Taking a chance

I raised the question last week if Rodrigo Blankenship’s sudden prowess on the field goal front might have had the consequence of making Kirby Smart less aggressive on offense — after Auburn, Georgia’s scoring average from game seven on dropped again, by the way — but Ed Aschoff writes something that might be a legitimate rebuttal to that line of thinking.

Smart is more confident in his own process before, during and after games. He’s more comfortable with “game-time stuff and game-time decisions.” The simple aspects of deciding whether to run or pass on certain downs don’t stress him as much. He’s learning when to be conservative with his timeouts and when not to be. Smart’s finally staying a step ahead of his counterparts in certain aspects of games — not all of them, but improvement is improvement for the rookie head coach.

This might sound elementary, but the little things and the hints of evolution have gone a long way for a team that was 4-4.

You saw it perfectly in two trick plays he ran near the goal line with Terry Godwin going from runner to passer. While neither worked — the first one was intercepted and the second, which would have officially ended the game, was knocked out of quarterback Jacob Eason’s hands in the end zone — it showed some great progression on Smart’s part. Smart wanted to be the aggressor, and it showed that he isn’t scared to take a major risk for a potential major reward in a huge game.

“You wanna run the ball in third-and-fourth at the goal? No, we want to find a way to get it in,” Smart said of the trick play.

If you know you’ve got a competent place kicker at your back, maybe that contributes to more aggressive play calls in the red zone.  Though Smart never got the chance to call for a field goal after that first trick play was blown up.  Something to watch going forward, maybe.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

19 responses to “Taking a chance

  1. Billy Mumphrey

    Still haven’t figured out if Godwin was trying to throw it away on the first one or not.

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  2. Red Cup

    I too liked the next to last possession where we drove the ball the length of the field using mostly toss sweeps, making AU call 2 time outs. While we just missed a TD, this drive pretty much put the game away. Very tough showing by OL missing its best starter and with its LT limping noticeably. Gutsy.

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  3. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I am not sure I buy Ed’s argument completely, but you can’t discard it completely, either. What it really shows to me is that no one thing is critical, and that there are a lot of nuances in what goes into making a successful product on the field. More than ever, I am hopeful that the struggles of this season are an investment in future seasons.

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  4. PTC DAWG

    I liked the call to Eason, I have been thinking we would try it at some point when we split him out wide….

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    • Russ

      Yeah, if it had worked, the stadium would have fallen down. The girders would have bent, at least. I thought both trick calls were okay.

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    • 81Dog

      It seemed for a second that we had finally found a tall WR who could go up and win a jump ball.😉

      It didn’t work, but I liked that KS was willing to take a shot with it.

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  5. sUGArdaddy

    Smart has clearly, clearly gotten better at game management as the season has progressed. In Richt’s first season, it was the Auburn game that featured the worst clock gaffe, like, ever. I’m still not over it.

    A football sideline is utter chaos. I’ve been on a lot of them for high schools and in Athens. There is so much happening. I’d imagine it takes a while for a coach to kind of ease into the chaos and be the calm thinker.

    Killing the clock on the last possession was no small feat. We did exactly the right thing. Running the ball on first down ate away a few extra ticks than a kneel would have. Then we played it safe. Eason actually snapped the ball w/ about 3 secs left on 3rd down, which probably would have ended it there. That was a rookie mistake.

    I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but we don’t waste a lot of timeouts on bad substitutions. We seem to use timeouts judiciously (see UK’s late drive). And we don’t get a lot of sub penalties, even though we’re shuffling guys in and out.

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  6. The Dawg abides

    I noticed while rewatching the game that when Chubb took the direct snap and started left, the defense on that side started flowing with Godwin. It looked like if Chubb had just kept the ball he had the pylon. Also on first and goal, Sony had the corner, but he turned up too early thinking he had a seam.

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    • Watched it today and you are absolutely right. If Chubb had faked the toss and kept it, he only has to beat one guy who was out of position, and he walks into the end zone. But the play is what it is, and leaving it to your RB to make a read in that scenario probably leads to bad results more often than good ones. But in this case it certainly would have been an easy TD for Chubb to ice the game.

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  7. Aladawg

    While it might have been aggressive putting the game in the hands of a receiver playing QB with a squeezed field twice was idiocy in my opinion and MANY others. Surely our creative OC could try something like makes bootleg with a RPO and let his QB make a play he is somewhat suited for. We are getting some improvement but time management is not one. We gave Auburn an extra T/O on that play as well.

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    • Aladawg

      Naked bootleg. Sorry

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      • RandallPinkFloyd

        I see what you’re saying, but that’s the chance you take when you’re tying to put the game away. By failing to execute, Auburn was able to save a timeout. But if it works, the game is over. That’s the chance you take.

        Folks around these parts got tired of us not playing to win in the past… that was clearly a playing to win mentality.

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  8. Irwin R. Fletcher

    https://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/observations-from-the-35-georgia-auburn-edition/#comment-489323

    I did think about the ‘playcalling now that they have a reliable kicker’ post from last week. I think the two WR throws probably puts that question to bed, right?

    I think ole Gator Ed is getting his story ideas from my comments on GTP.

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  9. AusDawg85

    Hang on…if I’ve got a solid placekicker, I think I’d be more conservative in the Red Zone to avoid a turnover. I’m only aggressive if I’m not scoring and don’t trust my kicker….right? I think I’m also aggressive if I trust my defense, so not really sure it’s the quality of my kicking game that influences the play calling. That’s my 2 cents.

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  10. El Dawgo

    I like that Kirby will use a timeout while on defense to slow the momentum of the other team’s offense. There have been games in previous years where this tactic was never used (to my recollection). He is thinking game management during every possession whether we are on O or D.

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