Talent vs. grind

Over at The Power Rank, Ed Feng ranks the top 25 college football programs in order of the talent they’ve accumulated over the past four seasons, based on Rivals’ recruiting rankings.  Georgia comes out fifth.

5. Georgia

Kirby Smart has shown he can recruit, as he got the 9th and 3rd ranked class in 2016 and 2017 respectively. But can he turn this talent into a SEC champion? The offense declined dramatically in his first year as coach, perhaps because he played a true freshman at quarterback.

I’m not sure I’d describe the offensive decline from ’15 to ’16 as dramatic, but that’s a subject for another post.

What I do find interesting about Feng’s post is first what DawgNation’s Brandon Adams concludes from it.  Calling it a crucial advantage over everyone on its 2017 schedule, Adams notes that “Georgia has a more talented roster than any of its opponents this season, and a higher ranking based on recruiting ratings than all but four teams in the country.”

That’s fine as far as it goes, but the other thing I caught from Feng’s rankings is grounds for some caution.  Georgia plays six teams in the regular season that appear in Feng’s top 25.  They’ll be facing plenty of talent themselves, in other words.

It’s nice to have more talent than the other guys on any given Saturday, but over the course of the season, with injuries and the ups and downs that are inevitable as the season progresses, there are going to be plenty of times when a talent advantage — and that’s even before we get to analyzing how big that advantage may be against a particular opponent — means less.  Georgia’s track record from last season had more examples of that than we liked.

It’s a long slog, in other words, and talent won’t always get you where you need to go.  Can Smart’s team step it up and carry through in games when it isn’t out-talenting someone?

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55 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

55 responses to “Talent vs. grind

  1. Last year, even when we had more talent than the other guy, we didn’t put teams away when we had the chance … see Nicholls, ULL, and tech. We struggled to put away USCe.

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    • PTC DAWG

      I’ve never seen someone grind so much on a win..ie the Nickles game..let it go. Life is too short for something to bother you that much….

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  2. Greg

    Not sure I would say he could recruit just yet, put together 3 or 4 years of top 5 classes would probably do it. Also, it should be noted that the year that Smart took over..Richt had the #3 class in the nation, they finished #9. All I see is one year so far. He needs to win this year to continue what he did in his first year imo:

    “Kirby Smart has shown he can recruit, as he got the 9th and 3rd ranked class in 2016 and 2017 respectively”

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    • “Richt had the #3 class in the nation, they finished #9”. This is quite possibly the most illogical complaint I have ever read in the comments section about Smart. The man managed to come in and land a top 10 class after the program had just got rid of almost everybody who had been there recruiting the entire year prior.

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      • Greg

        Nobody complained about Smart, read it again….if anything, it was more directed at the fellow who made the comment. Just saying that the first class was mostly his predecessors, not fully his. Last year’s class was outstanding, one of the best classes I have seen (on paper). Smart seems to work his ass off as a recruiter. I need to see more classes put together by him to consider him a good/great recruiter. So far, I have only seen one full season….to early.

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        • Brandon

          His predecessor did not sign a single player from the 2016 class. After the coaching overhaul that took place, all recruits, committed or not could have chosen to go elsewhere. Every single player from that 2016 class signed that LOI to play for Coach Kirby Smart. It can be argued that it was much more difficult for Kirby to come in and largely hold together a class that had committed to the prior regime. Therefore both classes are his.

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          • Greg

            It all could be argued…but what can’t, is that the class slipped from #3 to # 9 after the change. My entire point is, that Kirby was not entirely responsible for that class…also, it will take more than what he has done so far for me to consider him a good/great recruiter. Let’s see what he does this year and the next. But more importantly, what he does with the talent he gets. I hope that McGarity got this hire right, but so far…he (ADGM), does not have a good track record of new hires.

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  3. Russ

    The recruiting and the buy-in by the players (Chubb and Michel returning) is what’s impressed me the most so far. If we make the expected year 2 jump, Kirby can ride that momentum for the next several years. I’m cautiously optimistic.

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  4. paul

    We routinely lose games despite having better talent on the field. It’s what makes the Georgia Way so maddening.

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    • doofusdawg

      open it up… let the kids play and get after it. They may make some mistakes but the talent will take over. No more overcoached… over substituted read and react bullsnit… and obviously no more running into nine man fronts. We should have one 11 games last year and anything less than that this year will make a lot of folks start day dreaming about the coach from Washington.

      Last tear we talked about what would be a successful amount of wins. Last year for me it was a 10-3… 11-2 opportunity. A 9 or 10 win season this year will cause a lot of fans to tune out completely. Because we will have lost to Florida, Auburn, ut or teck…. again. A loss to Mullen in Athens will put a fork in this coaching staff.

      Throwaway to hotseat in less than a year. Talk about a miscalculation.

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  5. Macallanlover

    His comments are fair but it is too risky to base conclusions so heavily on star ratings. Many of those are based solely on potential and metrics and assume total development of same, just too many cases of failure for both mental and physical factors. Say that just a few of the Ben Cleveland, Jacob Eason, Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardeman, Trent Thompson, Richard Lecounte, etc. type recruits only reach average during their careers at UGA, it would drop us to a 25th rated type class when looked at in a rear view mirror. Not one has ever made even 3rd Team All SEC….yet. Who knows? Recuiting 17-18 year old athletes isn’t a science when you project 5 years in advance, even the NFL flops on many after watching them compete for years at the collegiate level.

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  6. Granthams replacement

    The talent at UGA has been skewed away from the line of scrimmage for years. Kirby has done a good job addressing both lines and should see improvement this season.

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    • Greg

      And despite all of that, we still averaged 10 wins. Hell, for now…I would be happy with that average + 1….

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      • dawgman3000

        And no championship in a decade.

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        • Greg

          From 2001 to 2015, Georgia won the SEC (outright) more frequently on average than all the years before…..

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          • dawgman3000

            Sigh….smh

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          • Brandon

            Why didn’t you just make it from 2002 to 2005? Then you could make the argument we won the SEC outright every other year…. oh wait, then you reveal that its been 12 years since we’ve done anything…. which completely derails your argument… I get it. 😉

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            • Greg

              Not sure why all this bothers you, unless you just like to argue….but here you go:

              1) Since Georgia joined the SEC, they won the SEC title outright 6 times before Richt. They joined in ’32, which should average them winning it every 11.5 years.

              2) Richt won it twice in his 15 year tenure, or every 7.5 years. He did much better than what was before him. Just my guess here, but I am pretty sure we will never win it as often as Alabama…..maybe Georgia football just ain’t all what you think it should be.

              I hope Kirby can win it more frequently, that is what I would expect…or why else make a change. Last year looked very shaky to me, I need to see better play to feel more confident. Kirby has some big shoes to fill imo. I have nothing at all against Kirby, I want to see him succeed. Frankly, this is more about McGarity….I think he is in over his head:

              http://www.sicemdawgs.com/uga-football-history/

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      • PTC DAWG

        Let the 10 win average go…

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      • Got Cowdog

        If your +1 is UF, yeah I’ll take some of that action too

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  7. Keep in mind that Ed’s rankings don’t account for attrition, evaluate position groups, or account for duplication at a position.

    Go through our position groups and ask yourselves how talented are we relative to our recruiting ranking?

    At WR, we really have NOT recruited that many elite WR. Godwin was a borderline 5 star. In some senses, he was the opposite of Lo Carter. He was a productive guy, but based on size/speed, it was not clear why he was ever rated that highly. The rest of or WR crew are a mix of 3 and 4 star guys with varying levels of size, speed, and hype. Personally, I think this group could surprise to the upside, but if you look at our WR group as a whole, it is hard to say we are “better” than most of the teams in the SEC

    At TE, we have loads of 4 and 5 star talent, and the results were solid in 2016 (even if they were concentrated in Nauta’s touches).

    At QB, we have 2 5 star QBs who are not upperclassmen. Eason should take a MAJOR step forward.

    In 2015, Pruitt was able to recruit DBs that were a good fit for his style. that group included two highly rated 4 stars in Briscoeand Rico McGraw, one highly rated 3 star in Baker along with 2 “sleepers” who appeared to be underrated in Abram and Wilson. Of those 5, only Baker has earned a starting spot. Wilson remains, but he has basically been passed over by Aaron Davis (who was moved to Safety), LeCounte and Gibbs. Sanders is neither talented nor particularly good. Davis was a walkon. Baker/Parrish were 3 and 4 star players who have developed into decent starters, but neither are comparable to what has been at UF or Bama the past few years.

    Our 2013-15, OL recruiting, which should produce 3rd-5th year players has produced 1 3 year starter (Wynn) and two other 5th/6th men (Wynn and Gaillard – who was recruited as a DL). The two most “important” of the bunch were Baker and Allen, who theoretically should have been our OTs by 2016. Allen has been moved to OG. Baker is unlikely to play unless we have an injury. While the “yield” is probably not terrible, it is unlikely any will play at an elite level.

    At OLB, we have a 5 star talent in Carter whose 5 star rating was based upon translating his measurables into productivity. Bellamy was a highly regarded 3 star who is clearly solid, but is hardly an elite talent. He was better a year ago, but is he materially better than an average SEC OLB? Probably not.

    Conversely, our 2015/2016 haul along the front 7 was more promising. The mix of TT78, Roquan, Patrick, combined with our 2016 frosh is why we should take another step forward against the run in 2017.

    To be clear, I don’t think Ed’s analysis is the best way to measure our talent, but I DON’T know our opponents rosters in the same way I know ours. Thus, Ed’s conclusion may very well be true that we are “more talented” than every one we face (albeit for the wrong reasons).

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  8. ugadawgguy

    And that’s where coaching comes in.

    Are Kirby and his staff capable coaches, or just great recruiters? I think we’ll know the answer to that question by the end of this season.

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  9. Bright Idea

    Great talent is supposed to overcome the inevitable mistakes made during the grind. With a close to the vest playing and coaching style most games will come down to one or two plays and the talent factor too often gets negated. When Kirby believes he has great talent maybe he will turn it loose.

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    • 69Dawg

      Defensive Coordinators turned Head Coach seldom turn the offense loose. They are usually asking the offensive coordinator to just not turn the ball over and screw up the defense’s chances. I hope that Kirby has the smarts (see what I did there) to not be one of those coaches. I think Muschamp has learned his lesson but I don’t want Kirby to have to go through Will’s learning curve.

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  10. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    What this tells us is that the pantry is overladen with talent. Potential for guys to step in on the OL to provide starting and depth. two of the finest running backs to ever don the red and black. Wide Receivers who can make plays but haven’t lived up to expectations. We’ve got a deep, upper class riddled defense, monsters on the DL.

    We’re playing in a division of UF and UGA, and everyone else. We play a weakened Notre Dame and a Georgia Tech that we should beat.

    this is a 10+ win team however you cut it. If Richt were the coach, I would say this should be a playoff contending team and I would be disappointed if we fell short. I don’t understand why Kirby is getting a handicap of any kind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • this is a 10+ win team however you cut it. If Richt were the coach, I would say this should be a playoff contending team and I would be disappointed if we fell short. I don’t understand why Kirby is getting a handicap of any kind.

      This. I see no reason to expect anything less than what I would normally expect. What’s getting old is the people that keep lowering the bar of expectations in the name of throwaway seasons. People shouldn’t be expected to pay increased contributions and ticket prices just to have to wait four years down the road to see if it pays off. Either you hired a coach that is here to win now or you go find somebody that will, simple as that. My expectation is the same as always – get to Atlanta that first weekend of December and anything can happen from there. Not losing to Tech and Vandy would also be nice.

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      • 69Dawg

        +100 screw 2018 win this year and win big.

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      • PTC DAWG

        IF CMR were the Coach we wouldn’t have near the depth on the OL…young depth we have now, but better than zero depth. So the point is really not applicable. CMR is not the Coach.

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        • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

          Wait, Richt isn’t the coach?!?!?!

          In the world of hypotheticals, it is not uncommon for scenarios to be different than reality. almost as if they were a fiction designed to cause discussion and comparisons. this can often be identified by such sentence structure as “if Richt were the coach(of this team).”

          Also, little insight into my thinking, offensive line depth is not what wins championships. Offensive line starters are really all I’m worried about, and Hayes is likely the only starter not recruited by Richt.

          As it relates to my point, Smart is being given a handicap because he’s a 2nd year coach that has no basis in reality. He should be “knocking the lid off” the program.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I said that I expect the head coach of the University of Georgia football team to have his team competing for the SEC East on an annual basis. I’m not sure what that has to do with Richt considering he is not the current head coach of the University of Georgia football team. It sure would be nice if y’all would accept that criticism and expectations of the current guy isn’t an argument for the previous guy.

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    • Greg

      Agree….

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  11. Captain Obvious

    Ed Feng’s next must read article; “The Earth is not flat, the Sky is blue, and United Airlines are a bunch of dipshits”. Way to be the first to jump on the uga talent level narrative Ed.

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  12. Chico Dawg

    Feng’s take is not a hot one. According to how many stars we accumulate on the first Wednesday in February, we should be better. Got it, dude.
    Need I remind Mr. Feng that “the world is full of unsuccessful men with talent.” Let’s see if Smart can wake the sleeping giant we all think we should be. If not, can him, and get someone else to give it a shot. Lord knows we got the money to pay off a few contracts. I would prefer that it be another AD making the decision, but that’s for another thread.

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    • This guy gets it.

      Need I remind Mr. Feng that “the world is full of unsuccessful men with talent.”

      Funny enough – the world is also filled with Gene Chiziks and Larry Cokers.

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