Daily Archives: October 23, 2018

Your advanced stats roadmap to this year’s Cocktail Party

David Wunderlich has done an excellent job filtering the Georgia-Florida game through Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning.  The entire post is worth your attention, but if you want the tl;dr bullet point version, here ’tis:

  • Georgia is far more explosive on offense than is Florida.
  • Georgia’s defense is better at preventing explosive plays than is Florida’s.
  • Both teams are similar when it comes to offensive efficiency.
  • Florida’s defense has been lock down in the fourth quarter.
  • Florida has enjoyed better starting field position than has Georgia.  (“In a game with 25 possessions, that implies Florida would end up with 75 yards’ worth of field position advantage.”)
  • Florida has a turnover advantage.

That field position metric exposes an area of concern (for me, at least) for Georgia that probably hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, the punt game.  Georgia is an anemic 75th in net punting.  In terms of average, its punt return game has been dynamic.  The problem is that the Dawgs have only returned 13 of 40 punts this season.  When you consider the weapons Georgia has at the return position, that’s a lot of wasted opportunities.

Add it all up, and it’s easy to visualize each team’s recipe for success.  Kirby Smart wants what he got out of his team in its first six games, early leads, which allowed his defense to play conservatively and force the opponent to grind out offense, peppered with the occasional big play that gradually allowed Georgia to pull away.

Florida, on the other hand…

The Gators’ best shot on offense is probably to keep doing what they’ve been doing except against Kentucky: stay on schedule and play the field position game. On defense, they need to avoid giving up the big play against an explosive UGA offense since the Gators are an excellent efficiency defense. That means playing bend-but-don’t-break between the 20s and being judicious with blitzes.

Maybe the biggest factor will be not falling behind early.

In other words, replicate the LSU game plan.  David’s conclusion sounds a lot like what Billy Gomila told us leading up to the loss.

LSU didn’t fall behind early, and UGA was not comfortable playing from behind. The Gators’ advantages in efficiency defense and field position mean they’re hard to come back against. With a continuation of their turnover luck in recovering opponent fumbles, Florida can follow a path to victory in Jacksonville. It’ll be hard, but it’s doable.

This is going to be an impose your will contest.  Just like the week before, the better focused team is likely your winner.



Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“It was like a snap of a finger.”

Hey, guess what, guys?  Florida players say they were distracted before last year’s Georgia game and that’s what cost them.

Kinda like the Tebow shoulder excuse to explain the 2007 loss.

Remember, since 1990, Gator football can’t fail.  It can only be failed.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football


Trouble in Columbus?  Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.


Filed under Urban Meyer Points and Stares

UGA: Worst 6-1 team of 2018, or worst 6-1 team ever?

You know, it’s funny.  Advanced stats still respect the hell out of Georgia — for example, Bill Connelly has the Dawgs 5th in both his base S&P+ rankings and in his resume S&P+ rankings — but to hear a chunk of the fan base and the pundit class tell it, this team is shaping up as a serious disappointment with lots of question marks.

I do think Georgia has suffered from one serious flaw this season and it bit the Dawgs in the arse in their last game.  Matt Hayes describes it nicely this way:

We’re a week from the release of the first College Football Playoff poll, and we still have no idea what Georgia is all about.

Here’s the cold, ugly reality: neither does Georgia.

I spent the past week talking to SEC coaches and NFL scouts about the Dawgs, and how – after an ugly road loss to LSU where nothing went right – a team with as much talent as anyone in the nation not named Alabama can be staring at failing to win its division, much less return to the CFP?

There were a handful of reasons, and while each separately wasn’t enough to derail a season, combined they’re debilitating.

“The look on the faces of that team – coaches and players – after the LSU game was remarkable,” one NFL scout said. “It’s like they didn’t think they could lose, and when they did, suddenly, it’s, ‘What the hell is the problem?’ It’s not players or schemes, that’s surface stuff.”

This team has spent 2018 in cruise control.  It managed to out-talent its way through the first six games and floundered when it hit the first crisis where talent by itself wasn’t enough to win.  If the team isn’t mentally prepared this week, Jacksonville could turn into the second crisis.


Filed under Georgia Football

Baby, you’re moving way too fast.

Now here’s an interesting observation about the LSU game from Kirby Smart:

Facing an up-tempo attack kept the Bulldogs from substituting as much as they would have liked and exposed what coach Kirby Smart called a lack of conditioning, not a lack of effort.

“We’ve played a lot of players this year, and sometimes you can’t do that in (every game),” Smart said. “Sometimes when people go fast, go hurry-up, they keep the same guys in, and you have to be able to sustain and play longer.”

So, if Georgia hadn’t substituted so liberally in its first six games, the team would have been better able to withstand LSU’s pace?

Color me a wee bit skeptical about that.  The problems I saw the Dawgs having with the hurry-up were players not getting set properly on the field and the staff struggling to make timely substitutions.  They better have worked hard on those during the off week, because I have little doubt Dan Mullen’s gonna test that again this Saturday.


UPDATE:  Naturally, the GPOOE™ thinks Georgia had a heart problem against the Tigers.

Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, now an SEC Network analyst, called out nose guard Julian Rochester by spotlighting the junior on a replay from the LSU game with Georgia trailing 19-9 in the fourth quarter.

It showed running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire picking up 17 yards to get to the Georgia 1 to set up a Joe Burrow touchdown run in the 36-16 LSU win.

“Look at the effort for LSU vs. this defensive lineman for Georgia,” Tebow said Saturday. ”‘Uh, I’m jogging, I could have made the play but I didn’t want any.’ If you’re a Georgia defensive player, that is embarrassing and you’re getting called out. On that play, three players were jogging to the football. Any one of them could have made the tackle. LSU, you weren’t jogging to the football. That’s why you dominated.”

It wasn’t clear which other Georgia players Tebow was referring to but it may have been linebackers Brenton Cox and Tae Crowder, who made the tackle on the play.

Tebow said some Georgia players were “pulling up on plays,” and called the lack of effort “shocking,” a season after a Roquan Smith-defense was “ferocious,” in its effort.

Shocking!  I’m shocked, shocked, Teeb’s would suggest that.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Jim Delany sure can pick ’em.

Boy, that Maryland move to the Big Ten has paid huge dividends in fan support… er, what’s that, you say?

The Terps experienced an 8,000-fans-per-game boost during their debut Big Ten season in 2014, but the numbers have steadily fallen since. Average home game attendance hovered around 40,000 from 2015 to 2017, according to athletics department data. The stadium holds about 54,000.

Last year, Maryland’s average home game attendance was lower than it was in 2013, NCAA data show. Among Big Ten schools, only Northwestern and Illinois filled fewer seats in 2017.

This season, an average of about 33,700 attended the first three home games.

Well, that’ll come around once the team starts winning.  And that’s coming soon, given how well recruiting’s been going… wait, what?

The team’s recruiting rankings are also suffering. Before McNair’s death, Evans said, the school had made strides attracting top players. Before this year, he said, Maryland was credited with “two of the highest[-rated] recruiting classes in the history of Maryland football.”

But now the football program’s coaching instability and negative press make recruiting a challenge, said Adam Friedman, a Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.

The Terps “had a lot of momentum leading into the season,” he said, but that has all but disappeared.

“For this time of year, for a school like Maryland, for a team that’s beaten a team like Texas, there would be more recruiting momentum if there weren’t these off-the-field issues,” Friedman said.

Maryland’s recruiting class is tied for last in the Big Ten, according to Rivals.com’s 2019 rankings, behind teams it has beaten this season.

On Aug. 11 — the day after a scathing ESPN report was published, detailing allegations of a toxic culture within the football program — three-star offensive lineman Parker Moorer became the first to decommit from Maryland.

The success of college football recruitment efforts often hinges on convincing a player’s parents that the program will nurture their son’s talents and health. Speaking on national television shortly after McNair’s death in June, his parents said they sent their son to Maryland’s football program, trusting the staff would “keep him safe.”

“They did anything but,” Martin McNair said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

That will likely give parents pause.

Yeah, that’s not a good look.  For the conference, I mean.  Rutgers and Maryland… but, hey, what about the Big Ten Network’s numbers!  There’s a real Delany point of pride.


Filed under Big Ten Football

‘(S)o how are you spending Saturdays?’

Uncle Verne will be taking in the Cocktail Party this year as a fan.

Feel free to drop by our tailgate, sir.  The Bloody Marys will be cold and waiting for you.


Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in methinks Kirby doth protest too much

You know that whole thing about how Smart eschews bulletin board material as motivation?

Yeah, right.

Georgia said it doesn’t focus on talk from opponents, but some comes with every rivalry and the bulletin board material returns. Smart has pulled quotes from Mullen and Florida defensive tackle Cece Jefferson as motivation. They’re alternated in a pattern amongst the window panes of the team’s weight room.

First is Mullen’s, from a speaking engagement around National Signing Day in February: “Winning one SEC Championship Game doesn’t make you a dominant program. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.”

Then is Jefferson’s remark from SEC Media Days this July in Atlanta, via Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun: “When we beat (Georgia) this year, it’s going to feel good.”

Personally, I’m fine with that.  After all, if you can’t work up a little healthy contempt for the Gators, what kind of Bulldog are you, really?


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

One bad loss and they’re ready to write you off.

I guess this is supposed to be profound.

One little thing, though.  Saturday would be virtually an SEC Championship elimination game for both teams even if Georgia had beaten LSU.  That’s a tribute to the Gators, who have played themselves into divisional contention.

But in terms of the SECCG, Baton Rouge changed nothing.  I’m not trying to go all “goals are still in front of Georgia” on y’all; it’s just that the loss doesn’t put any added pressure on the Dawgs this week.  (Should it come to playing Alabama in December, that’s another story.  But I digress.)

Don’t get me wrong.  There are certainly interesting intangible factors in play, something that’s true of any bitter rivalry game.  Just don’t read too much into the consequences of the LSU game.


Filed under Georgia Football