Daily Archives: February 19, 2016

“Obviously, I’d like to stay in coaching…”

Behold, the highlight clip of Ray Goff’s last regular season coaching job, the 1995 win over Georgia Tech (h/t).

That’s got a little something for everyone, doesn’t it?  Classic ESPN Sports Center coverage, Hines Ward heroics (he got the game ball and gave it to Goff), ugly field goal attempt for the win – even a Yellow Jacket cheap shot of a Georgia player that resulted in a dumb penalty.

Ward finished the game 23-33, 242 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (he would do even better in the Peach Bowl that year).  And that was without having Georgia’s best receiver, Hines Ward, to throw to.  Maybe Smart should bring him back as a quarterbacks coach.

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Filed under Georgia Football

You can only wind a watch so tightly.

I will admit that one reason I had misgivings about hiring Kirby Smart as Georgia’s head coach was due to something he said on the radio last summer.

“That cell phone you’ve got is the death of coaches,” Smart said. “Every college coach I talk to won’t say it on record, but every one’s thinking, ‘Should I go to the League?’ Because you don’t have the same requirements. It’s different. The hours are different. But the recruiting is non-stop. Today I was on the boat, and my phone was blowing up. It’s non-stop.

“You can put the phone away in pro ball. For three or four months, players have the CBA where you can’t do certain things. For us, it’s non-stop. I’ve got recruits that will text and call in the middle of the night, and I’m with my family. But you’ve got to dedicate time to that, or you can’t do it.”

Alabama has brought in the No. 1-ranked recruiting class for five straight years. Smart described the mindset with Nick Saban as always being behind in recruiting. If a coach thinks he’s ahead, Saban will remind him that he’s not. Alabama has the luxury of a huge recruiting staff, which many schools can’t afford. If a coach can’t handle a recruit, a staffer can, because otherwise, other schools can pounce.

“If you don’t, somebody (else) will,” Smart said. “That’s the part why I say college coaches are always looking to go. If you’re not a niche recruiter, as you get older or less active as a recruiter, you become less valuable.”

Was Smart, as he put it, looking to go?  He doesn’t say he was, but it sounds there like he’d spent some time contemplating the question.  I’m not saying that Smart’s value as a potential head coach hire is solely tied up in his ability to recruit, but if the fire in the belly had started to diminish, even a little, it would have made it harder to justify entrusting the job to someone with no previous head coaching experience.

Fortunately, events of the past two or so months have put my concerns to rest.  Smart may not have locked down every recruit he wanted, but I don’t think anyone can say that was due to a lack of effort on his part or his staff’s.  And judging from this, he hasn’t exactly slowed down since signing day.

On a typical day now in the office: “I got up about 6:30 today and got to the office a little bit before 7:30. We do a lot of quality control work, defensively, offensively in the morning from 8 to 11. The coaches are in watching tape, deciding how we’re going to do this. Each opponent we play, we’re studying what we did last year, offensively, defensively, what we’re going to do going forward. Me personally, I’m taking phone calls from high school coaches and recruits at different times intermittently in the morning and they’ll be a lunch break. We’ll let coaches go, they get an hour to eat, work out and get everything done they need to do. Then we start back in the afternoon on recruiting and we go from about 1 to 3:30 evaluating prospects, making decisions on 2018 kids.”

Jeez, one hour for lunch and then get your asses back in the office, boys, you’ve got 2018 waiting on you.  I don’t want to say the whole thing is obsessive, but it’s definitely focused.

The reason I don’t want to say it’s obsessive is because Smart appears to have that concern in the back of his mind, too.

Smart pulled in a top-10 recruiting class earlier this month, but he wants his assistants to put their families first, and he says the right recruits respect that.

“They constantly call you and tweet you. There’s some kind of contact nonstop every day with a recruit,” Smart told 680 The Fan. “I want my coaches to be as active as I was as an assistant. But they’ve got to manage their families, too. That’s important to all of us.

“The good recruits, the people we want in our family, they respect that. The kids we recruited this last year, they respected the fact I’m putting my family first when it comes to Sunday and going to church with them and doing things with my family. They’re going to appreciate me more for that than abandoning my family to show them attention. It’s a good balance.”

In fact, he believes a little sanity is a good recruiting tool.  I can see his point there.  As a recruit, I wouldn’t want to worry that my coach might be so wrapped up in the job that his health could eventually suffer enough such that he’d have to walk away from the program.  (Or worse, mail it in a year or two before exiting.  See, for example:  Meyer, Urban.)

I’m sure being given the keys to the castle has been what Smart needed to make sure his batteries stayed charged.  I just hope he can keep his balance as he gets established in the job.

17 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Of anonymice and ego scoops

If you like to read the occasional in the weeds piece about sports journalism standards (such as they are), you’ll find this Columbia Journalism Review article (h/t) about how outlets like ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and Fox Sports attempt to balance anonymous sourcing and the need to break news about incredibly insignificant matters of interest.

HINT:  I’m using the word “balance” in its very loosest sense.

ANOTHER HINT:  I’m using the phrase “of interest” in the sense of “sad”.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

The world is treating me bad.

Fox Sports piece entitled “The 18 most miserable fanbases in sports” has Georgia’s at number one in college football.

Why Georgia? Plenty of college teams are way worse — take two schools mentioned above, Kansas and Wake Forest — but no one really cares about football at those schools, except in the odd year where they’re good or when Charlie Weis is getting run out of town. So, our list has to be hardcore football schools that haven’t been playing very good football or, in the case of our No. 1 team, have been playing fine football but just can’t put it together for one season to win the dominant SEC. Mark Richt had 10-plus wins in nine of 15 seasons in Athens and got canned, which should tell you something about expectations at Georgia.

Eh, don’t sweat it.  When Kirby hoists that national championship trophy next January, he’ll turn those frowns upside down.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Mark Emmert is about to have a Jim Harbaugh meeting.

‘Cause, you know, the NCAA is concerned about the kids.

“Too much”?  How so, boss?

Now there’s the slippery slope NCAA president we’ve all come to know and love.  Anyway, if the NCAA does anything other than ban spring break football practice, I will be well and truly shocked.

 

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Filed under The NCAA

Disrupt the damned ball, Smart.

Kirby Smart’s not buying any of that “turnovers are totally random” bullshit.

Kirby Smart, now Georgia’s head coach, puts a premium on creating turnovers more than he does getting a sack.

“Every pass rusher wants sacks,” Smart explained to a coaching clinic in Atlanta a few weeks ago. “All they want is sacks. ‘I want sacks. I want sacks. I want sacks.’ I don’t care about the sacks. I want the ball. OK, it’s about the ball, the ball, the ball…Sacks are great. It takes away a possession. Probably about 90 percent of the time, you take a sack, you’re going to have to punt.  But 100 percent of the time, you turn it over, your possession is over.”

Alabama’s defense flipped around its fortunes on creating turnovers going from 10th in the SEC and 65th nationally in 2014 to tops in the SEC and 13th nationally. Alabama gained 27 turnovers last season en route to winning the national title after coming up with 20 in 2014.

“Almost one more turnover a game,” Smart said. “Everywhere I’ve ever been, you get what you demand. Bobby Bowden taught me that (when Smart was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 2002 and 2003). …So if you demand it, you’ll get it, but if you let it go by the wayside and just say ‘Ok, guys, we’ve got to be No. 1 in turnovers. Next. OK, guys, we’ve got to be good in special teams. Next.’ No, you’ve got to emphasize it and you’ve got to demand it.”

Hey, if it’s that simple, I’m all for it.

As Weiszer points it, it’s not as if the previous defensive staff didn’t work at ball disruption.  It just get much in the way of results last season, as it forced seven less than it did in 2014. ( I have to admit that “…but if you let it go by the wayside and just say ‘Ok, guys, we’ve got to be No. 1 in turnovers. Next. OK, guys, we’ve got to be good in special teams. Next.” bit kind of sounds familiar, though.)

One thing about being really good at ball disruption on the defensive side is that it lets you be a little more aggressive on the offensive side.  If you look at Georgia’s splits from 2015, you’ll see a peak of 11 offensive turnovers in October followed by a rapid fall off:  four in November and none in the bowl game.  That’s good, but it was accomplished at the price of playcalling that was extremely conservative in order to minimize risk.

One positive Smart and Tucker have working in their favor this season is an experienced secondary.  We’ll see where things go from there.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

2015’s “most underrated offense in college football” may offer hope for Georgia’s 2016 offense.

Given that Arkansas’ offense last season finished first nationally in offensive S&P+ running a scheme largely hatched from the mind of Georgia’s new offensive coordinator, aided by line blocking coached by Georgia’s new offensive line coach, you might want to take a peek at this Ian Boyd piece about what the Hogs did.

This is how you rank first in success rate and third in IsoPPP+, by consistently manufacturing situations where the QB can quickly and easily get the ball to a skill player in space. These days the spread offense is how most teams prefer to accomplish that goal, but Arkansas proves it’s also possible within a pro-style system with bigger bodies on the field.

Yeah, I’d like that.

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Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics