Daily Archives: October 18, 2015

Execution cannot fail Georgia football. It can only be failed by Georgia football.

Sorry if I’m on a roll with this kind of stuff today, but this is such a perfect rebuttal to the “execution is a bullshit excuse, it’s always the coaches’ fault” crowd that I can’t resist sharing.

After Georgia’s first score of the game against Missouri to knot the game up at 3-3, The Bulldogs decided to force the issue with an onside attempt on the ensuing kick.

The decision to do that wasn’t one that was hatched on the spot, however. According to UGA Head Coach Mark Richt, he and his staff knew that was coming well before kickoff against The Tigers.

“We talked about that before the game even started…,” Richt said. “I talked to the defense about it last night. I told them, I said, ‘After the first score, we’re gonna bunt it. Just get ready. If we get it, we still have possession. If not, we’re gonna bow our neck and play defense.’ It’s the risk that you take but we had decided that a couple of days ago.”

The play ended up being unsuccessful. Whether it was Marshall Morgan’s fault for not getting enough on the kick or a situation where the ball took a bad bounce as the oblong football sometimes does, the kick came up short of 10 yards and the Bulldogs couldn’t recover it.

But Richt says that it was a situation where the coaching staff had Mizzou scouted well.

“We really liked what we saw on film…,” Richt said. “Then I’m watching them (Missouri) and they did exactly what we hoped they’d do and I didn’t realize that the kick came short of the 10. It was there. We all knew it was there and we wanted to be aggressive in that way. When you think you’ve got it, it’s a calculated risk.”

From where I sat, which was right along where the ball was kicked, it didn’t look like Morgan hit the ball quite right.  Maybe Richt forgot to remind him how to kick it during the TV timeout.

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“There’s times we’ve just got to call the run and run the run.”

In a night full of perplexing play calls, perhaps the most perplexing – well, except for that bizarre option run play Mizzou ran in its last possession –  was the third-quarter decision to throw a bubble screen pass on first-and-goal on the Missouri five.  For context, consider the four plays Georgia ran before that call:

  • 2nd and 2 at MIZ 23

    (3:27 – 3rd) Greyson Lambert pass complete to Malcolm Mitchell for a loss of 2 yards to the Misso 25

  • 3rd and 4 at MIZ 25

    (3:05 – 3rd) Brendan Douglas run for 4 yds to the Misso 21 for a 1ST down

  • 1st and 10 at MIZ 21

    (2:30 – 3rd) Brendan Douglas run for 8 yds to the Misso 13

  • 2nd and 2 at MIZ 13

    (2:15 – 3rd) Brendan Douglas run for 8 yds to the Misso 5 for a 1ST down

It was one of the rare times during the game when Georgia’s offensive line was getting a consistent push against Missouri’s front and Brendan Douglas was pounding with a set of fresh legs.  And that same pass play had been blown up by the Tigers earlier in the drive because Terry Godwin, who had a great game otherwise, couldn’t block his defender.

And, yet, there it was.  Lather, rinse, repeat in all its glory.  Richt analyzes the call:

“We’ve got a run-pass option and we rip it out there (from Lambert to Mitchell) and end up losing five yards. I mean that’s sickening. There’s times we’ve just got to call the run and run the run. We’ve got to make sure, we do have the ability to do that. Sometimes as a play-caller, you’re like surely he won’t throw it out there and bam there it is and you lose five yards and it’s second-and-goal from the 10. That puts you in a third down and (seven). Now instead of hammering the ball in for seven, you’re taking the risk of throwing the ball down in that red area where there’s not a lot of space.”

That’s a two-sided criticism there.  Richt is chiding his quarterback for being greedy there, a mindset that was on display at other times in the game, as even Lambert admitted.  It looked like Lambert got baited into a throw on that play by a safety who waited until late to move over to that area in coverage.  But it’s also a knock against Lambert’s coordinator, who shouldn’t have even given Lambert the option to throw there in the first place.

Both criticisms are fair.  But Schottenheimer’s being paid a shitload more money to avoid making dumb decisions like that.

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Friendly reminder: the Mumme Poll is open for business

Operators are standing by to take your ballot.

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When Georgia and stats don’t intersect

Let’s see.  Last night Georgia managed to:

  • Go 9-19 on third down conversions.
  • Have a quarterback complete more than 70% (23-32) of his pass attempts.
  • Not lose the turnover margin battle.
  • At 38:55, dominate time of possession.
  • Dominate the first down numbers, 19-6.
  • Hold Missouri to 164 yards of total offense, and, in so doing, keep the Tigers out of the end zone all night, including on the very first series, which started inside the Georgia one-yard line.

And yet despite all that, it took Georgia until there were less than two minutes left in the game to its ninth point to take the lead.

How do you pull off something like that?  Hell, it’s not easy.  You pretty much have to time your screw ups to have maximum effect in killing drives.  Add in, among other things, a missed field goal, field position difficulties in the first half, 5.2 yards per pass attempt, let sit for three or four hours and voilà!  Instant anxiety.

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Nobody’s perfect.

Funny, but I can’t help but wonder how some of you might react to the meltdown of Michigan’s punter yesterday, or Ole Miss’ rapid plummet to Earth in its three games after upsetting Alabama – not to mention losing Nkemdiche when he got hurt playing fullback! – if either had happened to Georgia.

Hell, let’s face it.  Ole Miss is having as disappointing a run right now as Georgia.  However, I bet there are those of you who would swap Freeze for Richt in a heartbeat.

Maybe there aren’t as many football geniuses and players who manage error-free execution outside of Athens as some of you believe there are.

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About optimists and Lambert’s rollercoaster

Once again there were the passes that showed why Greyson Lambert was able to walk into Georgia in July and win the starting quarterback job in less than two months. And once again there were the throws that reminded you why he lost the starting job at Virginia.

It was that kind of game, once again, for Lambert on Saturday against Missouri. And it’s been that kind of season for Lambert, who said being a Bulldog has “been amazing,” and a “huge blessing.”

Then he frankly addressed his own play.

“My performance has been rollercoaster,” Lambert said. “Hopefully this bye week will help me gain some consistency in that. But we’re 5-2 and we’ve got a shot still.”

But can Lambert do much in the bye week to correct the inconsistency, or does it just come in games?

“A little bit of both,” Lambert said. “I’m still kinda focusing, like I did this past week, in what coach Schotty was saying with streaks of completions, and check-downs, getting the ball – whether it’s down the field or short – allowing them to have a shot to make a play. Continuing to get that mindset that it’s not all-or-nothing on each pass.”

I can’t help but shake my head over the vehemence some of you showed me back in August when I suggested that Lambert’s game would need a lot of work if he were to be the type of starting quarterback Georgia needed to succeed this season.

Nonsense, I was assured.  Lambert’s past was irrelevant.  The coaching, the program, the surrounding talent, the lack of all those things when Lambert was fighting through the 2014 season – none of that would matter now, because Lambert was simply in a better place where smarter coaches realized he wasn’t the kid who lost his starting job at Virginia.

It seems, instead, that the Greyson Lambert who suits up in red and black is exactly the kid who lost his starting job at Virginia. That should sober some of you up.  And what should really scare you a little bit is that it was clear last night when the game was on the line and Georgia had to pull out a late scoring drive to win, the playcalling showed the coaches had completely lost confidence in Lambert’s ability to make plays consistently.

My point here isn’t to slam Lambert, who’s a good kid trying to do his best.  Regardless of how skilled you think Richt is at developing quarterbacks, though (and he is), he’s not a miracle worker.  Neither is Schottenheimer.  The point is that this program had warts coming into the season and the coaches can only do so much to mask some of those.  To the extent that you brush off real issues like how quickly a quarterback who lost a starting job in the spring at one school can be transformed into a competent SEC starting quarterback in the fall… well, that’s how you leave yourself open for mockery by people who don’t have such a rosy outlook on things.

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About “realists” and the fan base

Those of you who sit in front of your keyboards and proclaim you’re in touch with the inner feelings of Georgia’s fan base and are positive that your pessimism and anger about where the program is at after those two rough losses is a very common attitude (I had one commenter claim last week that it extends to more than half of everyone), perhaps you didn’t notice that Sanford Stadium was very close to full capacity last night and that those who were there were very much into the game, as unglamorous as it was.  But such was the case.

There is little doubt that the 2015 season has been a disappointment so far, but the idea that the peasants are this close to storming the castle with torches and pitchforks is… well, not particularly realistic.

Those of you who express yourselves in a blog comment thread or read message boards to get your impression of how your fellow Georgia fans are feeling these days need to remember that the college football corner of the Internet is merely a hot house, and Georgia’s is a fairly exotic one at that.  There are a huge number of people out there who manage to follow Georgia football passionately without ever using a drop of bandwidth.

Georgia is still in a division race.  Recruiting is going well.  The money hasn’t stopped coming in.  What that all means is that the level of dissatisfaction isn’t at an apocalyptic level.

Keep it real, fellas.

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