Daily Archives: October 12, 2014

Observations from the armchair, Where’s Gurley? edition

34-0 means there aren’t going to be a lot of complaints.  The truth of the matter is that the team’s performance was so strong and so sustained – how long have we been hoping to see a complete, 60-minute showing like that? – that it overshadowed the absence of its best player.  (Not that you could tell from the broadcast crew.)  Just a remarkable effort from the players and the coaches.

  • Nick Chubb essentially got Gurley’s touches and his own and held up beautifully.  I even saw him do a good job with some of his blitz pickups.  Amazing effort from a kid in his sixth college game.
  • Mason was solid.  He avoided stupid mistakes, except for the throw he was flagged for intentional grounding.  He had a couple of terrific throws, especially on the touchdown pass to Bennett.  That may have been the ugliest touchdown run I’ve ever seen, though.
  • You had to like Brendan Douglas’ tribute to Gurley on his scoring run.
  • The offensive line was shaky at the start, but settled down and eventually got enough traction to take over the line of scrimmage.  At this point, some of us ought to concede that whatever changes have been made to the strength and conditioning program are bearing fruit.
  • Complain if you like about the average yards per play on offense.  The thing is, when you double the number of plays your opponent runs, it’s not as big a deal as it might be otherwise.
  • Defensively, it was the best performance of the season, obviously.  The line played its collective ass off.  Jenkins and Floyd both came to play.  The biggest surprise was how well the secondary held up in coverage.  And the biggest surprise in the secondary was Langley, both in earning the start and in the way he played.  Makes you wonder why they moved him to offense.
  • Special teams were a somewhat mixed bag.  Coverage was terrific, as they shut down a dangerous Marcus Murphy on both kickoff and punt returns.  Morgan was back to being his automatic self. (But can they please stop with the pooch kicks?  It’s just giving yardage away.)  McKenzie was a little sloppy with the ball, though.  And more troubling is that Barber continues to be mediocre with his punting.
  • One thing about McKenzie reminds me that Mizzou places a lot of emphasis on stripping the ball.  Georgia was lucky not to get burned by that.
  • Missouri was unable to convert a single third down play.  Wow.
  • Bobo and Pruitt deserve a ton of praise for putting together solid game plans.  As does Richt for having his team prepared at a tough time.

Like I said, there’s very little with which to find fault.  It was a workmanlike job, not flashy, but thorough. I wasn’t sure which team would show up; fortunately, we got the angry and focused one.  Now it’s on to Arkansas, which presents a different set of strengths and weaknesses to deal with.  Let’s hope the coaches and players don’t suffer a letdown.  This team has a chance to make something big out of this season now.

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Filed under Georgia Football

My Mumme Poll ballot, Week 7

I am trying very hard to avoid the appearance of being a homer this week. But consider what’s on Georgia’s resume at this point:

Were this any other team’s in the country, I wouldn’t be fighting that.  Which means…

  • Auburn
  • Baylor
  • FSU
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Mississippi State
  • Oklahoma
  • TCU

Also considered:  Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon

Fire away.

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How to get to 34-0

A couple of points from Bill Connelly’s post-mortem are worth noting.

First, the main strategic reason Georgia won:

The defense was asked to perform a miracle and only performed well instead. Georgia’s average starting field position was its 41, which is ridiculous. Seven of 12 Dawg possessions began at the 40 or greater. Three started at the 50 or further, and Georgia scored three points on those three possessions.

So yeah, the defense did its part. Georgia wanted to play extreme ball control and was indeed able to convert lots of third downs; only one offensive coordinator knew he had plays in the book that could gain four or five yards when they needed to.

Bobo knew going in he was prepared to dial up another game of old man football, with or without Gurley.  Winning the field position battle made that work, with ease.

Second, this is why Georgia won big:

… When I run the advanced box score on Tuesday, it’s going to say that, based on fumbles and passes defensed (interceptions and break-ups), Mizzou should have had a turnover margin in the neighborhood of about 0.1 or 0.2.

Georgia: two fumbles plus one pass defensed equals ~1.25 turnovers.
Missouri: one fumble plus four passes defensed equals ~1.37 turnovers.

Turnover margin: Georgia plus-5. On average, a turnover is worth about five equivalent points in terms of field position. So turnovers luck gave Georgia about 24 points. When Tyler Hunt stripped Isaiah McKenzie on the first punt of the game, the ball bounced to Devin Bowman. When Aarion Penton stripped Chris Conley, the ball somehow spun away from two Mizzou defenders and back to Conley. When Floyd stripped Mauk, Sterling Bailey got it. And all four times that a Georgia defender touched a pass, it stuck in the defender’s hands.

When Leonard Floyd got flagged with a questionable roughness call early on, I wondered if that would turn out to be an omen.  Quite the contrary.  I can’t remember the last time it seemed like every bounce in a game went Georgia’s way like that.

Georgia is now first in the conference in turnover margin, by the way.  That’s a good way to reach Atlanta.

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The other Gurley scandal

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Obviously, as Georgia fans, the Gurley suspension has hit us in a personal way. But as John Infante points out, it’s likely to hit the NCAA differently.

But while a majority of people are opposed to paying student-athletes, that majority is getting more silent (if not smaller) by the day. Few people have spoken out against Gurley’s actions. And many who have invoke only a “rules are rules” explanation, less along the lines of “do the crime, do the time” and more along the lines of “come on, what did you expect would happen?”

There are a lot of factors involved in these types of changes in public opinion but the NFL’s tumultuous summer and start to the season looms large. Scandal fatigue with the NCAA began setting in a long time ago. The long wait for penalties in the USC case started it; the Penn State penalties, misconduct in the Miami case, and lack of action on UNC’s academic scandal were other major milestones…

… The result is we can expect support for the NCAA’s enforcement of its amateurism rules to hit a new low. That seems to be playing out with the Gurley accusations. Faced with a crisis that might one day represent an existential threat to the sport (and thus college athletics), it is easy to understand people who wonder why the NCAA is worried about some autographs.

Here’s an example of that kind of sentiment (h/t Lrgk9).

Throw in the antitrust road map on which O’Bannon is just the first mile marker, and it’s easy to see why the NCAA is finding less public support – if not downright hostility – for its amateurism policy.  All of that adds up to something Ed Kilgore wrote a couple of days ago:

Reading various comment threads collecting the reactions of an overwhelming white, male, and conservative fan base, I’m struck by the extent to which I am reading expressions of fury at the economic exploitation of poor African-American young people by powerful institutions. There’s almost zero support for the NCAA’s existing (if legally zombie-like, given recent court decisions all but tearing up its “amateurism” doctrine) policies prohibiting sale of autographs and likenesses of “student-athletes,” and a great deal of anger at both the NCAA and its member-colleges for harvesting this material for enormous profits. Indeed, the general feeling is that Gurley’s being punished less for breaking rules than for threatening the power of a cartel…

Ed’s not sure that’s going to lead anywhere on a general basis, but I can think of one place where it’s very likely that it might.  Politicians may not be good at many things, but they’re usually very gifted at sensing which way the winds of public sentiment are blowing.  If the feelings Gurley’s situation are stirring up continue to develop, don’t be surprised in the least if that factors into the reception the schools and the NCAA get from Congress as they inevitably seek an antitrust exemption.  It isn’t hard at all to see how sympathy for kids like Gurley can be generated from both the left and the right.

How ironic would it be if Gurley’s college legacy not only included his brilliant playing career, but also his impact on the history of player compensation?

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

Defensive dominance, in one tweet

This pretty much says it all.

Okay, so fill in the blank:  “yesterday’s defensive performance was Georgia’s best since _____________”.

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Roller coaster

In all my years of Bulldog fandom, I can’t think of a wilder three-day period than the one we’ve just experienced.  The Gurley suspension was a gut punch, but hardly the first.  AJ Green’s suspension was such and then there’s the granddaddy of them all – Herschel’s early departure for the pros.

But Walker left during the offseason, giving me time to adjust.  And the disappointment over Green simply grew deeper as Georgia’s 2010 nightmare of an early season unfolded.

This weekend, though, was different.  This time, the sadness and anger barely lasted a day, as Georgia went to Missouri and delivered what was one of the most satisfying and complete victories of the Richt era.  And the topper came last night, as Agent Muschamp’s latest gift to his alma mater, a timely Gator turnover, led to Georgia finding itself alone and atop the SEC East standings.

No, I didn’t see this season unfolding quite like that.  I doubt you did either.

All this is to say that I understand the emotions that were in play in the message threads yesterday.  I just hope everyone’s gotten them out of their systems.  It’s turned out to be a great year to be a Georgia fan.  Enjoy the moment while it lasts.  Because I suspect the ride will continue to be a wild one.

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Filed under Georgia Football, GTP Stuff