The return of balance

For once, it seems I managed to glomm on to something before Kirby had to explain it to me.

That’s been the story most of the season.  10-1 Georgia is last in the conference in passing attempts by a wide margin, despite most opponents following the same strategy that Kentucky used against the Dawgs’ running game.  We may find it frustrating to watch at times, but Chaney’s insistence on sticking to the run early has largely been a success.

The exception that proved the rule is Auburn.

The Dawgs haven’t thrown the ball much because they haven’t needed to.  They’ve won ten games, most of those in dominating fashion.  The offense is built in a way to protect a true freshman quarterback and to take pressure off a defense that’s excelled most of the season.  That’s good tactics in my book.

What it’s not built to do, as we saw on the Plains, is claw back into a game once it’s facing a significant deficit.  And, while it seems likely that Georgia Tech will succumb to what’s worked all year, it’s just as likely that will be the last time this season Georgia can count on the tried and true formula coming through without a hitch.

So, what say you about that, Coach Smart?

Kirby Smart, asked about that Monday, acknowledged that his team needs to run and pass well.

“To be able to win a championship you’ve got to have balance. We continue to improve on our balance,” Smart said. “Our ability to throw down the field, our ability to open things up. But if we open things up and throw the ball downfield I would beg the question what we’re doing with 27 and 1 the rest of the time.”

That would be Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, respectively now the second- and fifth-all time rushers in Georgia football history.

“It’s Catch-22 to be balanced,” Smart said. “But at the end of the day to win you’ve got to be able to do both, and when you play really good teams you’ve got to be able to do both.”

Ditto, says his offensive coordinator.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney told the CBS broadcast crew on Friday that he didn’t think Georgia could win a championship by continuing to run it 70 percent of the time.

I’m not sure what to make of the questioning.  Georgia, just to remind everyone, is 10-1.  It got to this point pounding the ball (on pace to throw fewer passes than any SEC team since 2012), playing good defense and special teams.  Who’s to say that the Dawgs would be in the same place right now if, say, they’d run the ball 100 fewer times over the course of the season?

As a look back, then, that seems a wasted effort.  The relevant question from here is what does Chaney do —  and, maybe more relevantly — what does Smart want Chaney to do when Georgia game plans for the SECCG and whatever comes after?  You would hope that at least there are lessons to be taken from the Auburn loss that will prove useful in that regard.  I can’t help but wonder, though, if better results from the defense and special teams than what they showed in the loss will prove even more useful.

42 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

42 responses to “The return of balance

  1. Biggen

    Without better O line blocking, I think its all academic anyway. It wouldn’t have mattered if Brady was back there for the dawgs that day on the plains.

    Even taking away the penalties and muffed punt, I don’t believe that would have changed the outcome. UGA was whipped in the trenches and then forgot how to tackle.

    I do think UGA needs to pass more than 20 times to beat Bama/AU however.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We threw it 29 times and got throttled. Completions are what we need.

      Like

      • Biggen

        Thats why I said it is nothing more than an academic exercise and wouldnt have mattered if Brady was back there. We lost in the trenches…

        Like

        • But I thought that football was about play calling and game planning and scheming and adjusting? Can’t a good coach earning millions a year score 50 against anybody even if their OL is getting their asses whipped on every play? No? Really?

          I just can’t believe that football games are won or lost by blocking and tackling.

          Like

          • Greg

            “But I thought that football was about play calling and game planning and scheming and adjusting?”

            None of that shit matters. even you could take a team….say maybe a Bama to the promised land (MNC)…..OVERRATED!

            Like

  2. Got Cowdog

    Question, and I thought about this during several of the games: What would the scores and stats have looked like if the coaches had opened up the passing game in the fourth quarter? What if Chaney had turned Fromm and the receivers loose during garbage time to get game reps? Why did he not? OK three questions. I have thoughts but would like to hear others.

    Like

    • Ellis

      Or Eason. I still don’t understand why Eason has not been given throwing opportunities when he gets in. The guy is a first round draft pick sitting on the sidelines and getting no reps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Got Cowdog

        I am an Eason fan, and I hate he got hurt. But it would not surprise me if there were something in the works with JE for a transfer (My thoughts only, no proof, 2nd hand info, source close to the team, etc) that was in the works around mid season as Fromm took over. I could see handling him as they are to keep him from getting hurt moving forward. If he transfers he has to sit a year, Correct? So he basically gets a “redshirt” and another year of eligibility with a move to a team that better suits his abilities? You could sell that to me if it were my son.
        But I am selfish, super cynical and conspiratorial. I always ask “What’s in it for me?” so I assume everyone else does as well.

        Like

        • Reverend Whitewall

          I’ve been thinking the exact same thing since he hasn’t gotten any snaps the last couple of blowouts. Probably an agreement there that if he’s needed, he’ll be prepared and ready to play his butt off. But if he isn’t needed, the goal is to avoid any unnecessary injuries. I don’t have inside info either, burn almost makes too much sense to not be true.

          Like

  3. FarmerDawg

    Dilly, Dilly!!!

    Like

  4. We’ll never know, obviously, but I would have loved to have seen what Eason would have done with ~20 attempts a game, as opposed to the almost 30 APG a year ago.

    Maybe he would have been just as ineffective, but I would have liked to have seen it.

    Like

    • DawgByte

      I’m right there with you. Jacob Eason’s potential in 2017 will forever remain a mystery. I suspect we saw the last of him at Sanford Stadium this past Saturday, as I fully expect him to transfer following the bowl game. IF and that’s a gigantic IF, Kirby can somehow convince Jacob to stay, he will truly be known as a miracle worker.

      Like

      • Alabama has had QBs walk in the middle of the season in order to get the eligibility clock running. It’s surprising that hasn’t happened with Jacob. I’m keeping hope alive that there won’t be some post SECCG announcement.

        I’d like to see a fresh comp in the spring. For a coach who says that a key to winning is playing your most talented players and getting the ball in the hands of your most talented players, this season has been puzzling to be sure.

        Like

        • Mayor

          Would you walk out in the middle of the season from a team that was going to be playing for the SEC Championship and, it it wins, will be in the playoff for a nattie? All the while when you are one play away from being the starting QB again on that team? I wouldn’t.

          Like

      • Yeah Eason is gone for sure. I’ll definitely follow his career moving forward, though. Gonna be so many people going after him, that’s for sure.

        Like

      • Brandon M

        I don’t think its a foregone conclusion that he transfers like so many others do. If he transfers after the season… he has to sit out next year and won’t be eligible to play again until 2019. Whereas if he stays at UGA, he could continue to compete and possibly play next year if something happened to Fromm, potentially graduate next year and then be eligible immediately as a grad transfer in 2019 if he still hadn’t won the starting job back.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think he transfers, and sits out one year where he can redshirt. Then he has two years left to be the man somewhere. Washington makes a lot of sense to me as it’s back home for him and, more importantly, Browning has one more year and then the competition would be open.

          Like

          • Mayor

            I wrote this once before but it’s worth repeating. There is an avenue of appeal where Eason might get back this season because of the injury. He might still get 3 years more–I sure would be trying that if I were him. I think he has to not play a lot to be able to do that, though.

            Like

  5. Adawg

    This is what it looks like to design your strategy around your talent rather than fitting everything in the square hole of your philosophy.

    Like

  6. doofusdawg

    As I have said… we are only talking about a half a dozen or so early down plays where if we threw the ball instead of running into the pile we would get our run /pass ratio closer to 60%. It might make the running game open up earlier in the game as well.

    Like

    • doofusdawg

      Looking at the cfb stats. Bama throws the ball five times more per game and runs twice less. That gets them fifty extra yards per game passing and one more touchdown per game. Everything else is pretty much even stat wise.

      It doesn’t appear to be a major offensive adjustment.

      Like

  7. DawgByte

    Last night I watched the 2011 UGA vs Tech game with Aaron Murray at the helm. That 2011 team had a lot of similarities to the current squad. The two units have very similar QB’s, OL’s (’11 was better), defensive front 7’s, DB’s, TE and WR corps. The 2011 team obviously didn’t have the stable of running backs we do now.

    What struck me about that game against Tech was the balance of our attack under Bobo. In that game Mike was anything but predictable and used his offensive weapons well. The pass to run ratio was about 50/50. Orson Charles went for over 100 yards in that game. Charles and Nauta are similar body types and talents and yet Nauta is being wasted. I highly doubt Bobo would allow that to happen under his oversight. Still it’s hard to argue against 10-1 and the huge point spreads we are putting up on our opponents.

    Like

    • Got Cowdog

      I watched “the Big Lebowski”.

      Like

    • D.N. Nation

      I recall loathing the ’11 OL despite their mammoth size.

      Thus far ’17 UGA is also like ’11 in that they’ve beaten and lost to the teams they should beat and lose to. Though ’11 UGA was a wilder ride with nonsense like the Vandy escape.

      I still miss Bobo.

      Like

      • Yeah, but the biggest gripe made against Bobo ( Bill King wrote this often) was his insistence on “balance for the sake of balance.” Now, here we are with an offensive coordinator who, apparently, likes to stick with what works and does not want to outsmart himself, and lately everyone wants balance again. WTF? lol…..

        Like

  8. Greg

    I can’t help but wonder, though, if better results from the defense and special teams than what they showed in the loss will prove even more useful.”……..YES, an anomaly that day. I would love to have Auburn a second time to prove it.

    Like

  9. AusDawg85

    C’mon guys. Bringing Eason in to just “sling it around” makes no sense. If the OL is having troubles pass blocking, the TE’s are kept in to help. That leaves just Wims, Godwin and Hardmann as reliable targets. Look at Fromm’s stats closely and tell me where he’s been ineffective passing. Why would Eason, who is less mobile, be better?

    The UGA offense is built on the power running game. Even that opening dive play with Chubb off of right guard has a purpose. Our big bodies start leaning on their D from play one. With all but one team (and including ND) that strategy has paid off by the 3rd Q when opposing D’s are noticeably tiring.

    Auburn has a stronger, faster D than any we played. So does Bama. We’re not going to go to a passing attack to beat them. We don’t even have the playbook for that, so it’s not an issue of who is under center. What Chaney CAN do is realize sooner that we’re not going to wear-out those defensive front 7’s. We need to move them side to side. Crack down on their outside containment with our receivers. Jet sweeps, wheel routes, quick outs, WR screens and going HUNH to get their tongues hanging. Taking a few deep shots may help move the safeties back, but both teams trust their single coverage so the back shoulder to Wims is probably the only play that can have some real opportunities.

    First down, jet sweep with Swift or Mecole. Might only get a yard or two, but then HUNH and go with a quick out to Wims or Godwin. Say just another 2 -3 yards. Now 3rd and 4 or 5 yards, but stay HUNH and power run Sony or Chubb on a delayed draw. That gets a D running and bruised. Stay after it. Push fast and hard and maybe find some gaps both in the rushing lanes and downfield in the passing game as things develop.

    Avoid stupid penalties, turnovers and have a junkyard dawg D and you have a potential winning formula to beat Auburn, and stay in a close game with Bama (the latter has too much experience and depth to beat I fear).

    Like

    • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

      If we don’t have a playbook to through the ball around 30+ times a game, we’re doomed against good defenses. That doesn’t mean we have to throw the ball 30+ times to win, but if we don’t have the creativity to throw the ball, we are doomed to lose.

      If you watched the Auburn game and came away thinking that we need more of that offense, then I don’t know what to tell you. They kicked our teeth in, and we had no options to toss the ball downfield to take advantage of their commitment to stopping the run.

      Throwing the ball downfield doesn’t mean 40+ yard post routes. It means punishing a team that puts its corners on islands for most of the game. If we can’t do that, against a team of equal or superior talent, we will lose. Perhaps not as badly as the Auburn game, but we will lose.

      Like

      • Joe Schmoe

        You have to keep in mind that we gave up several possessions during the Auburn game with penalties and turnovers that a) gave their offense short fields b) gassed our defense and c) kept their D fresh. I agree with the comments that it would be interesting to see the game with just a cleanup of the penalties and special teams miscues. Auburn isn’t that much better than we are.

        Like

        • Mayor

          ^^This. If some dumb stuff that happened early in the game hadn’t happened the game against Auburn would have played out differently. Not saying the Dawgs would have won but if all that screwy stuff (leaping penalty tantamount to a turnover, etc.) doesn’t happen then its a very different ballgame.

          Like

    • Joe Schmoe

      I think you are right on here. The answer is not some PAC-12 down field passing game. It’s getting more creative with the running game than just right up the freaking gut. More sweeps and screens would be welcome. Get the ball outside early and often to keep the d-line from just bull rushing. Then slam them with Chubb up the middle once they are a bit gassed and focusing on something else.

      Like

  10. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Well, Vince Dooley once said that when you run a pass play 4 things can happen and 3 of them are bad. Still, you have to complete a few to help the run game out. 😉

    Like

  11. DawgFlan

    To play devil’s advocate:

    What 27 and 1 could do the rest of the time is catch passes to the flats, on screens, and the play action catch after they release to the middle. Michel made his name catching those balls early in his career, and Chubb is no slouch.

    And if we were attacking instead of being attacked, we would split the TE out and throw it to him quick. That would create more of a dilemma for the D than keeping him in to block.

    Then mix in the draws, counters, and (wistful suggestion) the inside toss, and maybe we hit bigger runs earlier in the game…

    I like the identity we have and don’t want to change it, but I don’t think it is unreasonable that fans would like to see a bit more variety and some intentionality about deploying our talent the entire width and length of the field.

    Like

  12. SEBdawg

    I’m not sure if I understand what people are saying. When we get ahead in the game, some want us to to have our freshman qb start throwing the ball for the practice of it, even though it’s likely that since he is a freshman,
    he is going to turn the ball over? Didn’t we lose a game to Tennessee a few years ago where we were ahead and then had a few turnovers that let them back in? And how is throwing when the run is working legitimate practice for when the run isn’t working and they are looking for the pass?

    Like

    • Got Cowdog

      I did float that as a “what if”. To your first point, If you are up 30-13 with 10 left and the kid throws a pick or struggles, let your defense handle it and go back to what you were doing. The second: How are game reps of any kind not legitimate practice?

      Like

      • SEBdawg

        It’s not always easy to get momentum back when you lose it, that’s why I referenced that Tennessee game. We were up 2 touchdowns and ended up losing. You play the games to win, you practice to get better. Would Richt still be our coach if he had explained that those weren’t losses his last year, but practices for the bowl game?

        Like