Daily Archives: August 14, 2015

The wit and wisdom of Lorenzo Carter

He’s obviously bucking for the prestigious spot in GTP‘s QOTD, and who am I to deny him when he says this?

… Bellamy, a sophomore, has earned snaps in his own right.

“He’s been doing great,” Carter said. “I’ve been cheering him on. He’s moving along, and the more outside linebackers that we have that are game-ready then the less snaps we have to take, destroying our body.”

So he’s cool with sitting?

“Yeah, I’m cool with being fresh,” Carter said. “Fresh legs means more sacks. More sacks means more money.”

15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“We don’t need anybody in the media telling us who should be the starter and that kind of thing.”

Welcoming the gathered throng of scribes to today’s post-scrimmage presser was Prickly Richt.

23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Dawgged pursuit

I guess you could say Jeremy Pruitt sees something he really, really likes in Rico McGraw.

“Coach Pruitt was the first person to ever offer me while he was at Alabama,” McGraw said of the former Alabama secondary coach who saw McGraw after his freshman season at a 7-on-7 camp in Tuscaloosa. “When he made the transition to Florida State, he offered me there. I always wanted to play for coach Pruitt. …One day I finally decided to follow my heart and I ended up here with coach Pruitt.”

It’s nice to be wanted.

8 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Lateral the damn ball.

This is pretty awesome – the Arkansas high school coach who’s already gained notoriety for his strategy eschewing punts and embracing onside kicks has come up with a new wrinkle.  Allow him to explain:

Kelley used an ESPN database to study college football history. He found that historically, there was no bigger indicator of victory than winning the turnover margin – teams that forced more turnovers than they committed won 80 percent of the time. But last season, Kelley said, a new trend emerged for the first time: Teams that recorded more plays of at least 20 yards won about 81 percent of the time.

It made sense to Kelley – bigger chunks of yardage meant scoring quicker and less opportunity to commit turnovers and drive-killing penalties. He became obsessed with finding a system designed for big plays. He found that on plays when two players touched the ball – a typical handoff or pass – teams gained 20 yards about 10 percent of the time. But when at least three players touched the ball – a trick play with a lateral involved – the percentage for gaining 20 yards rose to around 20 percent.

“That got me thinking,” Kelley said. “How could we develop a system for more than two people to touch the ball?”

One day, watching television, Kelley stumbled across a rugby game. That was it. Rugby teams built designed plays despite constant movement, an intricate series of laterals. Teammates didn’t block for the ball carrier; they rushed to the right spot to receive a pitch.

And so Kelley instituted a new system. When he calls out “Rugby!” before an offensive series, his wide receivers change their assignment. Rather than blocking downfield, they rush toward the receiver who catches the ball. If they’re open, they yell the receiver’s name and which side they’re on. He tells his players only to pitch the ball when they’re sure it’s safe.

Essentially, Kelley’s offense will run the option – after a completed pass down the field.

As the saying goes, that’s just crazy enough, it might work.  But even so,

Even if Kelley’s offense works this fall, it’s not going to change much outside of the Arkansas 5A-Central Conference. Despite his success derived from not punting, no copycats have sprung up at higher levels. Football coaches are too wedded to convention, scared by the knowledge that losing traditionally is safer than trying to win radically. Kelley is just fine with that.

“I don’t want anybody else doing this,” Kelley said. “With not punting and the onside kicks, I know I have a stat advantage. If this works, I want everybody thinking this is stupid, too.”

Sounds about right.

44 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Rrr-rematch!

I’ve seen/heard plenty of folks express the sentiment that they’d prefer to see Georgia lose in the regular season to one of the two Alabama teams, were they to face off again in the SECCG, because it’s so tough to win again.

But you know what?  It turns out there have been six such games in Atlanta – and five of those saw the regular season winners win again.

31 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Mr. Conventional Wisdom, on the Pruitt Effect

I bet Barnhart wishes he’d come up with that phrase first.

His post is worth reading, if only because Pruitt opens up a fair bit assessing last year’s defensive effort.  (If Barnhart has a real strength, it’s getting football folks to talk to him.)  And it’s hard not to like this quote:

Given the progress that Georgia made in year one under Pruitt, there is a strong belief here—and elsewhere–that things will be significantly better in year two.

“Jeremy Pruitt got more out of his talent at Georgia than just about anybody else in the conference,” another SEC defensive coordinator told me. “Everybody who has to play Georgia noticed.”

Ah, I love the smell of promise in the offseason.

8 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Carpe footballem.

If there’s been a more unabashed supporter of Brice Ramsey’s likelihood of being Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2015 than Dawg Post’s Dean Legge, I’ve missed it.  So for Legge to acknowledge this

At this point I don’t expect Georgia to name a starter until before the week the season starts – and probably only then because they have to.

… speaks volumes.  And not in a comforting way, if you’re someone like me who would prefer to see an offense breaking in a new starter at the position, a new offensive coordinator and dealing with significant turnover at the wide receiver position (as well as a new position coach there) have an opportunity to start settling in as soon as possible.  I get that some of you are enamored with the benefits of endless competition in August and keeping people guessing about Georgia’s tactics, but to me there’s a real downside the longer the situation remains unsettled.

A new quarterback and his (new, too, by the way) center need reps.  A new quarterback and his receivers need reps.  The more you shift those from preseason practice to real game time, the greater the risk you run from timing issues that cost you offensive efficiency.  Add to that the pressure on whoever is named the first starter of feeling like he’s one mistake away from being benched in favor of the next guy in line, and you’re going to wind up with quarterbacks playing so tight you won’t be able to insert a straight pin up their asses.

And this isn’t about picking a particular horse in this race.  I don’t care who starts this season, as long as he’s a competent SEC quarterback – and, remember I mentioned in my G-Day observations I felt like there is somebody at the position whom Richt and Schottenheimer can develop to that level.  Along those lines, it’s worth considering that any uncertainty now doesn’t simply reflect on Ramsey, although it may be the case that it reflects upon him the most.  None of the three has separated himself from the pack at this point, and if Richt feels this way,

“There is a chance we have a couple guys taking reps in game one,” Richt added. “I’m not sure.”

… that may continue for an uncomfortable time.

Now I get that Richt has been developing quarterbacks for a very long time and has a solid track record in that regard.  So there’s that.  But just because I acknowledge it doesn’t mean I have to like where things appear to stand.  Because the question that’s starting to bubble in the back of my mind – what happens if Georgia’s 2015 starting quarterback isn’t as effective as Hutson Mason was last season? – isn’t something I’m ready to ponder quite yet.

30 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“The running game is arithmetic.”

In kind of a weird coincidence, two articles on the resurgence of the running game in college football popped up yesterday, this one from Dennis Dodd and another from Andrea Adelson.

Both share some common themes, for instance, the role a running quarterback plays in changing the numbers game.  Adelson quotes Rich Rodriguez.

When Rodriguez first started implementing the spread as an assistant 27 years ago, it was with throwing more in mind. But as the offense evolved, he found himself spreading more to run. The reason? A simple numbers game.

“We felt you had to have less good blocks to have a successful run than if you put everybody in there tight,” Rodriguez explained. “If we got two or three blocks at the point of attack, and the rest of the guys get run over slowly, we’ve got a chance — as opposed to having to make five or six blocks. So that was our reasoning behind spreading to run. And having the quarterback with a threat to run makes defenses play all 11 guys instead of playing 11 on 10.”

And that’s the gist of Dodd’s piece.

Average quarterback rush yards has nearly doubled in the last decade, according to research compiled by SportSource Analytics. Quarterback yards per carry are up 53 percent (1.83 in 2005, 2.83 in 2014).

Rushing yards gained by quarterbacks accounted for more than 15 percent of the national rushing yardage total last year. That’s up from 10.5 percent a decade ago.

It’s no secret why.

