Daily Archives: May 2, 2015

The spread spreads… to offensive coordinator jobs.

I watched this Bulldog Illustrated interview with Mark Richt…

…  out of interest about what changes are being made on offense (no surprise with regard to nomenclature, as it makes too much sense for the mountain – a forty-year old system that traces its roots back to Bobby Bowden – not to come to Mohammed, i.e., the guys who will be calling the plays this season), but the most interesting part comes at the clip’s end, starting at about the 2:25 point, when Richt talks about the search he underwent for Bobo’s successor.

“With so many people going to the spread, it’s hard to find a guy that truly wants to do it the way we want to do it…”

And that meant there was a bigger pool of candidates for Richt to sift through at the NFL level than in college.

I’m a fan of contrarian thinking as an offensive philosophy.  There are clear advantages to being able to run a power, pro-style offense in a world where college defenses gear up more and more to deal with the spread.  But in light of my earlier post today, you have to wonder if there’s a limit to going against the grain.  You’ve got fewer kids coming out of high school who can step right into a pro-style scheme in college.  And now you’ve got fewer college offenses running pro-style attacks. Georgia’s already doing its best to deal with that.  What happens if the paradigm shift at the NFL level I hypothesized about in my last post actually comes into play?

Obviously, I’m not predicting that.  But Richt has to stay nimble with what he’s doing on offense, because a lot of the surroundings have changed – and keep changing – on him.  And that’s not just a matter of terminology.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

The spread that breaks the camel’s back?

Confession time:  I pay more attention to the NFL Draft than I do to the NFL season.  Sure, some of that is just out of natural curiosity to see where former Georgia players go and how well they do, but there is the occasional bit of information to glean that may have some bearing on the college game.

Along those lines, one thing you may have noticed is that after the two obvious talents in Winston and Mariota came off the board, it hasn’t exactly been the Year of the Quarterback.  And maybe that says something bigger.

Not to be too dramatic, but it feels as if we are seeing the deterioration of the quarterback pipeline before our very eyes. In the past 15 years, there has only been one other occasion when fewer than four quarterbacks were drafted in the first three rounds. That came two years ago, in 2013, when every signal-caller except EJ Manuel, Geno Smith and Mike Glennon remained on the board when the fourth round began.

It’s no secret that the spread offense has left NFL teams leery of college quarterbacks and clinging to their aging pocket passers. The average age of the top 10 quarterbacks last season, as measured by Total QBR, was 33. The 2013 and 2015 classes will do little to alleviate that imbalance, and the 2014 class — which includes Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr — can’t yet be counted on for salvation.

Once again, I’ll pass along the working theory of Steve Clarkson, one of the country’s top youth quarterback coaches. The NFL, Clarkson believes, is at a crossroads at the position. It must either find a better way to transition spread quarterbacks into pro schemes, or it will have to make a major philosophical change to account for the injuries caused when pro teams run the spread. At the NFL level, teams would probably have to rotate quarterbacks to run the spread full time.

That’s some crossroads you got there, fella.

It’s almost existential, if you think about it.  If the NFL can’t figure out how to train college quarterbacks coming out of spread offenses to play the NFL game, then the NFL game will have to come to the spread quarterbacks, because that’s what the pros will have to work with.  That means either a radical change in how the QB position is stocked at the NFL level, or quarterbacks being prepared differently than they are at the college level.

There’s one other possibility not mentioned:  taking quarterback preparation out of the hands of college football altogether. What if the NFL doesn’t want to change and college football doesn’t want to, either?  After all, as David Shaw said the other day, it’s not the business of a college head coach to develop the NFL’s players for the league.  If this trend continues and neither side is willing to move, is the spread what ultimately forces the NFL’s hand on creating a developmental league?

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Competition is good for the special teams’ soul.

Sure, we’ve seen Mark Richt run guys at kickers before, but a walk on who’s not even on campus yet?  It sounds like a couple of folks are going to be hearing Rodrigo Blankenship’s name a lot before the season starts.

Richt continues to talk up Rodrigo Blankenship as someone who could be a factor in the kicking game. Blankenship is set to join the team this summer as a walk-on, with the possibility of a scholarship the following season.

Richt said Blankenship has “a very powerful leg,” and could give Marshall Morgan a “run for his money” as the kickoff specialist.

“But he’s got the ability to punt a little bit too, and Collin Barber has got his work cut out for him to become a consistent performer again and do what’s gotta get done, as far as punting is concerned,” Richt said.

Waving another leg in front of Barber’s face doesn’t shock me in the slightest, because you can sense there’s some concern about his lack of consistency.  But I’m a little surprised about looking at someone to supplant Morgan on kickoffs.  Georgia wasn’t great on kickoff yardage last season, but it was at least respectable.  However, you wonder if Richt wouldn’t like to improve on that touchback percentage figure.  I can see how that would appeal to his conservative philosophy (***  cough  ***  Logan Gray *** cough ***) on special teams.

Anyway, it may not be as high profile as the fights at quarterback and center, but it might be another battle to keep an eye on come August.

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Filed under Georgia Football