Daily Archives: December 21, 2017

An embarrassment of riches

Er… that’s good, right?



Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“… and we have no higher priority than the well-being of our student-athletes.”

This is how it should happen.

Georgia starting linebacker Natrez Patrick has resolved his probation violation case stemming from a drug arrest and entered in-patient treatment.

But Patrick, who was not at Georgia’s practice Thursday, won’t play in the Rose Bowl, according to his lawyer, Billy Healan. Georgia faces Oklahoma on Jan. 1 in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

“Natrez is receiving treatment for his personal issues and we look forward to the completion of that treatment so he can put this behind him,” Healan said. “This resolves all his legal matters.”

Healan said he wouldn’t speak to the type or length of the treatment due to confidentiality concerns. Court documents from Athens-Clarke County say Patrick agreed to enter an in-patient facility in Augusta.

Evidently he flopped a second drug test that turned up opiates and alcohol.  Hope he gets the help he needs so he can turn his life around.


Filed under Georgia Football

What about stopping the deep ball?

I’m not directing that question to Georgia’s defense.

Sometimes, you get the feeling there’s more going on in this game than the pundits recognize.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

The right question

Bill Connelly goes where I’ve been waiting for somebody to go for a while.

When talking about the Dawgs’ Rose Bowl semifinal battle with Oklahoma, it’s easy to get distracted by the matchup of OU’s offense and UGA’s defense — that’s when Baker Mayfield and Roquan Smith will be on the field, after all. It features an offense that hasn’t been held under 29 points all year against a defense that’s allowed more than 29 points only once. That’s a pretty sexy battle.

But the other matchup — Georgia’s offense vs. Oklahoma’s defense — will still occupy half the game.

Yeah.  What about that?

I’m not sure Bill provides any definitive answers, but he does have some relevant data to share.  To start with, the Oklahoma defense’s season, like Gaul, is divided into three parts.

Despite the overall numbers, OU has spent half the season playing solid defense. The other half, not so much.

  • Sooner defense (first 3 games): 4.2 yards per play, 12.3 points per game, 76 percent average percentile performance
  • Sooner defense (next 7 games): 6.7 yards per play, 33.8 points per game, 34 percent average percentile performance
  • Sooner defense (last 3 games): 4.5 yards per play, 17.0 points per game, 75 percent average percentile performance

In the first three and last three games of the regular season — a sample that includes a win at Ohio State and a neutral-field win over TCU — OU allowed a paltry 15 points per game.

Is this an example of rising up to the level of competition?  Eh, who knows.  Bill does point to a couple of issues that contributed to the mid-season mediocrity.

Injuries didn’t help.

The Sooners lost second-leading returning cornerback Jordan Parker to a knee injury in the first quarter of the season. Starting corner Jordan Thomas missed two games, starting safety Will Johnson missed two, and safety Kahlil Haughton missed four.

OU leaned on sophomore corner Parnell Motley far more than anticipated, and while he landed some shots (4.5 tackles for loss, 11 passes defensed), he also got picked on, and with unreliable safety play backing him up. Thomas labored to slow down Big 12 No. 1s when healthy.

The defensive line was a revolving door, which meant OU working with a one-man pass rush — Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is the only Sooner with more than five sacks or 7.5 tackles for loss — for part of the season. (Okoronkwo limped off in quite a few games but played in all 13.)

Missed tackles were also a significant issue for a while.

Take a look at the missed tackles data for Georgia and Oklahoma at CFB Film Room. UGA’s top 10 tacklers missed a combined 48; Oklahoma’s: 90.

Injuries you can recover from; shitty fundamentals aren’t as easy to overcome.  I suspect some of what’s going on there is that the Sooners are usually so dominant on offense that their defensive shortcomings don’t come back to bite them.  How that works when Oklahoma isn’t blowing out an opponent is the question.

Bill goes on to note that the Sooners defense has held up reasonably well against against teams with top-25 rushing rankings in Rushing S&P+ (Ohio State, Texas Tech, WVU, and TCU twice).  Georgia currently ranks eighth in that regard.  (FWIW, Ohio State is second.)

One other item of note:  Oklahoma’s defense tends not to come out of the gate strongly.

The first quarter will tell us what we need to know.

S&P+ ranking by quarter:

  • Q1: UGA offense sixth, OU defense 91st
  • Q2: UGA offense 12th, OU defense 50th
  • Q3: UGA offense 14th, OU defense 15th
  • Q4: UGA offense 60th, OU defense 55th*

* Quarter data is not filtered for garbage time, so the fact that both teams have won a lot of blowouts probably renders fourth-quarter data useful than the other three.

Chaney and Georgia tend to come out of the blocks hot, but they don’t over-complicate things for Fromm. Accordingly, the Dawgs’ offensive effectiveness tends to trickle downward as the game progresses.

OU’s defense tends to adapt. During the Sooners’ slump, they were getting gashed early — they gave up 38 points to Oklahoma State in the first half, 21 to Kansas State in the first half, 20 in the first quarter to Texas Tech, etc. — but found some answers, though they might not have been enough without an otherworldly offense.

If OU keeps Georgia out of the end zone for the first two or three drives, the Sooners’ odds of winning go up immensely, even if their own offense is struggling against one of the country’s best defenses.

As a reminder, Oklahoma’s offense is first nationally in S&P+ rankings in all four quarters.  If Georgia’s offense gets bogged down early, that could be a strong hint of a rough day coming.


Filed under Georgia Football

Business as usual

These two observations really do sum up the current state of affairs with the program:

Man, does that feel right.


Filed under Georgia Football

Butthurt in Urnge

It sounds like the Vols are handling Cade Mays signing with Georgia well.


UPDATE:  More pleasantness here.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Recruiting

Attack the (early signing) day.

Give Bud Elliott credit.  He nailed yesterday’s two key trends.

“With few exceptions, we expect to sign every verbal commitment we have. This is [now] the main Signing Day.”

If a player has been offered and has verbally committed to the university, that team expects him to sign. Coaches have put in months, if not years, of work toward their current verbal commitments. They do not want to spend another second ensuring those players sign. In fact, that has long been one of their biggest annoyances with the recruiting process.

To put it another way, a lot of schools think upward of 80 percent of their recruiting classes will sign in December, with only a few players waiting until February.

The December early signing period is now the big trip to the grocery store, while February’s traditional National Signing Day is going to become the quick stop for a gallon of milk.

Of 247Sports Composite’s 27 five-star recruits, all but seven signed yesterday.  Out of the next 73, only 20 remained unsigned.  On the home front, all but five of Georgia’s hard commits have signed, and I expect Channing Tindall signs today.  The other four who still haven’t signed are all three-star kids, which makes you wonder which side is holding off on making the relationship permanent.

Small schools are going to put pressure on kids to sign and not wait for bigger offers.

A common frustration of teams that don’t normally recruit with the elites: When they do secure a yes from a top prospect, it’s difficult to carry it all the way until the first Wednesday in February.

With an accelerated timetable, those schools are feeling better about their chances to get those big fish in the boat. For that reason, they’re going to try every trick in the book to get these kids to sign and not take their recruitments into February, when the big powers can turn some of their focus to picking off unsigned players.

But big schools, especially those who have made coaching changes, will pull out the stops to get kids to wait.

There is no doubt that the early signing period benefits schools that did not make a coaching change. Twenty teams, including almost half of the SEC, changed coaches this offseason.

Those schools are working on incredibly accelerated timelines, compared to the normal plan. Many have partial coaching staffs, and in the span of two or three weeks, a new staff must determine what it has on its existing rosters, the state of its commitment list, which of those commitments are solid, which fit the new scheme, and which recruits who are uncommitted or committed to other schools might be interested in coming.

That appears to be what happened.

I’m sure there will be many unforeseen consequences of the new Early Signing Period, but one that I saw coming from a mile away, and wrote about, was the new rule helping smaller schools keep the gems they’ve scouted and recruited. Under the old system, it was relatively easy for big programs to figure out their top targets weren’t coming, and then flip a kid from a smaller school.

But already this morning, I am seeing numerous reports of kids spurning last-minute offers from big schools to stick with their commitment to lesser programs which have recruited them for a long while.

Like a QB sticking with ECU instead of waiting for Florida, or this guard sticking with Kansas instead of jumping on a Texas offer.

Just looking at the SEC, the schools with recent coaching changes finished at the bottom of the pack in terms of number of players signed:  Arkansas (10); Texas A&M (14); Florida (15); Tennessee (16).  For context, probation-stunted Ole Miss signed sixteen.  You can probably figure out which schools will be scrambling hardest for kids in the next couple of months.


Filed under Recruiting

“Everyone is going to feel it.”

If by “everyone”, you mean the usual wallets, well, yeah.

Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard estimates his school is facing $700,000 in additional cost from this provision.

“That figure will have to either be passed on to ticket holders and donors, or taken out of the budgets of sports that are not … being targeted by the federal government,” Pollard said in an e-mail. “It is ironic that the compensation paid in those two sports, by sheer market pressure, will actually now generate an additional financial burden for athletics directors to try and solve in our industry. It will be interesting to watch the new wave of creative ideas and suggestions that will be developed by lawyers, agents and financial advisors, to try and get around the new excise tax.”

That process already is underway, according to Roger Denny, a St. Louis-based lawyer with Spencer Fane LLP whose practice areas include representation of coaches, AD’s and schools.

“Our athletic director/university clients are certainly asking about this and other issues in the bill, and we’ve been asked to start consider ways to mitigate the effects of the tax,” said Denny, who assists USA TODAY Sports with the compilation of its coaches’ compensation surveys.

Pollard said he believes many ticket buyers will retain their seats even with the elimination of the deduction for donations connected to those purchases. He said that the increase in the standard deduction might offset the loss of the itemized deduction.

But Marc Ganis, a sports business consultant who used to work with colleges but now focuses on pro sports, had concern not only about the mathematic effect, but also about what he called “the perceptive effect.”

“Certainly one of the things used to market (season tickets and suites) is the deductability,” he said. The loss of the deduction “may chill the sale to some people even more than the actual additional cost,” which, for businesses, may not be that significant because business-tax rates are being lowered.

Even before the legislation passed in Congress, some athletics departments were reaching out to donors to act while the deduction remains available. In a posting Tuesday on Baylor’s athletics website, AD Mack Rhoades wrote: “(W)e encourage you to consider completing your 2017-18 Bear Foundation commitment and/or pre-paying for 2018-19 before December 31, 2017, in order to claim the maximum deductions from your giving.”

Add that colleges will be responsible for paying a 21% excise tax on annual compensation above $1 million that goes to any of the organization’s five most highly compensated employees and a change in the rules governing taxation of income from non-profit organizations’ unrelated businesses, and you’re talking about some real money, peeps.  Get ready for the pass through.  That reserve fund ain’t gonna save itself.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery

“If you really want to see where someone is committing, you shouldn’t overlook [social media] data.”

How long do you figure it’ll take for Nick Saban to hire Kristina Bigbsy?


Filed under Recruiting, Science Marches Onward, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

A tale of two coaching decisions

Two tweets that say so much.

Thanks, Booch.  You sure could pick ’em.


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