Daily Archives: July 6, 2018

From a head coach to a punchline

By the time the state of Tennessee gets done with Booch, I may wind up feeling sorry for the guy.

Words fail me.

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40 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Political Wankery

Musical palate cleanser, under the knife edition

Man, sorry to see this news:

Elvis Costello has cancelled the remaining dates of his European tour as he recovers from surgery to remove a “very aggressive” tumour.

The singer-songwriter went under the knife in May, but decided to go ahead with his tour dates in June.

“The spirit has been more than willing,” he said in a statement announcing the cancellation.

“But I have to now accept it is going to take longer than I would have wished for me to recover my full strength.”

It sounds like he got a little lucky with his surgery, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him.

Anyway, it put me immediately in mind of the first verse of one of my favorite songs from This Year’s Model.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Mama, I got ‘dem cosmic Lincoln Riley, Big 12 defense blues.

Trust me when I tell you my intent behind this post isn’t to club a dead horse.  There’s a point I’ll get to that requires me to journey past that prostate prostrate equine, though.

Riley’s comments inspired a couple of other posts yesterday, one from Ian Boyd that riffed on what Allen Kenney and I wrote about it, and another from David Ching.  Both lead to points that are bigger than the one Riley tried to make in response to Kanell’s question.

Start with Ching:

Aside from the whole thing being a silly conversation, though, Riley’s comments to Kanell might also be incorrect.

“What’s different here is you’re facing those (explosive) offenses every single week. You just don’t have that in any other league,” Riley said. “It’s not that you don’t have good offenses in other leagues – of course you do. You just don’t have the consistency and the challenge that you do week in and week out in this league.”

I’m just not sure the evidence backs up Riley’s statement here. Again, Oklahoma boasted the nation’s best offense last season. The Sooners rank among the best nearly every season. Oklahoma State was also near the top of the leaderboard.

In fact, Oklahoma (8.29 yards per play) and Oklahoma State (7.34) ranked first and fifth nationally last season in yards per play, for my money the best statistical indicator of an offense’s explosiveness. However, they were the only Big 12 offenses to rank in the top 20 in the category. Meanwhile, the SEC had four top-20 teams: Missouri (7.13 ypp), Ole Miss (6.9), Georgia (6.7) and Alabama (6.59).

Both conferences had six offenses rank in the nation’s top 50 in yards per play, and both also had two offenses rank 100th or worse. Pretty even in my book. Outdated, lazy thinking produces the narrative that the Big 12 has somehow cornered the market on innovative offense, while the SEC is playing a brand of football straight out of the 1960s. That is simply no longer the case.

That ties in with a point I made.

I hate to be like this, but the idea that “any team would struggle with the consistency and challenge you do week in and week out in this league” is as indefensible for the Big 12 as it is for any P5 conference (and, yes, that includes the SEC, unless you think I’m totally off base about the greatness of Arkansas and Vanderbilt, for example).

No conference is close to being the way Riley describes, not the Big 12, not the SEC.  So that’s one thing.

Another consideration from Ching that’s spot on is this:

… Defending a Big 12 offense is different from defending an SEC offense, although the groups have grown more similar in recent years.

Georgia’s defense is constructed to face bigger opponents who are physical along the line of scrimmage, as those traits characterize the toughest teams the Bulldogs will meet in conference play. Oklahoma’s is smaller and quicker in order to defend offenses that are generally more likely to spread out their defensive opponents with a wide-open passing attack.

You defend to win the conference you play in.  That’s where everything starts.  If Georgia were in the Big 12, is it that unreasonable to assume Kirby would recruit successfully to build a defense in a way best suited for that type of play?  I sure don’t think so, and that’s a reason I don’t think Riley is being as profound making his point as he thinks he is.

As far as Boyd’s post goes, it led to a Twitter exchange where I made a point that I think is being overlooked by Riley and those who defend what he says, although to be fair, it wasn’t the question Kanell was asking.

Georgia wasn’t great last season because it had a top-five defense.  For one thing, it didn’t have a top-five defense.  What it did have was the best balance between offense, defense and special teams of any national title contender.  Take a look at the final S&P+ rankings to see what I mean.  Georgia finished 14th on offense, 11th on defense and 3rd on special teams.  There wasn’t another team close to that.  Ohio State, for example, ranked better on offense and defense, but was 35th on special teams.  Alabama’s defense was killer, as we know, but the offense finished 23rd and special teams were a pedestrian 52nd.  Clemson, 114th on special teams.  Oklahoma, 71st on special teams, 101st on defense… well, you get the idea.

