Daily Archives: April 5, 2017

Live, in front of a television audience

The MAC decides to boldly go where no other conference has gone.

You either love MACtion or you hate America. Pick a side, comrade.

While you’re deciding, take a look at the vast array of dates this November when Mid-American Conference football games will be showcased: 11/1, 11/2, 11/7, 11/8, 11/9, 11/14, 11/15, 11/16, 11/21 and 11/24.

That seems like a lot of game days, especially since there are only four Saturdays in college football’s most critical month. November contains 30 total days. Ten of them will feature MACtion.

Guess which day of the week won’t have any?

NOVEMBER IN THE MAC, 2017
NOVEMBER DAY MAC GAMES
TUESDAY 12
WEDNESDAY 7
THURSDAY 4
FRIDAY 3
SATURDAY 0

Imagine being a season ticket holder and seeing this. Now blink, makes some weird noises and imagine how quickly you just decided to stop being a season ticket holder.

There’s only one reason to do that, and, podnah, you know what that is.

It’s not hard to see that ESPNthe MACquietly made a financial decision to transform its flagship sport from a live in-person rite of college life into made-for-TV programming for the masses for the sake of margins. The casual smattering of fans in their stands is set to shrink even more, and the atmosphere that makes November college football so great will be replaced with a figurative green screen, along with literal green.

On the bright side, I bet you can pick up a Tuesday night ticket to watch the Zips play for pennies on the dollar.  Maybe a penny on the dollar, now that I think about it.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

ESPN’s got some new narrative for you, with numbers.

Hey, everybody, it’s QBR’s kissing cousin, ESPN’s FPI!  According to Mickey’s computers, Georgia is a narrow choice to win the SEC East.  The projected order of finish looks like this:

  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Tennessee
  4. South Carolina
  5. Kentucky
  6. Missouri
  7. Vanderbilt

The Commodores may have the lowest FPI showing in the conference, but it’s still good for 46th in the country, a sign that ESPN still likes the strength of the SEC.  I presume that’s also reflected in Georgia’s strength of schedule ranking, which is a (much higher than I expected) fourth.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, SEC Football

He comes here not to bury Eason, but to praise him.

All is not gloom and doom for the returning sophomore quarterback, it seems.

On Tuesday, Kirby Smart said the offense is “advancing along” in the passing game, trying some different formations, which the Bulldog head coach said is due to Eason and the work he’s put in.

“Oh yeah, he’s got a long way to go but he’s come a long way. He understands the protections now. Last year, there were times he did, times he didn’t. But he had a lot on his plate,” Smart said. “To manage that offense is challenging coming straight in from high school … I think he’s in a better place. He’s more confident, he’s throwing the ball well and the wideouts are catching it.”

The game, Smart indicated, is starting to slow down for the Washington native.

That is nice to hear.  So is this:

But so far, Smart likes what he’s seen and as a result the offense so far in practice has been more efficient and varied.

“There are things that Jacob can handle now so we’re able to do a few more things, being able to open things up to run the ball as well as throw the ball, we’ve been able to give him some options to check into and out of things,” Smart said. “If a guy can get you into a certain play that helps and he’s certainly more comfortable than he was at the end of the year last year.”

Smart said Eason is starting to make his receivers’ job easier as well.

“There’s still some things at wide out we’ve got improve to get where we want to go,” Smart said. “But Jacob is helping those guys out by putting the ball in some tight spots.”

Honestly, this is what’s supposed to happen after you get a year under your belt.  Maybe we should breathe a little easier… at least until we see G-Day QBR stats, anyway.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in shaming

As motivation goes, you may think Kirby Smart’s doing his best to light a fire under Jacob Eason by posing Jake Fromm as a threat, but that’s got nothing on his latest pitch to the defense.

“The offense is striking a blow. It’s striking a violent blow and knocking people back,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice, the seventh of the spring. “This game is tough, physical game. And we’re (defensively) not playing tough, physical football right now. Whereas they are (on offense). And I’m kind of like, either they’re hungrier than us, or those guys aren’t responding to how we’re challenging them.”

“Boys, you’re letting Georgia’s offensive line kick your ass” is one cold line.  Damn, Kirby, if that doesn’t work, I don’t know what card you’ve got left to play.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Jacob Eason’s got a ways to go.”

Bill Connelly takes a stab at analyzing last year’s quarterbacks data.

Out of pure curiosity, I wanted to play with the data by creating some rough player types. I set up three categories based on each player’s passes-to-rushes ratio. If it was 7.0 or greater (meaning 7 passes/sacks to every intentional rush), you’re a statue. If it’s between 3.5 and 7, you’re a dual-threat. If it’s below 3.5, you’re a runner.

Of the 240 or so quarterbacks with at least 45 combined rushes and pass attempts*, that breaks them into three groups of about 70-90 each. It doesn’t really do us any good to compare a Washington State quarterback to an Army quarterback, but comparing them in this way allows us to compare apples to apples to some degree.

* 45 combined rushes and passes is a pretty low bar, and it results in a few odd categorizations — if you were a backup and mostly played in blowouts, you might have rushed more than you would have otherwise given more snaps. But let’s go with this. This is my first stab at it.

Once each player was categorized, I decided to play with percentiles within each category. I looked at percentiles for completion rate, yards per completion, interception rate, and sack rate, and for non-statues, I added highlight yards per opportunity and opportunity rate.

So basically, within each player type, I looked at your efficiency, explosiveness, and ability to avoid disaster.

You won’t be surprised to find that Baker Mayfield had a ridiculous season.  But of more interest to us locals is what the data says about Jacob Eason.  As the header indicates, the data is none too kind.

Your proverbial work in progress, in other words.  It’s not all about him, of course.  We all know he needs more help from the line, but the other stat that jumps out is yards per attempt, which has been in a steady decline since Aaron Murray’s stellar 2012 season.  From cfbstats.com, here’s the sad story.

  • 2012 (Murray):  10.1
  • 2013 (Murray):  8.9
  • 2014 (Mason):  7.8
  • 2015 (Lambert):  7.7
  • 2016 (Eason):  6.6

It’s pretty telling that Murray’s 2013, a year in which he played a good chunk of the season without a receiving corps beyond Conley, managed to be better at peeling off passing yardage on a per-play basis than any succeeding offense.

Eason’s drop off is comparatively severe, no doubt, and some of it is fueled by his having the only sub-60% completion percentage during that five-year stretch.  How much of that is on a green kid not doing a particularly good job seeing the field, how much is on his receivers and how much is on the blocking not giving him time is something someone would need a lot of time to determine — good think Kirby’s got analysts out the wazoo for that — but it’s clear there’s a lot of work ahead for everyone associated with Georgia’s passing game.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Name that caption, “mountain of a man” edition

I don’t know if Ben Cleveland is an SEC-caliber offensive lineman yet, but he damn sure looks the part already.

ben-cleveland-by-joshua-l-jones-018_vlfdvr

Josh Jones/AJC

That is one big dude.

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Filed under Name That Caption

Seeing red

It’s spring practice time.  We’re all hungry for any news about the team that drops.  The media gets a limited peek at what’s happening.  The inevitable result is that everyone from the beat writers to the fan base does his or her share of tea leaf reading.  The latest leaf?

This.

hardman-redjersey_yuyesy

It’s just the latest sign that Mecole Hardman will end up on offense at Georgia.

Hardman was wearing a red jersey at Georgia’s practice on Tuesday, the first time that’s been seen by the media this spring. Offensive players were red and defensive players wear white.

A rising sophomore, Hardman had been listed as a cornerback since he arrived at Georgia. He has been working increasingly on offense but remained in a white jersey.

Such speculation did not sit well with the lead Dawg.

Asked about Hardman’s position status, head coach Kirby Smart downplayed the notion he has switched positions for good.

“This whole Mecole fascination,” Smart said. “He’s really been working at both. He just worked (Tuesday) at wideout.”

“This whole Mecole fascination…” Man, you can just taste the Saban-flavored condescension there, can’t you?  All that’s missing is a Coke bottle and an “Aight?”.

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Filed under Georgia Football