A different kind of happy talk

On the surface, that’s the kind of talk we typically hear in late July as we get ready for the start of preseason practice.  But under the surface, I think it’s indicative of something more important that really is worth appreciating.

Special teams are where you really notice a team’s quality depth.  And because of Richt’s questionable roster management practices over the 2009-2013 period, quality depth was lacking.  How could it not be, with a roster that at one point had fewer than 70 scholarship players on it?  If Richt now observes that there are more athletes on special teams, there’s only one reason for that.

Quite simply, Richt’s got more scholarship bodies to work with.  And that is a welcome development.

There are certainly things Richt’s done that are worthy of criticism.  But he also deserves credit for learning from his mistakes and making the effort to overcome them.  If you’re like me and think that the hesitant way he managed the numbers on Georgia’s roster was his most egregious, then this is a good sign.  It’s talk that makes me happy for the right reason.

102 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

102 responses to “A different kind of happy talk

  1. @gatriguy

    This also makes me happy bc controlling field position via special teams is probably the most overlooked aspect of game management (I’d argue is is actually Urban’s biggest strength as a coach). Good to hear.

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  2. Castleberry

    Amen to that. Makes me think of Kimbrough blowing guys up on kick returns all last year. Someone needs to get a highlight reel together on that.

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    • diving duck

      Also when Parrish came out of nowhere for a lick on Auburn’s first return where it looked like the returner found daylight.

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  3. DawgPhan

    That might have been Richt’s biggest failure as a head coach. The fact that he has righted that wrong and had even improved recruiting over where it was says a lot. I think that this goes on the Richt 2.0 list that you published a while back. We are basically in year 2 of a brand new coaching staff right now.

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  4. Gastr1

    You know, I’d agree with this argument except for that NFL teams have only 55 or something players and probably only about 25 on offense and 25 on defense get meaningful playing time. How many players do you really need? Accounting for injuries, add another 10-15 and we’re still only at 60-65. You surely don’t need 80 players to have a decent special teams unit.

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    • You’re comparing the guys on a NFL roster who play special teams to college walk-ons?

      That’s not even an apples to oranges analogy.

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      • 3rdandGrantham

        At least apples and oranges are both fruits, whereas an 18 year old, 180 lb walk-on who just started shaving is just a tad different than a 26 year old veteran who runs a 4.4 at 255 lbs.

        That’s more like apples to Boeing 767’s, frankly.

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      • gastr1

        Who said anything about college walk-ons?
        The players on special teams don;t have to be walk-ons. Or players 70-85.

        Seriously, you guys don’t recall the case for having our top players play on special teams a little while ago? Now all the sudden it’s required to be walk-ons or players who otherwise are 3rd team or lower on the depth chart? Is this a new NCAA participation rule or what?

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        • Warthen

          This guy played, primarily, as an NFL special teamer; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp_ABmN-sMU

          Dial it up to the 2:15 mark if you aren’t familiar with Peterson’s work, that’s all that needs to be said about NFL special teamers.

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        • Tatum

          If you can give your starters a breather wherein they don’t have to run several 50 yard sprints a game plus contact it is a plus. If you can put young non starter scholarship players on special teams instead of walk ons while resting the starters then that is a plus as well. Sees like a no brainer to me.

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          • Gastr1

            Except your brain skills should tell you that with 70 scholarships you could have a special teams unit that was not starters. In fact, you could have a ST unit that was nowhere else on the depth chart and still go all the way to fifth string on each side of the ball.

            You guys need to take math again. Seriously.

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            • Gastr1

              Pretty stupid of me…you would have 2nd and 3rd string without doubling anyone on the depth chart, but not 5th. Still…

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    • 3rdandGrantham

      There’s no comparison between CFB and the NFL. CFB consists of 18-22 year old kids, in which the recruitment of them out of high school is a complete crap shoot. And even highly recruited athletes often need a year or two to develop once they get on campus. Thus, having a roster of, say, 65 scholly athletes compared to the normal 85 is absolutely devastating to a program, as exemplified by the downward spiral of programs throughout history when placed under NCAA sanctions that include loss of schollys.

      The NFL, meanwhile, consists of the very best of the best CFB athletes that not only have been fully vetted over a 4-5 year period, they also are physically mature and are at their peak in term of their overall athletic capacity and performance. Especially in football, the difference between 18-19 years old and, say, 25-27, is night and day. Take the worst NFL team and match them up against the best CFB team, and the result would be a trucking of the highest proportion.

      For me personally, I always think back to Reggie Bush’s first preseason game in the NFL as the perfect highlight as to the extreme differences between the two leagues. In college, Bush ran around and thru everyone with ease…he was basically a video game character to be honest. Yet in the NFL, suddenly DE’s were getting the angle on him for the tackle, and DB’s drilling him into the turf. On one particular play, Bush got the ball in the backfield, tried to shake/bake the oncoming DE, and got utterly destroyed on the play by the same DE that he couldn’t fake out (and laid on the turf in pain for quite a while afterwards).

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      • Uglydawg

        also, 3rd, professional players are just that. All they reall have to do is work on their conditioning and game..no classes, no restricted practice times and seasons.

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  5. Jim

    I agree poor roster management was an egregious failure on CMR’s fault – heck, we were one recruiting class short or on self imposed probation there for a while.

    That said, I don’t think righting that wrong is something CMR deserves to be lauded for. It’s like praising a chronic drunk driver for not driving drunk for lack of a better analogy.

    The test of Richt 2.0 in my opinion is pretty simple – stop the periodic brain farts or face plants. I love all the renewed support, money being thrown at the program, full boat of scholarship players, great recruiting, etc. Despite the apparent improvements in all those areas, I would argue that the brain farts and face plants have held us back worse than any of those things.

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    • So it’s not good news?

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      • Gastr1

        It might be good news, but I question whether better special teams is actually indicative of the kind of depth you’re suggesting, and I really question whether having more than 70 good players is ever actually useful regardless.

        If you want to talk about better depth in the second and third teams, ok, and how recent recruiting has been positively impacted there, that would be an interesting point.

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        • DawgPhan

          awesome. You guys never fail to dawgrade. nicely done. UGA should attempt to complete with 70 scholarship players, couldnt hurt right?

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          • Gastr1

            Give me evidence it matters.

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            • 3rdandGrantham

              I’ll simply post of my favorite all-time quotes as a response:

              “It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

              –Abraham Lincoln

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            • PTC DAWG

              Good grief, who has won the SEC lately with 70 or less on scholly? If you can’t see how that handicapped UGA, I have no answer.

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              • 3rdandGrantham

                Heck, just look what has happened to programs throughout history that has had 15-20 schollys removed or more due to NCAA violations. That’s the ultimate fast lane from 10-2 to 6-6, often worse.

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                • gastr1

                  An actual point. Thank you. It’s a start.

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                  • Mayor

                    The fact that the punishment meted out by the NCAA for rules violations is a limit on scholarships speaks for itself. My problem with CMR for years has been he essentially self-imposed punishment on his own team by undersigning. I even said in a post a few years ago that we should agree to take the punishment for other teams for a fee. “Hey there Southern Cal, since you have been penalized 30 scholarships over a 3 year period, and Georgia has signed 30 fewer kids to scholarships during that same period, give UGA $3,000,000 and we will take your punishment for you and say the undersigning was self-imposed.” 🙂

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                    • Gastr1

                      You need to familiarize yourself with the reality of scholarship reduction penalties. The scholarships themselves are a small part of the penalty–it’s the loss of about a third of your recruiting visits that really hurts.

                      But even then, here’s the University of Oregon, hit with a scholarship reduction until 2016 and still making the national championship game and all. I guess they’d probably have won if they only would have had those 5-6 additional players…

                      “The NCAA cut Oregon’s official paid visits from 56 to 37 for the next three academic years, reduced its spring and fall evaluation days for each of the next three seasons and banned the program from using recruiting services during the probation period.”

                      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/ncaa-oregon-probation-scholarship-recruiting-violations_n_3503500.html

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                    • Mayor

                      Gastr1, it was a joke. Get a grip. 🙂

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              • gastr1

                That doesn’t prove anything and you know it. Cause and effect, and all that. Come on, people.

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                • PTC DAWG

                  You just want to argue, obviously. And yes, it proves quite a bit on both cases.

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                • gastr1

                  I do want to argue when people are telling me I’m an idiot without any actual contrary evidence. Come on, you’re smarter than that.

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                  • PTC DAWG

                    I asked you of evidence..you provided NONE…that said, carry on.

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                    • gastr1

                      My earlier unbelievably controversial comment upthread (that garnered no responses):
                      You know, I’d agree with this argument except for that NFL teams have only 55 or something players and probably only about 25 on offense and 25 on defense get meaningful playing time. How many players do you really need? Accounting for injuries, add another 10-15 and we’re still only at 60-65. You surely don’t need 80 players to have a decent special teams unit.

                      I submit NFL rosters–and the presence of a players’ union likely them to increase numbers anywhere possible–as evidence that you don’t need 85 players to have “quality depth.”

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                  • Gaskilldawg

                    The NFL roster number comparison overlooks the fact that NFL teams can sign guys to replace injured players. When we had all those wide receiver injuries in the middle of the 2013 season we could not sign replacements off the GMC team.

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          • Gastr1

            –I made my point in the post upthread as to why I don’t think it actually does.

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            • DawgPhan

              Wait, you want me to explain to you that having more high quality athletes is better for your football team?

              I have a feeling that would be a waste of my time.

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              • gastr1

                I want you to explain how players 70-85 impact the team, yes, and show actual evidence that they matter.

                Shoot, right now I’d even take an anecdote. I say something out of the box, share an example or two, and all you guys can apparently do is quote Abraham Lincoln and mention Alabama in 2012. Really? Alabama 2012? I did say that having second- and third-team depth was important, yes? I think my statement about that be covered in the Alabama 2012 issue–you need what, 25-30 players on each side of the ball? Another 10 for injuries?

                This is basic math and the NFL has figured it out. Tell me how players 70-85 make an actual, measurable impact.

                Shoot, I’d even listen to hypotheticals at this point. Make an actual case, eh?

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                • 3rdandGrantham

                  Are you purposely ignoring my statement on the slew of previous CFB teams that had schollys taken away, and the decline of their overall performance as a result? Do we really need to sit here, hold your hand, and walk through all prior examples of teams with 15 or 20 less schollys and the overall effect that had on them?

                  I’m starting to think this whole thing is a work on your part, in which you’re not being serious and just trying to rile people up for kicks.

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                  • gastr1

                    No, I think you may have had a point there. I do think actually showing examples would help though.

                    I mean, could someone at least state that practices are improved by the increased competition? But don’t tell me it’s about using players who actually play.

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                    • 3rdandGrantham

                      “I mean, could someone at least state that practices are improved by the increased competition?”

                      Practices are improved by the increased competition.

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                    • gastr1

                      Thank you. Glad I could make a point against my own argument. It’s not definitive cause & effect or I’d have given up the ghost, but is a point that only occurred after I started the fire.

                      Regardless, thanks for making actual points rather than just shouting insults, 3rd.

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                  • PTC DAWG

                    Your last paragraph is spot on.

                    Think of the money that could be saved on smaller rosters, IF it would work.

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                  • Uglydawg

                    Those extra 15 or so players are mostly the young basis of next few year’s team. Pros can play for ten years or even more..as long as they hold up physically….college is limited to 4. This isn’t rocket science.

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                • PTC DAWG

                  IF the NFL has it figured out, why are you on a College Blog? The two aren’t comparable.

                  This is laughable…

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                  • gastr1

                    Has it occurred to you to even ask why college rosters are so large? I mean, I don’t have the answer. I’ve always wondered. Why? Because they can be? Shouldn’t we be pushing for 100 scholarships?

                    What’s the effective limit, then?

                    It seems your case is based on an unlimited quantity being equally effective.

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                    • PTC DAWG

                      I simply asked you to name a college team, any college team that has won anything of consequence while being 20% of so under the limit. I can’t find one. Obviously CMR is such a good coach he almost did it. Almost doesn’t count.

                      That said, the NFL numbers are not comparable..they run about 20% less plays a game, Do not have other demands on their time during the week. Have a practice squad of around 10-12 to pull from if they do have issue to add to that.

                      We have beaten this to death, and for the life of me, I don’t think you have a point. Remember the game of holes.

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                    • sUGArdaddy

                      Here’s the key difference. You ALWAYS get to replenish your roster in the NFL. Player gets hurt, you fill the gap by signing someone else. You don’t get the do that in college.

                      So, In college, you’ve got 85 on scholly. 2-3 are kickers. You’ve got 82 available players. You’re probably redshirting 10-12. We’ll go with 10. You’re down to 72 players. 3-4 are QBs, so after kickers, redshirts and QBs, you’re down to about 70 players. That gives you margin to play back-up LBs, DBs, RBs, & WR on special teams. When you have depth, you feel okay about that. But, as depth diminishes, you can’t, and you’re forced to play walk-ons, because you simply can’t put frontline players in harms way, especially in very thin positions. We had JSW as a gunner on punt team in 2013 and Sony on KO in early 2014, as depth at those positions waned, we couldn’t even put someone from that position group in there.

                      If you start with 70 players instead of 85, then your workable players ends up being about 55 guys, but that is razor thin in the college game. Inevitable injuries (even minor dings) take kids out of special teams. As a back-up is forced into starting action over injuries and dings, he becomes a commodity you can’t risk on special teams. Problem is, HIS back-up that you put on special teams just isn’t as good. In the NFL, if that happens and the next guy sucks on special teams, they cut your rear-end on Monday and find somebody that can cover a KO by Tuesday.

                      More 4 and 5 star bodies never hurts.

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                    • gastr1

                      Who makes you redshirt 10-12? I thought you had to have them available or you couldn’t win the SEC.

                      The “workable players” list ends up as low as you say only if you redshirt. (Which is a practice born of the luxury of extra players, obviously.)

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                    • Mayor

                      Gastr1, you redshirt 10-12 players because they need a year to physically/mentally mature so they can help the team in future years. If you never sign those 10-12 players you aren’t building that future stockpile. That is one (not the only) reason why in the past it always seemed that we were short of players at one or more positions. Remember 2011 when we actually were playing walk-ons at RB near the end of the year? And DBs? And the OL which seemingly was always short of bodies? The fact that CMR seems to have corrected that deficiency is one reason why I am so up-beat about the program going forward.

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              • gastr1

                Re: Alabama 2012– that was lack of willingness to substitute. You’re saying that we had so few defensive players that we didn’t even have a second team available?

                Again, you can recruit 70 really good players still allowing for injuries. Quantity versus quality, and all that–they aren’t the same thing. You want to tell me our recruiting has been better to improve the quality of players 23-70, I totally hear you. But Alabama 2012 had nothing to do with players 71-85.

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            • kdsdawg

              Actually a couple of people responded to your laughable comparison of the NFL and college and the number of players on a roster. 18-22 year old college players versus 25-35 year old NFL 2nd team players shouldn’t even be discussed in the same sentence.

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              • gastr1

                I fail to see why a college roster has to be 85 players but an NFL one can be 55. The point is that they play the same length of game on the same size field with the same number of players with essentially the same rules. That’s why it’s a fair comparison.

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                • Because college players aren’t as physically developed as pro players and because pro players can devote far more of their time to training and practice.

                  And because the labor costs in the NFL are higher than in college. 😉

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                  • gastr1

                    Ah. I hadn’t thought about the time needed for development.
                    That could also speak to cross-specialization issues. Good. I’m seeing the light.

                    No, shaddup, peanut gallery, you didn’t think of that either. 🙂

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                • PTC DAWG

                  We realize you fail to see why.

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                  • gastr1

                    You don’t see why either or you explain it without resorting to ad hominem arguments.

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                    • PTC DAWG

                      I see it clearly. Most 18 year olds are not ready for the college game, especially the OL and DL…hence the redshirting. That is not the case in the PRO game. There is 10-12 spots right there. Throw in a practice squad to pull from and there is at least 10 more spots right there.

                      Let me add that we are comparing two different games, different clock management, etc. The College Game has about 25% more plays ran per game than the NFL game. They are NOT the same game. The NFL has basically banned contact in practices to limit injuries…no such luck in the College game, hence the need for even more bodies..

                      I’ll end by saying I know you get it. Not sure why you continue to pontificate on it.

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                    • gastr1

                      I really don’t get it how having players 71-85 is so crucial to success, compared with just having the best 1-70. But I do get riled when people think I’m an idiot for not assuming something that they then struggle to explain.

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              • gastr1

                I mean, are you suggesting that college players get hurt more easily, or something? Then SAY that and stop relying on questionable assumptions based on what you’ve been told.

                By this logic, teams would have to get bigger as the age gets lower. Since college teams apparently have to have 55% more players than the NFL, then high school teams have to have, what, 132 players?

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                • PTC DAWG

                  I don’t see a replay button above re your idiot comment, I never called you that…it’s not my style. Nothing wrong with a little disagreement either…

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      • Jim

        I think it’s great news, which is what I tried to say here:

        “I love all the renewed support, money being thrown at the program, full boat of scholarship players, great recruiting, etc.”

        I just don’t think Richt should be praised for fixing an egregious failure. Maybe you aren’t praising per se him but giving him “credit” for recognizing it and attempting to overcome it.

        If I am a serial drunk driver and I stop (whether by my own will or that of someone else) that’s definitely good news. Not sure that I deserve praise for it though.

        It’s semantics. Bottom line is I guess I still hold it against him and the proof is in the pudding along with everything else that has been course corrected

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  6. Will

    Senator, I agree with your basic premise about giving Richt credit for recognizing his failings, but you’re beating the drum pretty hard. You’ve got to be bringing that up relatively regularly at this point.

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  7. PTC DAWG

    The self imposed undersigning was baffling to me, I for one am glad it seems to be in the rear view mirror.

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  8. Skeptic Dawg

    I do not believe that Richt deserves credit for this. The improved roster numbers is a direct result of CJP. We can give Richt credit for hiring Pruitt once Grantham left after Richt told the world that he wanted to retrain Grantham.

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    • DawgPhan

      the 2013 class was the start of the turn around. 33 players. hard to say that Pruitt had anything to do with that.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Don’t go confusing Skeptic.

        Wait, now I read we only need a roster the size of the NFL. Someone get on the phone to McGarity.

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    • How do you not give the head freaking coach credit?? Not only do you refuse to give the man due credit you make something up and present it as fact. Lol

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    • Yet I’m sure you’ll heap all the blame on Richt if a position coach or CJP does something wrong because, ultimately, Richt is the “CEO” and “the buck stops with him” etc etc… god forbid he gets any credit tho

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  9. DawgPhan

    Today’s episode of “GTP commenter decides to defend weird point to the death” features up and coming commenter gastr1 and his remix of “the nfl does it”.

    let’s all give him a nice round of applause.

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    • gastr1

      This just in: FCS allows only 63.

      Ya’ll want to take that one on?

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      • It’s not that hard.

        What’s the answer to most questions about college football? Money.

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        • gastr1

          Fuckin’ A, man. That’s where I’d have been all along. It’s not about competition as much as that right there.

          A summation before I depart for the day:

          I have a better sense of this than I did given: more plays (PTC Dawg), cross-specialization (Senator), the need for good practices (my own self), the lack of ability to find players not at the roster at the start of the year (sUGArdaddy), etc.

          I’ll also add these things that occurred to me as the debate raged:
          –college styles are more varied than the NFL and success to some degree depends on having varied enough players to prepare against different styles in practices.

          –the need to redshirt is largely due to attrition–game injuries, season-ending injuries, career-ending injuries, transfers, and early defections to the NFL.

          –they used to not have a scholarship limit and Bear Bryant would have 100 or more players, so 85 seems like a reduction from that era. (the competition is in competing to keep players from others)

          Cheers. You can all go have that drink now. 🙂
          A summation before I depart for the day:

          I have a better sense of this than I did given: more plays (PTC Dawg), cross-specialization (Senator), the need for good practices (my own self), the lack of ability to find players not at the roster at the start of the year (sUGArdaddy), etc.

          I’ll also add these things that occurred to me as the debate raged:
          –college styles are more varied than the NFL and success to some degree depends on having varied enough players to prepare against different styles in practices.

          –the need to redshirt is largely due to attrition–game injuries, season-ending injuries, career-ending injuries, transfers, and early defections to the NFL.

          –they used to not have a scholarship limit and Bear Bryant would have 100 or more players, so 85 seems like a reduction from that era. (the competition is in competing to keep players from others)

          Cheers. You can all go have that drink now. 🙂

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          • PTC DAWG

            3 martini lunches are under rated.

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          • GaskillDawg

            You completely overlook the point that, whatever the roster limit is, be it 140 players or 12 players, the NFL teams all have the same number on the roster and compete with other teams with the same number on the roster. I know that NFL teams could play with 12 man rosters and that if every team had 12 there is no competitive disadvantage from going to 55 man rosters to 12 man rosters, but if 1 team has 12 and the other has 55 the short handed team is at a disadvantage. Surely you are not going to say that an NFL team that has 45 on its roster is in the same competitive position as a team with 55 on its roster. That is the issue with UGA having 65 scholarshiped players when all the other SEC teams have 85, just as an NFL carrying 45 is at a disadvantage against a team with 55. The FCS teams are at a disadvantage with 63 man rosters when they play FBS teams with 85 man rosters, but the are not when they play other teams with 63 players.

            You are incorrect about there not formerly being scholarship limits. While the NCAA did not have limits conferences had limits. Independents, such as Notre Dame, Tech, Pitt and South Carolina, did not. Why did Tech leave the SEC? In part it was that it could afford more scholarships than the 140 SEC limit and IT PERCEIVED AN ADVANTAGE IN HAVING MORE PLAYERS ON SCHOLARSHIP THAN THE GEORGIAS, ALABAMAS, TENNESSEES and AUBURNS IT PLAYED.

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            • Dog in Fla

              Dodd said, “I’d like to clear up the financial aspect once and for all. While we have lost a lot of money through sharing of TV rights over the last eight to 10 years by remaining in the SEC, it wasn’t a factor in our withdrawal. Our primary reason was the 140 Rule. Actually, we will continue to take fewer boys than the average SEC school, but we’ll try to graduate all of them instead of taking 50 to 60 each year, then dropping half.”

              http://gtalumnimag.com/2011/02/the-day-tech-sports-changed-forever/

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            • Gastr1

              No, I wouldn’t say “if 1 team has 12 and the other has 55 the short handed team is at a disadvantage.” My point was that when you get beyond 70 it may be diminishing returns in player contribution. I also asked what the limit ought to be; if college teams really need 54% more players than NFL teams, does that mean high school teams need 54% more than college teams? (That would make HS rosters about 132 players).

              I made that point about five times upthread… but thanks for weighing in.

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            • Gastr1

              Re: your capitalized argument, I stand corrected on the nature of prior limits. The point of stockipiling players, however, was to keep them from other teams as much as anything–certainly you could not play 140 players and develop any kind of real game shape for any of them.

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      • PTC DAWG

        Division 3 allows zero.

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      • Debby Balcer

        Part of our slip in special teams was due to Richt’s hot seat. Fans calling for him to be gone does not encourage players to commit. We had great special teams and they slipped when the hot seat meme was loud.

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        • Dog in Fla

          According to the GTP Quote Of The Day, he still maintains control over the hot seat meme:

          “I didn’t know I got criticism,” Richt quipped, feigning incredulousness. “It’s just the nature of the beast. If you can’t take criticism, then you shouldn’t coach.” — AJ-C, 7/21/15

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  10. Uglydawg

    Gastri..a professional player has no expiration date. He can play as long as he can play. A college player has four years. Most of those 20 extra players you want to get rid of are tommorow’s starters.

