I got an email from a reader who saw something bigger in Georgia’s last scoring play Saturday night.
How this staff is different.
Why did Lambert come in for the final “gotta have it” series? We couldn’t figure it out…When Eason was in, the UNC defense had to back off to a nickel or dime, but when Lambert was in, they packed the line. Surely we’d play Eason to open it up for Chubb.
Lambert in, tight formation, and UNC packs the box. Chubb’s getting the ball and everybody knows it. Predictably, there are 10, maybe 11 UNC players in the box. So what’s going on? Chess game. Blocking scheme. Execution. Speed. And a pancake by the tight end. All to free up our world-class back to get to the second level. Only there isn’t one. Because they saw our quarterback and rolled everybody up.
We sent Lambert in to get them into the formation we wanted. Pulled tackle, pancake, and pursuit can’t get through the trash. He gone. Ballgame.
This won’t be the last time we out-coach or out-prepare somebody. Not with this staff. Somewhere there’s an offensive video assistant who put this on our OC’s desk. This is what we can expect with an enlarged football staff in this model. Quite a change from years prior.
I’m not smart enough to know whether or not we used this blocking scheme before this play. But I bet this play was planned for this scenario.
I don’t doubt they fully intended to run Chubb there and run him again and again. In fact, before the series started, I said to my friend sitting next to me that at some point if Chizik kept loading the box more and more, the risk he took would be to have no one left on the next level if the blocking opened a hole for Chubb to run through. But let’s face it, we saw that same kind of thinking work just as well in 2014, too.
Which is not to say I disagree with the reader’s overall assessment of the new staff. It’s just that I found my evidence for that in another area.
Sometime during the first quarter, I found myself studying Georgia’s sideline. It’s a purely subjective observation on my part, but that place looked more crowded than I remember it being in years past. That brought to mind something I wrote in a post after Richt was terminated.
If you watched any of the Iron Bowl broadcast this past Saturday, as I did, you might have noticed a discussion Gary and Verne had about the number of staffers Alabama had up in the coaches booth. Lundquist was certain it was fifteen and damned if it didn’t look like it when the CBS camera panned the booth. That room was crowded.
I mention this story not in a fit of jealousy, nor to condemn another program’s wasteful spending. Rather, it’s a perfect example of what the Georgia Way is up against.
Now, spending isn’t an answer in and of itself. You’ve got to spend in a way that makes your program better. Kirby Smart came out of an environment where a large support staff was a means to an end, that end being organization and attention to detail. As I keep saying, one game is an exceedingly small sample size, but if there’s anything to be encouraged about with regard to regime change, it’s one specific thing that kept brushing me in the face as the game progressed.
Things were under control.
Think about it. Despite a constant flow of players being substituted on both sides of the ball, Georgia never was dinged for an illegal substitution penalty. (North Carolina was.) The only unplanned timeout Smart had to expend was due to Eason failing to pay attention to the play clock, an understandable error from a kid playing in his first college game. I don’t recall any time management issues that wound up biting the Dawgs in their collective ass. Smart was animated, but never lost his emotions, as the more experienced Fedora did, resulting in a penalty that led to the safety. And, yeah, I think having those new bodies around contributed mightily to that.
I’ve harped on what I strongly believe was Mark Richt’s Achilles heel, a failure to stay on top of details consistently. I don’t want to say that one game proves the program has moved past that, but it sure gives me reason to be optimistic it has.