Bill Connelly’s first effort at ESPN…

… is not behind a paywall (yay!) and is a look at what the major national title contenders have to do to, you know, contend.

Here’s what he has to say about Georgia.

If … James Coley can make a difference in the red zone. Everything above about Bama’s goal-line issues? Multiply it by a couple of orders of magnitude, and it applies to Kirby Smart’s Dawgs. Georgia was fifth in overall offensive success rate … and 109th inside the 10. Remember that series against Florida, in which UGA had five consecutive snaps from the Gators’ 1 (seven including penalties), gained zero yards, and kicked an 18-yard field goal? The entire season wasn’t that bad, but that certainly distilled the issue. Coley moved from co-coordinator to sole coordinator when Jim Chaney left for Tennessee. He can top his predecessor by showing just a bit more creativity when a touchdown is on the line.

If … Dan Lanning can dial up pressure. In theory, anyone hoping to win the national title will face the prospect of beating both Alabama and Clemson. Georgia theoretically might have to do the former twice. That’s an almost impossible task, but any chance you’ve got of pulling it off requires a pass rush. Georgia ranked just 76th in sack rate last season, and the only Dawg who recorded more than two sacks (Jack linebacker D’Andre Walker) is gone. Recent recruiting has produced plenty of pass-rushing options — among others, sophomore and 2018 reserve Channing Tindall had two sacks among his 9.5 tackles — but someone’s got to step up, and Lanning’s scheme needs to be of assistance.

If … the defensive front is a little less flexible. Thanks to Deandre Baker & Co., Georgia was still awesome against the pass even with the iffy pass rush. The run defense was strangely mediocre, though. Georgia ranked just 67th in rushing marginal efficiency allowed and got beat up by opposing run games in both regular-season losses: LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 145 yards on 19 carries (quarterback Joe Burrow added 89 yards in 10 non-sack rushes), and Alabama’s Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs combined for 135 yards on 17. There’s too much raw talent up front for Georgia to lose the battle in the trenches.

“Georgia was fifth in overall offensive success rate … and 109th inside the 10.”  Yeah, that one left a mark, Jim Chaney.  The good news is that, as Bill notes, Coley has a low bar to surmount from there.

I don’t know if I’d call this quibbling, but with regard to his very last point, I think one reason Alabama’s running game was successful in the SECCG was that Smart and Tucker decided they had to sell out stopping Tua and the ‘Bama passing game.  That worked well until Tua wasn’t there to stop any more.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

19 responses to “Bill Connelly’s first effort at ESPN…

  1. jt10mc (the other one)

    “That worked well until Tua wasn’t there to stop any more.”


    D’andre Walker got hurt. Up to that point he owned the right side of the Bama’ OL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greg

      That’s right, losing Walker really hurt. May have won that game with him….he was playing out of his mind. Probably the best game I’ve ever seen him play…..and I guess the argument for that (winning), would be putting a QB in with fresh legs helped Bama.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        There’s no doubt Walker had a huge game up until he got hurt, but Jalen coming in for Tua wasn’t just a question of fresh legs; it was a question of healthy legs. Tua had been gimpy for most of the game, and I am surprised they left him in as long as they did. They were not going to win if he stayed in the game.

        Liked by 1 person


    Just think of all the “clock” we ran inside the 10. 🙂


    • Russ

      We certainly imposed our will. Until we didn’t and kicked a field goal.

      Same thing happened against Auburn as well.


      • Napoleon BonerFart

        I suspect Smart is as much to blame as Cheney (if not more) for the problems at the goal line. One man can’t run block two, no matter how strong his will is. Defenses figured out that they could put nine in the box and Smart/Cheney wouldn’t adapt.


  3. Biggus Rickus

    I consider the red zone stat to be a fluke, but even if it was a sign of something, how important was it, really? The loss to Alabama had nothing to do with their issues in the red zone. They were 4 for 4 with 4 TDs before the missed field goal drive, and they never made it into the red zone again after that.


  4. Admiral Sackbar

    Can already hear the ire Kirby Smart will catch if Mr. Fields is a phenom this year.


    • practicaldawg

      Much of the Big 10 schedule is going to make him look like a phenom. Be ready for it.


      • Admiral Sackbar

        Just saw Ohio State’s schedule… big yikes. Anything less than 12-0 should be considered a failure for Ryan Day in his first year as HC


  5. Go Dawgs!

    I’d managed to forget that adventure inside the Florida 5 yard line until that walk down memory lane. Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit huffing glue.


    • I’ll never forget it. I ve never been madder at a winning game.


      • Got Cowdog

        I remind everyone as often as I get the opportunity.

        Thanks, Jim. “Be a little more creative inside the red zone,” Jeez….


  6. practicaldawg

    One thing Lanning doesn’t have to scheme for: 2 elite QBs on the same team with radically different skill sets.


  7. Salty Dawg

    I need a palette cleanser from the depressing memories of the Bama game. Several hits.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whiskeydawg

    Some of my relatives feel like Tennessee stole Mr. Chaney from GA. 109 inside the 10. That’s not making me feel robbed.


  9. dawgtired

    The changes at the coordinator positions is the nagging question that haunts me. I wonder how the kids will respond to their new bosses. I like that Coley was ‘co-coordinator’. I’m hoping he has a smooth transition. If I was reading that one of our rivals had changed both coordinators, I’d be happy. In the seasons were you have coaching changes, the leadership among the players is all that much more important.


  10. Scott

    Bill C dropping some truth in the Ohio State section too:
    “Fields was an all-world recruit in 2018, and Georgia used him in awfully confusing ways last year. To keep him involved, the Dawgs would periodically send him onto the field for one snap, usually a zone read. Wasteful. (We won’t even talk about the fake punt.)”