“The advent of the spread and the quarterback being a viable runner,” explained Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “As a former defensive coordinator, that’s your biggest nightmare — a quarterback who can hurt you both ways.”

In that defensive coordinator parlance, an offense that features a running quarterback is called a “plus one.” Simply put, the defense has to account for 11 players, instead of 10. Down through the ages, that hasn’t necessarily been the case. In the last 10-15 years with advent of spread offenses, it’s been the norm.

You can tell from the flavor of both of those quotes that the rise of the spread is another common theme.  And, again, it’s hard to argue with the numbers.

Defenses have been struggling to catch up. Over the past three seasons, running backs have averaged 5.1 yards per carry — higher than any point since 2004. According to ESPN Stats & Information, teams faced an average of 6.8 defenders in the box last season, a number that has been slowly dropping since the average was 7.0 in 2011.

Hmmm… that stat rings a bell from somewhere.  Oh, yeah.

Note that Georgia and Arkansas, two unabashed pro-style offenses with power running attacks, sit well above that 6.8 DITB average.  They’re obviously not playing that numbers game the way Rodriguez does.  But what’s interesting is that there’s another common point to Adelson’s and Dodd’s pieces – Nick Chubb.  And of course, Chubb doesn’t run from a spread attack.  So what’s he doing there?  Adelson has an explanation that I can buy into about that:

Traditional power run teams might be dwindling, but some coaches believe they have benefited from the spread too. With more defensive schemes predicated on slowing down the spread, players are not accustomed to playing downhill, power run teams.

Virginia assistant Chris Beatty worked at Wisconsin last year and watched Melvin Gordon run for 2,587 yards — the second-highest total in NCAA history. Gordon is a rare talent in his own right, but defenses not only struggled to tackle him, they struggled to defend the right gaps.

“It’s harder and harder on defenses, and I think an advantage for us at Wisconsin was everybody’s geared to stop the spread now,” Beatty said. “We were one of a handful of teams that runs a pro-style offense, so it creates an issue personnel-wise for defenses — how do they want to be? For us with Melvin Gordon, it was hard for people to match up.”

As I’ve said plenty of times, there is value in being contrary.

11 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“I think football (philosophies) for the first time are going up instead of coming down (from the NFL)…”

Interesting story here about how Charlie Strong has had to ditch his preferred offensive philosophy and embrace a spread attack because that’s about all that coming out of the state’s high school systems.

But as Strong heads into Year 2 off a 6-7 debut, he has already conceded that his initial plan won’t work. When Texas debuts at Notre Dame on Sept. 5, the Longhorns will be another convert to the speed-and-spread style of football that has become rather homogenous in the Big 12. He’s not trying to re-create Louisville on a bigger stage; the Texas of 2015 is trying to emulate Auburn. Texas is no longer setting the agenda for football in the state; the Longhorns are adjusting on the fly just to keep up.

“It was just so hard; the scores were coming so quickly and it’s hard to match,” Strong told USA TODAY Sports. “I’d say probably 95% of the high schools in this state are all from the spread. A young man coming in here has been accustomed to the spread, so let’s not bring him in and all the sudden change it when he’s grown up with that the whole time. In the recruiting process, kids want to see that. They want to see you’re going up-tempo, so it’s almost like for recruiting alone, you had to go in that direction.”

That’s a heck of an admission from a Texas coach, but it’s also reality.

That’s also a little strange.  If Strong were that wedded to his offensive scheme, why not look outside the state of Texas for a quarterback who fits it better?  Maybe I’m a bit jaded from watching where Richt has plucked his starting quarterbacks over the years, but it’s not as if Strong wasn’t able to do that very thing with Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville.  Is it that unthinkable for the Longhorns to have a non-Texan starting quarterback?

8 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

The saddest thing you’ll read today.

Bobby Johnson is a member of the CFP selection committee this year.  As a member of the committee, he is subject to the same recusal rules as everyone else.

Except there is no school for which Johnson is recused, because… well, because Vanderbilt.

5 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs