Daily Archives: September 11, 2015

Hey, it’s Vanderbilt.

I’m seeing the various keys to the game pieces that come out this time of the week, and they’re about what you’d expect:  Mason can coach a little defense, Vandy’s defensive front seven is SEC-level competent, Ralph Webb is a tough running back, etc.  The cautious part of the punditry is warning that may be good enough for Vanderbilt to hang with Georgia for a while and for the Commodore’s to cover what is an admittedly sizeable spread for a SEC playing at home.

Okay, fine.  Here’s the other part of the equation.  Vanderbilt’s passing game is nothing to write home about and its red zone offense was truly awful against a Western Kentucky defense that, by the way, gave up almost 200 more yards last night against Louisiana Tech.

Is Vanderbilt better than it was last year?  Sure, but that’s a pretty low bar you’re setting with that question.

The problem I see in calling this as a close game is that even if you believe Mason’s defense can slow Georgia’s rushing attack down for a while (and remember how many consecutive games Nick Chubb has managed to gain 100+ yards as you ponder that) and Webb is able to find some running room of his own, that still leaves a pretty large imbalance when it comes to passing.

And I haven’t even mentioned special teams, where Georgia’s depth gives it the advantage.  So why give the cautious credence here?  His-toe-ree.

Yes, the 2013 game was one of those games.  You know the kind of game I’m talking about.  But even that took Vanderbilt’s best team of, what, the last quarter century at least, until the end to get the win against a Georgia team missing almost every starting skill position player on offense that had to deal with two questionable penalties that clearly affected the game.

Lost in all that is the real cause behind the Dawgs blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead, one of the most spectacular special teams meltdowns of the Richt era.  First came Damian Swann’s fumbled punt return, which led to the first Vandy score.  Then came the sphincter-tightening bad snap that Barber could only helplessly corral at the Georgia 13 that quickly led to another score.  And it all unraveled from there.

So if you want my main key for tomorrow, it’s quite simple.  Follow Hippocrates’ lead:  First Do No Harm.  No stupid turnovers.  No questionable calls.  Competent special teams.

If this team is truly ready to take the next step and perform as an élite team, it’s in games like this where it needs to start.  We all know what Georgia is capable of when things are clicking against a good team.  It’s time to show us that games like tomorrow’s can be drama free.



Filed under Georgia Football

“It’s harder than ever to find a quarterback.”

This (h/t Gatorhater27) doesn’t sound too good.

Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said the new crop of college quarterbacks were flummoxed by a simple question about an “under” front, one of the most common defensive alignments. “Whoa, no one’s ever told me ‘front’ before,” he remembers one prospect saying. “No one’s ever talked to me about reading these defenses.”

Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley said he had the same results when he asked prospects a question about defenses shifting from a common scheme called “cover 2” to an equally mundane tactic called “cover 3.” Hue Jackson, the offensive coordinator from the Bengals, said he had to dumb down his questions, while Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said some QBs failed to grasp things as basic as understanding a common play call. “You have to teach these kids the absolute basics,” he said.

Even Baylor’s Brice Petty, who resented not being picked until the 103rd selection in the draft, claiming he “was thrown away like I couldn’t learn it,” acknowledges having a few holes in his game, even coming from that ridiculously prolific offense he was in.

Petty admits to grappling with tasks such as hearing and calling the play, identifying defensive backs in coverage and identifying which player in the defensive backfield was the “mike” linebacker, the central part of the defense whose location teams base their offensive line protections on. “As crazy as it sounds, at Baylor, we did not point out the ‘mike’ linebacker,” Petty said.

Petty was unfamiliar with making adjustments to the play or the formation before the snap.

“Honestly, I wish I’d done a little bit more as far as being proactive to get into a pro style [offense],” he said, singling out the need to decipher fronts or coverages. “It was things I have never seen before.”

I can see why St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead speaks of the apocalypse: It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve.

So what’s a mother of a professional league supposed to do?

NFL officials agree that the new wave of quarterbacks will need more time than previous generations, but some fret that today’s roster limits and time constraints may prevent them from getting the time they need to learn or develop. “It might become like major league baseball now, where you take a guy that you think will be able to play in three, four, five years,” said Pettine.

I think that’s what they have the minor leagues for, buddy.  Of course, those things cost money and you guys sure do like your player development freebies.

Hey, has anyone considered the possibility that the spread is college football’s secret attempt to force the NFL to drop its three-year-after-high-school eligibility requirement?


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

Mike Bobo may be gone, but balance never left.

Although it feels like Mark Richt has changed the definition.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt expects his offense to be balanced this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the Bulldogs’ offense — one that threw 14 passes and ran the ball 38 times against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday — has any plans to get that ratio closer to 50-50.

“If people just overload us in the run game, we’ve got to be able to throw it well and vice versa,” Richt said. “People just start playing two-deep and start playing coverage on us and doubling the receivers and things of that nature, we’d better be able to run the ball well. That’s what I consider, the ability to handle those situations is balance for me.”

Yay for that!  That’s the hallmark of a good offensive coordinator – take what the defense gives you… and keeps on giving you.  And when that changes, have the ability to counter.

That’s my kind of balance, too.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Derek Mason thinks the world of Kirby Smart.

Mason’s just like Nick Saban, running that defense.

Mason talked to other candidates last winter, but said that, like other head coaches with a defensive background, he thought he could handle the added responsibility of taking on those duties.

“I looked up to Garry Patterson of TCU, he’s done a good job,” Mason said. “He’s got a coordinator, but he really does a good job of structuring his program. Coach (Nick) Saban (at Alabama) has done the same thing. Those are guys that have coordinators but for them just in term of the structure, they know what they want, they implement what they need and they have coaches in place to help them get the job done. I’ve got a great defensive staff that helps me get the job done, but I know what I want so for me that was the best move.”



Filed under SEC Football

“I’d say that education is more valuable than however much money we might give you.”

I’m sure there are plenty of you who share Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins‘ distaste for filthy lucre, at least as far as sharing it with student-athletes.

The president rejects the notion that Notre Dame is morally obliged to share its football revenue with those playing the game. “I don’t think there’s a compulsion or some demand of justice that we do it,” he says.

“Morally obliged”?  Well, he does have Rev. in his title.  What is unclear is why there’s something apparently immoral about paying players, but not, say, the school’s athletic director or head coach.  Or why opting into a system that requires certain compromises in the name of broadcast revenue is immune from such lofty philosophical considerations.

Jenkins is also either a little bit arrogant or delusional in his insistence that Notre Dame would do just fine walking away from all that revenue other parties, like Under Armour and NBC are morally obliged to pay his school.

Finally, there is the pending lawsuit filed against the N.C.A.A. and the Power 5 conferences by the well-known sports lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, who argues that the value of student-athletes has been illegally capped by athletic scholarships. If he prevails: an open market.

Or, as Father Jenkins puts it: “Armageddon.”

“That’s when we leave,” he says. “We will not tolerate that. Then it really does become a semipro team.”

He believes that the drama and popularity of college athletics are rooted in the fact that the student-athletes are amateurs. “If they make mistakes, you know, it’s not like they’re professionals,” he says.

But if a pay-to-play dynamic is applied to college sports, he suggests, something is lost. “If you go that semipro route, we’ll see,” he says. “But I’m just not sure that we’ll not end up just a second-tier, uninteresting pro league.”

Father Jenkins says that he could see two separate collegiate athletic associations — one following the semiprofessional model, the other dedicated to preserving what he calls “the essential educational character of college athletics.” In belonging to the latter, he says, Notre Dame would be just fine, financially and otherwise.

“If tomorrow you told me, you just can’t do what you want to do in athletics and you’re going to have to shut it down, and we would have club sports, something like that — I don’t think it would significantly impact the revenue,” Father Jenkins says. Some alumni and donors might revolt, he acknowledges. “But just in terms of a financial proposition, I don’t think it would impact the academy.”

Now there’s a level where he’s right about that.  Football generates millions of dollars in profit for ND, but it’s a drop in the bucket in the context of the school’s entire budget, so, yeah, the money wouldn’t be missed.  But that cuts both ways – if he’s so adamant about not sharing the fruits of the players’ labor with them, why even bother with COA stipends, which Notre Dame is already paying?  And why even bother participating in the system now?

I’m sure Brian Kelly would be happy to keep collecting his multi-million dollar annual salary to coach club football.  And everyone would still watch the Irish play what he insists would pass for football.  Go ahead, Rev.  Best of luck with that.


Filed under Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, The NCAA

How to score touchdowns

Okay, I lied – I’m not done looking at the ULM game.  But I think you’ll agree with me that bringing your attention to this Jake Rowe post breaking down Nick Chubb’s two touchdown runs then is worth changing my mind.

There is so much going on in those two plays it’s almost hard to list everything:  timely blocking, great mechanics, excellent work by the coaches on the second run to get Lambert to check out of the original call and, more than anything, Chubb’s uncanny vision and cutback ability.  He’s tough and fast, but it’s those last attributes that make so many of his great runs look easy.

By the way, those of you who are royally offended by cut blocking may want to skip over the details of the second touchdown.  Just sayin’.


Filed under Georgia Football

Friday morning buffet

Congrats.  You’ve made it this far, so nibble a little.

  • Are preseason polls better predictors of team strength than polls later in the season?  The answer may surprise you.
  • Another excellent piece from Chris Brown, this one on the power running game.
  • “A lot of kickers need coaching. Obviously I need it, and I go somewhere else to get it.”
  • We have an easy winner for Moron Of the Week.
  • Jerry Hinnen’s got a nice preview of the Georgia-Vandy game here.  Vandy’s bad in the secondary, so there’s another reason to see if Lambert can stretch the field more this week.
  • This Saturday, Florida will deploy its ninth different starting quarterback since 2009.  Between that and the musical chairs at the receivers coach position, it’s no wonder the Gator passing game has been almost nonexistent.
  • SEC coaches talking behind the backs of SEC West head coaches.
  • Even Josh Dobbs is amazed to learn that Tennessee’s last win as a ranked team came at the end of the 2007 season.


Filed under Gators Gators, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics