Daily Archives: January 3, 2017

Back in my day, sonny, people used to watch the Rose Bowl.

This is fine.

The USC/Penn State Rose Bowl scored a 9.4 overnight rating on ESPN Monday afternoon, up 19% from Stanford/Iowa last year (7.9) but down 16% from Michigan State/Stanford in 2014, the last Rose Bowl of the BCS era (11.2). The 2015 Rose Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.5 overnight. The last Rose Bowl to take place on January 2, Oregon/Wisconsin in 2012, had a 9.9.

The Trojans’ comeback, last-second win — which peaked at a 12.4 overnight from 9:15-9:30 PM ET — earned the second-lowest Rose Bowl overnight in at least 15 years and likely further back.

Though low historically, the 9.4 overnight was a high-water mark by New Year’s Six standards. It was the highest overnight for a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl (12 telecasts dating back to 2014), topping the previous mark of 7.9 for last year’s Rose Bowl.

Later in the night, the Oklahoma/Auburn Sugar Bowl had a 6.1 overnight — up 15% from last year’s subterranean 5.3 for Mississippi/Oklahoma State but down 34% from Oklahoma/Alabama in 2014, the last Sugar Bowl of the BCS era (9.3). The 2015 Sugar Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 15.3 overnight.

The 6.1 is the second-lowest for the Sugar Bowl since the 1995-96 season, when Virginia Tech/Texas had a 5.5 on New Year’s Eve.

Rounding out the day’s action, the Wisconsin/Western Michigan Cotton Bowl plumbed the depths with a 3.2 overnight — down 40% from Michigan State/Baylor in 2015 (5.3) and even down 26% from Missouri/Oklahoma State on FOX in 2014, which aired directly opposite the Orange Bowl and was not part of a major bowl alliance (4.3). Last year’s Cotton Bowl was a playoff semifinal and had a 9.9 overnight. In the comparable timeslot last year, a higher-profile Ohio State/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl had a 6.2.

The 3.2 is the lowest for the Cotton Bowl in at least a decade.

In all, the full New Year’s Six averaged a 7.8 overnight on ESPN this year — up 10% from last year (7.1) and down 5% from 2014-15 (8.2).

If you’re a major bowl game in the post-BCS era and you’re not hosting a national semi-finals game, your numbers are trending down and likely to stay that way.

Which means there’s only one solution to your dilemma…

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24 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

“He’s staying, in kind of a confused and disappointed state.”

Kirby Smart called Rodrigo Blankenship’s father’s bluff.

Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and his family have been told that the place-kicker will not be put on scholarship until next school year at the earliest, and even that is not a guarantee.

Head coach Kirby Smart informed the player and his father of that at a meeting Monday, according to someone close to the situation.

Blankenship is still planning to remain with the team, according to his older brother, Ken Blankenship, who was not in Monday’s meeting, but has since spoken to his father.

“He loves the team. But even more than ever he is so proud to be a contributing member of this team. He loves the Dawgs. He is not leaving the university. He is not going anywhere. He wants nothing more than to be part of it,” Ken Blankenship said.

All this tells you is that Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class must be shaping up to be one for the ages.

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UPDATE:  William Ham is leaving (the team, not UGA), but it doesn’t like he’s in kind of a confused and disappointed state about it.

46 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in the difference between correlation and causation

From Seth Emerson:

Injuries: Or lack of them. The only player to suffer a season-ending injury before December was punter Marshall Long, and that was nine games in. As late as the Florida game, on Oct. 29, the Bulldogs had every single starter and every key reserve as well.

How much credit does the new S&C staff deserve for that remarkable turn of events and how much should we attribute to sheer, random luck?

36 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Observations and reflections, Liberty Bowl edition

As I posted before the bowl game, 8-5 sure looks a lot more palatable than 7-6.  Winning is always better than losing, so it’s satisfying to see 2016 close out on a positive note.  Not that the win over a 6-6 TCU squad qualified as dominant in any sense.  Georgia won because, unlike so many other games this year, the Frogs had a miserable kicking game and, in something of a shocker, managed to turn in a worse red zone performance than did the Dawgs.

That being said, in so many ways the bowl game was such a microcosm of the season, it’s hard not to look under the surface and see most of the things that drove us crazy during the regular season in play.  A perfect of example of that came in the first half:  David Marshall goes from looking completely lost on one play to blowing up a double pass by staying home (a skill that has notoriously eluded many a Georgia defensive lineman over the years) on the next, only to see Kirby Smart waste a challenge and a time out arguing the second pass was a lateral when it was apparent from the broadcast that it went forward.

I came away thinking yet again that this year’s team was talented.  You don’t watch a dominant performance by Trent Thompson, another terrific effort by Roquan Smith — boy, it’s a pleasure to see an inside linebacker who’s not a liability in pass coverage — Chubb and Michel being Chubb and Michel, among other things, and not come away with that impression.  But it’s frustrating to see how that talent gets frittered away by, for want of a better description, overcoaching.

Watching Smart and Tucker stubbornly insist on constant player substitutions in the face of TCU running its hurry up offense was maddening.  The result was disorganization that was as bad as a Grantham defense in its heyday, minus the hand waving.  Plus, it was clearly ineffective, as TCU’s offense moved the ball up and down the field.

It also resulted in Georgia having to burn time outs as it attempted to get its collective defensive act in order.  Those timeouts might have come in handy at the end of the first half when the Dawgs recovered a fumble at midfield with less than a minute on the clock and wound up having to settle for a field goal attempt that was out of Blankenship’s range.  Smart’s first-year clock management skills have proven to be as frustrating as Richt’s were.

Much the same could be said about the insistence on the same blocking strategy by the offensive line in the first half that served the offense so poorly in the first twelve games.  The results were completely expected.  The running game was largely bottled up.  It was to Chaney’s credit that he didn’t abandon the run going into the second half (and what does it say when you can make a credible argument that was the best coaching decision of the day?).

What did change in the second half was a couple of adjustments on offense.  Eason spent less time lining up under center and the line pulled and trapped a good bit more.  The result was the most unusual of circumstances in this 2016 season:  holes for running backs to pop through.  (Somewhere in the middle of the third quarter, Chubb and Michel had to be pinching themselves at their sudden good fortune.)  It’s amazing what you can accomplish with an approach that utilizes what your talent does better than what it’s shown all season it’s not as capable of doing.

In short, it was a game that could have played out in a more comfortable manner than it did had the game plan been to play to Georgia’s strengths from the beginning instead of establishing a mentality, or whatever it is they like to call it.  This is what on the job training looks like.

Just a few bullet points, because it wouldn’t be an Observations post without them.

  • What I enjoyed the most about McKenzie’s huge gain on Georgia’s first scoring drive was the downfield blocking by Michel, who blew down there like a human whirlwind, and Godwin, of all people.  Terry has come a long way in that department.
  • I’ve mentioned Thompson’s dominant performance, but the defense as a whole deserves credit for a total of five sacks and seven tackles for loss.  It also forced two fumbles.  All of the disruptions were key.  (From Pro Football Focus“However, Hill’s numbers would dramatically plummet when under pressure, with his QB rating (42.4) ranking as the 13th-worst, low enough that simply spiking the football on each of those plays would’ve only dropped that value down to 39.6.”)  Despite running plenty of HUNH that the Dawgs had their struggles with, TCU’s offense was held under its season averages in points, yardage, yards per play and plays run.  They may have been choppy, but they were effective.
  • Perhaps best of all, that was the top red zone performance the defense turned in all season.  TCU managed to score only four times out of six opportunities.  If you don’t think that’s much of a big deal, consider that Georgia managed to move up thirteen spots nationally after the game and will finish the season no longer the worst team in the conference in that regard.
  • Maybe somebody can explain why TCU doesn’t play John Diarse more.  He had two touchdown receptions, one of which was one of the best catches I saw all season, and yet didn’t seem to be on the field much.
  • Jacob Eason remains very much a work in progress.  On that McKenzie big gainer, he did a terrific job keeping the play alive by moving to his left.  He also managed a couple of nice runs out of the pistol when there weren’t any open receivers.  But he still holds the ball too long too often and his touch on the deep ball is inconsistent, to say the least.  I don’t know whose learning curve progress is more crucial to success this coming year, his or Smart’s, but Georgia really needs for Eason to take a big step forward soon.
  • If you get a chance to watch a replay, keep an eye on Kublanow.  You’ll really see what I mean about giving the o-line the opportunity to play to its strengths.  Trying to hold his position in the first half, he had a hard time establishing any room for the running game.  But in the second half, when he was allowed to move, he was more effective, both pulling on the line and with some timely downfield blocking.
  • The best thing you can say about special teams play was that TCU’s bunch left more points on the floor than did Georgia’s.  Ramsey’s punting was largely ineffective, kickoff coverage wasn’t much better and blocking on returns was close to nonexistent.  However, Blankenship made all his extra points as well as his makeable field goal, which is more than you can say for TCU’s kicker.  (Also, somebody on the TCU sideline should have been paying attention when Ramsey, not Eason, went out as the holder on a field goal attempt.)  Small victories, I guess.

It was not a win for the ages, but it was a win.  Move on from that, crush recruiting over the next month, spend the next couple of months leading up to G-Day figuring out how to avoid making those rookie mistakes in the future and it’ll be a good start to Kirby Smart’s second season.  Here’s hoping.

87 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Lane Kiffin, national treasure

As a college football blogger, I’m gonna enjoy the ride as long as it runs.

What’s the over/under on Junior’s FAU stint, three years?

30 Comments

Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Always be creating.

If you don’t read anything else in preparation for the national title game, read this brilliant Chris Brown post about the latest wrinkle to come out of football’s strategic petri dish, what he calls the “toss read”.

And when I say the latest, I’m not exaggerating.

The latest evolution in the Inverted Veer/Power Read is a very 2016 story. The first coach I’d ever heard of running this play I only know of as “coachfloyd” on the CoachHuey football coaching message boards, and the first couple of times I read his text-only descriptions of his team’s new spin on the Inverted Veer I honestly couldn’t visualize what he was describing. (A pitch? What’s the technique? How does the read work?) And yet within a few weeks various high school teams had already installed the play — seemingly on the basis of these message board posts and word of mouth — and within a year a variety of big time college programs were each using it, including both Alabama and Clemson.
If they were still using pen and paper to draw this kind of stuff up, the ink wouldn’t even be dry yet on this baby.

3 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

All about Mixon

Unfortunately, as great as things started with the Rose Bowl, the evening had to end with the Sugar Bowl.  The game itself was a clunker, as Auburn typically got off to a good start and then gradually disappeared.

Along the way, we were treated to an embarrassing defense of Joe Mixon by Brent Musburger.

Brent is apparently unaware of the Rule of Holes, as he went on later in the broadcast to defend his comments.

Yecch.

Meanwhile, the fans didn’t want to be left out of the fun.

Nice shit show, guys.

21 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, General Idiocy