C’mon, Gators, you can do better than this.
Daily Archives: September 13, 2017
Mark Schlabach has a good story about Jake Fromm’s temperament going into the Notre Dame game. But that’s not what I want to post about. This is:
In January 2015, longtime NFL assistant Brian Schottenheimer replaced current Colorado State coach Mike Bobo as Georgia’s offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer had been on the job only a few weeks when he traveled to Warner Robins to see Fromm work out. He also evaluated Bailey Hockman, another in-state quarterback from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia. At the time, the Bulldogs were trying to decide which quarterback to take as part of their 2017 recruiting class. Fromm and Hockman were both highly rated prospects.
It was cold and windy on the day Schottenheimer watched Fromm throw, and his father admits it wasn’t a great workout. About three days later, Emerson pulled Jake out of school and took him to Athens to meet with Schottenheimer and the rest of Georgia’s assistants. Emerson said Jake was immediately turned off by Schottenheimer’s first question: “Do you have any other offers?”
Jake had already received scholarship offers from more than a dozen schools, including Cincinnati, Kentucky, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Penn State and South Carolina.
“Jake is pretty quick,” Emerson said. “He either likes you or he doesn’t. When Schottenheimer asked him that, it just really turned him off. Jake was just disinterested after that.”
The guy drove a productive offense into the ditch and displayed a deft touch on the recruiting trail, all to the tune of $950,000 a year, which at the time made him “the second-highest paid offensive assistant in the SEC and the nation, trailing only LSU’s Cam Cameron, who made $1.3 million in 2014.” As they used to say in the Garment District, “such a deal”.
I’ll keep saying it until the day I die, but somebody ought to write a book about Georgia’s 2015 season. If you didn’t know what went on behind the scenes, you’d never believe it.
Well, it is what it is.
9/1 vs. Austin Peay
9/8 at South Carolina
9/15 vs. Middle Tennessee
9/22 at Missouri
9/29 vs. Tennessee
10/6 vs. Vanderbilt
10/13 at LSU
10/20 – BYE
10/27 vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
11/3 at Kentucky
11/10 vs. Auburn
11/17 vs. UMass
11/24 vs. Georgia Tech
That may be Georgia’s worst non-conference schedule of my lifetime.
On the other hand, I’m smelling a nice-looking road trip to Louisiana there.
Outside of Alabama and Missouri, there’s uncertainty about how much of the conference shapes up. Some of that should change, based on these four games:
- Tennessee – Florida
- LSU – Mississippi State
- Kentucky – South Carolina
- Kansas State – Vanderbilt
Florida’s gotten an unexpected bye week to prepare for the Vols, and based on what we saw against Michigan, the Gators needed it. One question there is whether the suspensions continue. [UPDATE: They will, apparently.]
Mississippi State has played weak opposition, but Bill Connelly notes that the Bulldogs have still managed to punch considerably above their S&P+ weight. They’re at home and getting almost seven points against an LSU team that’s looked better than I thought.
Here’s what Matt Melton has to say about the third game:
Is South Carolina the most statistically unimpressive 2-0 FBS team? No way. Take a look at the overall numbers for Illinois or Old Dominion. However, the Gamecocks are the probably the most statistically unimpressive 2-0 team with a pair of legitimate wins. The Gamecocks have beaten a pair of Power Five opponents away from home despite being outgained by over 300 total yards and despite averaging nearly half a yard fewer per snap than their opponents. How have they done this? They have pretty much run the board in ‘The Little Things Bingo’. The Gamecocks have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, have a turnover margin of +4, and have stopped their opponents three on fourth down. While it is possible to walk this tight rope for a full season (hell my alma mater did it in 2006), expecting it to continue is a good way to be disappointed. Teams will eventually stop kicking to Deebo Samuel and for a few games here and there, the turnover margin will probably swing the other way. This team feels like a lite version of Muschamp’s second Florida team. The defense is not nearly as good, but the passing game is better. That Florida team was able to skate by all season on middling per play numbers, but then 2013 happened. The bill usually comes due. Anyway, while that Florida team was able to keep winning all year, they were not very good against the number as a favorite, posting a 3-5 ATS mark in the role with two outright losses. Kentucky has flown under the radar in the early going with less than impressive wins against Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky. However, Kentucky has actually won the last three games in this series despite being an underdog twice and the Gamecocks have only covered once against the Wildcats since 2009 (the first game after Stephen Garcia was dismissed in 2011). Look for more of the same this week. South Carolina may move to 3-0, but the Wildcats will put up a fight.
That’s a good point about the resemblance to Boom’s 2012 Gator team, except that team actually beat some really tough opposition. In that regard, the jury is still out on South Carolina. That being said, I’ve seen nothing out of Kentucky so far that impresses me.
As far as Kansas State and Vandy go, that’s an interesting cross-conference meeting. I’ve made a note about Shurmur’s hot start, but Matt notes that Ralph Webb’s start hasn’t been nearly so impressive, particularly when you consider the opposition. He’s not kidding; right now, Webb’s 2.78 ypc ranks 37th in the SEC. Is Shurmur thriving because defenses are keying on Webb?
What are y’all’s thoughts?
- 2016 — Overall: 20%; Offense: 1% (!); Defense: 18%
- 2017 — Overall: 68%; Offense: 27%; Defense: 85%
No, that’s not a picture of dominance, but it definitely is progress. (Not to mention that the defensive percentile figure posted against Notre Dame was higher than it was in any game from last season.)
Baby steps, peeps.
I’ve already gone on at length about the brilliance of Mel Tucker’s game plan against Notre Dame. Ian Boyd breaks down three sack plays to illustrate the ways Tucker schemed to wreck havoc in the Irish backfield.
It wasn’t just the speed of Bellamy and Carter that was so devastating. Tucker did a masterful job of mixing looks and bringing blitzes from different places. Notre Dame had difficulty keeping up.
sometimes it was just the speed of Bellamy and Carter that was so devastating.
2 TDs were scored by Mississippi State nose guard Jeffery Simmons in the Bulldogs’ 57-21 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. In the first quarter, Simmons blocked a punt from the Louisiana Tech 24-yard line and recovered the ball in the end zone. In the third quarter, with Louisiana Tech on Mississippi State’s 2-yard line, the 301-pound Simmons picked up a fumble and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
Simmons is a beast who’s getting some serious All-SEC attention in the early season. If the Notre Dame game left you concerned about the middle of Georgia’s offensive line, that’s probably not a good thing.
2 Consecutive South Carolina games have featured a TD kickoff return by South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel. In the Gamecocks’ season-opening game, Samuel returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a TD in a 35-28 victory over North Carolina State on Sept. 2. On Saturday, Samuel had another 97-yard kickoff return for a TD in South Carolina’s 31-13 victory over Missouri. On the first snap after the kickoff return, the Gamecocks intercepted a pass, and, on the next play, Samuel ran 25 yards for a TD, scoring 15 seconds after his previous TD as South Carolina took a 14-10 lead. Samuel’s three TD kickoff returns are a school career record, and they’ve come in his past five games.
Against South Carolina, if Blankenship isn’t told to boot every kickoff into the end zone, that’s coaching malpractice.
5 Of Georgia’s 10 wins since Kirby Smart became the Bulldogs’ coach last season have featured fourth-quarter comebacks, including Saturday’s 20-19 victory over Notre Dame. Georgia trailed the Fighting Irish 19-17 until Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 30-yard field goal with 3:34 to play. Last season, the Bulldogs beat North Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky and TCU after trailing in the fourth quarter. Georgia also beat Auburn in a game that was tied in the fourth quarter. Georgia lost games in 2016 to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech after the Bulldogs led in the fourth quarter.
It’s not a good idea to leave a Georgia game early.
I want to go back to something Seth Emerson posted a couple of days ago.
Remember last season when it was said in some quarters — like here — that Georgia should use the shotgun and spread more, because its quarterback is more comfortable in that setup? Well, Georgia became just that in this game … even though the quarterback was different.
Here was my best attempt at charting each Georgia formation, and the result of each play. (Note: Yardage gains may be approximate, as may be some descriptions of play formations. I’m trying to get this posted before my power goes out):
- Shotgun, four-wide, one tailback: 10-yard completion, rush for no gain, incomplete (penalty, PI), 2-yard gain, incomplete, Chubb 10-yard run, Godwin TD catch, Ridley 5-yard catch, Chubb loss of 1 yard, interception, incomplete, Fromm scramble and loss of 2 yards, incomplete, Michel 4-yard run, Michel 1-yard catch, Nauta 8-yard catch, incomplete.
- Shotgun, three-wide, one TE, one tailback: Chubb 30-yard run, 31-yard completion to Godwin, incomplete, Swift completion loss of 4 yards, Michel gain of 13, Michel gain of 4 yards, Michel 1-yard gain, 2-yard completion, Michel 1-yard run, Fromm 5-yard scramble, Michel 1-yard run, 9-yard completion to Ridley, incomplete, Chubb 1-yard run, Chubb 12-yard run, Chubb screen for 12 yards, Michel 3-yard run, incomplete, Herrien 2-yard gain, incomplete, Michel 6-yard TD run, Chubb 1 run, Hardman 5-yard screen catch, Michel no gain.
- Shotgun, three-wide, two tailbacks: Michel gain of 10.
- Shotgun, bunched, two TE, two WR, one back: Hardman forward lateral catch for 8 yards, Hardman forward lateral catch for 4 yards.
- Shotgun, two-wide, two TE, two WR, one back: Fromm muffed handoff/fumble. Chubb 3-yard run.
- Shotgun, three wide, two offset in backfield: Woerner 3 yard catch, Wims 30-yard catch.
- Pistol, two-wide, one TE, two-back: 4-yard completion.
- Pistol, two-wide, one TE, two backs: Incomplete.
- Pistol, three-wide, one TE, one back: Chubb loss of 2, Chubb 5-yard run.
- Pistol, two backs, three wide: Michel17-yard run.
- Bunched two TE, one back, one WR outside, Swift offset: 15-yard gain (holding penalty, Blazevich hold), Swift 37-yard run, Hardman 7-yard run, Chubb 1-yard run.
- Bunched two-TE, two back, one WR: Chubb 1-yard run.
- Wild Dawg (no other back, three wide, one TE): Michel 2-yard gain.
- Wild Dawg (two-wide, one TE, Hardman with two other backs): Hardman lost 2 yards.
- Wild Dawg (two other backs, three wide): Herrien lost 1 yard.
- I-formation, bunched: Incomplete, Michel 6-yards on pitch-out.
- I-formation, two WR right: Chubb 1-yard run, Payne 4 yard run, Payne 7 yard run, Pass and sack, Payne no gain.
- Victory formation: Kneel, kneel, kneel.
Note: On a lot of those shotgun sets the tailback was off-set a couple yards from the QB, so it was quasi-pistol.
By my count, that’s seventeen different formations before Fromm took a knee to close the game out. Further, as Seth pointed out, there were variations within the formations as to player placement.
That’s a lot of formations, especially when you consider that Georgia ran less than seventy plays against Notre Dame. Now it’s true that the end results were nothing to write home about (other than Georgia scoring more than the Irish did, that is), but I wonder if there was another method to Jim Chaney’s madness. Maybe this is what you do when you’re still trying to figure out what will work best with an offense that’s just beginning to fit all the parts together.
In other words, try as many things as you can, see what works best and do away with the rest. Or, if you prefer a cruder metaphor, throw a bunch of shit up against the wall and see what sticks.
One thing that apparently will stick is the ongoing abandonment of the I-formation, something I noted after the Appalachian State game. That’s not necessarily about committing to the passing game, either, although I still question letting Fromm throw the ball as much as he did Saturday night.
Georgia called most of its running plays out of the shotgun against Notre Dame. Judging by what a couple of key offensive contributors had to say Tuesday, expect more of this in the near future.
When it came to the run game, Georgia was primarily a shotgun-oriented team against the Fighting Irish. Excluding the three kneel-downs at the end of the game, the Bulldogs went with 29 run plays out of the shotgun compared to 11 from under center. And three of those under-center runs came when Georgia tried to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, prior to punting the ball to Notre Dame for its final offensive possession…
Chubb said the shotgun runs help because most of them are run-pass options, giving the quarterback the ability to pull the ball from the runner and attempt a throw if he sees something open up downfield.
“It helps because Jake has options to not give whoever the ball and pass the ball somewhere else,” Chubb said. “They have to be on their heels. They can’t worry too much about the run because it will hurt them with the pass.”
Smart hit on what remains the biggest problem on offense as a reason for Georgia’s increasing reliance on the shotgun formation.
Head coach Kirby Smart said that Georgia has worked diligently on softening the opposition’s box defenders. While this doesn’t directly correlate to the shotgun, that’s the best method to execute run-pass option plays. That, in essence, is why Georgia was so shotgun-heavy with its run game against the Irish.
Improving the run game has been a focal point since the 2016 season ended.
“It’s been a conscious effort to loosen up the box,” Smart said. “It doesn’t have to be the gun. I think most of the time when you open formations up, the gun helps you. Any time you throw RPOs, it helps to be from the gun because it’s hard to do that under center. So the conscious effort has been to loosen it up but not necessarily with the shotgun. But I think the two go hand in hand.”
Check out the big brain on Mr. Impose Your Will. Seriously, it’s changes like this in Smart’s thinking that make me want to believe he really has learned from his first-year mistakes. It’s great to have a coaching philosophy, but the best philosophy in the world can’t overcome personnel mismatches.
The best thing about this is that they were able to survive Notre Dame because the defense is far enough along that they could afford the luxury of tinkering with the offense. I’d expect more of the same this week against Samford, because… well, cupcake. The thing to watch is where the fine tuning takes them as, hopefully, they manage to develop some traction on the offensive line.
Aaron Murray sees some Aaron Murray in Jake Fromm.
He also doesn’t shy away from what might eventually be a quarterback controversy.
So what happens when Eason comes back? That’s the increasing question around the fan base, and perhaps the coaching staff. Murray’s opinion: It depends on when Eason is ready to return, and how the team is doing.
Murray mentioned the Florida game: If Georgia is 6-1 entering that game, or even 7-0, it would be hard to change quarterbacks.
“I think a lot of it is going to depend on where they are as a team. If they’re rolling and they’re winning, and things are going smooth, I don’t think you want to disrupt the ship. Especially at that position, if Fromm’s playing well,” Murray said.
“It’s going to depend on the timeline: When he’s going to be back, and how well they’re playing. If things are going rocky, and Fromm has been up-and-down, and the team feels confident that Eason’s healthy and is ready to roll, I’m sure they will go back with him.”
There is some logic to that… especially when you consider what happened the last time Georgia benched its starting quarterback for the Cocktail Party. I suspect Eason will be back before Florida, though.
Awesome doesn’t begin to describe this.
Behind the Oklahoma bench, there were a group of Buckeye fans that were beyond over-served. I mean these dudes were lubed up. And right at halftime, right as Baker Mayfield’s getting treatment on his lower back, he comes out and these guys are just wearing him out. He finally — right before their first possession when Ohio State goes up 10-3 to start the second half and you’re going “uh-oh” — turns around and goes, “Get ready, I’m about to hand six on you bleeping bleepers”. He leads them right down the field, the score’s tied at 10. He goes straight to the bench, stands up on the bench, and just lets the Buckeye fans behind him that were giving it to Baker… he turns at them and says, “You like that one? I’ve got three or four more of those coming up. Get ready”. – Ian Fitzsimmons on Freddie & Fitz
That’s what owned feels like, boys.