Daily Archives: March 15, 2017

Hey, some good news

Trent Thompson appears to be on the mend.

“He’s doing really well,” head coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday. “Very pleased with his progress. He continues to get better, and that’s the biggest thing for us right now, is a day-by-day process of rehabbing his shoulder and making sure he’s well. He’s done a very good job of that. He’s increased his weight too.”

Asked if he was hopeful about Thompson returning to the team this summer, Smart answered: “Hopefully. Yeah, hopefully.”

Best of luck, young man.

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“You are trying to get better.”

I know I’m a smart-ass fan blogger.  I’ve never coached a football game in my life.  So, believe it or not, when it comes to coaching, I try to give the men who do it for a living the benefit of the doubt because they know more than I do.  But there are times when all I can do is react with a “damn, just damn” take to something somebody says.

Like this, for example.

On Monday, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on his call-in radio show that the I-Formation cannot be the main focus of an offense anymore.

“You have to change it up,” Smart said. “You cannot sit there in the I nowadays – there are just too many teams that attack you. You have to be in 1-back sets, but when you are in that 1-back set, who are the other four guys on the field? Three receivers and one tight end, two receivers and two tight ends? You have to have a lot of packages to mix it up, and you have to find guys who can block and play in space.”

The advent of the dual-threat quarterback has made it more difficult to keep teams out of the endzone.

“Teams are scoring a little more nowadays because they are able to do RPO’s (run-pass option), they are able to throw run-pass options, and they are not doing that out of a traditional I-set with a traditional fullback,” Smart said.

Smart pointed out that teams cannot just line up offensively with a plan of beating the man in front of them, pointing out one SEC program recently tried to keep that approach.

“It would be great if we could just go out there and overpower people,” Smart said. “But I think you are always going to struggle with that, because most defenses in the SEC are a little more stout, a little more physical than the offenses.

Wait, what?  You just spent an entire season trying the pound and ground approach, one that your personnel weren’t really suited for, presumably because you wanted to establish a certain identity on offense, only to change course after one year?  Man, were I Jacob Eason, I’d sure wonder why the staff put me through what they put me through.

As for that one SEC program,

“I think you see that with LSU. Because LSU used to overpower a lot of teams, but when they play a team comparable to themselves, they struggle to manufacture out of the I.”

As I posted the other day, I’m not certain that’s an accurate portrayal of LSU’s offensive woes last season.  The Tigers led the conference in yards per rush (they were even better in conference play), as well as yards per play, which doesn’t indicate much of a struggle to manufacture.  Their shortcoming was that they simply didn’t have the ball on offense enough.  If you’re going to learn lessons from others, make sure it’s the right lesson you’re learning.

I probably sound more critical here than I mean to be.  For one thing, it’s hard to disagree with Smart’s conclusion.

“You have to be good at what you do,” Smart said. “Catering that to who we are is really important. If we are not the same as that team, or we don’t have the same weapons, we all know it boils down to players. We have to find ways to get players the ball. You want to look at teams similar to yourselves. How are they using two backs at the same time, if that is what a team’s got.

“If you are not changing, or you are not looking at things, you are going to get passed by.”

I’ve always believed that the sign of a good offensive coordinator is an approach that you take what a defense gives you until the other guy proves he can stop it.  That was definitely not Georgia’s offensive philosophy in 2016.  So if this is simply Kirby processing the experience and coming to terms with what didn’t work, that’s grounds for optimism.  Hopefully he’s got someone in Chaney who can show an appropriate level of flexibility to allow the offense to succeed.

But if this is more of a flavor of the month reaction to a flaccid offensive season, such that there’s no real direction — establishing identity replaced by throw a bunch of stuff out there and see what sticks — then, yeah, that’s a little concerning to me.  What happens if doing things differently doesn’t click relatively soon?

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Ramsey’s gone. Time to panic!

Nooooooooooo

We’ll start here because it’s obvious. Georgia is dangerously thin at the quarterback position. Only two snaps stand between Georgia’s current situation and having to trot a walk-on quarterback out to play the most important position in college football. That’s going to scare a lot of coaches…

This is a situation where if everyone stays healthy Georgia won’t ever really be affected by it. If Eason remains healthy and Fromm gets some mop-up duty, it could turn out to maybe help aid in Fromm’s development somehow. But it creates far from an ideal situation.

It hadn’t worked out for Ramsey as the starter at Georgia but he did have a little experience and helped UGA win the Belk Bowl in 2014. He had some experience and it may have allowed UGA to give Fromm a red shirt. That probably won’t happen now.

Alas and alack.  Who’d have ever thunk losing your backup punter could create such a crisis?

Seth Emerson takes a deep breath and notes what the more realistic picture appears to be.

It’s not good. It’s pretty worrisome to only have two scholarship quarterbacks, one of them a true freshman and the other a sophomore.

It’s also not unprecedented.

Back in 2010, Aaron Murray was a redshirt freshman who ended up starting every game. His backup was Hutson Mason, a true freshman who was the only other scholarship quarterback on the team. There was also Logan Gray, but he switched to receiver before the season.

So while this year’s situation is far from ideal, it’s manageable. Jacob Eason will in all likelihood start again, with Jake Fromm ready to pounce if Eason falters or gets hurt. It would take both getting hurt for the depth to become a real problem, at least as far as playing time.

Where it could hurt more is practice, where you tend to need good scout-team quarterbacks, and just have enough guys to run drills. But even then, Georgia is hoarding walk-ons, bringing in Stetson Bennett this year, and bringing back Sam Vaughn and Parker McLeod (who was a scholarship quarterback at Alabama before leaving the team, then resurfacing at Georgia last year.)

This isn’t a good situation for Georgia to be in for one year, which is why Smart and Jim Chaney are hitting the recruiting trail hard. But for one season, it can be managed.

Let’s get real for a minute.  If Ramsey had stayed and wound up being pressed into service this season, that would mean one of two things.  Either Georgia was finding itself on the winning side of some blowout games — and, boy, would that be a welcomed departure from last year — or 2017 went south in a hurry.

The biggest downside in the short run would seem to be that they won’t be able to redshirt Fromm to get some class spacing between the two quarterbacks on scholarship unless Eason stays healthy all season and the coaches can trust at least one of the walk-ons to handle mop-up duty and the rare occasion or two when Eason has to come out of the game for something like a helmet coming off during play.

Even that can be overcome, I suppose, by having Fromm take a redshirt the following season, assuming the next recruiting class brings in a couple of quarterbacks, similar to what the previous staff did with Hutson Mason.  But that’s a move that can have repercussions of its own.

I’m guessing they won’t be calling a lot of quarterback runs this year.  That would bring a whole new meaning to dual threat.

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They’re gonna need a bigger hashtag.

Fair warning:  Kirby’s pushing G-Day, peeps.

This spring, Smart is not pushing a specific goal, but on his call-in show Monday night, he reiterated how important it is to have a sizable crowd.

“I think it is critical,” Smart said. “The more we can pack that stadium and make it like a real game, I get to find out how kids respond and adapt to that atmosphere.”

Last year saw Sanford Stadium packed to capacity, possibly more, which Smart says helped with the true freshmen.

“I think it was really helpful for us against UNC,” Smart said. “You look at the guys who went out in that Georgia Dome and played as true freshmen. Jacob goes out there and plays. Nauta goes out there. Those guys played because a lot of them got to go out there in that G-Day game, at least the six that came in mid-year and get used to it.”

Unlike last season, the Bulldogs will open the 2017 season at home against Appalachian State.

“Any atmosphere we create like that is an advantage for our opening game, which this time is at Sanford Stadium. “So we approach it as coaches just like it was a game because we want those butterflies. We want that gameday experience.”

The feedback from the players was very positive after Smart’s first G-Day.

“They love it,” Smart said. “Who does not love getting to play on ESPN with a packed house. It shows our brand. It talks a lot about our recruiting when you have a great fan base that turns out for these events.”

The specific attendance goal may not be enunciated like it was in 2016, but the attitude that the fan base is a production prop for recruiting lives on.  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve in a greater cause.  Ask not what Georgia football can do for you, but what you can do for Georgia football really stirs the soul, does it not?

Hey — just a thought.  What kind of reaction would we get if nobody came to G-Day until they fixed the bathrooms?  Not that it would happen, but it sure would be fun to hear the sputtering.

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If recruiting classes were like wine vintages…

… then 2013 would be the year of drought, locusts and early freezes.

Ramsey was ranked No. 3 nationally in 247Sports.com’s composite ratings for pro-style quarterbacks for the Class of 2013. Of the top five, only one finished his college career with the team that signed him. Christian Hacklenberg, ranked No. 1 in that group, started and finished his career with Penn State and was drafted with the 51st pick by the New York Jets last year.

The other four – No. 2-ranked Max Browne (USC), Ramsey (UGA), Shane Morris (Michigan) and Cooper Bateman (Alabama) – all have decided to move on to secondary destinations as graduate transfers this year. In fact, Ramsey was the last among them to make that decision. The other three have already found new homes at Pitt, Central Michigan and Utah, respectively.

Man, that’s bad.

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