Daily Archives: September 6, 2017

Well played, sir.

How long do you figure Kirby saved this crack to deploy?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Ain’t no big thang, mane.

In the for what it’s worth department, ESPN’s FPI now says Georgia sports the toughest schedule in the country.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“These aren’t what I paid for.”

Speaking of bucket list events, I’m thrilled to be going to South Bend this weekend to see the Dawgs play.  I got my ticket through the secondary market and have it in hand.  Two of my best friends aren’t so lucky, as they’re still without, despite ordering weeks ago.

From the looks of this piece, they’re not alone.

Ard said he went by Cook’s house on the Eatonton side of Lake Oconee on Tuesday. He said there were “a bunch of notes” on Cook’s door from people still desperately seeking the tickets they’d ordered. Ard said one gentleman drove up while he was at Cook’s house who said he’d just driven three hours to see about getting the 15 tickets he still had not yet received.

“So there are still are a lot of upset people out there that still haven’t received anything,” Ard said.

Nice feel good story there.

Whether it’s the result of incompetence or outright chicanery, I can’t say.  (Most likely, a bit of both, depending on the source.)  What I can say is that everyone ought to have seen it coming, based on the math.

UGA was allotted only 8,400 tickets from Notre Dame for its season ticket/donor base. UGA ticket manager Tim Cearley said Georgia fans were seeking as many as 20,000 tickets after those orders were filled.

Obviously, you can’t blame all the problems on Georgia’s decision to restrict ticket allotment to the very top of the donor food chain, but you can’t totally absolve Butts-Mehre from the situation, either.  It’s too late to do anything about it now, but in the future, it would seem to be the least the school could do if it’s going to continue the practice of showering the big boosters with goodies — and we know it will — would be to work with an established ticket broker to help the fan base avoid being screwed.

I mean, if you’re a fan who’s been planning this trip for months, how soul crushing is it to have all the joy sucked out of an event in this way?  I wouldn’t expect Georgia to provide a guarantee, but with a little thought and some astute use of leverage, there are things the school could do to help its fans having a time like this ruined.  Just a thought.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Doesn’t play like a freshman

Richard LeCounte may not have played a perfect game against ASU, but he certainly had his moments.

Remember how we suddenly realized in the middle of the 2002 season that Georgia had an elite defense for the first time in ages?  I’m looking forward to seeing how much progress this year’s group makes by the time the Cocktail Party rolls around.

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Filed under Georgia Football

It’s a poor man’s game.

Here’s a shocking point of view.

Champions Way, a new book by New York Times reporter Mike McIntire, is the latest inquiry into the seedy underbelly of college sports. The “corporate-athletics complex,” as he calls it, corrupts universities, skirts federal tax laws, bullies the IRS, relies heavily on private donors, and sets players up to fail after their sports careers are over by pushing them into academically vapid curriculums.

I sat down with McIntire to talk about his new book and the state of college athletics. He told me that college football has become “too big to fail.” Too many people are making too much money, and the system has evolved into a profit-driven enterprise that has very little to do with college.

I never would have guessed.

If anything, McIntire pulls at least one punch when he claims that UAB shut down its football program over money.  As was noted at the time, that was largely contrived bullshit.  It was just another example of how schools juggle their books to make their athletic departments look poorer than they really are.

It’s hard to square claims of widely based poverty with the continuing scramble of schools jumping up to play D-1 football.  Not that they won’t keep trying.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Today, in football is a simple game

The Dawgbone conducted a Q&A with the publisher of a Notre Dame blog.  What that gentleman had to say about the opening game against Temple is worth sharing:

Dawgbone: Notre Dame won convincingly vs. Temple on Saturday. What were you impressed with in Saturday’s game? What areas of the team do you think will struggle in 2017 and why?
 
Joe Wirth: It was hard not to be impressed with 422 yards rushing, especially considering Temple was a top-20 defense in 2016. Now, the Owls have clearly lost some talent to the NFL, but the Irish were still able to run against Temple, even when they stacked the box with eight or nine guys.
 
New offensive coordinator Chip Long had said that the Irish were going the emphasize the run game and that’s exactly what happened. In year’s past, that sentiment had just been all talk, so to see Long make a concerted effort to utilize the strengths of the team was refreshing.
 
Also, Notre Dame going 7-7 in redzone opportunities was a huge improvement. The running prowess and that stat go hand-in-hand.
 
Brandon Wimbush looked good in his first career start. Ever since he stepped on campus, Wimbush has been touted as the next great Notre Dame QB. He is clearly talented, but very raw. He got away with a few passes Saturday and definitely has to learn to slide when he gets out of the pocket. He was hit a total of 16 times vs. Temple, which has to decrease against a big-time defense like Georgia.
 
Wimbush is a dynamic playmaker and his mobility is a huge weapon, but if he is forced into obvious passing downs and has to read complex coverages, he is going to struggle. He benefitted greatly from ND’s strong running game against Temple.
 
The defense is still a main concern. They could not have been worse than last year and although strides have been made, they still have a lot of work to do. The linebacking core and cornerbacks are the strength, but the defensive line and safety play is still a huge question mark. They looked reasonably good against Temple, but we will see what they are truly made of against UGA.
 
Schematically, they are in much better shape with Mike Elko as the defensive coordinator. They might not have the skill on the defense, but he will make the proper preparations and adjustments to cover up weaknesses and accentuate strengths.

Run the ball and stop the run.  Just because keys to success are clichés doesn’t mean they stop being keys.  And, oh, yeah, punish the quarterback.  Every good hit makes him think a little more about that next run.

Bottom line, this isn’t Alabama the Dawgs are facing this week.  There should be areas for Georgia to exploit.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

So you say you want to transfer…

The initial pronouncement by the NCAA’s Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to decouple financial aid from a student-athlete’s permission to contact other schools regarding a transfer sounded promising, but, as usual with the NCAA, the devil’s in the details.  Based on what the organization’s Division I Transfer Working Group is considering (and note that it’s reaching out to “presidents, athletics administrators, faculty and coaches” only), I wonder if the NCAA is just trying to swap attaching one string for another.

Specifically, here’s what the Group is asking for feedback on:

… the group favors a notification model, with coaches meeting with student-athletes at the end of a team’s season to discuss the future. The group also supports the opportunity for students, if they desire, to talk with coaches at other schools about transfer possibilities without the need to seek permission from the current school.

Under this concept, if a student explores transfer opportunities, which could include visits to other schools, the current school could have the option of not renewing athletics aid.

SAAC members, who also expressed concerns about the impact of a transfer on the teammates left behind, said in July that they supported a more transparent process that doesn’t jeopardize aid for transferring students and allows schools to provide opportunities to other student-athletes in a timely manner to benefit the team.  [Emphasis added.]

Maybe it’s just me, but I see Nick Saban’s head nodding in agreement there.  While we’re all looking at the opportunity for higher profile student-athletes to seek greener pastures, Nick’s busy notifyin’ all the dead weight on Alabama’s roster about their transfer possibilities and yanking scholarships as soon as those kids take the hint.  After all, you’ve got to think about the impact on the teammates left behind (and the next group of five-stars coming in).

What makes this possibly more concerning is that it’s being considered in tandem with a concerted push to crack down on how coaches can reach out to potential transfers.

A key element of any transfer package of proposals would be underscoring the importance of ethical recruiting practices. When schools are accused of tampering, or recruiting students from other schools to transfer, those violations are typically processed as Level II (major) violations with significant penalties attached. The group will consider prescribing a rule that tampering violations be processed as Level II (major) violations.

Chilling the bidding?  Perhaps.

Maybe I’m being overly cynical here and the proposal is more benign than it seems at first glance.  Then again, coaches like control and there’s always more than one way to skin that cat.

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Filed under The NCAA

Stats crawl

Bill Connelly cranked out his Five Factors spreadsheet of last week’s games here.  Three things jumped out at me.

  • The final score and the raw numbers told me LSU was dominant in its win over BYU, but its success rate and scoring opportunity margin showings give me a much better indication of how dominant the Tigers were.  It’s only one game, sure, but I’m starting to wonder if I underestimated LSU’s chances this season.
  • Florida got crushed despite its turnover margin luck.  Yikes.
  • Georgia’s numbers jumped out at me because none of them jumped out at me.  In other words, what we saw last Saturday was a routine, drama-free grinding down of a decent mid-major opponent.  (That’s a compliment.)

Along those lines, take what Football Outsiders defines as garbage time adjustments

The S&P+ figures used in the tables below only look at the plays that took place while a game was deemed competitive. Garbage-time plays and possessions have been filtered out of the calculations. The criteria for “garbage time” are as follows: a game is not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second quarter, 21 points in the third quarter, or 16 points in the fourth quarter.

… and filter the defense’s showing against the run and the pass through that.  Tucker’s guys steadily squeezed the life out of ASU’s offense when it mattered.  That’s the kind of work that’ll win you a lot of football games.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Book review time

97816293733241

I received a copy of beat writer Jason Butt’s new book, the cover of which is seen above.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Every Georgia Bulldogs fan has a bucket list of activities to take part in at some point in their lives. But even the most die-hard fans haven’t done everything there is to experience in and around Athens, Georgia. From taking part in the Dawg Walk to meeting Uga, author Jason Butt provides ideas, recommendations, and insider tips for must-see places and can’t-miss activities near Sanford Stadium. But not every experience requires a trip to campus; long-distance Dawgs fans can cross some items off their list from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you’re attending every home game or supporting from afar, there’s something for every fan to do in The Georgia Bulldogs Fans’ Bucket List.

At 224 pages, it’s obviously not an encyclopedic description of everything Georgia athletics-related, but it’s a nice read for someone looking for some background on what gets a Dawg fan excited about school sports and Athens.  (Just ask Jim Donnan, whose forward about why he stayed after being fired is honestly touching.)

It’s got stocking stuffer written all over it, in other words — something to get someone you’d like to bring up to speed on your passion.  You’ll probably wind up reading it over their shoulders.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“There’s always a way to beat somebody.”

I like hearing that Georgia’s defense has a little bit of a chip on their shoulders going into the Notre Dame game.

It was a fairly standard question to Georgia senior safety Dominick Sanders: What did you know about Notre Dame’s history growing up, and what did it mean to you?

Sanders shrugged. The storyline didn’t interest him.

“Not really, I didn’t really know anything about that,” Sanders said. “But you know, my main thing is coming out and punishing them from the start. I really don’t care about what they’ve got going on.”

“Definitely it’s exciting. You can ask any of our defensive lineman, linebackers, even all the way back to our secondary. I know everyone’s itching to get a good lick on every single one of their guys,” Ledbetter said. “Definitely respect them. But good competition is hard to come by. So when you see it and everybody’s raving about it you want to prove a point. So we’re ready to prove a point.”

Talent and execution matter, of course.  But a little attitude doesn’t hurt.

There are three little letters that concern me, though.

The run-pass option offense that has been a nemesis to Georgia in its recent past will return this weekend.

The Bulldogs struggled against the RPO offense in the first season under head coach Kirby Smart. Like when the Dawgs faced Mississippi, and quarterback Chad Kelly collected 282 passing yards and ran for another 53, scoring three touchdowns in a 45-14 trouncing.

Last season, three of the Bulldogs’ five losses came against dual-threat signal callers.

After getting a taste of the RPO offense in a 31-10 season-opening win over Appalachian State, the Bulldogs will face a tougher challenge.

Georgia will make its highly-publicized trip to South Bend, Indiana to face Notre Dame and an offense that has already shown the potential to cause problems for good defenses. For the Fighting Irish, it starts with quarterback Brandon Wimbush as he gets his first significant opportunity after sitting behind Deshone Kizer for two seasons.

I’m not going to punish you by showing Chad Kelly clips from last season’s meeting.  Suffice it to say that saying the defense struggled in the Ole Miss game to contain Kelly on RPO plays is akin to saying that Houston struggled to stay dry in the face of Harvey.

I mentioned it previously, but one area of concern for me from the Appalachian State game was that not one, but two, defensive linemen crashed inside on the option fake and left Lamb free to gash the defense for big gains.  If Georgia’s front can’t show the discipline to maintain their lanes, Wimbush will kill them.  Just ask one of the players who will be stuck with cleaning up that mess.

“We can’t let that guy get out of the pocket, we have to really contain him,” Georgia sophomore transfer J.R. Reed said. “If we keep him in the pocket, we can control his yardage. Make him throw that ball, don’t let him break it and run.”

Everything the defense can force into the middle of the line and the waiting arms of Trent Thompson is a win.  Georgia needs to win that a lot.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics