Plod no more.

You’ll see plenty of pre-spring practice pieces popping up over the next week as the Dawgs prepare to open spring camp.  Most of the questions that’ll be asked are either in the too-soon-to-know category (offensive line being a good example), or just silly, but here’s one that is worth considering.

4. Is there a perimeter playmaker?

Receivers Riley Ridley (57) and Javon Wims (51) and tight end Isaac Nauta (50) each had a gain of 50 or more yards last season, but explosive plays were few and far between.

The top receiver and return specialist from last season, Isaiah McKenzie, is preparing for the NFL draft, having announced after the Liberty Bowl he is skipping his final year of eligibility. Terry Godwin was the MVP of Georgia’s triumph over Penn State in the TaxSlayer Bowl after the 2015 season, but he never reached the end zone as a sophomore.

Godwin, Ridley and Wims have the potential to give the Bulldogs some outside punch later this year, while Nauta could be the top mismatch for opposing defenses.

He’s not kidding when he writes that explosive plays were few and far between.  Last season, Georgia ranked dead last in the conference in plays that gained 20 or more yards.  That’s right — even Florida and Vanderbilt were more prolific.  Given Eason’s arm as well as Chubb’s and Michel’s talents, that’s embarrassing.

How much of that can be blamed on scheme and how much on personnel is the question du jour.  Regardless, they’d better start finding some answers in April, or 2017 is going to be another drudge of a season on that side of the ball.

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33 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

33 responses to “Plod no more.

  1. I don’t blame scheme or personnel. I blame the guys wearing the headsets and their unwillingness to work with what they had on offense to win games. There’s a reason last year was a throwaway season … Kirby threw away his honeymoon.

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    • Russ

      Exactly this. We had personnel gaps, but nothing a competent coaching staff couldn’t work through. I hope that OJT we paid for last year pays off this year.

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  2. Jt (the other one)

    Personnel: hot garbage for an OL

    Plays: garbage due to nothing but guards playing OL

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  3. 81Dog

    I cant believe more of those one back plunges into a 9 man defensive front didn’t result in big plays. OTOH, from what the announcers were showing me on tv, Skinny QB 10 sometimes had guys open deep, sometimes wide open, but he didn’t see them. That could be part freshman QB, part he was frequently running for his life, but some of those big plays were left on the proverbial table. Hit some of them, and maybe the 9 man fronts aren’t so frequent, which makes some of the plunges a little more productive.

    One hopes everyone in the program does a better job this year.

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    • dawgman3000

      Good observation, that’s what I saw. I still hope that Cheney gets a little more creative with his playcalling though.

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  4. Macallanlover

    Our offensive problems were much bigger than our OL issues. Not disputing that our OL was very average, even below average, but it just wasn’t that different then what we have seen for over the past dozen years at UGA. It was a combination of an unimaginative OC, inexperienced receivers, some changess in blocking schemes, a QB who could not get to the 2nd and 3rd option on his progression and then was very inaccurate on mid to deep throws.

    The bad part is we won’t see if these are much better in the spring game because neither our OL or receivers will work against the number 1 defense and our QBs will know they are guaranteed not to take a hit when throwing. If we are to see improvement, the offense needs to be tested in game like conditions against high quality players similar to what they face next fall.

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    • This. I have to resist the desire to chalk it up to one easy answer. It really is a combination of elements you listed–blocking schemes, rookie QB, inexperience at receiver, and unimaginative play calling (aka ‘impose our will’ approach)…to add to that a new offensive scheme. Not that I have any say, but I’m ok with giving this staff another year to try and iron out this transition and get something cooking.

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      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        I think this is right on…there were a LOT of factors last year. My drumbeat was that you had a real lack of talent at O-Line and at WR. That’s a really bad combo when you have a true freshman QB. You get one dimensional out of necessity in a hurry.

        I think we should expect and demand big strides this year. Eason missed several long throws last year…Ridley and Nauta should be better. There is a huge influx of talent at WR that can play at the X or the Z allowing Godwin to move into the slot role where I think he can absolutely kill it (think Doug Baldwin in Seattle). Even if the O-Line is still a bit of a mess…having one glaring issue is something you should be able to overcome. It’s that two front war that is the real killer.

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        • DawgPhan

          But they didnt have to play the freshman. So if playing the freshman made the WR and OL worse and they didnt have options for other OL or WR then you have to play the Senior QB to cover for the WR and OL.

          But they made no effort to cover for the places where they knew they were lacking. They made a conscience decision to throw an entire season away.

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          • Irwin R. Fletcher

            This has never made any sense to me…Lambert would have made better decisions, but he still couldn’t physically make the throws…we saw him with a better O-Line and better WRs and while I’m not trying to diminish what he did for UGA, that was his ceiling. At least with Eason you gave yourself a chance to run the actual offense…plus he needed playing time. Plain and simple.

            There is a stretch in the 3rd Q of the Vandy game that sums up the whole season, IMO.

            Great playcall by Chaney on a fake handoff and a jet sweep look that had the defense completely fooled. Eason threw it underneath to Nauta for 9 yards instead of hitting Wims deep for a TD (if you watch the replay, you can see the entire sideline waiving at the freshman to see the open man). Even if Lambert had been in the game, I’m not sure he had the arm strength to make them pay in that situation whereas Eason should have killed em.

            As far as the microcosm…it’s not just that play. Nice run by Michel who made 10 yards somehow in the soup on a toss sweep. Eason hits Godwin on a quick hit for 7. Then….Chaney for some reason calls the same toss sweep to the same side and Vandy’s D sees it coming before the snap. Eason doesn’t check out. The combo of their recognition and our lack of blocking ends up in a loss of 2. Then on 3rd and 4, Vandy brings a jailbreak blitz, it looks like someone misses an assignment but regardless Eason doesn’t recognize it presnap, he sees the rush too late to hit a wide open receiver in the middle, then he tries to scramble instead of stepping up into the pocket for the sack…loss of 11 and no FG.

            I don’t think you could ask for a better series to illustrate just how much of a mixed bag last season’s offense was.

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  5. Irwin R. Fletcher

    So here’s a number that truly boggles the mind….
    UGA last season had 88 runs of over 10 yards, good for 4th in the conference.
    http://www.cfbstats.com/2016/leader/911/team/offense/situational01/category01/sort07.html

    Only 15 of those went for more than 20 yards…
    http://www.cfbstats.com/2016/leader/911/team/offense/situational01/category01/sort08.html

    When you look at the other offenses, you would expect somewhere between 30 to 35% of those 10 yard runs to also net you 20. The really explosive teams were in the 35 to 40% category.

    UGA was a paltry 17%. My guess is that comes with teams being able to fill space with their safeties…you still give up the 10 yard runs but the lanes to break the long ones aren’t there. But that’s honestly just a guess.

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    • The other Doug

      For 2015 they had 79 +10 runs and 29 of those went +20.

      I think the safeties crowded the line about the same amount both years, so maybe it’s the OL? Perhaps a smaller hole or early first contact kept the RBs from getting up to speed in 2016.

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      • Daniel Simpson Day

        Agree. And no downfield blocking – either by the line or the receivers. Once they cleared the first level, they’re on their own.

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  6. Down the road at Flowery branch a similar scenario developed a couple of years ago…….an OC was universally condemned and a QB was touted as a has been and over rated………but then year two came and………have patience people…….

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  7. Go Dawgs!

    The only game that survived the season on my DVR was the Auburn game and I found myself re-watching a lot of it on Saturday morning as I waited out my post-St. Patrick’s Day birthday hangover. I hadn’t watched it since a day or two after the game was played (other than cueing up the Mo Smith INT TD a few times here and there). I was struck by how competent the offense was for long stretches in that game, only to have drives derailed by some bad officiating or one bad mistake. If you want to talk about explosive plays, there were explosive plays for days in that game. One of them was undone by what is possibly the worst no-call on pass interference that I’ve ever seen. Another was undone by a similarly egregious call away from the football. Eason’s been kicked around by the fan base this offseason, and a lot of the criticism is justified. But after rewatching that game, I’m more convinced than ever that he’s got the tools to succeed if Georgia can put a competent line in front of him and do a better job of calling plays to include the run game to give his receivers a little more space to operate out there. If we can keep Riley Ridley off of that sweet sticky icky, he’s the playmaker we want and need.

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    • I don’t think the criticism of Eason is justified. The staff threw him in the deep end of the pool with no life preserver and a terrible OC/QB coach to support him. Surprise, surprise, he played like a true freshman behind a suspect offensive line. I said before the season last year that we were going to deal with some challenges at QB as we did in 2006. Stafford was great at times and terrible at others … that’s exactly what Eason was. We can only hope Eason gets the quality of coaching this offseason that Stafford did.

      If Jalen Hurts had played behind that kind of line with that lack of support from the sideline at Alabama, he would have been much worse than Eason.

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  8. I love our talent….I am very, very worried about our OC.

    That stat is embarrassing on so many levels.

    Maybe we weren’t the best team in the SEC last year….how we finish with so few long plays is….almost as if we were trying to not gain long yards.

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  9. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    It seems that our offense last year was a combination of a lot of factors that all came up snake eyes.

    Average as grits offensive line. Freshman QB. New OC that everyone was learning with. WRs that are explosive, but not 1st round talent. Defense that was up and down, and couldn’t force field goals in the red zone.

    That said, the OC seemed to go out of his way to make it harder on our all world running backs. He seemed to go out of his way to NOT simplify the game for our freshman QB. He seemed to go out of his way to make it harder on our offensive line to block up front and along the edge.

    As a result, when our WRs were open, Eason didn’t often see them or wasn’t comfortable with his footwork to hit the intermediate and deep ball. He wouldn’t throw the ball till his WRs were open in the short to intermediate, so his window was miniscule, forcing him to overthrow the velocity, making it harder on him for accuracy and our WRs for catchability.

    This all lead to our garbage offense last year. Coaching could cure a lot of what ails us and Eason maturing will cure the rest, regardless of who our OL starting 5 is. Eason was similar to Stafford as a freshman in ’06, but you could see the light come on for Stafford down the stretch. Hopefully this off-season does that for Eason.

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    • dawgtired

      “It seems that our offense last year was a combination of a lot of factors… ”

      Hence the lack of trust all over the field, leading to the lack of team confidence. The frosh QB didn’t trust the OL. The WRs didn’t trust the QB. The QB didn’t trust the routs of the WR…or that they would catch the ball when he DID get the ball to them. The RBs didn’t trust the OL would block. The OL didn’t trust Chubb’s knee. The coaches didn’t trust that the O could run complex plays. The players didn’t trust that the coaches could call the right plays. The water boy didn’t trust the players on the bench. The Senator didn’t trust that BM would do anything to help the program….

      What a mess! I’m really frustrated and need some football to start soon. I’m ready for UGA happiness again.

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  10. DawgPhan

    Tech and Vandy dont have a single OL that would play for us. How is that they managed to score more points than we did? Aren’t they bound by the same rules as we are?

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    • dawgtired

      We had “guards” playing in the tackle positions. That put us on a level with teams like Nicholls St….I thought you should know. Maybe someone should tattoo these guys with “guard” or “tackle” as they come in so we don’t play them out-of-position and suck so bad.

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  11. Got Cowdog

    What the hell? Are we out of Kool-Aid? Is there no Disney Dawg available other than Eeyore? C’mon guys lets fan the Georgia way and get those heads in the clouds!
    All this moping is harshing my offseason buzz.

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    • actually I’ll try to help you out Cowdog. We are going to do fine next year because this is without a doubt the weakest I have ever seen the East conference. In the East we are the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Last year was lacking ,no doubt, but we don’t have to be great just better. The only regression is probably the lack of the human joystick in the slot and on punt returns. To quote Kevin Bacon in Animal House ,”all is well”

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      • Got Cowdog

        Thank you!
        Damn y’all. I mean, the SECE has been as weak as it’s ever been for 4 years running. The only place we should have to play true freshmen is on the offensive line, what could possibly go wrong?

        Like

  12. Alcoholic Genius

    Put a purple helmet on that one-eyed mane

    Like

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