conference, at minus-12.  This year, they sit third, at +11.  That’s a helluva swing.

And it matters very much this week, as David Paschall explains.

Georgia has not played a turnover-free game against Florida since 1987, when the Bulldogs defeated the Gators 23-10 in Vince Dooley’s next-to-last season as coach. The Bulldogs have topped Florida only six times since, including three wins in 11 tries under current coach Mark Richt, with turnovers often the primary reason for their undoing.

“We definitely need to take care of the ball,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said this week. “Coach Richt has looked back, and these games really have been decided by turnovers.”

Georgia has committed an astounding 20 turnovers against Florida during the past six series meetings, compared to just seven given up by the Gators. The Bulldogs suffered four turnovers in each of the games from 2008 to ’10, with Murray throwing three interceptions in a 34-31 overtime loss two years ago.

Matthew Stafford was the No. 1 pick in the ’09 NFL draft, but he also had a three-interception debacle in a 49-10 loss to the Gators a few months earlier.

“In the games we’ve really gotten worn out on the scoreboard, we’ve had a lot of turnovers,” Richt said. “Last year, we had some opportunistic plays made where we did get some turnovers that created some momentum for us and helped us win.”

It has been a decade since the Georgia-Florida winner lost the turnover margin.

Georgia hasn’t been bad this season with turnovers.  But it hasn’t been better than average, either.

Avoiding disaster may be the key, though.  As we saw last week, Florida uses turnover margin to leverage its offensive production – 29 yards of first half offense was enough to create 21 points against South Carolina.  The Dawgs have to stay away from those four-minute meltdowns like we saw against Tennessee and make Florida work for points.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

Upset alert!

Mark Schlabach goes there.

The funny thing is that he sounds quite rational as he lays out his reasons why.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football