Daily Archives: November 30, 2017

Home is where the couch burns.

Craziness.

Really, these people deserve Junior showing up and bailing on them a year later again.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

BREAKING: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Damn, this is great.

You know UT put more on the table than that.

What was SOD, like the Vols’ seventh pick?  What’s the over/under on the number of offers they make this time before they get someone to bite?

94 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Making a game of the championship game

One of the perceptions I had from the first meeting with Auburn — one that I think has been fairly widely shared — was that after the first quarter, Georgia’s defensive front had trouble pressuring Jarrett Stidham.

Not so fast, bacon breath.

Wait, wut?  Georgia did a better job pressuring Stidham than any team Auburn faced not named Clemson, including Alabama?  Now I’m confused.  One reason may be because Stidham has handled himself about as well as Fromm has in those situations this season.

But I’m not forgetting the score, man.  Georgia gave up 40 points.  What gives?  Welp, start with this little nugget.

[Checks notes]… um, that’s not good, is it?

Building off that, Bill Connelly notes that Auburn did a terrific job leveraging its intermediate passing attack off Johnson’s solid day running.

2. Auburn’s short passing game broke the Georgia defense

  • On Auburn’s first scoring drive, the Tigers gained 13 yards on a pass to Nate Craig-Myers in the flat and seven on a screen to Ryan Davis.
  • Third scoring drive: Jarrett Stidham completed a screen to Eli Stove for 19 yards and a pass to Chandler Cox in the flat for 17.
  • Fourth scoring drive (and first TD): They completed a screen to Ryan Davis for 11 yards and a screen to Kerryon Johnson for 11 before going deep to Darius Slayton.
  • Up 23-7 in the third quarter, the Tigers put the game away with a 32-yard screen pass to Davis.

Johnson took the headlines with his 32-carry, 167-yard performance against the Dawgs, but Auburn’s masterful creation of space for its receivers was, to me, what won both the Georgia and Alabama games.

Versus UGA, it appeared the Dawgs were very much preoccupied with the run, so Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey constantly used their momentum against them. They are in an incredible play-calling rhythm right now, showing exactly how you can use one advantage (in this case, Johnson’s strong running) to create three more.

Georgia got killed on misdirection as the game progressed.  Bill’s point is that Johnson’s success running the ball made the defense susceptible to that.  Some of that success — hell, a lot of that success — stemmed from poor tackling fundamentals.  Auburn wasn’t making those mistakes very often and that contributed to Georgia’s failure to get its backs untracked.  Obviously, once Georgia’s running game collapsed, there wasn’t a similar problem Auburn’s defense faced.

I mention all this because, as Bill notes, there are opportunities for Georgia to scheme around some of these problems.  Some of it, obviously, calls for more creative playcalling.  Some of it, though, comes down to better effort.

To move the ball, the Dawgs are going to have to get much better on first down. That might be the only way to keep pressure off of him — he was pressured on nearly 40 percent of his attempts.

UGA gained 34 yards in four first-down plays on the opening scoring drives, then gained 33 yards on six first-down snaps in a late garbage-time TD drive. In between: 14 plays, 15 yards. Every drive basically began on second-and-9.

That’s not going to cut it. Be it either with better early-down passing — Fromm was sacked on first downs, too — or, simply, better run blocking, Georgia has to avoid second-and-longs if it wants to avoid its QB running for his life on third-and-long. That might not mean a complete overhaul in tactics, but it will definitely have to involve better execution.

On defense, the discipline that went out the window at Auburn appeared to return against Georgia Tech.  D’Andre Walker, for example, looked like a completely different player in those two games.  If the Dawgs are going to have any chance to slow Auburn’s offense down, they can’t bite on the misdirection and lose contain, which also means they’ll have to do a better job slowing the Tigers’ down on the ground.  The good news is, if they can make progress on that front, it appears they have the ability to pressure Stidham.

Planning and doing are hugely different things, of course.  But I would argue at a minimum there are certainly ways available for Georgia to make the SECCG a much more competitive affair than the first meeting was.  Gotta start somewhere.

20 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Meanwhile, in Oxford

A shoe is finally about to drop.

Ole Miss has received its 24-hour notice of a Committee on Infractions ruling, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told the Clarion Ledger.

That means a decision, including the penalties Ole Miss will receive, is supposed to come Frida morning. It will also detail any punishment for participants in the case, including former head coach Hugh Freeze and several former assistant coaches and staff members.

And you may have missed this news from earlier in the week.

Is he just the first ahead of others?  Stay tuned.

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Filed under Freeze!

Whither the Gus Bus?

One puzzle about a rumor making the rounds is why Gus Malzahn would consider leaving Auburn for Arkansas.  I know he’s from there, so there’s a little momma factor in play, but Arkansas is a much tougher job than Auburn is.  Sure, Alabama is Alabama, but as this year proved again, when Malzahn has a quarterback who fits his system, he can go toe-to-toe with Saban.

So what’s the deal, then?  Stupid me… when in doubt, what’s always the deal?

And, yes, all those are just backdrop issues to the larger anvil lingering over what should be a sun-kissed weekend for Auburn – a contract showdown. Arkansas is so eager to throw money at Auburn coach Gus Malzahn that they are holding up their entire search just for the opportunity. One source with knowledge of Arkansas’ thinking said the school is “ready to back up the Brinks truck” to lure Malzahn away from Auburn. Arkansas athletics has financial backing of the families around Tyson Foods and Walmart who’d like nothing better for their native son to return home.

Malzahn’s contract hasn’t been significantly adjusted – other than a year added on – since the eve of the SEC championship in 2013.

Days after Tennessee threw truly stupid money at Mike Gundy, it would be foolish to assume Arkansas, with those resources, couldn’t behave similarly.  Add to that a rudderless athletic department at Auburn with Jacobs’ imminent departure as well as the school’s well-earned “what have you done for us lately?” reputation which is something Malzahn recognizes from his own hiring and I can’t entirely discount the possibility.

I don’t know that any uncertainty over their future will have an impact Saturday night, but it won’t bother me if it does.

46 Comments

Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Is physicality a state of mind?

There is no doubt that Georgia’s biggest concern going into the SECCG is how Auburn’s lines manhandled Georgia’s three weeks ago.  Maybe the Tigers’ defensive front having its way with Georgia’s offensive line wasn’t a big surprise, but seeing the Dawgs defensive front pushed aside in the second half certainly was.

Strength and speed are strength and speed.  Those aren’t going to magically change in less than a month.  Some things you can scheme around a little, but if you listen to some of Georgia’s players, it’s as much a matter of will as anything.

Georgia normally dresses out in full pads for practices on Wednesday. On this particular day, just three days before the SEC Championship, the Bulldogs wore shoulder pads and helmets only.

But that didn’t mean practice wasn’t every bit as physical as usual.

Georgia left tackle Isaiah Wynn said players were still running at full speed, thudding each other with the same intensity as before. With everything on the line in Saturday’s conference title game against Auburn, there wouldn’t be any other way for the players to approach this week.

“Even if the coaches wanted us to tone it down, the players were still treating it as another day where the only way to get better is to go full speed,” Wynn said.

Physicality has been the code word for Georgia this week…

Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich said a lot more can be made out of football than what it truly boils down to, however. He mentioned that while a lot goes into preparing its own complicated plays or defending against a complex scheme, much of the game itself comes down to who more often moves the opposition off the snap.

It’s an attitude that appears to be filtering down from the head dude.

“Physicality is an attitude,” Smart said. “Physicality is a size. It’s a physics matter, too. It’s an attitude with which you approach the game and how you approach contact. We didn’t do as good a job as they did at that.”

I’d blow this all off as happy talk — you’ve got to find a way to motivate your players or you’ll repeat the experience, right? — except for one thing:  Georgia’s opponent.  Auburn’s offensive line started out the season terribly, giving up eleven sacks in the Clemson game.  They’ve been shuffling linemen most of the season because of injuries and the early experience, and, yet, look where they are now.  You can’t chalk all of that up to strength and conditioning.  Somebody lit a fire under those guys.

Will that happen for Georgia Saturday night?  Hard to say, but without it, I have a hard time seeing a path to a Dawg win.

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

We gave you the best years of our lives.

This may have been the saddest thing I watched yesterday.

“Where is the loyalty?”  The romantic’s creed.

This is what gets me the most about college football.  The folks getting paid count on the passion of folks like that fellow.  They milk it while relentlessly pushing the envelope with conference realignment, postseason expansion and conference networks with all the scheduling compromises those bring because it allows them to monetize the romance.  Then they all share the wealth.  As far as what this gentleman is feeling goes, at best he’ll get lip service from those assholes, at least as long as he’s got his checkbook out.

People like him deserve respect and appreciation, but giving him what he’s earned by his love of the game would cost money and that ain’t in the cards.  That’s why he got shown the door.  (It’s to his credit he didn’t take a swing at the jerk who pushed him out of the room.)  The rank cynicism doesn’t make me angry, but it’s impossible not to feel embittered by it.

That’s something I hope some of you realize when we debate amateurism here.  While I sometimes grow frustrated with certain commenters’ unwillingness to grasp basic economic realities, I never fail to recognize that at the heart of it lies that same sense of romance that drew us to the game and made us love it in the first place.  I may argue with you about it, but I don’t disrespect where you’re coming from.

As for those questions some of you ask me about how I can feel any of the same emotions about college football when this kind of crap drives me up the wall, I have an answer for you.  I’m a human being, and one thing human beings do when they’re faced with difficult contradictions is to compartmentalize.  Somehow, I manage to separate my feelings for the sport’s financial side from the enjoyment I still get from the purity of the social experience when I go to games, and, of course, the on-field play itself.  I’m still good as long as I can do that.

The depressing part is that every year I find maintaining separation harder and harder to manage.  At some point, those walls are gonna come tumbling down and that will be the end of it for me.  It’s a bittersweet ride, but I’ll stay on board as long as I can.  I hope that FSU fan can do the same.

56 Comments

Filed under College Football