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  11. Uglydawg

    …and most of us have an extra roll of toilet paper somewhere around the bathroom…and more beverages in the ‘fridge than we’ll drink in one day…
    It’s not as if, when a player is injured, you can just walk up into the stands and find a kid who played HS ball and say ,”come on down”.
    Didn’t Georgia suffer enough from lack of depth in the last couple of years?

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  12. W Cobb Dawg

    There’s been a huge drop in off-season attrition.
    Right before signing day we filled available schollies with last minute pick-ups like Madden, Hawkins, and Crowder.
    And snapping up players like Ganus, Lambert, and Jurkovic will likely make a big difference.
    Finally, we’ll always have a healthy stable of preferred walk-ons, like QB Robinson, and regular walk-ons.

    We’ve gone from probably the worst roster managers to arguably the best in cfb. I personally don’t attribute the dramatic change to CMR. My feeling is that we finally have a staff that plans well and works their tails off. I felt CMR’s roster management was the problem, not the solution. But since he’s the HC, he gets the credit. So I’ll give CMR an ‘attaboy!’

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    • Mayor

      Absolutely! I’m still not sure how it happened or who is really responsible (Pruitt, maybe?) but I am cheering this development.

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  13. GATA

    I have had similar thoughts as above concerning roster size when the term ‘depth’ was used. I always assumed each play was about our 11 (per side) vs. your 11. Depth was in case of injury or to spell a winded player from time to time. So, who cares about depth really? Shouldn’t the focus be on the starting squads of each team? Bobby Bowden answered these for me during their run of Top 5 finishes. He mentioned the difference in focus / devotion during practice when ‘a high school All-American was behind you on the depth chart’. He said in their building years that their best players tended to ‘get through’ practices as they knew they would start each Saturday regardless of performance. They would stay in shape and learn the new plays, but didn’t really improve over the course of a season. As their depth (talent level of 2nd and 3rd strings) improved, so too did their practices. Starters no longer took their spots for granted, as they had a player behind them as tall / fast / strong / talented / etc. Your starting slot was reaffirmed (or lost) each day during the week’s practices. The interview I recall even suggested that Coach Bowden himself didn’t really appreciate depth as he never experienced the true benefit it on prior rosters. He too seemed to think that depth was all about injury substitutions, but later learned to rely on their depth in order to facilitate better practices. This, of course, led to better individual (and team) play come Saturday and improvement across the team over the season. I have not thought about that interview for some time, but was reminded of it as I read through the comments.

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    • Dog in Fla

      It works every time!

      “Oh? Have I got your attention now? Good. Because we’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired. Get the picture?”
      (h/t Mamet/Bluto)

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      • Gastr1

        I was trying to make the point that spots 23-70 would clearly need to be as competitive as possible, but that got lost in outrage over the heresy that 71-85 might not actually be all that important.

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  14. hassan

    This is partially due to depth and partially due to having the right players on special teams (admittedly due to depth you can do this). There is a fundamentally different mindset to special teams that really was not there prior to Coach Ekeler. The old mentality was to simply get guys that could hit on special teams. This usually meant slower defensive guys. The problem was that they had trouble with blocks and making open field tackles. The new mentality is to to get guys downfield quickly, make a football move, and then make the hit.

    1) Get downfield quickly: There are new speed requirements for special teamers that helps them get to the ball faster, thereby increasing the effect of the hang time and limiting the effective space between returner and defender. This equates to more fair catches and fewer open field returns.

    2) Make a football move: This refers to making a move to juke the blockers and get to the ball faster…. similarly to how a wide receiver may juke a CB to get open.

    3) Make the hit: Make sure the fundamentals are there to make a good tackle. (refer back to point #1 where having a bunch of guys around the ball quickly may negate the need for an open field 1:1 tackle)

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    • Mayor

      3A) Actually can make the play: When you are downfield and are in a situation where you are really one-on-one and if you don’t make the tackle the other team gets a cheap TD, you do have the tackling skills to get that guy on the ground.

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