One of Mark Richt’s flaws that frustrated me consistently was the way he’d fix a problem that plagued his team one year, only to see a new problem emerge that led to another season’s shortcomings.  That didn’t happen last year.  If there’s one thing that should make you optimistic about this team’s future, that’s it, even if it took Lincoln Riley’s comment to make you realize that.

25 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Third and long

Ian Boyd analyzes advanced stats to find the keys to offenses having a successful third-and-long conversion rate and finds three:

  • have a dual-threat quarterback;
  • have an NFL-grade tight end; or
  • have multiple true threats (defined as 1,000-yard) at receiver

But wait, you say.  Georgia was no slouch at converting third-and-longs last season and it didn’t check any of those boxes.  Well, it turns out Boyd’s ahead of you here.

The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs were a sort of exception. They regularly used TEs who might prove to be NFL-caliber (Isaac Nauta, Charlie Woerner), but they didn’t throw to them terribly often. They didn’t put one WR over 1,000 yards, either. Their trick was to convert a lot of third-and-longs by checking into runs when they caught teams vacating the box or playing dime. With Sony Michel and Nick Chubb moving on while Jake Fromm returns, they’ll probably lean more on those TEs.

Or ***looking around carefully and whispering*** Justin Fields.

9 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

A recurring moment of gratitude

Every time I see something like CFN ranking Deandre Baker as this season’s number two cornerback, it reminds me about how big a deal it is for Georgia that he chose not to submit himself to this past NFL draft.

In its own way, it’s as significant a decision as it was for the four juniors who elected to return for last season, the difference being there’s only one Baker.  I’ll take what I can get.

6 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Another “it just means more” season coming up

Mississippi beat writer Hugh Kellenberger compiles his list of the top ten (technically, eleven, since there’s one tie) SEC games this season here.  I think it’s motivated as much by entertainment value as it is by matchup quality — for Exhibit A on that, he’s got Alabama-Tennessee at number two — so it’s not a bad place to start, although I think Georgia-Auburn is a pretty glaring omission.

What do you guys think?

12 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Being good is hard.

Over at Saturday Down South, Connor O’Gara takes a look at how SEC teams have done in the playoff era against teams that finish ranked inside the Associated Press Top 25.

  • Alabama — 18-5 (.783)
  • Georgia — 9-6 (.600)
  • Ole Miss — 8-11 (.421)
  • Auburn — 7-14 (.333)
  • LSU — 6-12 (.333)
  • Arkansas — 5-15 (.250)
  • Florida — 4-12 (.250)
  • Tennessee — 4-12 (.250)
  • South Carolina — 4-12 (.250)
  • Mississippi State — 3-12 (.200)
  • Texas A&M — 2-14 (.125)
  • Kentucky — 1-12 (.078)
  • Mizzou — 0-10 (.000)
  • Vanderbilt — 0-11 (.000)

If you’re looking for an answer as to why Gus Malzahn doesn’t get the respect Auburn fans think he deserves, there’s a good answer for you.

In the bigger picture, though, it turns out the SEC is fairly representative in that regard.

As it turns out, having a winning record vs. the final Top 25 is quite the accomplishment. I found that only 3 non-SEC programs (Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma) could claim that during the Playoff era.

I dug up the records vs. the final Top 25 for a bunch of other non-SEC programs (during the Playoff era):

  • Ohio State — 14-4 (.778)
  • Clemson — 14-6 (.700)
  • Oklahoma — 10-7 (.589)
  • Wisconsin — 8-9 (.471)
  • Florida State — 7-8 (.467)
  • Michigan State — 8-10 (.444)
  • TCU — 6-8 (.429)
  • Northwestern — 6-9 (.400)
  • Stanford — 6-10 (.375)
  • Notre Dame — 6-11 (.353)
  • USC — 7-13 (.350)
  • Oregon — 7-14 (.333)
  • Penn State — 6-12 (.333)
  • UCLA — 5-12 (.294)
  • Oklahoma State — 4-10 (.290)
  • Miami (FL) — 4-11 (.267)
  • Virginia Tech — 2-7 (.222)
  • Washington — 3-11 (.214)
  • Texas — 2-14 (.125)
  • Louisville — 1-10 (.090)
  • West Virginia — 1-13 (.071)
  • NC State — 0-9 (.000)

So much for sneering at Ohio State’s and Clemson’s schedules.

Or, to put it another way…

17 Comments

Filed under College Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!