Daily Archives: November 26, 2018

Insane on the Plains

Auburn’s gonna Auburn, y’all.

With the regular season over, Josh Moon of the Montgomery (Ala.) Reporter reported Monday that a faction of AU power-brokers have gathered support to oust Malzahn, to the point where a search for his replacement is already underway…

Malzahn signed a 7-year, $49 million contract after leading Auburn to wins over Georgia and Alabama en route to an SEC West championship in 2017. The cost to buy the sixth-year Auburn coach out of his contract at this point is a reported $32 million with $16 million of that due nearly immediately should they make this decision.

For what it is worth, FootballScoop was told that people representing Auburn met with Bob Stoops a few weeks back….

Why in the world Bob Stoops would want to work for those folks is beyond me, but whatever.

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UPDATE:  Big Game Bob strenuously objects.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Observations from the 35, Tech delenda est edition

I know I’ve harped on this a little, but I can’t help but observing that Saturday gave the lie to the narrative that the Georgia Tech rivalry means little in this day and age.  Students were out on Thanksgiving holiday, the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant and it was a nooner — all things that would suggest a flat day in Sanford Stadium.

Instead, the place was jumping with energy from the opening kickoff.  The crowd was loud, especially when the defense needed it, loud enough that Tech was forced to call a timeout on offense to gather itself.  The team was as focused as it’s ever been this season.  You’d think it would be hard to stay pumped defending the grind that is the triple option, yet the defense played with high energy all game long.

And if you had any doubt about how much Kirby wanted to mash Tech, just consider that the first string on both sides stayed on the field through 45-7, or less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

If that’s an example of no big deal, then I hope Georgia plays a lot more teams it doesn’t care about.  And with that, here come the bullet points.

  • There were so many superlatives that emerged from the game, I hardly know where to start, but I’ve got to say that few things surpass watching Tech’s offense, down 45-7, run a 15-play drive that ate up nine minutes on the clock, gained less than forty yards and wound up turning the ball over on downs.
  • Although there was the bizarre decision by the genius to go for it on fourth and six inside Tech territory when it was still possible to pretend the Jackets were in the game, watch the offense get stuffed and then have the Dawgs drive the dagger into GT’s heart with the bomb to Hardman.
  • By the way, on that play, what do you think was going through the minds of Chaney and Fromm when they saw Tech’s defense line up an inside linebacker in single coverage on Mecole?
  • When I play offensive coordinator in the stands, it usually involves the game of counting the box to call run or pass, but after doing so for a few series, I quit because it really didn’t matter.  At one point, Tech committed ten men to the box, Georgia still ran the ball and came up with a decent gain.
  • I get that there’s a significant talent disparity, but making matters worse is that Georgia was the better conditioned team and by a noticeable margin.  Tech can try to pretend that its poor tackling was purely a matter of bad execution on the part of its defense, but I routinely saw Georgia players simply outmuscle Tech’s.  Similarly, there were plays where it appeared that the Jackets had the outside sealed to prevent a gain, only to see a much faster Dawg outrun the defense.
  • What can you say about Jake Fromm over the past five weeks?  He’s been nothing short of brilliant.  The bomb to Hardman was perfectly thrown, with no break in the receiver’s stride.  An even better touchdown pass was the one to Holloman; that one was so good I almost didn’t realize how good a catch the receiver made on it.  Fromm was 13-16 on the day and really could have dictated whatever passing numbers he wanted.  Crazy good.
  • Fromm also could throw the ball to whomever he wanted.  By my count, those thirteen completions went to at least seven different receivers.  Interestingly, I don’t remember a single completion to a running back.  (Not that it mattered.)
  • Fromm’s passing day came with zero sacks.  Another great performance from a patched up offensive line that saw a true freshman start at right guard.
  • If I were a defensive coordinator calling plays against Georgia’s two-minute drill, I’d make sure to have somebody cover Isaac Nauta.
  • Is there anything that really needs to be said about Holyfield and Swift at this point, other than Swift’s return to health makes them such a dangerous duo?
  • It’s nitpicking, I know, but why do they run James Cook so much up the middle?  It’s like Carlton Thomas redux.  Maybe with another year of S&C it’ll be better.
  • As much fun as it was to watch the offense have its way, the defense’s performance was nothing short of stunning.  I’ve never seen a Georgia defense handle the triple option better.  Never.
  • That started with the defensive front, which executed at a high level all game long.  Ledbetter, Walker and Herring were particularly dominant.  Two things were noticeable:  one, the line did a fantastic job keeping its feet in the face of constant cut blocking, and two, showed real discipline in maintaining assignment football.  (When you’ve got a true freshman like Adam Anderson kicking ass with containment, you’ve done your job, coaches.)  There were so few misses that it was almost a surprise when a Georgia player didn’t execute properly.
  • Jordan Davis had a freakin’ sack!
  • They weren’t under any real pressure to pass defend, so it was reasonable to expect a decent day out of the inside linebackers.  They did better than decent; in particular, Crowder had an excellent game.
  • It’s got to be hard being a defensive back going up against the triple option — long stretches of nothing but being blocked by receivers broken up by the occasional attempt to catch you sleeping on the pass — but the secondary did its part, as well.  Campbell got in on a sack, Baker had a nice tackle on a running play, but more importantly when Marshall tried to throw the ball on the first string secondary, there was never anything there.  (Marshall’s definitely mastered the sideline out of bounds throw, though.)
  • The offense and defense were fantastic.  Special teams were anything but.  I’m not sure what is going on with Blankenship, but that makes for a second straight week of poor early kickoffs before he settled in.  The kickoff returned for a touchdown was the result of the right side of the coverage team losing contain.  That was followed by an offside call on Rodrigo’s first kick that was a touchback.  He also clanked a field goal attempt that was within his range.  The one bright spot was another strong Hardman punt return.  I’m not sure why there’s been a slide in special teams this season, but they’d better get that fixed before the SECCG.  Just sayin’.
  • Georgia scored touchdowns on its first five possessions, a field goal on its sixth as the clock ran down to end the first half and another touchdown on its next possession.  If only they’d replace Jim Chaney with a real offensive coordinator…
  • Defensively, Smart and Tucker painted their 2018 masterpiece.  Focus, discipline and execution were all off the charts.  Let’s hope they keep it coming.
  • I guess I can’t let a couple of special moments with the genius pass without comment.  First, he pretty much lost it when his B-back was flagged for a downfield block below the waist.  The reason I say that is because he was still bitching hard at the refs about it three plays afterwards.  He topped that later, though, when he had to burn a time out because he hadn’t sent a player in with the next play call.
  • Is there a more dick move than calling a timeout with 44 seconds left in the game, down 45-14?  I suppose Johnson hopes a few weeks from now everyone will look at the score and figure it wasn’t as much of an ass-wuppin’ as it really was.
  • The Jackets knew early on that they weren’t going to be in a good place at game’s end to do any hedge harvesting, so they settled for cheering on the sidelines when the replay booth didn’t flag one of theirs for targeting on Beal, who, I might add, left the game with what looked like a concussion.  Nice.

Really, season-enders don’t get much better than that.  Now, on to bigger and (hopefully) better.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Fearless

Per Seth Emerson ($$),

No. 5 Georgia opened as a 13.5-point underdog to No. 1 Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Bulldogs haven’t closed as that big of an underdog since 2009 against Florida when the Gators were favored by 15 points. If the line holds and Georgia was to win Saturday, it would be the greatest upset in the 26-year history of the SEC championship.

This is the first time this season Georgia has even been an underdog.

Will the Dawgs be fazed by that?  Welp,

Nor should they be.  ‘Bama may be having a season for the ages, but as the stats in this piece show, Georgia isn’t exactly outclassed.

Comparing the two statistically shows a balanced, well-matched pairing with a spot in the College Football Playoff likely at stake. Both are top-15 in total offense and top-12 in total defense. Georgia is more effective running the ball while Alabama is better with the pass.

Looking at the game-changing measures, both are good on third downs — converting and stopping the opposition. Big plays have also punctuated the offensive production for both the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide while Georgia has done a better job preventing them on defense. In the turnover battle, advantage Alabama.

Georgia lost its composure in Baton Rouge and has spent the following weeks regaining it.  Now on a five-game win streak, the offense has rounded into shape.  In the month of November, Georgia is second in the country in yards per play, averaging a tick over 8 yards every time it touches the ball.  (A significant factor in that is Swift himself, who has been superb as his health issues recede.)

It would be crazy to guarantee a Georgia win, of course.  Alabama is head and shoulders above any other opponent the Dawgs have faced this season.  I’d like to think, though, that the way Georgia has been playing of late means the same situation exists for the Tide.  What I do know is that if Georgia questions itself going into the championship game, it has no chance.  Shoot your shot, boys.

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Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

Mix and match: Kirby Smart’s defense

I’ve written a couple of times before about Kirby’s defensive philosophy/approach, here and here.  I’m going to dive back in with what may be the most extensive analysis of that I’ve seen (h/t Ian Boyd).

When you talk about Kirby, the defensive guru, everything obviously starts with his coaching mentor, Nick Saban.  But that’s just a beginning point; Smart isn’t a Saban clone, at least not completely.

My primary reason for studying Kirby Smart’s defense was in finding out how much he would keep from his near decade-long boss, and how much he would truly carve out on his own. Would he be simply Saban 2.0 – now with improved media relations? Or would he deliver a distinct defensive philosophy that was entirely his own? The answer, of course, is somewhat in between.

In many ways, defensive coaches are molded by the offenses they face. Saban, for example, spent a lifetime facing a litany of offensive schemes at both the collegiate and NFL levels, which in turn has led him to his near omnivorous approach to defense. There is almost no front, coverage, or blitz missing in Saban’s mental library, and he is thoroughly prepared to use them all if the situation demands it.

Smart’s defense, by contrast, appears more molded by the proliferation of the spread offense that coincides with his coaching career. His defense is more condensed, more streamlined, more focused. In short, Smart’s defense appears to have fewer individual play calls, but with more checks and adjustments built-in…

It’s an excellent, in depth piece that goes into tremendous detail with personnel, sets and adjustments.  It took me over an hour to go through, so set aside a little time when you get the chance and read it all.  It’s well worth it if you’re trying to understand what Georgia tries to do on defense, which, by the way, is nicely summed up at the end as…

In many ways, Smart does not see predictability simply as a mistake, but a symptom of an even greater sin: complacency.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

It was an innocent question.

Okay, maybe not so innocent.  But it sure was obvious Saturday which team was the better conditioned one.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, The Body Is A Temple

Today, in this is good, right?

D’Andre Walker, the model of an efficient beast.

Talk about making the most of your opportunities…

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Filed under Georgia Football

Redemption song

There are, of course, obvious reasons I want Georgia to win the SECCG, but a very underrated one is that I really, really wish for both Alabama and Georgia to make the CFP semi-finals so I can watch Corch sputter with rage when Ohio State — which is going to beat Northwestern to claim the Big Ten championship — gets excluded.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Urban Meyer Points and Stares