He’s right that neither of these offenses qualifies as dynamic. Barring a weird turn of events — my usual caveat about turnovers applies, as always — this won’t be a high scoring game. Can the Gators shut Georgia out, though? I guess that’s up to Jim Chaney.
Florida has those terrific corners, so I expect to see plenty of single coverage. That’s a recipe for disaster if the Dawgs decide to come out in power formations and run the ball, because it’ll be an invitation to throw those safeties into run support and clog the line of scrimmage, something that’s been a winning approach throughout the season for opposing defenses.
Of course, with the way this season has gone, Chaney will probably find a way to do just enough on offense to have the game come down to special teams play. Winning!
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Sankey of the SEC are the two major conference commissioners against the legislation, united by the belief that academics and recruiting cultural issues aren’t being fully considered. “If you are just looking at it from the recruiting process, that’s not what should be driving our decision,” Scott said. “It should be rooted in values, academic priorities and principles and the long-term interest of the student athletes.”
… is an article I’m not going to take seriously. At all. Which is kind of shame, because if there’s anything those two guys are synonymous with, it’s values, academic priorities and principles and the long-term interest of the student athletes.
Statistically, the numbers say Georgia’s defense has declined this season. Although, to be fair, as Seth Emerson notes, the Dawgs have seen much better passing attacks in 2016 than they did last year.
The quality of opponents needs to be considered: Last year the best passing offense Georgia faced, at least statistically, was Alabama, and it was only 62nd nationally. But so far this year Georgia has faced three of the top 25 passing offenses: Ole Miss (17), Missouri (19) and North Carolina (21).
So I get the need to qualify any conclusion to be drawn from the numbers. Now if I could only figure out what Kirby Smart is saying about that.
“When you base things on stats, that’s what can mislead you,” Smart said, when asked if he’s seen tangible evidence that the defense has improved. “It’s a tough thing to gauge. I think you have to substantiate it some kind of way, and we’ve tried to do that through less missed tackles. We’ve also had less plays. We didn’t have many plays against Vanderbilt. So less plays should have less missed tackles, less opportunities to tackle.
“So we try to look at it from a statistical standpoint, but at the end of the day it comes with practice, and you have to go by practice. And I feel like because you see practice every day, those defensive players have improved.”
They look at stats even though they know they’re misleading? Yeah, I can see how that would be tough to gauge.
The first thing that stands out about the chart is the number of quarterbacks leading top-25 teams. Of the top six rushers, five are leading teams that reside in the top 10 of the AP Poll and seven of the top nine are on top-25 teams. The other relevant part of the list is the ranking by passing grade of all of the top runners. Only Louisville’s Lamar Jackson ranks as a top-30 passer among the top 10 runners in the nation and only Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr. joins him in the top 30 if expanding to the top 20 rushers in the nation. Yet those quarterbacks are still leading potent offenses based around their ability to run the ball, and in many cases, their passing stats look great due to the number of easy throws created within the system, even if the passing grade that accounts for timing, accuracy, and decision-making doesn’t match those stats.
The reason these offenses are prolific without having great passers is because college ball in the spread era is all about the numbers.
The running game comes down to simple mathematics. Once the ball is handed off, 11 players on defense are deployed to stop 10 players on offense, everyone has a gap to play, and in theory, there should be an extra man available to tackle the ball-carrier. The running quarterback has changed the math in defensive football as he essentially evens up the game and the threat to run the ball makes it 11-on-11, negating the defense’s advantage. Coaches have found creative ways to use this in their favor, having quarterbacks “option” off unblocked defenders, “blocking” them out of the play without actually using a blocker. This is old hat by now as offenses have taken this concept to new levels every season with new ways to option off different players, combining it with misdirection and motion, or adding in “run-pass options” which are running plays that have the ability to become a pass based on how one or two players react to the run action at the snap. Oh, and then coaches decided to add an up-tempo element to all of these concepts, essentially making defensive players react to all of these moving parts quicker and while fatigued.
When you add all of this up, it’s very difficult to play defense in college football today and because it’s so difficult, it no longer takes a precision passing game to move the ball down the field. Just having a quarterback that can challenge the defense as a runner creates open rushing lanes for running backs and wide-open passing lanes for quarterbacks as the defense simply tries to keep up with the multiple options presented on any given play.
That doesn’t mean you can’t play elite offense with a throwing quarterback. It just means that you’ve got a bigger margin for error when a defense has to account for that extra runner.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23