Daily Archives: August 10, 2015

The Pruitt effect, ctd.

Our old friend David Hale posted something on Twitter you may find of interest:

True, as some of the FSU fans note in response, the ‘Noles lost a boat load of talent when Pruitt changed jobs.  But that doesn’t change the improvement he worked at Georgia last season.  And talk about losing talent in the secondary…

6 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“We have to claim those championships. It’s the law.”

Don’t ever change, Auburn fans.

16 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Political Wankery

Staples on the Georgia job

Andy Staples has fleshed out his statement on the Finebaum show that Georgia is the number one coaching job in America.  See if you can find the flaw in his reasoning:

• I used to consider Texas the best job in the country, but now I think it’s Georgia, followed by Ohio State. Why Georgia? My top criterion is access to players relative to competitors, and Georgia is in a really enviable position. In the past five recruiting classes, an average of 113.6 high-schoolers from the state of Georgia have signed with Power Five schools each year. (Note that we’re talking Power Five, not all of the FBS.) That number is third behind Texas (179.4) and Florida (164.4) and ahead of California (100.4). The competition between state schools in those states is far more intense than it is in Georgia. With Georgia Tech running the option, the schools aren’t really going head-to-head on offensive players because of different needs, and Georgia is the bigger brand name. It’s also in the conference that more recruits consider desirable. Georgia’s situation is closer to Ohio State’s. In Ohio, kids grow up wanting to be Buckeyes. In Georgia, they grow up wanting to be Bulldogs. Ohio State was very good under Jim Tressel, but you didn’t see the Buckeyes take the next step until Urban Meyer came along. Now, they have the most talented team in the country. Meanwhile, the state of Ohio produced 64.6 Power Five signees a year over that same five-year period.

Do Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, South Carolina and others come in and poach Georgia talent? Absolutely. But there’s such an abundance of it in the state that Georgia can afford to lose a few top in-state targets and still field a team capable of competing for SEC and national titles. Alabama and Auburn have to invade Georgia. During that five-year period, their state produced 36.4 Power Five signees a year. People talk about LSU’s monopoly in its state, but the numbers between Louisiana and Georgia aren’t even close. Louisiana’s average number of Power Five signees during that span was 38.6 a year.

Add to this great facilities (now that the Bulldogs are building an indoor), great tradition, a sharp athletic director, possibly the best college town in America and the fact that they play in the easier division of the nation’s deepest conference. That’s the recipe for a great job that just about every coach in America would crawl over broken glass to take.

• As far as taking the next step, there are a lot of factors. But let’s be honest. If some things break differently in the 2012 SEC title game, Georgia has a national title under Mark Richt and we’re probably not having this conversation. But the fact is Georgia has been the best team in the East on paper for most of the years since Tim Tebow left Florida and has two East titles and no SEC titles to show for it. Given its advantages and the current state of the SEC East, Georgia should be in the national title hunt most years.

• Mark Richt is on a very short list of coaches I’d want my kid to play for. He is secure in who he is and how he wants to run the program. He clearly cares about his players, and the program he created to help transition to life after football is a prime example. He hasn’t compromised what he considers his mission for the sake of winning. That’s great from a human standpoint and tough from a professional one, because he gets paid a healthy salary to win titles. I know no school president or athletic director will ever say it out loud, but coaches almost always get fired because of their win-loss record—not because they didn’t mold enough men.

Give up?  Here ’tis.

Add to this great facilities (now that the Bulldogs are building an indoor), great tradition, a sharp athletic director, possibly the best college town in America and the fact that they play in the easier division of the nation’s deepest conference. That’s the recipe for a great job that just about every coach in America would crawl over broken glass to take.  [Emphasis added.]

Now granted, we live a lot closer to the situation than he does, but I don’t see how anyone who follows the program can breeze in with an assessment like that, given what was going on at Butts-Mehre just a few short months ago.

Again, my point here isn’t to contest the knocks on Mark Richt that Andy lists with some validity.  But I’ll continue to insist, as I have for a while now, that context matters in this situation.  It matters a helluva lot more than Staples lets on.

40 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Pilgrim’s progress

If you’re trying to get a feel for which of the incoming freshmen are making any headway in cracking Georgia’s two-deep, take a look at what Jason Butt surmises after a week of preseason practice.

Bottom line:  not too many surprises.

4 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“Tennessee Is and Isn’t a Year Away.”

I see Stewart Mandel joins the list of pundits who pick the Vols to win the SEC East this season.

I’m not buying Tennessee as much as some (as you’ll see, I have them losing at home to Oklahoma), but I still see the Vols winning a mediocre East. Georgia and Tennessee both play Alabama as a crossover foe, but the Dawgs also have to visit Auburn while Tennessee hosts Arkansas.

Okay, so it’s not the most enthusiastic blessing you’ll ever see… in fact, I’m not even sure why, given the recent history in the series, Mandel sees Georgia traveling to Auburn as being that significant a difference from playing the Hogs in Knoxville.  But taking it for the sake of argument as an acceptance that Tennessee is back, maybe not as a conference powerhouse so much as at least not hopelessly outclassed in the division any more, why so?

I get that the Vols have had two very strong recruiting classes in a row.  But Tennessee is far from the only SEC team which can make that claim.  And I also get that, as a result, the overall talent level of the team is better than it was under SOD.  But that’s really damning with faint praise, given what went on with Tennessee recording between the end of Fulmer’s term and Jones’ arrival.

The 85-scholarship era has hurt power teams like Tennessee and Nebraska who reside in states that don’t produce much talent. The Vols specifically have been hurt by a string of coaching mishaps, from the messy exit of Phillip Fulmer to the one-and-done year of Lane Kiffin to the ineffective Derek Dooley. The thought of hiring a recruiting ace in Kiffin wasn’t bad in and of itself after declining results from Fulmer’s classes, but the strikeout rate on Fulmer’s final two and Kiffin’s one class is just crazy. Dooley turned out to be in over his head with the job anyway, but trying to dig out of that hole was never going to be an easy task for anyone.

It’s a deep, deep hole that Jones finds himself trying to climb out of, in other words.  And the big issue there is depth.

The one part of the rebuild that Jones hasn’t had time to do yet is build true depth. Non-Vols fans out there can’t name Dobbs’s backup, and don’t say Nathan Peterman—he transferred to Pitt. There is basically nothing behind Hurd and Kamara at running back. Last year’s offensive line was a mess in part to turning over all five positions, and it’s unclear if this year’s will be leaps and bounds better or just kind of better. The defense is in better shape in this regard than the offense is, although linebacker other than Maggitt (who splits time as an end) and Reeves-Maybin is a question mark.

So what’s it gonna take for Tennessee to win the East in 2015?  Some luck with health, some hope that the schedule cooperates (although Missouri, which is riding a three-game winning streak against UT, has a far easier path than the Vols do) and every other contending team in the division falling on their collective faces.  And remember, this is a team and a coaching staff that has yet to find major success handling a conference slate.  That’s a lot of reaches for a program that barely scraped into a bowl game a year ago.  Admittedly, stranger things have happened.  But that’s a pretty thin margin for error Jones has to work with.

35 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

The art of writing a smart book about football, a review

I’ve blogged about college football for almost nine years now, which is either an indication of my level of sanity or of my enjoyment of the game.  (I suppose the two aren’t mutually exclusive, though.)  One of the things that blogging has contributed to the latter is that it’s given me the chance to run across some folks with truly sharp insights to share about football.

One of them is Chris Brown.  Lord knows I’ve linked to Chris’ work many times here, both what he’s posted at his blog and his work at Grantland.  Chris also wrote a book a few years back, The Essential Smart Football, that I reviewed.  About that book, I wrote this:

Hell, he’s managed to make the NFL interesting to me and I haven’t cared about pro football for a long time.  I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

I still can’t.  Chris has a knack for writing about things that make me think about the strategy and tactics of football in a way that few others do.  Sometimes he’s good enough at it to drive me crazy.

So when I tell you that he’s published a new book, The Art of Smart Football, there’s a temptation on my part just to leave things at this:  go buy his book; it’ll make you a better football fan.  But he and his book deserve a little more than that.

Chris shifts from the pros to college and back to the pros seamlessly, as do many of the people he writes about in Art, like Pete Carroll.  But there is a common theme that runs throughout this book – the give and take of strategy.  As he writes in the chapter entitled “Monster Mash”,

Coaches and quarterbacks nowadays are exceptional at identifying and exploiting defensive weaknesses.  Defenses now, with the rise of spread offenses, often give away their soft spots by how they line up, and the myriad of reads, packaged plays, and options make exploiting these weaknesses ever-simpler stuff.

But football is a game of give and take, and defenses are responding…

That’s as true for Nick Saban as it is for Pete Carroll, as true as it is for Chip Kelly (on whatever level he’s coaching) as it is for Art Briles, as true as it is… well, you get the idea.  And there’s plenty more of that in Art – the book, not the coach, I mean.  Simply put, it’s a great read.

So I guess I will leave you with this after all:  go buy Chris’ book; it’ll make you a better football fan.

16 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

“Yeah, anytime I can get a little bit more money in pocket, it is exciting.”

Several Georgia players are included in the class action group scheduled to receive payment from EA Sports for use of their likenesses in its NCAA Football video game.  Will some of you think less of ’em for that?

The funny thing is the kids would like to see the game return for the obvious reasons.

Theus played the game often growing up and would like to see it return. He says the game still has a huge following, and if the NCAA can work out a deal where the college football players are compensated for their likeness and image it could be a win for both sides.

“Whoever wants to play the game can play it, they [EA and the NCAA] can make money off of it, and guys can get a little more cash,” Theus said. “If they work something out, it would be awesome.”

EA Sports has already said it would be willing to resume production of the game and pay the kids for their likenesses.  But amateurism is in the fans’ best interests, right?

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Fabris Pool temperature taking

It’s the time to ask that question:  are you up for the challenge of another Fabris Pool this season?

I’m just gauging everyone’s mood to dive in again.  Format will remain the same as it’s been.

Let me know in the comments if you want to participate.  If enough interest is there, I’ll get it set up again.

Thanks.

43 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

Kirby drops a Smart bomb.

The times, they are a-changin’.

Four years ago, 2011, the defense that was so good against LSU, that season, we had five run-pass option plays throughout the 800 plays. Last year’s had over 120 run-pass option plays,” Smart said. “Obviously, the game has changed, the teams we’re playing changed, and we’ve had to evolve.”

So how have he and Saban adapted?

“That team (in 2011) was a big, physical team that was good at stopping the run, had two first-round corners. In recent years, the run-pass option has evolved to make offensive football better, and we’ve had to change with that,” Smart said. “We’ve got to do more things, we’ve got to play more split-safety coverages, you’ve got to help your corners in a lot of different ways, and we have to continue to grow in that area, so we don’t give up big plays, don’t put those guys in bad situations, which I probably did too often.”

To answer your next question, last season Alabama gave up twice as many plays of 30+ yards as did Georgia and over three times as many plays of 40+ yards.  I’m not saying the pupil has surpassed the master here by any means, but it does seem as if Pruitt’s gotten a head start on the learning curve.

26 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Musical palate cleanser, y’all got about 10 seconds to get to the dance floor edition.

If this doesn’t make you shake your ass a little bit, there’s something wrong with you.

Bonus clip, from Purple Rain

I always thought The Time smoked Prince in that movie.

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized