Daily Archives: February 2, 2017

This time, it’s personal.

Hugh Freeze sounds really, really upset about negative recruiting.

Negative recruiting is part of the game, but Hugh Freeze is not happy about it in wake of the current NCAA investigation of Ole Miss.

From 2013-16, Ole Miss had four top-20 classes, including two in the top 8. But in 2017, the Rebels’ class is ranked No. 33. They only got two of the top 10 players in the state of Mississippi. On Wednesday, Freeze spoke out about how the NCAA investigation into violations and the potential penalties impacted this year.

“It was ugly,” Freeze said at a press conference. “I didn’t enjoy it. You take great pride in who you are and how you do things. Again, that’s not to say that we’ve been perfect, but I know the value that I place on this job and my name and our coaches’ name and our administration’s name. I’m the leader of the program so everything is directed pretty much at you.

“Some of it was personal with some people probably. I don’t talk about other schools in recruiting and I won’t do that, and our staff is in charge to do the same. Unfortunately, there were several others that they thought it was a prime opportunity to use that in recruiting, and that’s the route they go. I won’t forget who they are.”

Ooh, straight out of the Urban Meyer school of relations.

The best part is his praise of Alabama because “they do it the right way”.  Dude, that’s because Nick Saban doesn’t have to worry about you on the recruiting trail.  Especially since he knows there are plenty of others out there willing to do the dirty work.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

Now comes the hard part.

While this may be a little over the top in some parts, Dan Wolken does hit on the bottom line question of where things go from here for Georgia football.

The discussion is old by now, but it will probably never go away here, not until Kirby Smart does what his predecessor could not.

Was it worth it?

Was it worth firing a successful and widely admired coach to bring in someone who had never before run a program? Was it worth goading the state legislature into changing laws to help the football program be more secretive, fast-tracking an indoor facility that never seemed to get built for Mark Richt, turning the entire athletic department upside-down to put more power and influence in the hands a football coach and tolerating the embarrassment of buying condoms for a rapper who demanded them in a contract to perform at a spring game?

Was it worth demolishing the very foundation of what the so-called “Georgia Way” purports to be?

The last time Georgia played a football game, ending an 8-5 season filled with indignities and incompetence, the answer was obviously no.

But Wednesday, Smart at least created a pathway toward ending Georgia’s buyer’s remorse once and for all.

While I think Kirby is too smart and too honest about things to pretend a great recruiting class in and of itself is a magic cure for what ailed Georgia last season, I don’t pretend that in certain quarters there won’t be plenty of taking that particular ball and running with it, either to wipe out the bad taste of a throwaway year narrative, or in a cynical attempt to manipulate the expectations of the fan base.

I also think Smart was convinced when he walked in the door that there was a talent deficit that had to be addressed.  He did make the observation soon after his hire that the starting 22 were up to SEC standards, but not so much when it came to team depth.  Add to that a clear emphasis on greater size on the offensive line and secondary, and it’s not hard to see that in his mind the program has been in a rebuilding mode in his first year plus on the job.

Many of us have fretted about poor special teams play in 2016.  Shane Beamer has been a target for much of that, but I have the feeling that Smart blames personnel way more than coaching when it comes to the production he got from last year’s coverage and return teams.  An underlying theme with regard to what some consider an oversized defensive back group in this year’s class is that even if some of those cornerbacks don’t crack the two-deep right out of the gate, they will serve to make special teams better by adding more size and speed.

“We have to get bigger across the board and we did that,” special teams coordinator Shane Beamer said on Georgia’s signing day webcast also referring to linebackers. “Those guys will impact us on special teams from day one. …The more defensive guys you can get with size and physicality the better.”

Along those lines, there’s also the emphasis on competition that I touched on yesterday.

Smart has emphasized personnel and it’s hard to argue with importance of the Jimmies and Joes part of the equation of succeeding in college football.  The question remains what the staff does with player development.  I keep coming back to this, but all you can say about that at the moment is time will tell.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The shape of SEC recruiting

If you want to see something with potential long-term ramifications, compare the 247Sports composite team rankings for the conference for 2017 and 2016.  What you’ll see is a widening gap between the top and bottom of the SEC.  Some of that is due, obviously, to Alabama’s obscene class this year, but, still, in one year the spread between number one and number eight has gone from a little over sixty points to almost 100.  That’s pretty significant in my book.

And it’s not as if the conference as a whole has done a shitty job on the recruiting front.  Quite the contrary, as this year every SEC program except for Vanderbilt finished in the top fifty nationally.  That’s small consolation if you’re trying to find a way to make it to Atlanta, though.

If you want to get a real feel for how the rich are getting richer, here’s what combining the two years’ total points gets you:

  1. Alabama — 623.94
  2. LSU — 579.27
  3. Georgia — 578.59
  4. Auburn — 531.24
  5. Florida — 510.54
  6. Tennessee — 490.09
  7. Ole Miss — 488.25
  8. Texas A&M — 487.13
  9. South Carolina — 444.60
  10. Mississippi State — 435.22
  11. Arkansas — 429.90
  12. Kentucky — 412.60
  13. Missouri — 369.43
  14. Vanderbilt — 335.83

That is one brutal arms race that much of the conference is losing there.

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UPDATE:

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Filed under Recruiting

Oh, and one more little thing…

This pretty much blows my mind.

Globally, however, [Andrew] Thomas is the first in-state Top 100 offensive tackle to sign with the Bulldogs in modern recruiting. That’s an amazing failure by previous recruiting regimes.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

300

There is a risk of going overboard about the class Georgia just brought in — understandable, given the mediocre season that preceded signing day — but purely on the numbers, by Georgia standards, it’s basically an unprecedented haul that Kirby Smart raked in yesterday.  Here are some examples of what I mean by that.

Keep in mind that’s after Florida’s impressive signing day finish.

More ESPN 300 info:

Smart will wait a long while before determining whether this year’s class is a success, but the Bulldogs inked 18 players who were ranked among ESPN’s top 300 nationally. The only classes with more were Alabama in 2014 and again this year, and LSU last year.

Georgia crossed the 300-point barrier in the 247Sports composite rankings.  In the last ten years, that’s only happened twelve times:  six times by Saban, three times by Meyer, once by Mack Brown, Steve Sarkisian… and Kirby Smart.  Sarkisian and Smart are the only two to pull off that trick without having won a national title first.  That’s pretty remarkable.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Booch be shoveling.

I mentioned the story yesterday about the top 100 recruit willing to grayshirt at Alabama because there was literally no room at the inn for him in the ridiculous class Saban assembled, but Tennessee’s head coach wants us to know things were just as tough for him.

“We had to turn away very, very talented football players, unfortunately, because of our numbers and what we needed with this current football team, and probably had to turn away more talented players than we’ve had since we’ve been here.”

I guess that would explain how UT wound up with the seventh-best class in the conference.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Blowing Smoke, Recruiting

Gettin’ bigguh

Some of you raised questions yesterday about the position allocation in this year’s class, particularly about the number of kids in the secondary.  I get your point, but we’re not Kirby Smart, who had a strong idea from the get-go about what he wanted to land.  Take a look at these measurements:

Only two of UGA’s 26 additions in the currently class are under six-feet tall. When it comes to the offensive line pledges, the average over 6-foot-5, 334 pounds each. The Bulldogs also signed four cornerbacks who are 6-feet or taller after starting a pair of players in Malkom Parrish and Deandre Baker in 2016 who measure in at 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11 respectively.

There’s this, too.

At 6-6, 304, Demery is the smallest lineman the Bulldogs picked up this recruiting cycle. (I feel like I need to write that twice). At 6-6, 304, Demery is the smallest lineman the Bulldogs picked up this recruiting cycle – the smallest. He’s the average size for what UGA used on the offensive line in 2016, and he’s the smallest in this class.   [Emphasis added.]

Kirby knew he wanted size and size is what he got.  And when I say from the get-go, I mean get-go.

The Bulldogs were eighth in last year’s recruiting rankings, the highest finish ever for a newly hired Southeastern Conference coach, and Smart said this class started to form when last year’s recruits were faxing their letters of intent.

“I don’t think people know how deep we were into this class last year at this time,” he said. “I remember being at the national championship game (as Alabama’s defensive coordinator), and during the time I was able to recruit, I was on the phone with a lot of these guys.”

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting