Daily Archives: April 11, 2017

“I like this team a lot better, too.”

Kirby Smart doesn’t sound like a guy who thinks 2017 will be a throwaway year for Georgia football.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Is there more to life than blocking?

Seth Emerson mentions something that might help Terry Godwin see the field more this season.

For one thing, Godwin is standing out for reasons other than pass catching this spring. In the past, his slight frame and blocking abilities kept him off the field in many situations. But after the scrimmage this past Saturday, Smart recalled Godwin blocking well on a bubble screen.

The better a receiver is at blocking, the more he will be on the field. Malcolm Mitchell, for instance, was the team’s best blocking receiver in 2015, when he was also the team’s leading receiver, ahead of Godwin.

That sounds great, until you remember that Georgia’s leading receiver last season was that powerhouse blocker Isaiah McKenzie.

The point here isn’t that blocking doesn’t matter.  Quite the contrary when you’re a run-first offense that needs downfield blocking to help its talented backs gain extra yardage.  It’s that blocking isn’t the be-all and end-all to successful receiving… or at least it shouldn’t be.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Is Junior smarter than Kirby?

The Laner discusses his decision to leave Alabama before the national title game to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic and notes what he observed from Smart’s departure from that program the year before.

“It was a difficult situation and timing,” Kiffin explained. “I saw it. I saw it the year before with (now Georgia head coach and former Alabama defensive coordinator) Kirby Smart taking another job. There is so much to do. You’re trying to coach. You’re trying to recruit. You’re trying to prepare as a coordinator as well. It was difficult trying to manage everything.

Did Kirby’s decision to keep one foot in both camps negatively impact his first season as Georgia’s head coach?  We’ll never know, of course.  But Kiffin suggests it didn’t help.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football

Lining up the lines

Is the offensive line winning in spring practice, or is the defense losing?  Moar Kirby Smart:

Head coach Kirby Smart said the offense gashed the defense for multiple “explosive runs.” In Smart’s vocabulary, an “explosive run” is any play that gains 15 or more yards. Furthermore, the offense also had numerous runs of 4-5 yards. And the Bulldogs’ offense found these seams despite Smart saying the defense regularly loaded the box.

Smart was encouraged that the offensive line opened so many holes for its runners.

But that was evened out by a pessimistic view of the defense, which Smart has routinely criticized this spring for being, in his opinion, too complacent.

“I do as good of a job as I can to encourage our offensive linemen to be physical at the point of attack, to get movement,” Smart said. “But we’ve got to play better on defense to challenge those guys. We’ll face some good D-lines in this conference. They’ll strike you and hat you up. If you don’t get movement, there’s not a lot of space in there.”  [Emphasis added.]

That sounds like a win for the o-line, doesn’t it?  But hold on.

Smart said he would withhold final judgment on the play of the respective lines in the scrimmage. Film review was to come Sunday; then on Monday, players would be informed how they graded out.

Still, there were a few takeaways Smart had in the immediate aftermath of the scrimmage.

“I know statistically we ran the ball well, but I can’t say they dominated up front,” Smart said.

Forget about figuring out whether the glass is half-empty or half-full.  Smart sounds like he’s not convinced there’s even a glass to fill with anything right now.  Or maybe it’s just that the running backs are so good, they’re making line play irrelevant.

G-Day can’t get here soon enough.

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Getting together for a little spring ball

At the start of Chip Towers’ piece about how he’s looking forward to watching the quarterback battle on G-Day — hey, at least he didn’t mention QBRs — he also says this:

Generally, I’m not a big fan of spring games. I’ve always thought it’d be great if they did like the NFL in preseason camps and allowed regional teams that don’t play each other in the regular season to get together for a “friendly” in April. How awesome would a little spring tilt between Clemson and Georgia be? Coaches could have an agreement about how much they play the first, second and third units; schools could sell tickets and concessions and donate proceeds to worthy charities; and fans would flock to watch.

But that’s La-La Land. Not going to happen.

Yes, it would be awesome.  The weird thing is that it turns out not to be as uncommon as you might think.

I’ve been reading Bill Connelly’s excellent book, The 50 Best* College Football Teams of All-Time.  In the chapter about the 1970 Dartmouth team (you’ll have to trust Bill on this), he mentions that Dartmouth played a preseason warmup game/scrimmage against Boston College, almost as an aside.  I was intrigued about that, to say the least, so I started doing a little digging and found this:

This team’s potential was revealed in a preseason scrimmage with Boston College. Rated New England’s top team, the Eagles were stunned, 42-6, unveiling a combination of explosive offensive and grudging defense that Blackman conceded, “… was beyond my wildest expectations.”

So, apparently, preseason scrimmages between D-1 programs were once a real thing.  Which led to my next question: what happened?

That’s been a lot harder to determine, but I did find this AP article from several years ago that added some more background.

NCAA rules allow Division I college football teams to play 12 contests, including scrimmages against other teams. Since no school is about to give up a regular-season game to play a game that doesn’t count, the first step would be a rule change.

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in an e-mail that “there have not been any proposals from member schools or conferences to change the rule on scrimmages or exhibition football games.”

But maybe one might be coming.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is a proponent of playing a preseason tuneup and apparently he’s turned his new boss, athletic director David Brandon, on to the idea.

“Our coaches and I believe this is something worth considering,” Brandon said. “We need to look at all of the issues carefully, and get input from other coaches and programs. However, it could be beneficial to provide a scrimmage opportunity versus another team during the preseason practice period to better prepare the team for competition. This would be for the same reasons that basketball, hockey, and other sports do the same thing.”

At the lower levels of college football, it’s not uncommon for teams to work in preseason intersquad scrimmages.

“We’re probably one of the only levels of football that doesn’t have preseason games,” said Rodriguez, whose first college head coaching job was at Division II Glenville State.

Indiana coach Bill Lynch also coached in Division II.

“We’d find another school that was close, so it was relatively inexpensive and I thought it was really good. We used to really kind of make a day of it and it was really a practice against each other broken down into individual drills as well as 11 on 11.

“Whether that would work at this level, I’m not sure. I’m sure there would be finances that would get involved and probably try to make it a money maker. But in terms of getting your team ready, it would be great.”

At some point, then, even D-1 squads arranged preseason football scrimmages, but the practice came to a halt because of an NCAA regulation that isn’t even applied to lower levels of the sport.  What the impetus for that regulation was, I haven’t been able to determine, but before you go with increased injury threat, remember that yesterday I linked to a brutal targeting hit that ended Mississippi State’s spring game prematurely.  Shit happens, even on an intrasquad basis.

Does anyone out there have any information that would shed some more light on the relevant history here?  Inquiring minds (well, at least my mind) want to know.

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Filed under College Football, The NCAA

Now that you mention it…

In the course of a Q&A session last week, University of Maryland President tosses out the thought that the NCAA investigation into UNC-Chapel Hill would ultimately lead to the NCAA levying the so-called “death penalty” against the university.

“For the things that happened in North Carolina, it’s abysmal. I would think that this would lead to the implementation of the death penalty by the NCAA. But I’m not in charge of that.”

Now that his school is a member of the Big Ten, I bet that was a lot easier for him to say.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, The NCAA

If size matters…

BREAKING:  Ben Cleveland is a very large human being.

Say what you will about his progress, he’s certainly not stinting any effort in workouts.  Nauta looks pretty buff himself.  Maybe I can buy in a little more to what the new S&C regime is doing… eh, stop that.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple