It takes a village to master the details.

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.


Filed under Georgia Football

78 responses to “It takes a village to master the details.

  1. Jared S.

    The one big thing I was looking for in game 1 is what would happen if we were losing. What would the players look like? What would the coaches look like, especially Smart. The one big take-away from the game for me was how determined and focused everyone looked, even when UGA was down.

    And I loved watching Smart on the side-line. I half-expected the pressure to get to him and to see him explode at some kid who did something boneheaded. But I never saw him lose his cool. I saw him excited, jumping up and down, yelling. But all his energy seemed really positive. It impressed me as much as anything else in the game.

    • Dawgfan Will

      I agree. I always appreciated Richt’s calm, cool demeanor as a contrast to psychotic tools and visor-throwers. However, Kirby’s enthusiasm and positive energy won me over. He looked like he was enjoying the hell out of the experience. If he can combine that with Saban-like attention to detail, I’ll start drinking the Kirby Kool-aid earlier than I thought.

  2. I'm right, you're wrong

    No offense, but Fedora lost his shit over a horrible call of ineligible man down field, when there wasn’t one, and your new man crush Kirby would’ve done the same. Added staff has certainly helped keep substitutions and the like much more organized, but Richt wanted to add more staff and wasn’t given the budget. So while you have a thrill up your leg Chris Matthews, remember that Kirby is getting what Mark wanted and was denied.

    • Geez, the things I learn from your wise commentary. Every coach loses his shit every time there’s a bad call. I guess that’s why we all think Will Muschamp is such a regular guy.

      As for Richt and resources, well, maybe next time you should bother to read posts that I link to before you start referring to my leg:

      Regardless of where you think Richt falls on the performance spectrum, you cannot deny that for the bulk of his time in Athens, he was not allowed the resources to duke it out with Georgia’s main rivals.

      Forget about the IPF. Georgia was one of the last schools to give out multi-year contracts to assistant coaches. (Ironically, the administration got away with that because of staff loyalty to Richt.) Saban bulks up support staff; Richt is forced to come out of his own pocket to pay bonuses to his assistants. Georgia’s recruiting budget was far short of what other conference schools were allocating until this year.

      If you manage an SEC football program, there’s a difference between being committed to winning and being financially committed to winning. Everybody wants to win. The hard part is figuring out how to allocate resources to make sure that happens. And, no, that doesn’t mean spending money like a drunken sailor. (We’re looking at you, Tennessee.) It simply means that if you think your rightful place is among the Alabamas, Floridas and LSUs of the world, you’d better take a hard look at what they’re doing and make sure you’re giving your coaching staff the opportunity to keep up with them.

      Again, thanks so much for opening my eyes.

      • MLB2

        If I had a quarter for every time you’ve been accused of being a Richt apologist or a Richt hater, I could watch games from a skybox. Lmao.

      • Ugadude

        I agree, Richt didn’t have as many resources but…

        I also feel Richt got his ass beat too many times against teams with similar staff size like Florida.

        Richt was not really competitive versus ranked teams.

        Kirby was in this one game, may the trend forever continue- ha.

        That’s really why Richt was fired, and how Kirby will be judged as a coach.

        How do you do versus ranked teams?

    • @gatriguy

      This is bullshit. Maybe the reason Richt wasn’t given the additional staff or budget is because he didn’t do anything to instill confidence in McG that he had any effing clue how to properly deploy it. Throwing money around wasn’t going to solve Richt’s problems. It was going to take a ground up culture change with a focus on doing the little things right (starting with roster management, which he never figured out).

      This notion that Richt was set up to fail is total horseshit. It was a good 15 year run, but getting to the next level was going to require new blood. Nothing wrong with simply acknowledging it was time for a change for all parties involved n

      • He’s right and you’re wrong about the financial support.

      • I'm right, you're wrong

        You’re simply ignorant. No one said anything about whether or not change was due or good for the program. Just stated a simple FACT, that Richt was denied resources Kirby is being given. I’m happy Kirby is here and I’m happy for the additional staff, but McGarity couldn’t manage his way out of a wet paper bag and intent oaky denied OUR Coach at the time, the resources he needed to compete. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your typing.

        • I'm right, you're wrong


        • @gatriguy

          Ok, you’re right, and I’m wrong. Although you kinda glossed over what I meant to be my main point: what did Richt do to make you think he would have deployed the additional resources wisely? That’s really the crux of the whole argument. If you want me to crucify McG b/c he thought opening up the checkbook for Richt was going to throwing good money after bad, then sorry, not gonna happen.

          He worked around Richt for 5 years, after having just spent the previous 5 working around Urban. Clearly he saw a difference in organization and preparation and wasn’t going to spend money he didn’t think would generate ROI.

          • Im right, you're wrong

            You are clearly neither self-employed nor in any position of management. If you had any experience or skill set in regard to either, you would understand that you lead from in front and not behind. You don’t give money to your top performing department after they perform, you spend money in order to make money. But because I’m confident these business basics are lost on you, I will stop. Best of luck in your ignorant bliss.

          • “Clearly he saw a difference in organization and preparation and wasn’t going to spend money he didn’t think would generate ROI.” I have my doubts about this…I am more inclined to think MG was a tightwad until Kirby forced him to open the wallet. If what you say is true, then that means that MG didn’t have confidence in Richt AT ALL and was denying him resources in order to see him fail (or prove that he can win with the sub standard resources he had…which is just as dickish). Pretty nefarious….thats why I’ll lean toward the bumbling tightwad instead of the cold blooded calculated type.

            • @gatriguy

              Oh, it’s totally dickish. I’m not defending the actions, but I can understand not throwing good money after bad.

              Look, I think McG came in with an outsider’s opinion of Richt and was never as enamored as the fanbase that had been there when things were going good.

              Clearly Richt and McG didn’t like the cut of each other’s jib–after all, there was the whole Belk Bowl rumor mill stuff.

              I’m simply reiterating Senator’s point from earlier: simply throwing money at a problem isn’t the answer–you have to know how to spend it. Richt had a history of bad management decisions. I’m not saying McG’s decision was right or fair, but I don’t think it was without merit either.

          • CB

            I don’t have to tell you that Richt came 4 yards short of a national title shot in 2012, won two SEC titles at a school that hadn’t won the SEC in 20 years, and won two BCS bowls. At some point you have to invest like the big boys if you want to compete.

            Regardless, you MUST STOP pretending like you know what McG was thinking when Richt was in Athens. The speculation is an embarrassment. If that’s what you think then okay, but for the sake of your own dignity, please stop presenting it as fact.

            • @gatriguy

              I never claimed to KNOW what anyone was thinking. My comments are pure speculation. So are yours chief.

              • CB

                “He thought opening up the checkbook for Richt was going to throwing good money after bad, then sorry, not gonna happen.

                He worked around Richt for 5 years, after having just spent the previous 5 working around Urban. Clearly he saw a difference in organization and preparation and wasn’t going to spend money he didn’t think would generate ROI.”

                Your diction suggests that the above comments are fact when in reality they are speculatory thoughts that you pulled out of your backside.

                I didn’t speculate about anything, I simply stated facts about the Richt era, and more facts about you manufacturing your own facts out of thin air. There is nothing wrong with speculation, but when I speculate I’ll tell you.

        • Squatch

          “Richt was denied resources”

          Maybe he should’ve had Pruitt ask – he did a pretty good job getting the IPF approved in his first year.

    • PTC DAWG

      Why can’t some fans just let CMR go…he has obviously moved on, why can’t our entire fan base?

    • Argondawg

      Troll. Plain and simple

    • Cosmic Dawg

      “no offense”

      lol – was there a part of that you intended to be inoffensive?

  3. Per the above discussion, Kirby now needs to add somebody equivalent or better than Sarkisian as an Assistant Analyst to re-balance the scale.

  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    In addition to the things on the sidelines Bluto saw, I noticed more than once that Eason and Lambert seemed to be getting along pretty well. This is a good thing. While you may or may not be happy with Lambert as a quarterback, there are things Lambert knows that Eason does not yet know, and its cool they seem to be sharing stuff.

    Good things are happening folks, aaight?

    • RandallPinkFloyd

      Grayson must be a self-aware individual who realizes the next couple of years hinge on Eason’s ability to take this offense to another level. Good on him for being a team player. I’d prefer for Eason to go ahead and get the reps, but I’m not going to pretend to know more than Kirby and his staff. Others in this fan base should learn to do the same IMO.

    • Jared S.

      Agreed. I noticed one time in particular – I think it was after the drive where Eason threw the 51yd pass to McKenzie – Lambert looked like he was congratulating Eason when he came off the field. More than that, Lambert looked thrilled. He looked like Peyton Manning looked when Eli won his first Super Bowl.

  5. JS

    This is very interesting to me. I was definitely in the camp of yelling “WHY IS LAMBERT BACK IN” at the tv since, obviously, UNC was stacking the box more when he was in. My first thought when Chubb broke off was that he bailed Kirby out by making a (typical for him) Superman play against a loaded front. Did not occur to me that they were intentionally pulling UNC guys up. Risky move if accurate – if the blocking isn’t perfect and Chubb isn’t Chubb it could easily get stuffed, but bigger payoff if he makes it through the first level. Absolutely love it though if that was a calculated risk with a well thought out plan.

  6. aladawg

    The wasted timeout by Kirby trying to draw UNC offside was a rookie mistake not mentioned. At the time we were behind and may have really needed that T/O. Using a potentially critical timeout in the second half on that was pretty foolish. Fortunately it did not come back to bite us.

    • Yup, and if that is the one questionable call then I’ll take it. Better than seeing us stumble around on the field and be forced to take a time out because of disorganization.

    • Squatch

      Yes…but with the amount of motion and hard calls going on it was a miracle we didn’t get a false start or pocedure penalty. We didn’t get the offsides but I thought the play was pretty impressive.

      • paul

        Agreed. But we should have taken the delay of game and kept the TO.

      • SlobberKnocker

        By about the 4th or 5th motion, it was obvious to everyone that we were not going to snap, only try to get them to jump. I’d love to see a variation that goes through the same motion stuff, then actually snap the ball out of a power set. I think that if it is properly timed, the defense wouldn’t stand a chance of preventing the short gain needed.

    • I agree … it was the only decision I could question.

  7. Derek

    I’m hesitant to apply a label of “good coaching” to a performance where you dominate the line of scrimmage, the time of possession clock and yardage and you’re down through three quarters. However, I think we’ve seen two things that are clearly a departure:

    1) we clearly want to create an identity of being the more physical team on the field. That identity is emphasized as more important than the scoreboard. That was one thing that we’ve lacked for a very long time and I hope we become the team that nobody wants to play again. You add better talent to that mix and you win a lot of games.

    2) The thing I was most interested in since the hiring was whether CKS would run the same defense he ran last year at Alabama. As far as my untrained eye could tell, he did. Corners and nickel played tight man. One deep free safety. That approach may get you scorched when you play Deshaun Watson, but how many of those are out there? The best thing about it was that for the most part it worked. 315 yards in the first outing is more than acceptable vs. a decent dual threat qb.

    If we can get Eason eased in and start posting 40 every week we can play in big games again.

  8. Argondawg

    I also find it interesting that Saban doesn’t mind taking problem children who are solid coaches and tacticians and putting them on the payroll. A sober Sark is a great resource in the booth or in the film room. Nick has the political capital to make his hires and no one really has much to say because he knows what in the hell he is doing. He can just hold up a hand and say “#uck the coke bottle argue with these rings!”

  9. CB

    On the details: When was the last time Georgia had a kickoff returned for a touchdown against them before Saturday?

    • Normaltown Mike

      Not sure if you’re serious or making light, but you can’t prepare for the stripes missing two blocks in the back.

      The first of our guys there on that kick was ridden down from behind and the second more egregious one was as the UNC player reached the sideline and turned upfield and are guy has him dead to rights before being bowled over from behind.

      • CB

        We can blame the officials for a lot of things. There was also a clear hold on Mo Smith during the long run that set up UNC’s first TD. My question still stands though, when is the last time UGA had a kickoff returned against them for a TD? I’m sure it happened during the Richt era, I just can’t think of when. The only thing that immediately comes to mind is Honey Badger returning a punt during the 2011 SECCG. Regardless, gap integrity was not maintained.

      • CB

        Just watched the return again, Rankin and Amaechi were blocked in the back, but the way they were pussy footing around they weren’t stopping anyone either way. The reason Logan got loose is bc Sanders lost his lane and jumped inside. #details

  10. The moment I saw a wildly more prepared team was actually on the first play UNC scored on: UNC huddled at the 1, and Georgia’s defensive players literally lined up in their stances while the Heels huddled. Then they broke the huddle, sprinted to the line, and snapped the ball. The result of the play wasn’t great (they scored on a bootleg) but we had scouted them out enough and knew they’d go super-fast out of the huddle and were ready.

    Go to 37:18 where you can briefly see us lined up.

  11. Dawgwood

    Since we are speaking about the staff, who is the guy who’s job is it to keep Kirby on the sidelines? He seemed to be hovering Kirby and pulling him back several times. Makes me think both coaches were warned to stay on the sidelines, but only Kirby listened.

    • The Dawg abides

      True. The penalty on Fedora wasn’t because he went ballistic. If you were at the game, you could see him constantly coming ten yards out on the field to argue calls or no calls. He had been warned numerous times and that same official was the one who trotted over and threw the flag, not the line judge he was yelling at over the lineman downfield call. After several re-watchings, I still maintain it wasnt a terrible call. The rest of the line retreated into pass block while the tackle fired out 2 3/4 yards and engaged the linebacker, preventing him from pass coverage.

    • UGA95

      The increased budget included a “get back” coach. That’s a job I could definitely do.

  12. Sh3rl0ck

    Kirby had said at half-time that Lambert was brought in to run the two-minute offense just before half-time because he was better at running the two-minute and four-minute offenses. This wasn’t a case of Kirby playing 6-Dimensional non-Euclidean space chess. We were not going to throw the ball. Lambert was in to make sure everyone was lined up properly, designate the mike, make any needed adjustment based on defensive alignment, and hand Chubb the ball. Simply put, he was to run the four-minute offense with 3:45 left in the game.

    The play scored because Georgia had a numbers advantage to the weak side. UNC had 9 men in the box; 6 were aligned to the strong side, 3 to the weak (plus two DBs against two split TEs). They sold out on the play being inside or to the boundary / strong side. Dyshon Sims didn’t even get off of his combo block in time as he should have blocked #10 on the second level (Payne got him, but really should have been able to block #15). Galliard also wiffed on his cut block. If the play was blocked properly, Chubb would have walked in untouched.

    IMHO, this is a really smart call by Chaney. He sends in 3 TEs, tight line-slits, strong-side to the boundary, and calls a weak-side toss with crackback block. Chizik didn’t see it coming.

  13. CB

    On the above e-mail. That play only works bc Chubb breaks three tackles. Do coaching staffs call plays in order to get into Chubb 1 on 3 match ups because they believe in him that much? Highly doubtful. Probably overthinking it a bit. They probably put Lambert in because it was a crucial drive and he’s been there before. The way I see it Georgia got a little lucky with some over pursuit and bad tackling angles on that run, you know, plus Chubb being awesome.

    Let’s say the play gets stuffed and we go three and out, what is our response then? You always look like a genius when it works – see Les Miles’ entire career.

    • Jared S.

      Awesome links. Thanks for the footwork. As the Senator keeps saying, though, one game is just too small a sample size. I’ll only be willing to start passing judgment on Eason’s job at QB, for instance, after he’s taken snaps through the Ole Miss game (assuming he’s still getting substantial playing time). If he continues to do as well through that game as he did in Game One, I’d say I’m ready to crown him the best-thing-since-Stafford.

    • Will (The Other One)

      The early advanced stats are less pretty (the advanced metrics on rush defense are particularly bad. There, and special teams are the big yikes. Everything else is middle-of-the-pack, which for 1 game, in an even matchup, when many other schools played cupcakes, seems about right.)

      • Ugadude

        Well, here’s how things stack up right now versus ranked teams statistics:
        Bottom of pack:
        Special teams
        Rush defense
        Turnover Margin

        Top of Pack:
        Rush offense
        Jacob Eason
        Time of Possession
        Pass defense
        Offense 3rd down conversions
        Offense red zone

        • Normaltown Mike

          that’s all fine and good, but what about our Freshman quarterback’s hair?

          Shouldn’t that badass coif count for something?

    • CB

      Kind of a waste of time looking all that up after one game. Pump the brakes.

  14. Ugadude

    Details Kirby needs to get on top of are special teams and rush defense.

  15. lakedawg

    Seriously, is northern plays ran supposed to score every play.

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