Needing to see more from Chaney? That’s the easy part.

This strikes me as a somewhat fair assessment of Georgia’s offense in Smart’s first season.

While Smart initially went after Arkansas coordinator Dan Enos before settling on Chaney — Enos’ non-compete clause blocked him from leaving the Hogs — the plan was always to keep the pro-style offense at Georgia.

Hiring a spread guru might have made more sense, though. Tennessee and Mizzou, the only true up-tempo offenses in the SEC East, led the division in scoring and total yards this season. Alabama found even greater success on that side of the ball after hiring Kiffin. Football is overwhelmingly trending in this direction. And, of course, Jacob Eason ran the spread in high school.

But Smart stuck with what his area of comfort and familiarity — the pro-style attack Nick Saban used to win championships with the Crimson Tide.

Here’s the thing: To win with the pro style, . Georgia did not have that this fall; the left tackle position was an eye-sore, and the three interior position starters (Isaiah Wynn, Brandon Kublanow and Lamont Gaillard) all weigh closer to 300 pounds than 330. The problems became obvious as early as the Nicholls State fiasco, and as Smart said himself at one point, offensive line issues rarely get fixed in-season.

The Bulldogs averaged 4.05 yards per rush in SEC play and just 3.44 yards on third down. Vanderbilt and Florida both held them under the 100-yard mark.

Then you have your freshman quarterback. Chaney admitted that “a little contradiction with philosophies” existed in regards to Eason’s comfort running a pro-style offense. Taking the snap extensively under center required adjustments from Eason, who already had plenty on his plate as a first-year starter. The result wasn’t always pretty.

But only somewhat.  First, and most obvious, let’s not forget that Mark Richt is just as wedded to a pro-style attack as Smart, and so it’s logical to expect that Eason would have struggled to adapt to changing circumstances regardless.

Second, there are several assumptions being made about the pro-style approach that I don’t buy.  His bit about “you need players who can physically dominate opponents up front to establish the run and set up play-action throws” is easily rebutted by Georgia leading the country in yards per play in 2012.  That didn’t happen because Georgia’s offensive line dominated opponents, but rather that it had two fantastic freshmen running backs whose running styles were suited for the blocking schemes and personnel in place, which allowed Bobo to establish the run and set up play action for a battle-tested redshirt junior quarterback.  (That same formula worked almost as well in 2014.)

This isn’t a fair comparison, either:  “Eason didn’t find Year 1 success as quickly as Murray before him, either.”  Eason got thrown into the mix as a true freshman; Murray had a redshirt year to get ready before his first start.

There’s also one of my pet peeves at work — the lack of understanding of what makes a spread offense a spread offense.  Here’s his solution for fixing Eason’s inconsistency.

But when he operated from the shotgun? Just look at some of these throws against Tennessee:

Umm… you can operate out of the shotgun in a pro-style offense.  That’s what Eason did there.

I bring all this up because while it’s easy to identify what went wrong this season, diagnosing the why behind how it happened is apparently up for some argument.  For me, the problems boil down to one basic thing, a coaching staff that elected to pursue an approach that wasn’t suited to what Georgia’s players did best.

How much of that is Chaney’s fault is hard to gauge, but given the experience of seeing what the players could do in their first season taking his direction, along with the upgrade in personnel on the offensive line the incoming class brings (usual one month from now caveat in effect, of course), another year of same old, same old won’t sell.

It’s fine to have a vision of how you want to do things.  At some point, though, you have to turn vision into reality, because vision doesn’t win games on its lonesome.


Filed under Georgia Football

43 responses to “Needing to see more from Chaney? That’s the easy part.

  1. Derek

    It can frustrate the hell out of us, but in truth it’s never too early to establish the new identity. Yes they could have stayed with the zone blocking scheme, but it would have delayed the progress of the younger OL players. Now the ground is laid for our younger guys and the new road graders to come in seamlessly (I hope).

    As far as this idea that Alabama is playing a “spread offense,” no not really. That’s a pro style team with spread concepts. Jake Coker didn’t run a spread offense last year. There’s more of the spread in the playbook this year because it suits Hurts.

    The real path forward is having a team capable of doing some of both. Then you sign pro style qbs and athletic ones. The athletic ones who can’t play at this level become scout team qbs and the special ones get the starting job.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Junkyardawg41

    Could not agree with you more Senator. The author of the article seems confused with several things wrt the o line. Specifically that a spread attack and a HUNH offense are the same thing. CMB wanted smaller, athletic, and in shape lineman who could execute 80 plays a game into the 4th quarter. The last two seasons the pace slowed way down and the offensive line we have is not designed for methodical mauling. So to the point you are after, a HUNH offense is just as effective as a spread offense doing the same thing provided the right personnel and desire to execute it.


  3. Georgia has had spread elements in its offense since the Donnan days. The question about the offensive line play is more about doing what works best for the players you have. That’s the rub I have with Chaney, Pittman and their offense this year. They didn’t take what they inherited and maximize it. The fact that we didn’t score 40+ points in a game this year should be embarrassing to Smart and Chaney.


    • Griff

      Good points. Pittman is a very good offensive line coach with schemes he’s mastered. Unfortunately lacked the physical attributes needed to execute. That won’t be a problem in a couple seasons. It’d be great if a couple of incoming freshman are able to block at a high level. One can hope!


    • The other Doug

      I gotta ask. Do think it was Chaney that picked the offensive style and wanted to stick with it or do you think that was Kirby? I think it was Kirby. Chaney has been around too long to be a one trick pony. I could be wrong though.


      • I don’t know, but either way it’s damning to Chaney. If your head coach insists on doing things in a way that doesn’t fit the personnel and you do nothing about it, you aren’t the offensive genius everyone thinks you are. If he kept doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, he’s insane.


  4. Griff

    Honestly, Chaney is being blamed for far too much. Smart’s preference is pro style so he hired a coordinator with a similar philosophy. There was, however, a deficit in talent and experience in key areas, I.e., true freshman qb (the kid didn’t have a chance), undersized offensive line for the new blocking scheme, lack of offensive line talent and erratic qb play. Eason may become a very good qb but his learning curve was steep given that he played in Washington state, not a talent rich state so his competition level was subpar. For certain, his decision making as well as accuracy must improve greatly this year. Receiver play must improve and so too must the offensive line. It all starts upfront.


    • Chaney shouldn’t get the blame for the offense’s performance against Nicholls, Vanderbilt, Florida, and Auburn? He shouldn’t get the blame for his mishandling of the 4th quarter against tech? He shouldn’t get the blame for a slow developing play-action pass that results in Eason’s fumble for a TD in the Tennessee game? He shouldn’t get the blame for the toss sweep to IMac in the Vandy game? He’s been terrible this year regardless of which way you look at it.


    • Agree 100%. Chaney is being blamed for far too much. Smart is a defense guy, his number one goal for the offense is for it to not hurt the defense. There is no way he told Chaney “do what ever you want ” to build the best offense possible. Chaney is implementing Smart’s offensive philosophy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Given that Smart has spent all of one year coaching on the offensive side of the ball, I would suggest he trust his staff to build the best offense possible. Otherwise, he Will go down in Georgia history as Boom 2.0.

        Richt hired BVG because he thought the guy did great things with limited talent when Central Florida(?) played FSU. He got out of his way and let him develop the defense as he saw fit. We got a defense very quickly that reminded many of us of the Junkyard Dawgs.


    • soccerdawg

      EE is right. Chaney deserves blame. When they used the width of the filed and pulled linemen, the OL was much more effective. A coach that doesn’t use that to make holes for Chubb and Michel deserves all the blame recognition he receives.


      • I see what you and EE are saying and I would agree except that would mean Chaney is a really, really shit coach. Why would Smart hire such a shit coach? Are his coaching evaluation skills that poor? How could Chaney survive this long if he were so bad? I think the problems on offense are a little more complicated.


        • How could Chaney survive this long if he were so bad?

          Charlie Weis and Scot Loeffler keep getting high profile work, too. He built his rep on the coattails of a future HOF’er in Brees. It’s not an uncommon story.


          • That’s exactly right … many of us have been stating that for a number of months now. Chaney has done nothing of note since Drew Brees left West Lafayette, Indiana for San Diego. In today’s world of high powered offenses, he has never to my knowledge been a serious candidate for a head coaching job at any level of the college game.


  5. Chaney is my biggest concern going forward.

    In retrospect, I really wish Kirby had given Lilly a serious look with the idea being to go back to what we had cooking pre-Schotty.

    Right now, I think there were just too many variables to know which one was the real problem: Chaney, change in philosophy, bad OL, freshman QB, average receivers, etc.

    2017 will be a make or break year for Chaney for me.


  6. HVL Dawg

    If CMR had been coach this year the starting quarterback would have been none other than the one who won 10 games last year. Eason would have gotten 2-3 series per game.

    But alas, throwaway season.

    I hate that I came on here and did a “If CMR were coach…”, but I think you made a faulty premise regarding Eason under CMR.


    • JCDAWG83

      I have to agree 100% with you. Also; I think if Richt were still here, we would have won the tech and Vandy game, gone 10-3 and be hearing the same “if only” and “next year” we had been hearing for the previous 10 years.

      The honeymoon is over with Kirby, the tech loss made sure of that. Let’s see what he and Chaney can do the next few seasons. If things don’t get a lot better, let’s move on to another coach and see how he can do.


    • Not sure I agree. Would Lambert have been the starter? Yes until the season’s goals were gone. Stafford didn’t take over really until after the Tennessee game in 2006. Assuming we lost to Ole Miss and Tennessee as we did this year, Eason likely would have been the starter from the Vandy game forward.

      My problem with this year is that Eason looked like he took very small strides this year. After the Tennessee game, he seemed to plateau and never really seemed to improve.


  7. SouthGaDawg

    With a completely new offensive staff, I was expecting some speed bumps in the road, so maybe I’m in the minority on this. I think next year is the measuring stick. My disappointment this year is that Eason seemed no better in the bowl game than he was vs UNC. Before the whole Kiffen thing went down in the last few weeks, I was hoping we could get Sark as QB coach and passing game coordinator. I’m just not sold on Chaney as a QB coach.


  8. Cpark58

    All of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the phrase “throw away season” aside, it is a race for 2018. That is the do or die year. No one is getting fired year 1 or 2 but flounder in year 3 and beyond and there will be no excuse. Not to say that one should accept steaming garbage in 16 or 17 but we should have some understanding that the staff is installing and building depth in what they want to do and will have to work with when it’s shit or get. Everyone acts like the offense was a well oiled machine in 2015, I’m not sure why. I expected a mediocre ’16 as some of the close wins of ’15 turned to close losses but I’d expect significant improvement and flashes of greatness in ’17, and we all should be demanding greatness by ’18.

    Kirby and co may or may not be great X’s and O’s guys but they do seem to be building something so we might as well get on board because, at least for the next 2 years, what other option do you have?


    • I expect that this team should compete for the East title in 2017. Get to Atlanta and see what happens. If we aren’t in the mix for Atlanta, 2018 becomes a do-or-die type of year.


    • adam

      Considering how many starters we are returning in 2017 and how many we could potentially lose going into 2018, I think we need to be really good this year.

      Heading into 2018 we will lose Michel, Chubb, Wims, Blazevich, Wynn, Sims, Ramsey, J. Davis, and Bynum on offense. On defense, we will lose Atkins, Bellamy, L. Carter, Davis, Sanders, R. Carter, Parrish, and Wilkerson. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see a number of early entries (Godwin, Patrick, R. Smith, Baker, Thompson, Hawkins-Muckle, Gaillard, and Ledbetter will all be draft-eligible).

      I think we need to follow this recruiting class with a similarly impressive one and try to convince some guys to stick around for their senior years, but 2017 looks more promising than 2018, at least on defense.


  9. Russ

    Said this all season. It’s fine to have a vision but you have to be willing to use what you have right now. If this was truly a throwaway season for Kirby, then I get his stubbornness. But he better be damned sure that improvement is evident.

    BTW, we’ve had the smallest line in the SEC since 2013. We had the largest in 2011. Middle of the pack in 2012. Size of the line has little to do with rushing success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well Said!!
      The meme the CKS has to get “his players” to be successful is maddeningly frustrating. Using what you have right now in now limits your ability to change when you have the players necessary to run a different system.


  10. Grathams replacement

    Every offense depends on blocking which the 2016 OL,WRs and even FBs did not do very well. Running stretch/spread plays worked better but there were still plenty of missed blocks in those instances. How may times was a DL or three in the backfield before the QB/RB had time to execute the play? Until the OL is upgraded any OC will struggle with any offense at UGA.


  11. Rebar

    Don’t want to witness anymore square pegs pounded into round holes.


  12. Swanguard

    Thing I didn’t understand. In the Spring game we looked so good throwing to the tight ends. We hardly ever threw during the year. Used very few plays( like the pass in the Liberty Bowl) to get Michel in the open field and the one think I never understood -why- with Mckenzie,Michel,and others- did we use Douglas and Davis on kick-off returns.


  13. W Cobb Dawg

    Chaney is Charlie Weis 2.0 without the Patriots reputation to fall back on. Despite a combined 50+ years of coaching cfb, Chaney/Pittman have never been more than mediocre. Hard to believe Chubb had to have a big bowl game just to break the 1,000 yard barrier.

    I agree with Brother Bluto that it’s not a spread vs. pro style issue. Even sos made adjustments to maximize Shaw’s mobility, like bama did for Hurts. The style isn’t as big an issue as being able to coach worth a ship.

    Mizzou’s Heupel is a far superior OC and QB coach to Chaney, and I’d argue much more similar to Bobo’s offensive thinking than Schotty or Chaney.


  14. Dawg in BamacExile

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned 3 OCs, 3 OLCs and 3 different opinions on blocking for these kids. Richt for the most part had continuity in his offensive coaching staff in addition to stability. Until Bobo and Friend left at the same time. OLine play should improve in year two as the message from the coaching staff stays consistent. Give them all a chance….


  15. 92 grad

    All they had to do (in 2015) was use a bye week to rep 4 new plays for Bauta to run in Jax. That’s it. Truthfully, only 2 of the 4 plays needed to work.


  16. Lumpdawg

    Rogers, Manning, Roethlisberger, Brady….none of these guys take a snap under center, or if they do, then it’s rare. It seems to me that pro style means something different today than it did in past years. It’s not an offense like the ones run by Auburn or Oregon, but it’s also not like one run by Phil Simms in the late 80s. Eason seems more accustomed to a current pro system than one from 20 years ago.


  17. Put Eason & Fromm In the Shotgun & utilize the Tight Ends. That would work.


  18. “a coaching staff that elected to pursue an approach that wasn’t suited to what Georgia’s players did best” Full stop


  19. doofusdawg

    Reality will hit Chaney as well as Kirby in the face around next November 1 if our offense is not prolific as well as efficient. The days of scoring less than 30 on offense per game are over… or dwindling.


  20. Russ2

    UGA players were leaving the huddle thinking ,”dam play ain’t going to work .” When you have the 3 yards and a cloud of dust offensive scheming , it demoralizes the players . Especially when it ain’t working but you continue trying the same thing. Utilizing short passes to the TES and RBS can help establish a running game, by stopping the LBS from creeping up every play. UGA was handicapped by their own offensive staff and or Head Coach. If it wasn’t Smart , Cheney would have been fired before SEC Champioship game. Eerililly similiair to Boom!


  21. Will Trane

    Alex Shirkey, offensive guru and expert. Those are the qualifications Nick Saban was looking for when he cut Lane Kiffin loose this week.
    Unfortunately, Alex as non-compete cluase wherever he is currently coaching.
    Doubt seriously if he has ever interviewed Smart or Chaney or Pitman.
    Or even Richt or Bobo.
    If yiu were to put six offensive formations in front of him if could tell you which ones were spread or pro style.
    Ask him. His article would have some credibikity if he had show some plays or video. More than likely you can run a spread, a half spread, or pro with the QB in the shotgun.


  22. I still get a little sick to my stomach watching the end of that game.


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