Daily Archives: August 24, 2015

An embarrassment of riches

It’s a good thing they can get all four of ’em on the field at the same ti… oh, wait.

Maybe Pruitt needs to run a 1-6-3 1-6-4 scheme.

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UPDATE: 

Hell, maybe they can get them all on the field at the same time.  Good lord, that’s scary to consider.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Damn, CBS.

Now this qualifies as a bold SEC preview prediction.  (As noted, written by Jerry Hinnen, as voted on the CBS Sports college football panel.)

Coach of the Year: Mark Richt, Georgia

Is it now or never for Richt? On paper, Jeremy Pruitt’s experienced, talented defense should be the best the Dawgs have enjoyed in years, and Nick Chubb gives Richt’s offense the kind of backfield bell cow his best offenses have always been built around. Meanwhile, no other SEC East team looks nearly as complete, and the West champ will have run a far more taxing divisional gauntlet. If Richt can’t end the Dawgs’ SEC title drought in 2015, it’s fair to ask when he will — but that’s also why it’s never been more likely that he actually will.

Great googly mooglies.  As much as I’d like to go there, I can’t bring myself to click the keys.  But as my mom used to say, Jerry, from your lips to Gawd’s ears.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

“I know how to run the ball now.”

Nick Chubb, quote machine.

In back-to-back games, the freshman crossed the 30-carry mark, something Gurley never did at Georgia. Chubb’s stamina and toughness kept him mobile for most of the season, and even when he tired, his mental fortitude kept him on the field and off the sidelines.

“I was tired almost every game, but I didn’t really show it,” Chubb said.

“If you’re tired, just go in and score and get off the field. That’s my mode, I just go in and score and get off the field, and I won’t be tired anymore.”

I don’t know if he’s Georgia’s greatest running back since Herschel Walker, but he’s definitely Georgia’s greatest wordsmith since Walker.

Only one worry…

And as long as his contacts are clear and secure, he’s nearly invincible.

“If they come out, I’m coming out,” Chubb said with a laugh.

“That’s definitely my weakness right there — my contacts [falling out].”

So now I’ve gone from being concerned over keeping Sharpies out to contact lenses in.  It’s always something.

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Filed under Georgia Football

And the award for the position group having the best preseason goes to…

Let Brian Schottenheimer present the award.

““We like tight ends here, so we’re going to use them in different ways to keep people off-balanced by using them in different spots,” Schottenheimer said. “Those four guys have had maybe the best camp of everybody. Done a real good job. Again, from Jay Rome down to Jordan Davis, all those guys have done a good job.”

Between having a new offensive coordinator who loves utilizing the position and quarterbacks still getting their feet wet in the passing game, next to having ridiculous depth at tailback, that is a nice security blanket to be able to hang on to.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Auburn, “a place of football oddities”

Here’s a good piece from David Wunderlich about how Gus and Boom aren’t exactly what we expect.  To wit,

… There is just one potential worry spot, though. Muschamp has done his best work in battling spread schemes. There have been a few exceptions here and there, but that’s his calling card. AU was 2-0 against Urban Meyer during Muschamp’s DC stint in 2006-07, his Texas defenses were all great (though less great in a rebuilding 2010) while facing almost exclusively spread offenses in the Big 12, and he shut down Johnny Manziel in the second half of a win over A&M in 2012.

Oddly, he’s not been as great at stopping more traditional offenses despite being a Nick Saban disciple. If you look at the highest yards per play allowed against FBS competition in his time at Florida, you find Alabama at No. 1 (2014) and No. 11 (2011), 2013 Florida State second, LSU at third (2011) and tenth (2013), and Georgia at fifth (2013) and sixth (2014). Mark Richt has been a particular thorn in his side, dropping 37 and 45 points, respectively, on his 2006-07 Auburn defenses.

That’s not to say that Muschamp was a bad hire for Auburn, but he’s going to be facing Alabama, LSU, and Georgia every year. You can add Arkansas and its paleolithic offense to that list as well. The marriage of Malzahn and Muschamp will almost certainly prove to be a wildly successful one, but it’s going to take both of them at times to keep the wins coming in.

Auburn has a formerly pass happy guy now known for the run and a Saban acolyte who stops the spread but isn’t as good against the pro set…

All worth considering.  But you know there’s one consistency about Auburn that nobody’s really talking about – the Tigers’ tend not to live up to high preseason expectations.  I’ll be curious to see if Gus manages to rise above Auburn’s lofty top ten rankings in 2015.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Envy and jealousy, “This is not a sports story. It never was.” edition

If you don’t read anything else today, read Charlie Pierce’s take on Baylor.  It’s a tour de force from start to finish.

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy

Death of a recent streak

As I just remarked, in Columbia, it’s the Year of the Questions.  And I’m not the only one who has them.

For the first time since 2010, South Carolina will open the college football season unranked. Before we get to that, take a moment to say a few kind words over the deceased streak that just ended. The Gamecocks were ranked entering each of the last four seasons – No. 12 in 2011, No. 9 in 2012, No. 6 in 2013 and No. 9 in 2014.

Prior to that run, the most consecutive preseason polls the Gamecocks had been ranked was two (2001 and 2002). In fact, from 1962 (the first year the team’s complete rankings history is available) through 2010, South Carolina was ranked in the preseason four times combined.

The preseason Associated Press poll was released Sunday. The Gamecocks were nowhere on it. Not even in the “others receiving votes.”

That’s both a helluva tribute to the job Spurrier has done and observation about how down South Carolina football appears from the end of last season.  Kendall’s right that a 3-0 start and things will be right back to where they’re expected, based on Spurrier’s records, but getting there… well, that’s the question.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy

The case for 10-2

Since I’m working out my SEC predictions post, it stands to reason that I’m thinking hard about where I expect Georgia’s regular season to wind up from the relatively uninformed perch I occupy with a week-plus of preseason practice still to go.  I haven’t made my mind up yet, but the header is a fair indication of where I’m basing my analysis; in other words, while I’m not quite ready to go out on a limb and call for ten regular season wins, my take on 2015 seems to be going from that mark as a starting point.

Georgia won nine regular season games in 2014.  The funny thing about that is, before that season started, it’s about where most of us expected the Dawgs would wind up.  Unfortunately, our expectations, along with a lot of other folks’, got ratched up along the way, which resulted in a mark that was simultaneously expected and disappointing.

With that in mind, looking for Georgia to add one more to the win column in 2015 isn’t that huge a reach.  (It’s not a slam dunk, either, mind you.)  But as I ask myself for justification, I keep coming back to four factors, in no particular order.

  • The defense.  I’m not all in, if that’s what you’re expecting.  The descent of Todd Grantham is still lurking in the back of my brain.  But I am convinced about a couple of things.  One, there’s a clear increase in the level of talent that Jeremy Pruitt has at his disposal.  And I think that’s going to payoff at every level of the defense, including the defensive line, probably the biggest area of concern from the end of last season.  Two, as I’ve said, I’m a believer in a defensive coordinator’s impact on a defense in his second year of coaching.  And before you yell Grantham’s name, think back to what happened in 2011, starting with the Mississippi State game and rolling all the way through the first half of the SECCG.  That defense balled.  (I look at Martinez as an extension of VanGorder’s regime, so he’s the exception that proves my rule, in case you’re wondering.)
  • Advanced stats.  Again, it’s not so much that I’m all in.  It’s more that I can’t discount what they tell you about a team.  And what they say is that Georgia’s operated at a high level, relative to most other programs.  The problem, as we know all too well, is that Georgia hasn’t operated at a high level consistently.  Which means advanced stats aren’t a guarantee of ten wins so much as they strongly indicate to me Georgia won’t be much worse than a nine-win team.
  • Offensive strengths > offensive weaknesses.  Really, if you must have questions about the starting quarterback and depth at wide receiver, how nice is that depth at running back and the quality of the offensive line to have as a fall back?  As a bonus, if you look up and down the schedule, most of Georgia’s opponents are facing greater offensive woes than Schottenheimer has to work around.
  • The schedule.  More specifically, the early schedule, which sets up nicely for a certain game on October 3rd:  two cupcakes, including the opener; an SEC road game against the division’s weakest opponent; and Spurrier coming to Athens with a team that has more questions than any he’s coached in a few years.  Admittedly, there are no guarantees in life, but those four games are certainly amenable to sorting out the quarterback question, developing depth and giving the starters the opportunity to stay fresher.  Not to mention there’s the potential momentum of rolling into that Alabama game as an undefeated top ten squad.  If Georgia manages to make hay while the sun shines, it makes it that much easier to get to ten wins.

If I’m so rosy about all that, why two losses as a benchmark?  Well, to start with, I think it’s prudent to figure on a split with the teams from the West, which is not to say that Georgia couldn’t surprise, but, still.  And there’s that pesky brain fart factor.  I don’t pencil in the Florida game as an automatic loss anymore (thanks, Aaron Murray, Todd Gurley and Jarvis Jones!), but I do pencil in one unexpected L until proven otherwise.

So… that’s where I’m at this Monday morning.  Where are you?

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Filed under Georgia Football

The (wins) Matrix

I’ve started pondering what to say in my annual SEC predictions post and I find myself growing more receptive to advanced stats in my analysis.  Something else that’s registering with me is Dave Bartoo’s wins matrix, which you can see here.  The gist of his calculations is very simple:  79.8 percent of all teams have been plus or minus two games of their previous season win total.

Yes, there are always going to be outliers.  Sometimes a team like 2013 Georgia gets crushed by injuries.  And sometimes a team like 2010 Auburn emerges unexpectedly because a unique talent like Cam Newton.  (There’s also the Malzahn rabbit’s foot that comes and goes.)  But in any given year, essentially four out of every five teams’ win totals are going to putter along fairly consistently from the season before.

If you want to see how Dave’s math projects for all P5 teams this season, here you go.

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Filed under Stats Geek!

Can we talk?

Andy Staples, in response to a question about which football school has the best setup for media coverage:

… That said, the best setup is Georgia. Claude Felton is the best sports information director in the business, and his staff is top notch. Claude understands that it’s usually possible to protect the school’s interests and help us do our jobs at the same time. It probably helps that Mark Richt isn’t a complete control freak like many of his colleagues. Georgia allows more players to be interviewed than most programs of that stature, and they do a good job trying to make sure those interviews take place in relaxed settings, which typically produce better questions and answers. All the Bulldogs assistants are allowed to give interviews, which is kind of a big deal these days. The Nick Saban/Bill Belichick “one voice” philosophy is filtering through college football. And it’s fine when your team is winning national titles. When it isn’t, all you get are boring stories about mediocre teams.

So, I guess at least Georgia isn’t boring.  That’s something.  (Although it sounds like Richt is letting his inner control freak flag fly a little more this offseason than he has in the past.)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles