Making a bad situation worse

I hope Georgia Tech’s new AD doesn’t read this post, but it’s worth noting something MaconDawg wrote over at DawgSports yesterday.

From Clemson’s Deshaun Watson to current Bulldog commit Jake Fromm, to nationally ranked recruits like 2018 Cartersville quarterback Trevor Lawrence (and even younger players like Marietta freshman Harrison Bailey, recently offered by the Bulldogs) the state of Georgia has undergone a renaissance in high school quarterback play over the past few years. USA Today asked those who would know, including some of those top flight quarterbacks themselves, about what has changed.

Not to spoil the answers, but they generally focus on the rise of passer-friendly offenses, 7-on-7 tournaments, and the availability of elite private QB coaching. I think those all play a part. One overlooked answer however may be the rising tide that has lifted the number of elite recruits in the state at every position: an exploding population, especially in the metro Atlanta area. The fact is there are more, bigger high schools, many of which have vastly more athletic resources, than in the past.

But the population boom has been going on for decades. The evolution of high school offenses in the state has been a more recent development, and a rapid one at that. Of the eighteen Peach State high school quarterbacks with the most career passing yards, seventeen graduated in 2004 or after (the lone exception being Americus standout and FSU Seminole Fabian Walker). Only one of the top seventeen seasons in terms of touchdown passes occurred before 2009, the year Hutson Mason’s 54 touchdown passes blew past the record previously held by Charlton County’s Jeremy Privett.

To put it another way, gone are the days when football Friday nights in the Peach State are dominated by the power-I and the triple option (sorry, Tech fans). Not mentioned in the article is the fairly self-evident proposition that Georgia is in position to benefit disproportionately from this phenomenon.

Even given that, as Johnson himself admits, Tech’s recruiting in the era of the triple option has been shabby, this strikes me as a pretty big deal, at least in the near future.  Quarterback, no matter what offensive system you run, is the most important position on the field, and if high school offenses are drifting away from running to passing schemes on a widespread basis, that’s going to make it ever harder for Tech to find in state quarterbacking.

It’s not just the one position, either, of course.  Offensive linemen that train to block in offenses that throw the ball all over the place aren’t going to be ready to cut block like mad overnight.  And some of those high school running backs are either going to find their skills deployed at other positions or running out of a lot of shotgun sets.  Either way, that’s not a good trend for Paul Johnson.

What makes it worse is that it allows schools besides UGA that can attract the new blood being developed by Georgia high schools to make inroads there.  And once you establish relationships with high school coaches for some of their offensive players, you can grow that to players in general.  I don’t see how Tech can prosper ceding much of the talent in as rich a state as this one to out of state programs.

As MaconDawg concludes, though, it sure is a good thing for Kirby Smart.

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics

43 responses to “Making a bad situation worse

  1. Bright Idea

    Forget Tech. The bigger question is does Georgia have a coach willing to adapt his offense to the QB resources apparently available. Did having Chubb and Michel discourage that this season or will Kirby remain determined to control the clock, if not the scoreboard?

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    • Really amazes me to see comments like this. How quickly we forget how dominant Georgia’s offense was in Bobo’s last three seasons in Athens.

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      • Russ

        Yeah, but Bobo’s gone. When I read this, my thoughts are about finding offensive linemen that can line up and impose their will on the other side like Kirby wants. You know, “smash mouth football”. I’m not sure Kirby is ready to adapt yet. We’ll see.

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        • Brandon

          Yep. Not as many true road graders or LT’s that can hold off solid DE’s for long chunks of time. I’ll go ahead and say it – I’m fine if we start to straight up move away from pro-style offenses, and, GASP, away from 6’6″ prototype “pro” QB’s. The margin for error is too thin given your talent has to be elite at several positions for it to work. Let’s capitalize on what this state is producing naturally.

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      • Bright Idea

        Did you read my post? Did I say Kirby should go to the spread? He can take advantage of great QB talent from the pro set but he will still have to trust the QB. Bobo sure as heck did.

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        • If I misunderstood what you meant by “The bigger question is does Georgia have a coach willing to adapt his offense to the QB resources apparently available”, I apologize.

          How many coaches do you know of who trust true freshman quarterbacks?

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          • Bright Idea

            Coaches who decide to go all in on a freshman QB have to trust them at some point and for Kirby and Chaney this year it was clearly later rather than sooner. After Missouri I didn’t expect, or want, 55 passes every game but I didn’t expect to run up the middle with a bad OLine against a stone wall all season either. Think of the Florida game. Did we assume the Gators wouldn’t score? We called the game like we did.

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            • I look at Eason starting this year as an anomaly. I don’t think it’s in Georgia’s interest to be starting true freshman QBs in a pro-style offense and that is why I expect Fromm to sit next year and learn… and hopefully Lawrence to do the same.

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              • dawgtired

                My thoughts as well. If Lambert or Ramsey would have shown a pulse, Kirby/Chaney would have brought Eason along more slowly to let him get acclimated to the game…not a trial by fire. I believe Kirby felt Eason gave us the best chance but knew it would still take a solid run-game to take some of the pressure off Eason. It’s possible we could have had better play calling at times but our options were limited…frosh QB and suspect OL.

                Liked by 1 person

            • Russ

              While I agree with your sentiment, it would have been hard for Eason to have thrown against the Gators unless he can throw from his back. I was seriously worried about his health.

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      • Will (The Other One)

        But Bobo’s final offenses seemed to incorporate a lot more spread concepts than we’ve seen from Chaney this season.
        Just think of what could have been done with Wims, Ridley, Nauta, and then both Michel and Chubb in a pistol variation behind Eason.

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    • Big Max

      Completely agree. If the current trend continues, our pro-style offense will look as antiquated in a few years as Tech’s does now. Even Bama is basically a spread team now.

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          • sUGArdaddy

            And the entire NFL. The reason the NFL is pro-style and that spread looks don’t work for long in the NFL is the defenses are too fast and too good. When we had Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree on the field, we absolutely dominated Tech’s offense.

            When run with precision, an elite NFL passing game can’t be stopped. You can do everything right defensively, and the QB can drop it in there. If you live and die by the spread, no matter how good your talent, you’ll eventually get stopped by a great D.

            This is the way I put it. To win championships, you have to be able to convert 3rd and 13 a lot. Things go wrong in games. You get behind the sticks. If you can’t throw the ball when they know you have to throw it, you’re going to be in trouble against great teams. This, I believe, is what Kirby is going for.

            And, Kirby wants to score. We are going after elite QBs at a rate that Bama never has with Saban. If you don’t think Kirby sees what Mike did offensively at UGA and wants that, you’re out of your mind. We want to score. As more teams spread it out, what can actually happen is that a pro-style becomes hard to stop because people’s defenses are designed to stop HUNH spread teams.

            Incidentally, this would be my biggest concern if I were a Bama fan of what looks like Saban’s most dominant team ever…can they convert 3rd and 13 when they need to in the playoffs, especially against Clemson. Because DeShaun can and will. Last year, they could at least keep up in the passing game. Can Hurts do that? He hasn’t had to so far this year.

            Liked by 1 person

            • DawgFlan

              It’s a myth that the NFL runs pure pro-style offenses. CBS has the stats to prove it: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/product-of-the-system-nfl-already-becoming-a-spread-offense-league/

              It’s important to differentiate “QB-option run” offenses like Auburn with “QB in the shotgun/pistol ready to sling it around” offenses. It is the latter that is becoming much more prevalent, not just in high school (as pointed out int he linked article), but in college and the NFL as well.

              The QB-option run spread is can be stopped with a great defense, or stops itself without the right QB or poor QB play. The latter is still QB focused, but OCs ( Bobo among them) have done a great job of making it a successful platform to run out of. I don’t have the %s to prove it, but in the last couple of years with Bobo, it feels we had become a much more pistol/shotgun offense with pro-style looks as opposed to an under center pro-style offense with occasional spread looks.

              Surprisingly, more good things happen on offense when you allow less defenders to stack the box and give the QB an extra half second to make decisions. Even this year, it seemed that a lot more of our 8+ yard runs came from the shotgun formation with a single back and multiple WRs vs. the I-formation or the gawd-forsaken 3 TE set. I would also guess Eason’s efficiency was higher in the shotgun vs. under center.

              Sure it helps to have a QB with a little mobility, always has, but it’s not necessary to have a running QB. And if you get the benefit of a nasty OL mauling defenders, all the better. But if running shotgun and pistol with a single back 60-70% of the time helps us win more games, and helps us utilize our talent better with a slower learning curve from high school to college, it sure as heck won’t hurt the QBs, RBs, or WRs NFL prospects.

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              • Spot on about the Bobo offense. Spread attacks do not have to have a dual threat QB. The Patriots are the least traditional pro-style team in the NFL. They’ve perfected the spread-passing attack. The thing I think Smart wants is a multiple offense that can do both. Spread things out and still be able to run out of this set effectively, and still be able to line up in the I and get tough yards or just run right at people when you know they can’t stop it, ala Clemson in 2014. Read somewhere the other day, maybe here, that Eason took more snaps in the shotgun than from under center this year.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Will (The Other One)

                  I’ll feel a lot less worry about the offense if word leaks that UGA talked with some of New England’s staff about offense concepts. They have no really great, all-pro-level WRs, but they have two great TEs, and a damn good QB and can lay waste to NFL defenses. Not the worst model for the 2017 UGA offense to build off, assuming Eason can get the accuracy better.

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  2. Hobnail_Boot

    Obvious counterpoint: as the proliferation of pass-happy offense in the Peach State continues to blossom, it further strengthens Tech’s position as the Triple Choption becomes increasingly rare and therefore harder to defend.

    Let’s be honest: Johnson has been moderately successful and that is with negligent recruiting efforts. He doesn’t have to focus his recruiting in-state. Where this could end up biting them in the butt would be in a post-Johnson world with a new coach who wants to go pass-first. That coach would have to be a tenacious recruiter.

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    • The TO is a great offense to run if you’re maximizing inferior talent, no question. But you’ve got to have some talent. If this trend is real and holds up, GT is going to have to beat the bushes harder and harder out of state to make up for a dwindling talent pool in state. How many kids playing in a spread passing attack in high school are going to give the TO the time of day during recruiting?

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      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        It comes down to finding kids like Justin Thomas that are just great athletes and don’t want to give up the dream of playing QB because they aren’t great passers. Thomas committed to play DB at Alabama..he was a top 150 recruit as an athlete ..he decomitted from Bama…and instead chose QB at Tech.

        So in a way…there is a dwindling talent pool of QBs in the state, but the flip side of that is that GT is a pretty unique opportunity for kids that don’t have a chance at being a pro or spread QB and want to keep playing. At least that’s what I hope…I want Paul Johnson at Tech for the next twenty years.

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      • More overall talent in state means more mid-level 3 star talent also. Tech looks for a certain type of athlete for its system, not particularly what system they played in high school. With most of their offensive players, Tech was the best, or only, power five option they had. There will still be plenty of QB’s that are much better runners in a spread system than passers with Tech being the only school offering them at QB. Tech will never get a Nick Chubb at slotback, but there are plenty of Lynch’s out there to plug in. They specifically look for 6’3″ 280 type linemen that they can teach to cut-block. A good example of a bad fit is Shamire Devine. He is one of only three 4 star recruits on their roster, at 6’6″ 340. A natural tackle, they have him at guard and he has trouble staying in the line up. He’s stayed in Johnson’s doghouse because of his weight. He just can’t get low enough to block in their scheme. We recruited him and if he were here, he’d most likely be starting at tackle. My point is this state will still have plenty of mid-level athletes, with Tech as their best offer, to keep plugging into its offense.

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      • RCBRick

        Senator, I wouldn’t get too excited about tech not being to find a QB. You are worried about highly rated dual-threat guys, but that was never really doing to happen for them under Johnson. They have one major advantage: they can get highly rated athletes (as in, the kind that are listed as ATH on the recruiting services) who aren’t quite good enough QBs to get P5 offers anywhere else but dearly want to play QB in college. If you are a guy like that and you want to play for a major conference title or in the Orange Bowl, GT is the only game in town.

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  3. PJ is in the perfect situation: 3-6 vs the only team Tech cares about is good enough. He gets to tisk-tisk the media when he wins and has a built in excuse of academics and lack of support when he loses.

    That said: at some point even GT is going to get sick of his act. He is a PR nightmare and while he can shrug off recruiting rankings whenever he beats someone he shouldn’t, he can’t hide the fact that his teams basically have to draw an inside straight to beat talented teams (his 3 wins vs UGA are by a total of 10 points w 1 in OT).

    They will have another mediocre season before they have another 10 win season, and his general dickheadedness is going to catch up to him.

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    • Will (The Other One)

      I think he’s basically safe unless the wheels totally come up with back-to-back losing seasons, or he has another losing streak vs UGA hit six games. Otherwise they’ll largely take 7-5 and 30% wins vs us.

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  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    28-27

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    • Mad Mike

      Is that you St. Simons?

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    • JCDAWG83

      Yep, we’ve lost two of the last three to a program that can’t recruit talent in Georgia.

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      • Mayor

        ^This. Tech’s O doesn’t need the 4 star or 5 star athlete. Tech needs 2 to 3 stars who can be taught to fit into that system. There are plenty of prospects for Tech in the state of Georgia. It also requires a QB who can run the TO and who also can pass. There are enough Justin Thomases out there and very few places at Power 5 conference schools where they can play QB and there are enough out there where Tech can sign enough to have competition at the QB position, too. In a weird sort of way the Tech O actually works to Tech’s advantage in recruiting because Tech doesn’t have to recruit against Bama, FU, FSU, UT, etc. like Georgia does for most of its position players. Tech recruits against Georgia Southern and a bunch of FCS schools. Tech is actually the best option (no pun intended) for many of those players. What I don’t understand is why any good WR would ever go to Tech but there always seem to be some there.

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    • Benjamin Bragg

      Yep, let’s revisit this conversation AFTER we beat Tech….at home.

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  5. Tech has a commitment from a pretty good dual-threat QB out of Carrollton. Carrollton doesn’t run the triple option but the QB in their spread does many of the same things on option QB does plus they throw the ball. Unfortunately, Tech has signed a few good FB players from schools in my home area over the last few years.

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  6. Big Shock

    As a former Wing T QB, I am so jealous of today’s high school offenses. It’s amazing to see these kids sling it all over the field. The trend seems to be sweeping the country. Even the local high school in Montana, playing many night games in sub-freezing temps, throws the ball 50+ times/game. It’s fun to watch and I think for the players, it’s a fun offense to run. I remember reading an article about the turnaround at Hoover High School and the coach (maybe that Propst guy, at the time) talked about attracting athletes from other sports because the offense was so fun to run.

    In regard to GA Tech, I don’t know that you need kids that grew up running the triple option. I think that you just get a good athlete that can make good decisions and you’ve got a good offense. The Naval Academy has been great to watch this season. Their returning starter graduated, they lost their new starter in the season opener, plugged in another QB and he is playing like an All American. There are plenty of kids that are good runners, either QB’s or RB’s, that you should be able to plug in that offense…just not a lot that want to play for an arrogant jerk like Paul Johnson.

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  7. Mark Richt

    Given the results of last Saturday’s game, I feel confident GT’s new AD and Paul Johnson are not concerned with this post.

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