Why Georgia? Because Tennessee.

Michael Elkon makes the case for Georgia winning the SEC East this season:

The Dawgs have the best player in the division (Nick Chubb), the biggest coaching upgrade at offensive coordinator and no road games against top contenders Tennessee and Florida.

Smart may not prove to be an upgrade over Richt, but his first season in Athens sets up nicely.

I have to give him major credit for one thing — he was off the Schottenheimer bandwagon last year before it even got started, so I give a lot of weight to his criticism of Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord (folks who’ve had crappy stints at Michigan usually give Michael a little extra schwinngg!, but his points about DeBord certainly have merit) — but I think he ignores something that’s a huge factor in Tennessee’s favor, the offseason hiring of Bob Shoop as its new defensive coordinator.

Chaney may very well turn out to be a significant upgrade over Schottenheimer, but I believe Shoop represents an even bigger step up from John Jancek. If that turns out to be as key a move as I believe it is, then DeBord’s margin of error grows exponentially. As Elkon notes, “When Michigan had great defenses (1997 and 2006), DeBord was passable.”  Passable may be all Booch needs out of his offense.

That may be especially true when you consider that Tennessee appears to have a significant advantage over Florida and Georgia in the area of special teams.  Bill Connelly’s revised S&P+ rankings for special teams have the Vols coming off a 28th finish last season, compared to Florida’s 95th and Georgia’s 103rd.  That may not seem like much, but when your analysis takes in Tennessee having to travel to Athens as a factor in picking who wins the division, every little bit counts.

43 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

43 responses to “Why Georgia? Because Tennessee.

  1. Billy Mumphrey

    Do you consider Smart/Tucker an upgrade over Pruitt?

    • In some ways, it’s a tradeoff. In terms of staff cohesion, it’s an upgrade. A big one.

    • PTC DAWG

      Yes, especially seeing that Pruitt has trouble getting along, or so it seems.

    • Austen

      As the rumors about Kirby Smart coming to UGA grew, I was calling for UGA to instead anoint Pruitt as head coach. I felt that in some ways Pruitt proved himself quite capable with less defensive talent than Bama and that he was showing the fire and attitude UGA needed at the helm. Consider how much better Pruitt handled spread ’em out type teams like Auburn than Bama in recent years. But alas, it dawned on me that Smart may have much better decision-making and program-running skills, and I forgot that Smart is actually a couple years younger than Pruitt. Broadly speaking, UGA should give Smart the benefit of the doubt that he is a bonafide excellent defensive coach. Tucker doesn’t get a free pass on account of being an NFL DC in the past considering Todd Grantham’s less than convincing results at UGA, but getting a year with Saban and Smart before becoming a college DC gives me confidence that he’s a great hire for Smart. I’ll call it a wash for now with an expectation that Smart has better head coaching chops than Pruitt would. (It will be mighty interesting what Bama does upon Saban possibly retiring in a couple years. Being a former Bama player, might Pruitt get a look? I’d think absolutely IF he keeps Bama’s defense as a top performer.

  2. RocketDawg

    Until Egghead proves he can pass and not just run I am selling the Vowels. I am not supremely confident in the Dawgs winning the division either. It may be a case of who sucks the least ending up in Atlanta. On that note our schedule sets up nicely.

  3. 81Dog

    Senator, I get the feeling you are not enamored of John Jancek’s expertise as a DC. It’s a very subtle undertone to your post, yet I picked up the unmistakeable scent, however faint, of disapproval. N’est pas? Quit tiptoeing, and just say it.

    Next think you know, you will make vaguely phrased allusions to the dumpster fire that was the Kevin Ramsey era. The horror. The horror.

  4. Walt

    How can Chaney be anything but a downgrade? I read on Roll Tide Roll that he’s a converted O-line coach.

  5. rchris

    Hey Elkon’s right. We’re 4 days from facing the ‘Heels, we’re undefeated and the rest of the country’s winless. Pass the Kool-Aid, it’s that time of year!

  6. @gatriguy

    I think Butch is basically Jim Donnan with a buzz cut and more f bombs, but I will give him credit on one thing: his special teams, especially coverage units, are on point.

    Field position will be a YUGE factor in that game in Athens in my opinion.

    • Irwin R. Fletcher

      The special teams S&P is pretty interesting. UGA gave up 1.1 points while Tennessee gained 1 point each game last season.

      I think where UGA landed over the last 3-5 years was a mantra of ‘do no harm.’ So they would concentrate on guys who ‘protected the football’, run punt return safe, and the kick coverage/punt coverage seemed conservative. The problem with that is that you give yourself zero margin for error…and no phase of the team will ever be error free.

      I’m hoping Beamer and the rest of the staff can find better balance between attacking and safe on Special Teams….oh, and it would help if they can find a PK and Punter.

      Speaking of Place Kicker…I’m kind of tired of a guy peaking his sophomore year around these parts. Morgan didn’t miss any kicks inside 29…until his Junior and Senior year…and man we could use a guy that can hit

      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        that should have finished…from 40-49 yards. Both Walsh and Morgan were excellent from that distance until their senior seasons.

    • SSB Charley

      I’ve had the sense that UT 2016 feels a lot like UGA 2000. New DC that appears to be a significant upgrade? Experienced running QB that has had some great moments? Head coach that had success at a lower level of football as somewhat of an offensive guru? Fan expectations that “this is finally the year we get over the hump”? Even improved recruiting over the prior few years (that wasn’t as good generally as their rivals). It all feels very similar. Which hopefully means they beat UF or UA and then wind up getting a mudhole stomped into them by us.

  7. Vince

    One Vincent Lombardi was O-line coach at West Point! (After 8 years as a HS coach, failing in business and dropping out of law school after one semester!)

  8. Michael

    A friend of mine brought up the DC issue. My thought is that Shoop is undoubtedly an upgrade, whereas Smart and Tucker are a push with Pruitt. That said, UGA is not going to have the normal transition issues with a new coach on defense because the scheme will be relatively similar. So how about this as a formulation: Georgia and Tennessee were fairly even last year and UGA got the biggest coaching upgrade by going from Schottenheimer to Chaney. That, plus home field, give UGA an edge this year.

    Also, Tennessee was 18th on defense in S&P last year, so it’s not like Jancek was a disaster. By way of comparison, UGA was 70th on offense. As Spurrier said, you can scheme to success on offense, but you recruit to success on defense. Coaching matters more on offense, which is why Schottenheimer to Chaney will lead to bigger improvement than Jancek to Shoop.

    Lastly, my supply of vitriol for Debord is boundless. When he failed miserably at Central Michigan, it confirmed my assessment. (There were plenty of Michigan fans who said “we were 32-5 with Debord as OC, so he must be great!”) When he didn’t get shit for job offers after his second stint and ended up in athletic administration, it confirmed my assessment. When Butch plucked him out of semi-retirement to be an offensive coordinator in the SEC, it offended my basic sense of justice and merit in the universe. At the time, I thought “well surely Butch is going to run the offense and Debord is just there for organizational reasons.” But then, UT lost games in exactly the fashion that a cynical Michigan fan who lived through five years of Debord would have expected. Thus, my sense of justice is riding on UT failing to meet expectations this year. I don’t dislike UT nearly as much as I did when Fulmer was the coach, but Debord’s humiliation is important to me. Make it happen, Mel.

    • The other Doug

      I feel the same way about Martinez as their DB coach. We need to bring back 3rd and Willie.

  9. Just curious, what did Elkon have to say about Schottenheimer?

    • His comments in the linked article are indicative of what he said before.

      • Michael

        I wish I could find the tweet (maybe I never made it), but my reaction when Richt hired Schottenheimer was “this guy is going to get Richt fired.”

      • You makin’ me read Senator?😉 Yup he looked at Schotty’s track record and market demand and said ‘probably not gonna work out’. Speaking of not working out, man, what is Booch thinking when he hired a guy who did this:
        “With a starting lineup including three future NFL starters on the offensive line, an NFL starter at wide receiver, a future top-10 pick at another receiver spot, an NFL offensive rookie of the year at running back and TOM BRADY at quarterback, DeBord coached an entire month in which the offense produced 12, 12, 15 and 21 points against teams that combined to go 15-30.”

  10. Otto

    I was making some points yesterday that the SEC East could very well come down to the WLOCP.

    UT’s schedule in consecutive weeks:

    Florida
    @UGA
    @A&M
    Bama

    I can see UT breaking their streak against UF but playing UGA in the next game does not set up well. UGA may drop a game to Ole Miss but hold a tie breaker over UT. I also see UT dropping to Bama which puts UGA and UF with 1 loss each heading into Jax. It will be interesting to watch Florida and LSU. I can see Florida winning but I admit that I think most have Florida underrated. A 3 way tie for the East with 2 losses each would also not surprise me at all.

  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    All y’all are right/wrong/maybe about all your analyses.

    The correct answer: UGA wins against UT (and therefore, the East Division) because the team needs to avenge Nick Chubb, and Nick Chubb needs his own revenge.

  12. Macallanlover

    For all the analysis and conversations about the coaches, it will always come down to the Jimmy and Joes, their health and execution on that specific day. UT and UGA have similar talent this year with TN getting the experience edge. Primary edges to TN are at QB and DL, although The Alien is an erratic passer who must improve his accuracy if TN is to make Atlanta. UGA’s biggest edge, at this point, seems to be home field. Depending on injuries and circumstances we will learn the next few weeks, the talent match ups could change. I think the East is a three team race with UGA and TN very close, and FU a half step behind. In other words, too early to call.

    TN had better get it done this season though, Sgt Carter loses his talent edge after this season as the backfield and DL will suffer major losses. After capitalizing on early playing time opportunities to offer recruits, he doesn’t seem to be playing that well recently. Last year’s class wasn’t that great and this year is looking very weak. I think Georgia and Florida will regain the talent edge going forward, especially if the Vols choke this chance to get to Atlanta. This will be their 18th year without an SEC title, I predict they will break our 20 year drought between titles.

    • ApalachDawg

      Yes bartender, I’ll have what Mr. Macallanlover is having…

      • Macallanlover

        With both feet planted firmly on the ground, and no Kool Aide or brown water passing my lips yet, I said three teams were very close and it would come down to who was healthy in certain games. I also said it was too early to make a call. You should hear how confident I get just before last call! 🙂

    • stoopnagle

      I agree that the big question for me is Dobbs development as a passer. He can run it, which will likely give us fits as always (and as always for Kirby at Bama) and they’ve got potent RBs to go with that.

      We’re as good as UT, we’re just living off the end of a different narrative.

  13. Jared S.

    What happens if we beat UT and UF but lose the SEC East because we lose to Ole Miss, Auburn and Mizzou (or – MY GAWD – SCAR????). Crazier stuff has happened.

    • Uglydawg

      Jared S….you need to let go of the ” The Most Georgia Thing Ever” fear. I think Smart will put that to rest. There will always be unexpected bumps in the road, but they will be “unexpected”…Quit expecting trouble, have a glass of red koolaid and enjoy the ride. It’s gonna’ be good.

      • I gotta go with Jared…..it isn’t just possible but likely that when you you have a rookie head coach and probably a freshman QB you are going to stub your toe at least once, or to use the Richt era venacular, odds are we crap the bed at least once, thus reducing any margin of error. Having said that your right ugly, we need to dump ” the Georgia Way” predilection. My favorite post of the last few days is the best example that maybe the Georgia Way is heading for the door was when Smart retorted about Rochester, “Why wouldn’t he play” Just win.

  14. Uglydawg

    While I’m no fan of Booch, I must give him credit for the win over UGA last year. When his team seemed to be getting buried, he doubled down and refused to kick a FG twice on fourth down…getting 7 instead. Georgia was clearly the better team, but Bootch found a way to win. This year is a mirror image…the game is in Athens, Tennessee is the favorite, and Chubb (praying) will play more than one down. I think the Dawgs win it.

    AS for the WLOCP…Smart is pretty familiar with “intense rivalries” and probably isn’t intimidated by this one. It will be reflected in his team’s approach and attitude. I think Smart’s teams will be confident and focused in their approach to the business of football.

    • Otto

      Smart is no stranger to Tenn being a big game. UT’s biggest games are Bama and UF. UGA emerged after we were both placed in the East. It could be argued that Bama is everybody in the West’s biggest game of the year. Smart was at Bama for a few neutral site games against Florida. I’m not that concerned with Smart getting players focused.

      I am more concerned with Smart being a 1st time head coach, if he makes the correct call with 3rd and 4th down with the game on the line. However Booch had that experience and was still trying to figure out a way to win the big games. UT was close but did not pull it out in a few big games last year. Going to be an interesting season to watch.

  15. RugbyDawg79

    I am always optimistic – but who knows what will happen, I am confident that Kirby will have them ready to play the gators , It IS the most important game
    and he knows it ..

  16. Sh3rl0ck

    I give a lot of weight to his criticism of Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord

    Criticism? He did everything but call his mother a whore.

  17. SouthernYank

    I just don’t see it this year re UT. I think UT is better on O, a good deal better on D (DL depth and Shoop) and better on special teams. So we give UGA the edge in head coach (already?) and home field, I guess.

    Now, that doesn’t mean UGA will not win, or won’t win the East. I think UT has a much tougher schedule. And UF is going to be a non-factor. It’s definitely between UGA and UT.

    PS: I do love how Elkon brushes off Lambert not playing against UF – he just played one less game. No, he didn’t play against the best D UGA faced, but Dobbs did play against them. I’m betting facing UF would have hurt Lambert’s stats a bit.

  18. Chickamona

    Looks like November 19th against Louisiana Lafayette is our Blackout based on the Athletic Association’s release today asking fans to wear black to that game. That’s a bummer. With UT, Auburn, Tech (even Vandy) lot of great games they could have used them this year. And count me among those who doesn’t believe jersey color affects performance. http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/083016aaa.html

  19. Austen

    Blah to the special teams part of this. First, Mark Richt is gone, and Shane Beamer under Kirby Smart is heading up special teams. That folks, is what I call an upgrade. Second, UGA is going to have some great kick returners at their disposal. If McKenzie stays healthy and learned better how to hang onto the ball when fielding kicks, UGA will be as dangerous as any team in the nation at kick returns. Watch out for Mecole Hardman, too. Next, Marshall Morgan had a nice habit of looking capable but missing meaningful kicks. Blankenship (or Ham although him winning would shock me) could prove to be better than Morgan.