Georgia ain’t played ‘Bama, PAWWWLLL.

Let’s face it — Ian Boyd asks the question we’re going to have to grapple with at some point.

The question may be obvious, but Boyd breaks the answer into two parts, the right way and the wrong way to beat the Tide.

Here’s what he says you need to do it wrongly:

Urban Meyer perfected the “wrong way” to beat Alabama, Gus Malzahn utilized it as well, this path is basically to beat them at their own game. The Alabama strategy for winning is to be superior in the trenches on both sides of the ball, play elite defense, and run the air out of the football.

The downside of this strategy is that it requires turning the OL and DL into revolving doors of 300+ pound athletes, the most scarce resource in the game, but Alabama’s recruiting machine has regularly pulled it off. The upside of their approach is that if you are consistently great in the trenches then you aren’t dependent on particular skill players.

Alabama nearly just won a title with a true freshman QB at the helm who’s far from a master of their passing attack. When he’s better in that regard, they’ll of course be even more dangerous on offense, but they don’t need great QB play for their formula of elite D and crushing run game to put them in title contention.

That sounds like Kirby Smart’s current blueprint, if we’re honest, and, indeed, Boyd agrees with that:  “We can probably expect Saban’s pupil Kirby Smart to at least initially fall into the trap of trying to out-Saban Alabama.”  And therein lies the rub.  Is it reasonable to expect the pupil to surpass the master, especially when the master is notorious for not resting on his laurels?

The right way, as you can probably guess, was blazed by Clemson, and that is to combine a good defense with a dynamic passing game.

Other than 2013 Auburn, who had a first round LT, All-American FB, and phenomenal runners at QB and RB, or 2015 Ohio State who opened up their run game with a few vertical passes, not even these teams could run the ball particularly well on Bama. The Tide are going to stop the run and look to out-rush you if it kills them. You need to make sure that it does kill them, via the passing game.

No matter how many future NFL DBs or pass-rushers they stockpile in Tuscaloosa, the perfect pass can still beat them and it’s now evident that such a passing attack can be built at the collegiate level.

The hangups with this strategy is that waiting until your QB and passing game are in tip-top shape makes it harder to be in annual contention then the run game+defense strategy which is much more “plug and play.” However, the ceiling is also higher, particularly since it allows you a lane to the title that isn’t already occupied by Alabama.

Note that Boyd doesn’t say a word there about having a quarterback who’s also a running threat.  It’s all about having a passing game that can carry the offense, since it’s a given that a Saban defense will shut down the run.  (By the way, can we all agree that it was fairly impressive for Todd Gurley to rush for 122 yards in the 2012 SECCG?)

With a Jacob Eason still learning the offense and a receiving corps in the midst of a rebuild, it’s hard to see Georgia having that kind of aerial attack this season.  The question, then, is what Georgia will field in that regard come 2018.

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44 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

44 responses to “Georgia ain’t played ‘Bama, PAWWWLLL.

  1. This is a good point. First and foremost, Kirby has to get the OL to compete. Beyond that, it’s going to require more accurate QB play and an upgrade at WR.

    I don’t think trying to out-Bama Bama is a good idea either, but you’re not going to beat Bama at any style of play with a guard at one tackle, a RI transfer at the other tackle, and undersized C and G.

    Get an OL that can reasonably compete, then we can gnash teeth over the style of play.

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  2. With your words at the bottom about the state of our passing attack, is 2017 going to be Throwaway Season II? I don’t think Sony and Nick would have come back for another season like 2016. I still stand by my premise that Atlanta should be the goal in ’17 barring unforeseen injuries.

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    • … is 2017 going to be Throwaway Season II?

      No, it won’t. But there’s a difference between having the game to win the SEC East and the game to win the SEC.

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      • I thought that was your perspective. I can only hope we can find that balance to be competitive with the Tide if we get to Atlanta.

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        • Cojones

          Yeah, but you were correct about the meme for 2017 in case another year doesn’t work out again. What happened to just pinning it on our O Coordinator?

          It worries me that anyone wants us to start considering excuses for a not-so-stellar season to occur again. We’ve heard the yada yada yada about giving Kirby several seasons to get as good as Richt and then perhaps moving up. That ain’t the aegis that the good ole boys brought Kirby in on; it was to keep us from continually winning 10 games w/o winning the SEC or NC. Now that we find out it’s for looking good in recruiting and doesn’t have too much to do with players’ development, I’m not so sure I want to follow this piss trail into the underbrush.

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  3. David K

    I just hope we get a chance to play them to be honest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Exactly. I am not worried about beating Alabama. Yet. Right now, I just want the regular season to produce a chance to play Alabama come December. Maybe the passing game will have developed by then, but it won’t matter if we don’t get there first. If Boyd wants to write an article about getting there consistently, the only conclusion is follow The Process. Alabama is always there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mayor

    Call me crazy (many have) but I just don’t think Georgia is that far off. We already have the best combination of RBs in the SEC, maybe the entire nation. We have the gunslinger QB. Recruit some wide outs and upgrade the OL and we are there. I think the OL next season already will be greatly improved. The D Is there already. I’m not saying Georgia is going to be better than Bama next season but the Dawgs might be better than anyone on their schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dawgtired

      Hey crazy, I agree. If we close on the current class, (IF the talent is really what the stars indicate), along with the hold-overs like Ben Cleveland from the 2016 class, the OL will get a huge boost in the right direction. Another year with Pittman hopefully will show he is worth his salt. I believe an improve OL will change the face of offense greatly. As the OL improves, so does the QB, WR and RB positions. Everyone gains confidence and plays at a higher level.
      The WR position will also get an upgrade and could push the current group to be better. As Eason improves the WR will look better and both will gain confidence in each other.
      I believe in Eason! Once the players around him get these upgrades, I believe he will be a difference maker that will help us compete with teams like Bama which are a little better than us in the other positions.

      I feel good about our D now. But even that looks to improve. We have some really good-looking D studs coming in as well.

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      • Mayor

        I believe in Eason, too. The problems with Eason can be traced back directly to lack of protection. Hard to throw a strike when you can’t step into the throw or are running for your life.

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    • Russ

      I agree Mayor. We have the parts to compete and beat anyone in the East. Just have to use them to their best advantage.

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      • Mayor your thought process is correct but my concern goes back to the No. 1 ranked Dawgs from 2008. Talent all over that field and an inexperienced offensive line. I do not care how many stars an 18 year old kid has next to his name an inexperienced offensive line will get your 5 star QB hurt. or limit your playbook. Don’t get me wrong I believe the talent and focus on real needs in this recruiting class is impressive but experience does teach that in takes longer for an O-line to get to be overpowering than any other group. . Dooley ball…control what you can control….win the East and at least you’ve got a chance which is more than we’ve had the last few years. ” the Dawgs might be better than anyone on their schedule.” they already are.What do we do with it is the question. Statistically.second year is when Coaching changes usually pay off so that’s on our side.

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        • 1smartdude

          I agree. I’m not sure the O-line will be as good next year. This was an experienced line. I don’t see any seconds that were close to the firsts, which means you’ll start a JUCO player who may or may not be SEC caliber and some of those seconds or freshmen. It’s a bad formula unless the freshmen turn out to be all world. That happens but it’s usually because the rest of the line are very good and take up the slack. Looking at that prospect was what shocked me about Chubb coming back. I’m not sure I could have made myself pull that trigger. Then again Pittman could actually end up being what we expected. The real concern for me is, the OC and Kirby aren’t able to use the talent they have in the best way possible. For all the grief the O-line was given this year, they were much better than schemed up to be. I think that was the failure, not personnel. So, if that’s true and there is actually a dip in the O-line, personnel wise, what are the real expectations for season two? Mine would be, do a better job with what you have. It’s what you were hired to do.

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          • Mayor

            I was, and am, assuming the CKS becomes a functional HC and quits making bonehead mistakes. If he continues to be the gameday CKS we saw last season we could have the New England Patriots personnel and it wouldn’t make any difference. I thought I saw him improving as the season went along, however.

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            • AusDawg85

              I’m not sure about the D. What at least should have been a strength last season got badly exposed in the Red Zone. Maybe that gets fixed. And who fills the WR voids? Nauta should become the safety cushion for Eason the way Witten and Gronk are in the NFL. I’m only expecting modest improvement for this season carried on the shoulders of Nick and Sony plus Eason just managing the game with few mistakes. If the D improves a little on stopping the scoring then our weak schedule should get us to Atlanta.

              Kirby is not going to go the Clemson route. We don’t even have the coaching staff for that and not who he is recruiting. But if Saban retires in 2-3 years, there is no guarantee the next Bama coach can successfully follow the model, which actually puts UGA in a great spot. But Kirby has got to get by-in to the Process from everybody in the meantime and hope Saban does get out or we’ll still be on the outside looking in for SEC supremacy.

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    • doofusdawg

      There really appears to be two seasons for every team in the sec east. Getting to Atlanta then matching up with Bama. In 2012 we Had Gurley and Tree who basically kept us in the game. I don’t see those two guys on our 2017 roster. Eason could be but clearly is not ready… perhaps Chubb can become superman by the end of the year if the freshmen offensive linemen can mature and eventually start.

      There is no one on defense that I can see this year. Hopefully our overall experience can keep us in the game… but it comes back to the offense which is not comforting in terms of personnel and Chaney.

      And once again the schedule is teed up for us. Just beat the teams we should and hopefully gain some confidence and who knows.

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      • Mayor

        If we win every regular season game I’ll be happy even if we lose to Bama in the SECCG. That said, Bama might stumble and we might get matched up against another West team–say, LSU. Let’s just win the East first.

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  5. gastr1

    I wonder what Mike Leach would have to say about this. Seriously…is Alabama’s approach more “plug and play” than his?

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  6. Macallanlover

    Outplaying Bama at their own game looks like Mission Impossible to me, but you have to come at them with an ability to both run or throw, one option will never get it done, imo. While I think we have the tools to win the East, facing an Alabama or LSU defense with a predictable, one dimension offense will keep us from winning the SEC.

    UGA’s decision to have Chaney at the offensive controls is very limiting for the foreseeable future seems a low ceiling, even if you fix the OL shortcomings. Clemson has moved the ball consistently against 2 excellent Tide defenses because of their offensive diversity. Without that you need a great deal of lucky breaks, or catching Alabama with their unfocused C game. I wouldn’t count on that. So we may become the tallest midget by winning the SEC East more often but not winning the title game. I see 9. 10, or 11 wins in 2017, and a reasonable competitive loss in Atlanta. That will appease the vast majority of us for this next season, but is there a plan to rise above that? I hope so, but wouldn’t count on it. Without a major change in our offensive identity, 2nd or 3rd best in the SEC may be our high point if we follow our current direction.

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    • Cojones

      I don’t think it will appease anyone, Mac, least of all, you and me. This shit began with disrespect for the best O coor we’ve ever had who had created a great O that supported the Coach’s plans, but all of that was shit-canned in a flurry of disrespect beginning with the IPF tease. Now we find that there was no plan or standard to hold incoming new coaches to and that it is a trial and error learning experience to see if we can get back to the level we were.

      Dunning-Kruger was never any more on parade than is witnessed now by the UGA football program under an AD led by the good ole boys. I figure we haven’t reached the end of the lowering plot curve by these pronouncements geared for not getting hopes too high next year. Maybe we are just witnessing the D-K plot encompassing us, the fans.

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      • Macallanlover

        No, it wouldn’t appease me if that were the end game. If we take a step forward next year to that level, and there is light at the end of the tunnel with a legit to move beyond that, I am certainly appeased….temporarily. I just don’t think the creativity to compete nationally is within Chaney’s grasp. Seems inevitable that a change would be required for us to move far enough to be effective so why wait until we get the talent on board and make the change?

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    • Bazooka Joe

      Mac – think about what a waste it was to have Shanahan sitting next door in ATL where our OC (whoever it was/is) could have picked his brain in the off-season. Of course its too late now since he will most likely be off to San Fran after the super bowl…….
      I drool thinking about a UGA offense that spreads the ball around like the Falcons.
      Bama could not hang with that.

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  7. Atticus

    The 2012 team could’ve beaten them if we had any depth on defense. Match them at QB and RB, have a bunch of playmakers on defense and find a couple of elite WRs like Mike Williams who can change the game with a few big catches. But it all starts up front with the OL

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  8. Bulldog Joe

    LSU is the better example of this.

    Full control of recruiting in their own state plus a slew of athletes from Texas and an “impose our will” mindset.

    They get one narrow 9-6 win to show for it, followed by a series of humiliating defeats.

    Alabama’s defensive strategy is to control the middle third of the field. Get receivers and a quarterback capable of exploiting the outside thirds of the field and you have a shot.

    Ole Miss and Clemson are good recent examples of how to do it.

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  9. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    Gawd, if we could just get Bobo back as OC . . .

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  10. TampaDawg

    Ant to make it all the more impressive, Gurley was a true freshman when he ran through Bama’s defense.

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    • Mayor

      That was also before Gurley got injured. I wonder if Gurley, as good as he is now, is as good as he was his freshman season. That year he was awesome.

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  11. UGA85

    It does seem to be a theoretical question about UGA beating Bama when we have only been to ATL twice since 2005. I think we should start with beating Florida. But any questions about UGA’s offense are also theoretical since we haven’t had an adequate offensive line, IMO, since 2002. And how can anyone talk about beating Bama without talking about having a mobile quarterback? Watson had no chance without his legs. Having a statue at QB is an increasingly rare thing in college football, and a very hard formula for beating Bama. Or Florida for that matter.

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  12. I remember all the teeth gnashing and anger over Shannahan’s first year with the Falcons – how did that work out? Give Chaney a chance.

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    • Bazooka Joe

      Chaney should have parked his behind over in Flowery Branch in the past off-season picking up info from Shanahan.

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  13. Russ

    BTW when did Beth Mowins become our personal sports announcer?

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  14. I disagree with the premise. The old adage about playing good defense and special teams and running the football is no longer sound football theory, but futilely trying to out-do Bama? Sure, they’ve taken it to its furthest extreme, but it doesn’t make it any less of a sound coaching paradigm. You might as well say you have to have an all-world, Heisman-caliber QB or you have no shot.

    Urban Meyer didn’t fail because he tried to out-do Bama at their own game. He failed because he recruited and coddled a bunch of entitled criminals and lost his offensive coordinator (Mullen). When it became apparent he wasn’t the money-maker, he left to save as much face as he could. He’s now having the same success in an easier conference with an easier path to the playoff.

    LSU almost out-Bama’d the Tide this season. Had Hurts’s fourth-down fumble been reviewed and if they allowed the LSU player to actually score the TD on the return, that game would have turned out completely differently, and LSU wasn’t very good offensively. Clemson won this year… not because of Watson, but because of Mike Williams. He was the best player on the field, and the Tide had no answer for him. Their defense kept the Tide out of the endzone despite two crucial turnovers. If either of those turn into TDs the game ends differently.

    Playing tough defense, sound special teams, and running the football puts pressure on the other team to not make mistakes. This was the philosophy Mark Richt used for 15 years, except his team kept making the same dumb mistakes. Kirby’s first team made a lot of the same mistakes, but what was alarming was how few times the team cashed in on their opponents’ mistakes. They have to get a lot better in that regard. Strengthen the OL with a second year in the system, play lights out on defense, take the “special” out of UGA special teams, and take advantage of the mistakes the other teams make. That’s the recipe for 10 wins and a division title. A giant leap in Eason’s development and getting dynamic playmakers at WR would take that 10-win team to playoff or at least BCS-bowl discussion.

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    • Macallanlover

      Totally agree about Mike Williams, and maybe Renfroe, being the difference maker. Tide could have handled, and did, Watson’s threat to run the ball. But the combo/diversity of the passing game, and the running threat of Gallman and Watson was what wore the Tide defense down. Once they began using all the toys at their disposal in the 2nd half the game totally changed.

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      • One of the Bama DB’s said they could not handle Renfroe, when he was in the slot. Excellent wide receivers can make any QB look good. Hope UGA gets some.
        I look at what my alma mater(UW) did this last year with some excellent wide receivers and a second year QB. Looking at UGA next year, I hope.

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        • Bulldog Joe

          A bulked-up Alabama secondary could not handle the low third-down throws to Renfrow. The ball came in a foot off the ground where only Renfrow could get it. It was money every time Clemson ran it.

          Alabama also could not handle the high throws to Williams for the same reasons and had a difficult time handling Cain, Scott, and Gallman in the open field once they got outside the hash.

          Clemson was amazingly deep at the receiver positions supporting an experienced third-year quarterback. Co-offensive coordinators rarely work, but this was a great example of fitting the offense to the personnel.

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  15. A second point: Bama kills teams with field position. A punter that can consistently flip the field is a gigantic “must” to have a chance as well.

    We need to upgrade there as well.

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    • Macallanlover

      And that is how they get by with an average, at best, offense, They would have gotten by Clemson if they had been able to make 1 first down, possibly 2, and I think they would have if Scarborough hadn’t broken his leg. Also squandered field position a couple of times in the early part of the game. The defense has given them the ball with short fields for years. And that punter is a weapon for sure.

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