Monthly Archives: November 2018

Today, in talk is cheap

While I have no idea what prompted this comment, I’m pretty sure I know where it’s going.

That would be nowhere, good buddy.  I don’t even know why he wasted his breath.

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32 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

“What do you think when someone says, ‘Second-and-26’?”

To my mind, one of the questions that won’t be answered until they set foot on the field tomorrow is what Georgia’s mindset will be.

On the one side, you’ve got the story the media has been obsessed about — the way the national title game ended — and how this year’s team has internalized whatever lessons there are to be learned from both the loss and how it continues to be pushed in their faces.  This is a perfect summation of that:

“Last year has nothing to do with this next game coming up,” Bulldogs tailback Elijah Holyfield said.

The end of the previous meeting between the teams was so sudden and dramatic — the Bulldogs had a 23-20 lead when Ledbetter and linebacker Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa on the play prior to second-and-26 — it took a while for the losers’ pain to truly sink in.

“That’s something you’ll never get over,” cornerback Deandre Baker said.

I hope that’s not the case, Deandre.

Isaac Nauta had more to say about that.

“It’s always tough to look back on, watching the film from last year brought up some bad memories,” said Nauta, referencing the Bulldogs’ 26-23 overtime loss to the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff Championship Game last January in Atlanta.

“We used that game as a learning tool to see what we could have done better, and I think that’s a lot of stuff we focused on in practice this week to fix and make sure we capitalize on those drives and make sure that we execute and get that extra first down and extend more drives.

“We’ve been working on it, we don’t forget.”

It’s an interesting motivational thread Kirby has to pass through the needle’s eye this week.  Alabama is the defending national champ and this year’s team is better overall than the team Georgia fell to last January.  You’ve got to prepare your team and that means looking at tape of that game, along with Alabama’s 2018 steamroll act.

On the other side, your team is the defending conference champ, something that shouldn’t be sneered at.  That Georgia is playing in back to back conference title games, something that’s never happened before happened after being away for several years, is another indication that this program has arrived.  It’s been playing as well as pretty much any team in the country of late.  And Kirby Smart is someone I trust to do his best to get his team mentally prepared to face ‘Bama, relying in part on a damned solid resume to this point.

So, where are everyone’s heads at rolling into Saturday?  Beats me.  I mean, I like to hear ain’t skeered talk like this

Just ask junior running back Elijah Holyfield. He appeared genuinely dumbfounded this week when a reporter asked him if Georgia was anyway intimidated by the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide, which has beaten opponents by an average margin of 35 points a game this season. So thrown off by the question was Holyfield that he repeated it back to his inquisitor.

“You’re asking are we intimidated by them?” Holyfield asked, his raised eyebrows indicating incredulity.

Holyfield’s eyebrows furrowed, and he shook his head hard as he offered his one-word reply. “Nah.”

… but, to be honest, I don’t remember the Dawgs feeling any differently when they went to Baton Rouge.  Of course, that LSU team was stomped by the Tide, so any way you look at it, this is a major step up in class for Georgia.

So, there’s pride, disappointment, respect, awareness, concern and no doubt a host of other emotions all swirling about in a sort of mental stew.  There’s also the reality that this will show out on a stage that this team now has familiarity with.  What the final product looks like, though, I have no idea.  I doubt anyone on Georgia’s sideline really knows for sure, either.  We’ll all find out together in another day and a half.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The salesman

I don’t think it’s his intent, but Jeff Schultz ($$) wrote something about Georgia Tech’s search for Paul Johnson’s replacement that made me chuckle.

Still, many fans and media expected more. Some job candidates will phone Johnson to ask about the place. They’ll get an honest answer.

The idea that a guy who famously couldn’t be bothered to sell his own program to recruits is going to offer feedback about the Georgia Tech job to his peers… yeah, that’s amusing.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football

More than a puncher’s chance

Bill Connelly explains what gives me hope for tomorrow.

This game was clinched nearly a month ago, and we’ve been waiting to see if either stumbles before the finish line. They did not.

Alabama was slightly less dominant in November than earlier, but the Tide have been remarkable at erasing hope. Per their SB Nation stat profile, their post-game win expectancy (a statistical look at in-game dominance) was 100 percent in all 12 wins. For comparison, 12-0 Clemson hit that mark nine times, 11-0 UCF six times, and 12-0 Notre Dame just three times. Bama’s been on a different level this year.

Georgia has too, of late. The Dawgs have been at 96 percent post-game win expectancy or higher in 10 of 11 wins (only the Missouri game was in any doubt) and averaged 98 percent since losing to LSU. If they can finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals, they can give Bama a battle.

The Georgia team that got embarrassed in Baton Rouge would be beyond hope facing the Alabama juggernaut.  The Georgia team of the last five games of the regular season is much better and more complete than any other team Alabama has faced this year.  That’s what matters in Saturday’s game.

Is that enough to win?  Can’t say, although I’m certainly not putting any money on it.  But it’s certainly enough to make me believe Georgia’s gonna make Alabama work for whatever it gets tomorrow.

25 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Not gonna happen.

I think the phrase for this is wishful thinking.

Appearing on “The Paul Finebaum Show,” Fallica argued that a loss to Alabama might not be enough to move Georgia down in the selection committee’s rankings.

“If Georgia right now is one of the four best teams why should they be penalized for having to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game? If they lose, it doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the best four teams.”

It doesn’t matter.  A two-loss, non-conference winning team isn’t going into the CFP ahead of a one-loss conference champion.  It’s just not happening, regardless of which is best.

Because that’s not college football’s lords and masters want from their postseason.  I keep harping on this, but the way the system is built now, it’s to give the wealth a chance to be spread among the P5 conferences.

That’s why stuff like this

But what if instead they all went down? How much fun would it be?

What if …

— Georgia upsets Alabama.

— Pittsburgh pops Clemson.

— Texas outscores Oklahoma (again).

— Northwestern slogs past the Buckeyes.

What if, in all its glory, a sudden storm disrupts everything we think we know about this season in college football?

Wouldn’t it be, well, fun?

And more important: Would it prompt change?

… is equally wishful, but only to a point.  When the day comes — and it will come — that going to six, or eight, or whatever puts more change in the pockets of the conference commissioners, then that kind of thinking will become a happily convenient excuse for expansion, just like the 2011 national title game was.  The Delanys and Sankeys will say they’re doing it for the fans, but that’s not the actual motivation.

If these people were truly serious about improving how the semi-final field is selected to tamp down criticism of the decision making, there would be a serious attempt to improve the nature of the selection committee’s analysis and with that, a process that would be more open to the outside world.  Here’s an example of what I mean by that:

It’s easy to see how and why the selection committee is predisposed toward defense. Its current makeup includes five former coaches. They rightfully command a lot of respect from the other eight committee members. But the retired coaches’ average age is 71.6 years old – and Frank Beamer, who retired after the 2015 season, is the only one who coached in this decade.

Coincidentally, that’s when offense transformed college football.

At some point, those slots will be occupied by guys who coached in this era. When it happens, the predisposition toward defense will probably change.

It’d be nice, though, if the selection committee acknowledged right now, in real time, the reality of college football in the postmodern era: You’d better have an offense – because what happened Saturday can happen to your very good defense.

Defense remains hugely important. Having both is absolutely the best possible situation. See Alabama and Clemson. It’s best to be complete.

But if it’s one or the other? “Defense wins championships” is a nice talking point – but putting up points is a much better plan.

While that’s certainly a valid criticism, even that falls short.  The committee shouldn’t be picking or choosing whether offense matters more than defense.  What it should be doing is using a solid analytical framework to inform its decision making, a framework that would access how teams perform across the board, i.e., offense, defense and special teams, in order to set a hierarchy of the best.

No, that shouldn’t be the exclusive measure of things.  The eye test should matter.  Results on the field, too.  There’s a valid reason to have folks who have coached provide input in the room.  But maybe instead of having five dudes from another era doing that, you could drop a couple and put some advanced stat guys in the room with the rest of the group.  I’m sure someone could round up a couple of hats for them to take off before they go in the room.

I know.  That’s wishful thinking on my part.  The folks driving the CFP train already have all the transparency in the process they want.

You people jonesing for an eight-team playoff, just be patient.  It’s coming.  Not for the reasons you want it, though.

31 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

There’s more than one way to impose your will.

This is pretty impressive.

To date, against Georgia’s defense, opposing FBS quarterbacks have managed to convert only 3.24% of their pass attempts into touchdowns.

Something’s gotta give.

7 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Musical palate cleanser: “Let me in, honey, to my other home.”

If there’s anything that will send a chill up your spine, it’s hearing Merry Clayton’s vocals on “Gimme Shelter”.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized