About that other Rose Bowl matchup

Yeah, my nerves are tingling over what Georgia’s defense will be facing with Baker Mayfield, but what about the other side of the ball?  The Sooners offense is the best single unit playing in the CFP, but their defense is the weakest single unit hitting the field on New Year’s Day.  What should we expect from Chaney, Fromm, Chubb, Michel, et al.?  And what’s Oklahoma going to do about that?

Well, there seem to be a few common themes out there about those questions.

  1. It’s the Big 12, and those offenses, man.  That’s one the Oklahoma team appears to embrace, itself.  “In the Big 12, you’re going to be stressed in a lot of different ways,” senior defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo says. “We’re not complaining — it’s just the nature of the beast. I think it’s just a little misleading, looking at it on paper.”
  2. SEC defenses are overrated because they don’t face many good offenses.  The complement to theme #1 means that Georgia’s offensive staff hasn’t had to work as hard to game plan as your typical Big 12 staff because they can get away with a vanilla offense due to the level of opposing offenses.  Here’s Oklahoma’s DC on that“It’s a unique league. The quarterbacks, the offensive coordinators do a great job, really, scheming week to week and trying to pick at your weaknesses. I would imagine Georgia’s had three or four weeks to do that. So we’ll see.”
  3. Oklahoma’s defense will be playing with a chip on its shoulder.  Hard to do when you’re 12-1 and in the CFP, but:  “The only time you pretty much do hear about our defense is how much we suck … or how we’ve got to improve in this and this and this, and how we’re holding the team back,” sophomore linebacker Caleb Kelly says. “So we have a lot to prove and we have these next two games to do it. And I’m just hoping we come together as a defense and continue playing well like we have the past couple of games.”  Seems to me you could apply the same sort of thinking to Georgia’s passing game, if you want to.

As you can see, those are all kind of generic.  Ian Boyd, though, gets more specific with what is an interesting point.  Amidst pointing out the weak spots in Oklahoma’s defense this season, he finds one potential strength:

The saving grace for the Sooners in this contest is that Georgia is much simpler as a rushing team than Kansas State and their favorite play, inside zone, is vulnerable to the Sooners’ favorite front.

The challenge of this “tite” front, which uses a pair of 4i-technique DEs clogging up the B-gaps and then outside linebackers on the edges is that it makes it hard to run the ball downhill as the play is designed and either the sam linebacker or the mike can be a free hitter that the offense doesn’t block. Georgia has tended to handle that with either a Fromm keep option or a quick pass outside to the slot but the Sooners are hard to beat that way with strong safety Steven Parker dropping down. The senior is a pretty sure tackler and these options all involve giving the ball to someone other than Chubb or Michel which isn’t the preference in Athens.

Boyd goes on to say that “There’s a chance Georgia mauls the OU defensive line and blows open holes up the middle anyways, or that they can use their supporting run plays to attack the edges or get OU from clogging up their inside zone play, but the strength of the Georgia offense is not in attacking a defensive front like this.”  Look, if Georgia can’t win either line of scrimmage Monday, this is going to be the first Auburn game all over again.  I just happen to think that Chaney’s learned a lot from that debacle and will be prepared to react, as he did in the SECCG, if Oklahoma has early success loading the box and stuffing the inside running game.

By the way, read the entirety of Boyd’s piece.  He’s got some interesting things to say about the flaws that have plagued the Sooners defense most of the season.  There are definitely areas for Jim Chaney to try to exploit, particularly in terms of the steps Stoops has taken to scheme to protect linebacker Caleb Kelly in coverage.

One thing about Ian’s “Georgia is much simpler as a rushing team than Kansas State” observation — and he’s a much sharper Xs and Os guy than I’ll ever be, so I take him at his word there — is that it took me through several game logs for a few teams to see how that sorted out.  The Kansas State game was Oklahoma’s worst of the season in terms of defensive yards per carry (interestingly enough, the Iowa State loss involved one of their better efforts).  Without Georgia playing the Wildcats it’s a little hard to provide complete context, but there is a common opponent between KSU and Georgia, and that’s Vanderbilt.  You may remember that Kansas State lost to Vandy, but still managed to turn in one of its better rushing efforts of the season, gaining over 200 yards and averaging almost six yards a carry.

However, that pales in comparison to what Georgia did against Vanderbilt: 423 rushing yards; 7.83 ypc.  Sometimes, success is more about execution than it is about scheme.

And I think in the end that’s where it all comes back to.  If I have a fear it’s that it takes Georgia’s offense longer to sort itself out than Mayfield does against Georgia’s defense, and the Dawgs are looking at an early two or three score deficit.  As Boyd concludes,

The Sooners have a large and talented if inconsistent defensive front and they’ll be keen to send numbers to stop the run and encourage Georgia to ask Jake Fromm to out duel Baker Mayfield in a shootout. If Georgia is going to rise above that and impose their will in the trenches then they’ll either have to slow down Mayfield or get going early on the ground in this game. That may be the battle to watch in this game.

As we saw on the Plains, Georgia isn’t really built for massive comebacks.  It’s got to maintain some semblance of control on at least one side of the ball to win.

33 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

33 responses to “About that other Rose Bowl matchup

  1. Attack the edges early and often like we did in Auburn II. Eventually they had to relent in the middle and we started gashing their interior.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Glennon

    Its the measurables, more than the X’s and O’s. Take a look at the media guide depth chart. OU’s starting NG is 6’1, 295 and their starting DT weighs 279. I think their DE is 260. Compare that to Auburn’s DL or MIss St’s DL which average well over 300. OU plays a 3-4 and their LBs are smallish, including Okoronkwu. How are they going to hold up at the point of attack for 4 quarters? I don’t see it happening no matter how much they stack the box or run blitz.

    Physics isn’t an intangible. Physics travels. That’s why I’m not worried about putting points on the board and having our way, particularly in the 2nd half.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dawgtired

      Your comments are eerily similar to those made before the Boise St game in 2011 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Got Cowdog

        I thought the same thing. The biggest O-line in football got it’s ass handed to it that night. At the risk of starting shit here, I blamed Bobo. 🙂
        I don’t think these are the same type Dawgs. And I believe that one was the first game of the season?

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        • dawgtired

          We are definitely a different bunch now. I think Pittman is a good OL coach and will have the players ready. I think these Dawgs are focused and will play hard. It’s just I’ve been disappointed so many times when we start talking of weakness verses strengths. So often before the opposite ends up being true. Let’s hope the opposite of OU’s strengths comes true not ours.
          I was reading some info on Riley (OU’s coach). It seems Riley’s approach is to target weaknesses or mismatches and not necessarily ‘scheme’ against an opponent. Which is most likely what we will be doing at this stage of the season. It’s too late to re-scheme things. We will be what we are and they’ll be their usual. It will come down to who better executes to take advantage of the mismatches.
          Many of our plays bank on missed tackles for success. I’ve heard other posters comment on OU’s many missed tackles. I’m hoping this is an area we can exploit. If Chubb/Michel and company are collecting yards after contact, we will have a good day.
          OU’s D has heard how bad they are and will be playing with purpose to start…we need to break that will.
          We need to punish Mayfield and his receivers every chance and make them pay for every yard. I’m hoping their receivers have not had to deal with physical DBs in their B12 games.

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        • Otto

          2011 Boise: Bobo’s game plan was bizarre, to say the least. It seemed like for much of the game, the offense played away from its strengths – speed and size advantages – and instead played right into the best part of Boise State’s defense, its line, which was everything it was billed to be.

          https://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/observations-from-the-dome-the-morning-after/

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          • Got Cowdog

            Otto, thanks so much for posting that link. I’m stuck behind the desk today without much to do. So I’ve looked at some of the 2011 BSU game replays, but the most fun is the commenting on that post. (My goodness, the Bobo haters were out!) It brings back memories of angst forgotten and is a good reminder of what this season really should mean to us as fans.
            Oklahoma is a good team. We’re better.

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            • The other Doug

              Bob and Richt deserved every bit of the hate they got after that game. That was the worst game plan for Bobo and the second worst for Richt in their careers.

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              • Got Cowdog

                You are absolutely right. Seriously, read through those comments and let all that boil back up to the surface. (I think you had one or two in there) Look at some highlights from that season. Then starting with ND 2017, look at the highlights game by game this season and tell me what you see and don’t see…….

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          • JarvisCrowell

            Man time has made dawg faithful look like an ass haha

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      • Bill Glennon

        This team isn’t UGA 2011. We’ve steamrolled every smaller OL we’ve faced (GT, Vandy) and a lot of bigger ones too.

        OU’s front seven is not good against the run.

        I guess anything could happen, but I’ll wager on the process and the body of work I have seen from both teams over a season.

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    • Clayton Davis

      There is actually a slight trend toward bringing smaller defenders in numbers on defense. Think Washington State, which held Stanford under 100 yards rushing with undersized d-linemen.

      Like

      • The problem for undersized DLs is if they come up against a big, athletic group of offensive linemen. The defensive line has no chance. Athletic isn’t a word I would use to describe Stanford’s offensive line.

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      • Got Cowdog

        Back in the day, one of my coaches told me this, and I have found it to be true in all contact sports: “A good big man will beat a good little man every time.”
        The tenet is based on equal skill and effort of course, so referring to BG’s comment above and the knee-jerk Munsoning that followed I still think UGA wears their defense and the Dawgs take the win. IF Georgia O-line opens some holes, I like the idea of any one of the 5 backs taking on a smallish safety or corner in the open field.

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  3. DawgFlan

    Great thoughts Senator, and I agree with eethomasswfnc and Bill Glennon above as well. If UGA has success attacking OU early across the entire width of the field, and keep it within a score going into the half, I give us a good chance to win.

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  4. Lou

    Auburn was able to get to us in the first game because they had high quality DLmen, can you really say that about OU? I would guess that, defensively, they’re probably like MSU, but MSU is actually higher rated.

    Boys and I are flying today, can’t wait to see what happens!

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  5. Uglydawg

    Georgia has seen better defensive fronts and handled them. Chubb, Michel and Swift (and Holyfield) are all loads to bring down..
    And the O line seems to be peaked, although it may take a little longer to wear down the defense because they will be very well and rested.
    While my usual reaction to “intangible factors” is meh, I don’t doubt that this is a Georgia team on a mission.
    This WILL be grown man football.
    I think we will see the most determined and focused Georgia effort imaginable.
    Just musing, but I think when this is all over there will be a consensus among us that Auburn was the best football team Georgia faced all year (sorry, Tennessee fans) ..After that debacle on the Plains, this team gained a new focus and perspective. I’m hoping that will carry over for a couple more games and into next year.

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  6. Prosticutor

    I re-watched Auburn II last night and was reminded of the “4 yards at a time” comment by one of the announcers. I’d be so thrilled if that’s all we did Monday. Whatever it takes to give OU about 2 touches per quarter!

    Having said that, anyone have links to websites with good OU blog/comments leading to this game? I’m not interested in trolling, just seeing their thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Got Cowdog

      Go to Landthieves.com. It’s worth the read. We really shouldn’t bother showing up, according to that fringe of the fanbase.

      Like

    • Clayton Davis

      Try looking at the Trench Warfare posts on The Football Brainiacs site.

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      • dawgtired

        A few interesting comments on the UGA/Aub game from that site.

        “UGA’s “tell” defensively is that they show their blitz before the snap. I’ve watched a few of their games and they have continued to do this. Now the thing I know is that if they do this to Riley and Mayfield, those two will have a heyday.”
        “In the 1st matchup, Auburn completely had Georgia off balance due to misdirection, reverses and deception. I think Oklahoma may have better speed at the receiver position although Auburn has some fast guys. If Riley can set some plays up to get Badet and Hollywood into the open field, look out.”

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  7. Saltwater Dawg

    The formula for our offense seems pretty simple to me, and the adjustments for the Auburn rematch seemed to bolster my thoughts. (Don’t read this as we have a simple office, I’m talking about overriding principles).

    If our OL can dominate in the trenches, then we back off the line a bit, run the RPO’s, read options and zones. When we do go under center, we still back the RBs up a couple of extra yards so they have a little more time to see lanes develop. If our OL is dominant, we have a lot more options.

    But, if the OL struggles with dominance, then we spend more time under center, move the RBs closer to the point of attack, pound the designed lanes, and take advantage of the play action opportunities that come from it. Oh yeah … and the old faithful (toss sweep).

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  8. Clayton Davis

    Senator, Stoops had to scheme to protect Kelly in coverage in Big 12 play. He did well in OOC (including against Ohio State) and shined last year against Auburn. I would expect him to be featured in the playoffs against Georgia, and again versus Clemson or Bama if OU wins on Monday.

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    • Sort of figured that. Boyd hints at it but doesn’t say it directly. He does the same thing with Georgia running out of spread sets, too. I expect Chaney to run out of four-receiver sets with a TE to put pressure on Kelly.

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  9. The other Doug

    If all OU’s defense needs is a chip on their shoulder to stuff the UGA running game, then GT would have done it.

    Their coaches have to be looking at our running game and hoping to just slow it down enough for their offense to put us in a hole. That’s where this game will be decided. If we can get to halftime within 7 points we wear them out in the 2nd half. If their offense is rolling it’s all going to be on Fromm matching Mayfield, and I know how that ends.

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  10. Will

    Went back and watched his take on the OU offense vs UGA defense and I found it very hard to take much from his clips and breakdown as the majority were from the OU vs Texas Tech game. OU’s offensive line was just mauling the TT DL so naturally the scheme looked incredible and Lincoln Riley looked like a genius.

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  11. Russ

    I think we can overcome an early 2 TD deficit if we make the defensive adjustments. I’d rather not find out, though.

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    • Macallanlover

      Agree. These are two dangerous, but different, offensive units that are better than the defenses they will face. All comes down to execution and mistakes, as it so often does with two teams that are pretty equal.

      And I would remind others that particular Boise team was senior laden, and talented, maybe better at that point of the year. We were doing fine until Ogletree went down, I suspect losing R in the middle would be a difference maker in this match up. Acting as if that was a “normal” Boise squad is an attempt to misrepresent the way that game represented a flop for UGA, it was a game of near equals with little edge to either team. And I give UGA a break for having to be seen in those uniforms, they had to be embarrassed and hanging their head.

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  12. whb209

    Senator you already gave the answer, ” success is more about execution than it is about scheme.”

    Like