Daily Archives: September 13, 2016

“This doesn’t happen to Georgia.”

Any way you want to spin it, this isn’t a good look for Kirby Smart.

Georgia beat Nicholls State by just two points on Saturday, 26-24. This is a confusing result for plenty of obvious reasons — Georgia was ranked ninth in the country, Nicholls State hasn’t had a winning season since 2007, etc…

Other programs have struggled and/or fallen victim to FCS teams, but in 17 games against non-FBS programs since 1953, the Dawgs had never won by fewer than 20 points. And the only team to stay within 30 was Georgia Southern (45-21 in 2008, 48-28 in 2004, 29-7 in 2000, 34-7 in 1992), now a Sun Belt power.

That 1953 game, by the way: a 14-0 loss to Southern Miss. You have to go back to 1943 to find such a poor result against a team that isn’t currently in FBS (Daniel Field 14, UGA 0).

No, I don’t know if Daniel Field is a person, a program or a place… but I digress. What I do know is when you’re a Georgia coach who in epic fashion has exceeded the low point of sixty-plus years of your predecessors’ work in any way, shape or form, that’s not a place you want to be for any length of time.  Maybe folks are a little justified in feeling uneasy about Saturday’s narrow escape after all.

They — and by that I mean, of course, the players and coaches — need to wash the bad taste out of everyone’s mouths this Saturday night in Columbia.  The only thing worse than a dismal win is a dismal loss.

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It looks like they’re gonna need a bigger Wifi.

If you love this year’s home schedule, you’re gonna go crazy over 2017’s.

If that’s how things shake out, that may be the least glamorous bunch I’ve ever seen roll in to Sanford Stadium.  Good thing McGarity got those ticket price increases taken care of in time.

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Had ’em right where they wanted.

I started with this blurb from Team Speed Kills:

Georgia held North Carolina far below the numbers the Tar Heels gained against Illinois. That defensive performance is one that could look more impressive as the season progresses. They did give up 24 points against Nicholls State, but only allowed 236 total yards. The offense turning the ball over three times made this game closer than it should have been. A fumble at the Georgia 30 yard-line set up the first Nicholls State touchdown, while a late touchdown occurred only after a ‘Dawg fumble at its own 9 yard-line. Still, the ‘Dawg defense allowing nearly 40% completion on third downs this season must improve to reach the next tier.

The exact percentage is 37.93%.  That led me to check on last year’s third-down conversion rate, which was 28.93%, so, yes, there’s work to be done there.  But here’s the truly weird part.  Last year’s best effort in opponent third-down conversion percentage, and by a very wide margin?  Alabama, at 8.33%.  No, that’s not a misprint.

What’s so weird about that isn’t that I don’t ever come across individual stats that are misleading.  It’s that I don’t remember Georgia doing anything at all well in that game.  Go figure.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

That time when déjà vu felt like a warm, familiar blanket

Groo hits on one big reason walking out of Sanford Stadium Saturday was such a downer.

Kirby Smart’s first game at Sanford Stadium turned out to be a lot like Mark Richt’s last. In Novemeber the Dawgs needed a second-half turnover to come from behind and force overtime against Georgia Southern. On Saturday the Dawgs again faced a second-half deficit, and a timely turnover provided the margin of victory as Georgia almost choked on the cupcake Nicholls.

Each time the reaction leaving the stadium had a lot more to do with relief and bewilderment than the thrill of victory. In fact, with the lone exception of a win over a cratering Kentucky team, there haven’t been many occasions to hold heads high after a home game since the South Carolina blowout nearly one year ago. Whether it was Saturday’s horror show or the 9-6 win over Missouri or that overtime survivial against Georgia Southern, “What the hell did we just see?” has been the predominant postgame tailgate topic of conversation in Athens.

And those were the games Georgia won. There has been only one home loss during this stretch – the miserable loss to Alabama where tens of thousands rose and left as one body during the third quarter of a game where it was quite clear what the hell we were seeing. Since that day the program has stumbled on, winning far more than they’ve lost but sucking the life and joy out of the experience.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who got the “this type of game is why we fired the coach” texts after the game. They were exactly right. As much as the players can be faulted for the lack of execution and the mental mistakes that kept Nicholls in the game, it was also a reminder to Smart and the staff that they were brought in to be better. Yes, there is trust in Smart’s way of running the program, but old habits can die hard.

That’s assuming they die at all.  And, yeah, that’s a cheap, emotional reaction on my part.  When I read sad stuff like this, though, it’s one that’s a little hard to avoid.

For what it’s worth, Eason and Lambert were bracketed on the official depth chart UGA released Monday. Last week, Lambert was listed as the starter, though Eason actually started in the game. Odds seem good that both will play again this week.

“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” senior center Brandon Kublanow said. “We had it last year, so it’s nothing new to us. I know both of them are great quarterbacks. Whoever’s in is going to make great plays. So it can’t really be a distraction for us.”

Sigh.

I used to throw some of that definition of insanity shade in Richt’s direction.  Don’t make me use it on you, too, Kirby.

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The NCAA takes a bathroom break.

North Carolina had to know this was coming.

Basketball-crazed North Carolina has lost its next chance to host NCAA men’s basketball tournament games along with several other championship events due to a state law that some say can lead to discrimination against LGBT people.

And the fallout may not be over.

After the NCAA announced it is pulling seven championship events from North Carolina for this year, Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford – whose league hosts many sporting events in the state, including its football championship game – said the ACC’s council of presidents were set to discuss the law at a previously scheduled meeting later this week.

Without NCAA cover, you’d expect the ACC to follow in its footsteps.  Banning the ACC basketball tourney from the state, even the watered down version that exists today, is gonna sting.

The cognitive dissonance in the corner of the law’s defenders is about what you’d expect.

Of course, he might be complaining about more than just who’s going to which bathroom with that.

HB2 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory earlier this year. A spokesman with McCrory’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday evening, but a spokeswoman with the state Republican party blasted the NCAA’s decision in a statement, saying it is “so absurd it’s almost comical.”

“I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor,” spokeswoman Kami Mueller said Monday night.

I bet you do, girl.  It’s probably a coincidence that I can’t find a single other public utterance of your concern about what happened at Baylor.

But now that you mention it, Baylor canned its president, AD and head coach in the wake of its scandal.  What’s North Carolina got to offer to get the NCAA off its back?

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Filed under ACC Football, Political Wankery, The NCAA

Understatement of the week

It’s only Tuesday, but it’s gonna be hard to top this one.

“I think we may have gotten a little relaxed last week,” senior center Brandon Kublanow said during the Bulldogs’ weekly news conference Monday.

Oh, you don’t really have to think about that one, Brandon.  At least not hard.

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Give me just a little more time…

Jeb Blazevich, being obvious:

Blazevich was asked how he’d seen Eason adjust as he tries to learn how to run an offense at the college level.

“It’s tough going into the season because every week, it’s not like we have a new offense, but every week is a special gameplan for that (game). So I think he’s getting better at that,” Blazevich said. “It obviously would benefit us more if we had to work like camp on the same stuff over and over again. But I think he’s adjusting really well and I think he’s doing a great job.”  [Emphasis added.]

It’s college football.  It’s not rocket science.  A true freshman quarterback needs reps.  A true freshman quarterback’s receivers need for their true freshman quarterback to get reps.

In that regard (and, sure, the circumstances of the day didn’t help), Saturday’s offensive game plan left a lot to be desired.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics