Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

Georgia’s pass rush has questions? Derek Mason has answers.

For the head coach of a team that’s currently ranked 92nd in the country in sacks allowed, Derek Mason sure sounds like a cocky son-of-a-gun.

“What’s going to happen is this: We have answers for the zero (coverage) pressure. If they want to bring it, we will show them the answers and then they can decide if they still want to blitz us,” Mason said. “If they want to keep bringing it, then we will keep going through those answers. It’s not one answer. It’s three or four answers that we have.”

Mason doesn’t expect much from his true freshman quarterback.

“(Freebeck) sees it now though. The bottom line is you have to use the clock, which means as a quarterback you have to get the offense out of the huddle so you can flush out (the source of the blitz). Then all of a sudden you know where (the blitz) is coming from. So get us in the right protection, do what you need to do, and get it out of your hands. That’s something he has to grow into.”

He was sacked four times last week.  Must have been a terrific week of practice.

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Throw the damned ball.

After last week, I’m a little gun-shy on predicting the spread, but I don’t see Georgia losing tomorrow.  So, instead, I’ll look at the only area of mystery:  will the Dawgs try to get their passing game going against a woeful Vanderbilt defense?  I know I thought they’d uncork it against Troy, but the opportunity to deploy the running game was too tempting to resist.  Tomorrow, though, feels different.  Why so?  Let me count the ways:

  • Let it rip.
  • It’s an opportunity to protect a depleted tailback group.
  • Mitchell, Rumph and Scott-Wesley need to get some in-game conditioning in preparation for the SEC road wars coming up.
  • Bennett and Conley get the chance to work against somebody other than the opponent’s number one and two DBs.
  • Bobo opens up the playbook to clear the middle of the field for both the tailbacks and the tight ends.

I’m not saying they’re going to go nuts with the pass.  But do I think they’ll throw it more tomorrow than they have all season?  Put it this way:  the 26 passes Georgia attempted against Clemson in the opener would rank as very close to the fewest thrown in a game in 2013.  In other words, it’s a pretty low bar they have to overcome.

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Today’s cool thing

Lots of folks playing with this interactive fan map, courtesy of the NY Times.

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Master of the PR arts

Wow, Dave Brandon.  Just wow.

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Logan Gray, we hardly knew ye.

And so they seem to be writing the latest chapter in the special teams philosophy of the Richt era.  There’s the mea culpa from the head coach.

In recent years, Richt shied away from the special teams questions, partially because they only arose in weeks after game-changing special teams errors. Or maybe he’d grown tired of being reminded that he didn’t have a lone special teams coordinator on his staff.

This week, however, he willingly admitted his own shortcomings that might have hindered the special teams units in the past.

“We’re better,” Richt said. “I’ll be honest with you; I learned a lot more about it. I’m understanding it better. I’m able to help our coaches prepare guys better.”

There’s the embrace of shared responsibility, from the coaches…

Richt even, unprompted, mentioned the dreaded special teams coordinator topic. He told the tale of his proposition years ago to make Jon Fabris (now defensive line coach at Indiana) the full-time special teams coordinator — a move that Fabris, who Richt called “one of the best special teams coaches” he has ever been around, suggested might negatively affect the team.

Richt used the adage to justify his coordinator by committee approach.

“Sometimes you give it to one guy and, first of all, it’s too much for one guy. The more you watch it, the more you realize it is too much for one guy,” Richt said. “Because a lot of other people don’t have any ownership because they think, ‘Oh, that’s (his) job. Let him worry about it.’ When you involve more coaches, there is more ownership by everybody.”

(A special teams challenge too much for Jon Fabris?  Who’da thunk it?)

… to the players.

“There’s a lot of starters on special teams. We’ve got guys who want to be out there,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “Guys in the past didn’t want do those things. You’ve got guys who want to do it now. And guys have to do it or they won’t be playing.”

Things aren’t perfect.  Things aren’t totally fixed.  But it’s fair to say this season they’ve managed to reinvent the return game as a weapon.  That’s a good start.

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“We fought hard last year, we just didn’t play very smart at times.”

Didn’t coach very smart at times, either.  But still, it’s some litany of miscues Ramik Wilson can recite from the 2013 Vanderbilt game:

“A lot of things happened in that game,” said linebacker Ramik Wilson, who was flagged for a controversial targeting penalty that led to one Vandy score. “Special teams, muffing the punt, snapping the ball over the punter’s head, those two calls and a lot of injuries too. A lot of factors in the game.”

The Dawgs really had to work hard to blow it last year.  If, by motivation you mean not behaving so stupidly/generously, yeah, I think Georgia will be motivated tomorrow.

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“This is sort of the way of the world now.”

It’s still hard for some of these stats to sink in.

Entering Week 6, less than a third of FBS teams are holding opponents to fewer than 350 yards a game. An increasing number of offenses are doubling that number.

Through last weekend there were 12 games in which an FBS team netted 700 or more yards of offense, according to the NCAA. There were 21 such games in the entirety of last season.

Last season there were eight 500-yard passing performances. That mark already has been reached this season.

If there was any doubt, there shouldn’t be any more.  We’re in a new era of college football offense.

So how do you judge a defense in a pace world?  Take it away, Boom.

Fourteen FBS teams are averaging 80 or more offensive plays a game, led by Western Kentucky, which has averaged 91 plays in its 2-2 start. Just seven teams averaged that number of plays last fall, and only three teams reached that mark as recently as the 2011 season.

Florida’s Will Muschamp, formerly a defensive coordinator at Texas, Auburn and LSU, says the faster tempo has made total yardage less relevant. “I think it’s more about yards per play in the run game, yards per play in the pass game,” Muschamp said. “That’s a little bit more reflective of how you’re playing defense.

In case you’re wondering, by that measure, Georgia ranks fourth in the SEC in rushing defense and ninth in passing defense.  Both are better than Florida’s.

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