Daily Archives: September 27, 2017

“Everyone wants Nick Saban’s defense.”

Trust me, you’ll want to read Ian Boyd’s take on how Georgia’s defense is succeeding, viewed through the prism of the Notre Dame and Mississippi State games.

2017 has already seen Georgia put away a pair of strong spread offenses led by dual-threat QBs, with a 20-19 victory in South Bend over Notre Dame and a 31-3 home victory over Mississippi State. Among teams that’ve played multiple ranked opponents, Georgia and Clemson rank far above the rest in yards allowed per play; UGA’s allowed 3.71 to ranked teams.

The Dawg defense held Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush to a total of 212 yards despite the Irish QB throwing or running 55 times, an average of 3.9 yards per play with a pair of lost fumbles. They held Nick Fitzgerald to 130 total yards on 39 combined passes or runs, for a total of 3.3 yards per play with a pair of interceptions to boot. They also held the Irish to almost seven yards below their average per carry otherwise (1.49 to 8.28) and MSU to more than a yard per carry less than LSU allowed (4.78 to 5.94).

He makes a very good point — one that I had not considered — that even though both teams’ offenses feature running quarterbacks, the schemes involved are different.

Dan Mullen’s offense is rather different from the Irish attack. While MSU often plays with a tight end, it prefers to operate on the perimeter with spread-option concepts.

Even so, Georgia managed to shut both down in different ways.  Read Boyd’s post in full to see how that was accomplished.

Have I mentioned that I’m really beginning to enjoy this season?



Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Unleash the hounds.

What’s the over/under on the number of SEC feelers Petrino’s already put out?


Filed under Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino

“Stick to sports.”

To belabor a point I made in my previous post about Trump, the NFL and the national anthem (something that’s been largely ignored in the debate in the comments here), many of you who make the complaint in the header ignore the inconvenient history of organized sports’ involvement in politics.

Pete Rozelle, the commissioner of the NFL, and Spike Eckert and Bowie Kuhn, the commissioners of baseball, worked to put their sports on record in support of the Vietnam War, while laboring to silence those in the game who disagreed. While many believe that before the protests of the last year, the national anthem and other patriotic elements of sporting events symbolized unity, they are actually remnants of this campaign to interject sports into a bitterly divisive political debate.

Like it or not, sports isn’t some sort of safe zone from politics and it hasn’t been for some time.

When some of you tell me to stick to sports, what you’re really saying is that you want GTP to avoid the politics you don’t embrace.  Sorry, but that isn’t how it works.  Or at least it doesn’t appear to work that way when I see political observations injected into a comment thread about purely football posts.  I don’t have a problem with that; it would be nice to see the same courtesy extended in the other direction.  A little tolerance goes a long way, tone-wise.


Filed under GTP Stuff, Political Wankery

A word of warning

… from last week’s opponent:

Fitzgerald said the team didn’t have a great week of practice before the Georgia game and needs to get back to its demeanor before the LSU game, when the team was hungry and feeling disrespected after being picked to finish near the bottom of the league.

“Maybe we thought we were a little bit better than we were,” Fitzgerald said. “Maybe we got lackadaisical at times. I felt we weren’t really mentally locked in at practice. That’s going to change.”

If the conference’s second-best coach couldn’t get his team mentally prepared for its first SEC road game, is there any hope Kirby Smart can?  #sarcasm


Filed under Georgia Football

I have not come to bury Tennessee…

Okay, I don’t want to make the same mistake I’m concerned the team might make of taking Tennessee too lightly, so let’s look at a couple of areas of legitimate concern, via Bill Connelly.

First, despite being hobbled by injuries, there’s one area where the Vol defense has excelled, and it’s something a team with a rookie quarterback should be a little nervous about.

Despite the loss of star end Derek Barnett, however, UT is still getting after the quarterback. Their passing-downs sack rate of 17.5 percent is tied with Washington State’s for tops in the country. Senior linebacker Colton Jumper has 3.5 sacks and 5.5 TFLs to lead the way.

UMass quarterbacks Andrew Ford and Ross Comis attempted 15 passing-downs passes on Saturday; they were sacked five times and completed just 4 of 10 passes. Net yards on those 15 attempts: 6. The pass rushed saved Tennessee’s bacon.

As a counter, there’s another stat Bill cites that likely points the way to a repeat of what Georgia did to great success last week:  The defense is allowing at least five yards on 45 percent of opponent carries (120th in FBS). That’s one way to take pressure off Fromm in his first conference road start.

Part two is John Kelly, who gets my vote as the SEC’s best running back in 2017.  As Bill points out, with over 80% of the team’s combined carries and pass targets, Kelly is the centerpiece of Tennessee’s offense, and with good reason.

He’s not the fastest back in the world, but as that stat indicates, he’s a real bear to bring down.  Georgia’s newfound competency in tackling is going to be given a work out.

That is, assuming Booch decides to use Kelly effectively.  Given the questionable strategy of only running Kelly once on Tennessee’s three trips inside the Florida twenty in the Vols’ loss to the Gators, you can’t entirely dismiss the possibility that he won’t.  Of course, Georgia could simply stomp out to a comfortable lead and take that decision out of Booch’s hands, which would be fine with me.  In any event, you have to think stopping Kelly is Job One for Smart and Tucker as they put together this week’s defensive game plan.

Georgia is on a two-game losing streak with the Vols, which is something else to consider as the game approaches.  It wouldn’t be smart to take anything for granted in Knoxville.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football


I’m a little surprised nobody brought up the subject of what I was hinting at in the header of yesterday’s post about the announcement of federal prosecution of several basketball coaches.  No doubt it was easy to be distracted by the fact that, yet again, Auburn finds itself enmeshed in another recruiting scandal, but let’s not lose sight of the underlying cause of the (alleged) criminal activity.

It is from the NCAA’s system of amateurism that the criminal investigation became possible: law enforcement became aware various persons broke NCAA rules in ways that violated criminal law. If the NCAA had adopted a system where players were compensated for their labor and compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, perhaps all or some of these “under the table” payments would not have occurred. We’ll never know. But some will ask.

Blow it off, if you like, but that is a typically real world result of market distortion.  If you want an uncomfortable analogy, it’s kind of like how they caught Al Capone.

The NCAA has a problem here, as well, that’s probably beginning to dawn on its member schools.  The problem is, unlike the usual investigation of such matters, it has no control over the proceedings.  Even worse, the federal investigation is far from toothless.  Unlike the NCAA, the feds have subpoena power and the threat of jail time to play in order to get cooperation.  That can turn over a lot of rocks that normally would stay in the shade.

Along those lines, the fact that such extensive corruption allegedly occurred raises questions as to whether the NCAA is even capable of stopping any of it. The NCAA, like any organization, has a limited bandwidth. Further, since it is a private actor, the NCAA lacks subpoena powers and other investigatory capabilities enjoyed by law enforcement.

The individual schools implicated in the prosecutions—including Auburn, Oklahoma State, Arizona, USC and Louisville—are also impacted by the trajectory of these cases. Employees of their schools are now accused of partaking in conduct that violates criminal law and NCAA rules. It stands to reason the NCAA could, and no doubt will, investigate the criminal cases and potentially impose sanctions on those schools.

The schools might also worry about civil liability associated with criminal acts committed by employees, as well as repercussions with their insurance companies. It stands to reason that a recruited player who loses his NCAA eligibility as a result of this criminal investigation could consider suing the recruiting school as well as others involved.

Adidas is also impacted. One of its well-known executives, Gatto, is now a defendant in a criminal case in which he is accused of peddling his position with the apparel company to advance a criminal enterprise. Even if other sneaker company executives partake in similar kinds of misconduct, Adidas is the one with an executive who faces charges. That dynamic could damage the brand and the confidence placed in it by company investors. Also, given that Adidas is a publicly traded company, allegations against an Adidas executive might attract the unwanted attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

All of these associated parties would likely be pleased if the defendants strike plea deals to end the cases as soon as possible. The NCAA, universities and Adidas all know the longer these cases drag out, the more likely compromising evidence will surface, whether that occurs through subpoenas, warrants or the pretrial discovery process. It’s possible many names, including of significant figures in college sports, will come to light and in unflattering ways. To that end, it seems quite possible head coaches and athletic department officials of implicated schools may have been aware of an assistant coach’s wrongdoing. Further, executives at the related universities and Adidas could all be called to testify in forums that damage their associated brands.

All this to preserve the amateurism protocol.  At some point, you have to wonder if Emmert’s bosses start to question if this a price worth paying to prevent student-athletes from being compensated for their names, likenesses and images. Down the road, we may look back on this indictment and recognize it as being as significant a turning point in the history of college athletics as NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma wound up being.


Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Urnge you glad they’re playing a top-10 opponent?


Lose this game, Dawgs, and it’s gonna be embarrassing.  Epically embarrassing.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Stats Geek!

It’s a wonderful line.

Every time Brian Kelly says, “We know what we did against Georgia and what we needed to improve on”, an angel gets his wings.


Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes

Pittman’s Progress

If the most maligned coach on Georgia’s staff is Jim Chaney, offensive line coach Sam Pittman hasn’t been too far behind.  Never mind that he’s had personnel issues — maybe some thought that bringing in a guard from Rhode Island to play left tackle is how everyone does it — including green talent and undersized interior anchored by a first-year center who’s a converted defensive lineman, no to mention modifying a blocking scheme from what Georgia ran for many years.  We want a dominant o-line and we want it yesterday!

My suggestion to those of you frustrated by the lack of progress shown by Pittman’s charges is that you may want to take a closer look at their work during the Mississippi State game.

Jeffery Simmons came into Saturday night as the reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week in consecutive weeks.  He didn’t leave Athens expecting to notch his third such award in a row.  Indeed, he departed having been almost a non-factor.  I’m going to outsource the deets to Matt Hinton, because he does such a bloody great job laying out the offensive line’s work neutralizing Simmons.

No, the real revelation was Georgia’s offensive line, which not only held up against Mississippi State’s formidable front seven but often imposed its will. It was an especially miserable night for the rising star of MSU’s defensive line, Jeffery Simmons, who barely registered on the stat sheet and was generally neutralized by a steady diet of double teams.

To put it bluntly, on a handful of plays in this game Simmons was physically manhandled in a fashion that was the complete opposite of his star turn against LSU. Keep an eye on Simmons (No. 94) on Georgia’s first carry of the game, a straight-ahead iso run by true freshman D’Andre Swift, which gained 12 yards behind a pancake-worthy combo block by left tackle Isaiah Wynn (77) and left guard Kendall Baker (65):

Up next is a nearly identical play in the second quarter, which saw Simmons getting driven a good seven yards off the ball (and eventually to the ground) by Baker and center Lamont Gaillard (53):

Third quarter now, on another straight-ahead run pitting Simmons against a double team by Baker and Gaillard, with similarly lopsided results as Sony Michel barreled for 8 yards through the hole cleared by the interior line:

That run set up the dagger, a 41-yard touchdown pass on the next play from Jake Fromm to tight end Isaac Nauta that extended UGA’s lead to 28-3; predictably, it came at the expense of an MSU secondary that was fully committed to run support on third-and-1. By that point it had no choice: Georgia’s offensive line had repeatedly asserted itself as the burlier unit in the trenches, and Mississippi State’s d-line — the standout unit in the Bulldogs’ win over LSU — needed all the help on an ostensible run down it could get.

The point here isn’t to single out Simmons, a bona fide 5-star talent who (rough night notwithstanding) remains one of the conference’s most promising young players, or anyone else on the MSU defense; it’s to it’s to highlight the kind of physicality from Georgia that’s been sorely missing against top-shelf SEC defenses for at least the past two years.

The Bulldogs aren’t massive between the tackles (Baker and Gaillard are listed at 287 and 288 pounds, respectively, undersized for modern SEC blockers) but they made a compelling case Saturday that they have the muscle to grind out a steady living on the ground against the rest of the regular-season schedule, at least. If that’s the case, the looming impasse at quarterback may be strictly academic.

Matt’s last point there shouldn’t be understated.  If the offensive line is in fact on the road to steadiness, the pressure to find a quarterback to carry the team is lessened significantly.  If Georgia can run the ball consistently, given the dominance of the defense and the improved special teams play, all that’s needed at quarterback is a competent game manager who can move the chains without plunging the team into trouble because of poor decision-making.  That should sound like a familiar formula to anyone who’s been watching the conference’s dominant program over the last decade.

All of which brings me back to Sam Pittman.  In a little over a season’s worth of work, he’s already shown himself to be the best recruiter at that position in years.  If what we saw Saturday night wasn’t a mirage, maybe it turns out that the man is all he’s cracked up to be, given time.  Or maybe this is just another crazy coincidence:

Does that possibly explain why Bert took Pittman’s departure so hard?  His loss is looking like Georgia’s gain.


Filed under Georgia Football

Fake Urnge Juice

Desperate times lead to desperate… um, uniform changes.

The good news is that the trash can is already grey, so no need to bring in a replacement there.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange