Pyke, the senior who moved to that spot in the spring, will remain there as Georgia returns to practice on Monday, head coach Kirby Smart confirmed.
But the left side of the offensive line will see some experimentation.
Isaiah Wynn will play left tackle about 60 pecent of the time, and 40 percent at left guard. When Wynn moves to left guard, sophomore Kendall Baker and graduate transfer Tyler Catalina will see snaps at left tackle.
Dyshon Sims and Lamont Gaillard will begin as the guards, Smart said.
Pyke moved to right tackle before spring practice and stayed there most of the time, on the first team. He started at right guard as a sophomore and junior.
“We don’t expect to move him back to guard right now, because we we feel we have more guards than tackles right now,” Smart said.
Obviously, with that “right now” qualifier, they’re leaving themselves room to maneuver — largely, I suspect, out of a desire to see how Catalina shapes up as an option to start at tackle. In any event, there appear to be plenty of questions left to answer over the next four weeks.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart says he isn’t going full Alabama with his approach as far as running his team but it is very similar. “It’s not an exact footprint of the last nine years at Alabama, but it’s close.”
The Big 12’s TV partners are pushing back on the conference’s plans to expand.
ESPN and Fox Sports believe that expansion with schools from outside the power five conferences will water down the Big 12 and make it less valuable, not more, sources said. But the Big 12 is financially motivated to add more teams. A clause in the conference’s media deals stipulate that if the Big 12 expands, it would receive pro rata increases in its rights fees.
The original deals pay $2.6 billion over 13 years, or about $20 million per school annually. Expansion by two schools, theoretically, would force ESPN and Fox combined to pay an additional $40 million per year in rights fees. Expansion by four teams could mean another $80 million per year.
Both networks, according to sources, are digging their heels in against paying those kinds of increases based on expansion with schools outside the power five.
In other words, the networks just aren’t that into your conference, Bob. (Not that you’re commenting publicly about it.) Especially when expansion boils down to nothing more than short-term greed.
The drive to expand is fueled by the opportunity to almost immediately generate more money for its schools. The conference’s TV deals run through 2024-25 and the Big 12 already trails the rest of the power five conferences in revenue, so expansion stands out as the only way for the Big 12 to increase revenue.
Any newcomers to the league wouldn’t be expected to receive a full share of TV revenue for multiple years, meaning more money for the 10 existing members…
… The conference already has announced plans to start a football championship game next year, which could mean another $25 million to $30 million in revenue. Absent a conference channel, the only other way for the Big 12 to significantly grow revenue in the near term is to add schools and activate that pro rata clause in its media contracts.
That kind of cash grab, sources say, is rubbing ESPN and Fox the wrong way because any new schools would not carry the profile of most power five schools, which is what the networks are paying for.
But think of all the cachet Cincinnati as a card-carrying member of the Big 12 would carry, guys.
The best part of this is that the networks previously displayed an unusual altruism towards the conference.
There’s also some history here. Executives at ESPN and Fox remember 2010 when they helped hold the conference together against the Pac-12’s raid by keeping rights fees at the 12-team level, even though the Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams — Nebraska left for the Big Ten, while Colorado departed for the Pac-12. That was under the previous Big 12 administration led by former Commissioner Dan Beebe.
Maybe Bob and his presidents see that as a sign of weakness. In any event, pissing off the hands that write the checks may work in the short run — both ESPN and Fox are stuck with the language they negotiated — but one thing about all contracts is that they eventually expire. And when that happens…
Another option would be to go along with the increases now and not support the Big 12 in 2025, when the grant of rights and the TV deals expire.
Should that turn out to be the case, it won’t just be the TV deals that expire.
GN: Can either Georgia or Florida challenge Tennessee in the East?
Danielson: As for the rest of the teams in that division, I just don’t see it. Georgia has problems at running back. Greyson Lambert isn’t the guy to move that team forward. They are weak at linebacker, weak at wide receiver.
Weak at linebacker? Shit, I thought that was one of the team’s bright spots.
I don’t want to say I’m obsessed about what happened to Georgia’s offense last season, but I do remain curious about finding some reasons why a ten-win season felt disappointing (beyond the obvious head-scratcher about what was behind the game plan against Florida).
I spent some time yesterday scrounging around cfbstats.com in that regard and did turn up one thing: the demise of the big-play passing game. Here’s Georgia’s national ranking for pass plays of 40-yards or more over the past four seasons:
Georgia survived not having a quarterback who could make big passing plays in 2014 because of its running game, Mason’s school record setting pass completion percentage, its ability to convert on third-down and superior starting field position. In other words, it substituted greater efficiency for explosiveness. In 2015, it lost its edge in efficiency as well, and the end result was serious scoring atrophy.
I don’t bring this up because I’m living in the past, or because I feel the need to rehash things some of you no doubt don’t want to hear. What I’m trying to see at this point is what steps Chaney has to take to revive Georgia’s offense, because finishing ninth in the SEC in scoring at a little more than 26 points per game isn’t gonna cut it. I don’t expect Georgia’s offense to be all things to all men this season, but it seems to me that the big call Chaney and Smart have to make is whether it suits Georgia’s personnel better to chase being more efficient than the offense was a year ago, or whether looking for a more explosive passing game is the way to go.
Which is kind of the quarterback debate in a nutshell.
One more thing… what really got me started on this yesterday wasn’t looking at offensive stats. It was looking at how good Georgia’s defense was at preventing the big pass play. Check out the national rankings in that regard over the same time period.
I’m not surprised at the jump registered after Grantham’s departure, given Pruitt’s stated philosophical emphasis on not giving up the big play. But I am a bit gobsmacked at how bad the defense was preventing the big pass in 2012, when there were future NFL players all over the place.
What’s really interesting to me, though, is that last season Alabama ranked 73rd nationally in that regard. Was that the price paid for having a lock down run defense, and, if so, is that a trade off we should expect from Georgia this season?
Take a look at this chart the guys at Roll Bama Roll posted:
This is why Greg Sankey is hailed as a genius. And why Mike Slive was. We’re crazy about college football, so much so that we’re willing to pay through the nose for it.
It’s also why ESPN is able to call the shots as it does, even as it cuts against the grain of why we fans in the South make the SEC the powerhouse that it is.
Five of the seven most expensive tickets for SEC games this season are at pro venues, places wholly removed from the campus experience: Virginia Tech-Tennessee at Bristol Motor Speedway; Alabama-USC in Dallas; the World’s Largest Outdoor Sexual Harrassment festival in the Jaguars’ house, etc. And, it particularly makes no sense when the two teams at a neutral site already have gorgeous palatial stadiums, insane fans, and picturesque campuses — the LSU Tigers should not be traveling to Lambeau Field to meet the Wisconsin Badgers. Alabama fans should be able to see Traveler cross the midfield as the Trojan plants his gladius at midfield.
Is there anyone among Sankey’s bosses who cares about that? As long as the checks keep rolling in, I doubt it.
One more thing regarding those neutral site games — Georgia loses a home game to play in Atlanta, where the tickets are a relative bargain at $207 a pop. Will there be a pro rata reduction in the student athletic fee to make up for having one less game in Athens this season?
Everyone’s 3-4 is different. Each coach has his wrinkles and tweaks.
Aranda’s scheme isn’t the same as the 3-4 Saban employs in Tuscaloosa. Players and coaches said Aranda’s system is bent on deception and movement. One player, for example, isn’t limited to one position. Neal is playing three: defensive end in the base 3-4, outside linebacker on passing downs and a defensive tackle role in other formations.
“Dave does some things that are really different,” said Ron Roberts, the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana who worked with Aranda at Delta State. “He’s on the cutting edge in what he’s doing.”
Roberts, a defensive-minded coach, said he and Aranda share about 80 percent of the same defense. Roberts began running the 3-4 nearly 20 years ago because of a lack of big defensive linemen while at tiny Tusculum College.
“We could not get the personnel to compete, so we had to play guerrilla warfare,” he said. “I couldn’t get a dominant (defensive end), couldn’t out-recruit people in my conference, so how am I going to beat them?”
His answer was “guerrilla warfare,” a term Aranda also uses to describe a defense that’s not normal or regular — one that’s shifting, a unit with different shapes and sizes.
What is interesting to me, first of all, is that there isn’t one dominant offensive style in the conference anymore. There are the spread offenses that come out of the Air Raid school, like Texas A&M’s, Auburn’s smash-mouth version of the spread, and then there are the more traditional pro-style power offenses run at Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU. Is the 3-4 a one-size fits all approach, then?
There’s one more thing. Dellinger notes that “LSU is set to join Kentucky, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Alabama in employing the 3-4 as its base defense.” That’s five conference schools chasing the same defensive talent pool, three of whom are heavy hitters in the recruiting game. If the trend continues, at some point in time, how easy is it going to be for Kirby Smart to find the kids he needs to fit his system?
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