Daily Archives: October 14, 2019

TFW you know it’s players AND plays

And he’s in the arena, folks!

This is a interesting contrast with the time Chubb and Michel spoke with Chaney out of the public eye about the playcalling.  I wonder how the coaches will take to being called out by one of their best players.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Today, in irony is dead

Aw, shucks.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

Dodging the nooner

Maybe they’ll be awake from the kickoff.

18 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

My theory of manball

TW

After reflecting on the recent debate in the comments about manball, it occurs to me that maybe I haven’t done as good a job explaining what I mean as I could have.  I don’t know if it’s merely a difference in semantics, or if we’re legitimately split on what the word means schematically, but I feel like I owe you guys another stab at what we’re discussing.

To start with, Tony is spot on with his observation.  Manball isn’t an offensive scheme; it’s a mindset.  The primary goal is domination of your opponent, physically and by means of talent.  If you listen to Kirby, on offense it’s about winning your battles and downfield blocking.  It’s rarely about scheming to use play design to get your man open.  And I’m not saying that as a complaint.  It’s simply the approach he’s embraced.

That’s why a discussion about a run/pass ratio strikes me as largely irrelevant.  Here’s the play call distribution from Saturday, from a poster on the Dawgs247 message board:

1st quarter – Run/Pass ratio

1st down 4/5; 2nd down 5/1; 3rd down 1/3

2nd quarter

1st down 7/7; 2nd down 3/5; 3rd down 0/4

3rd quarter

1st down 3/4; 2nd down 4/1; 3rd down 0/5

4th quarter+OT

1st down 7/8; 2nd down 5/7; 3rd down 0/7.

So total game on 1st down we called 21 run plays and 24 pass plays.

On 2nd down we called 17 run plays and 13 pass plays.

On 3rd down we called 1 run play and 19 pass plays.

(Note, I counted as pass plays the three sacks and the 1 scramble since the play call is what is important for seeing tendencies.)

If you want to argue that Coley’s play calling on third down is dispositive of the case that Georgia wasn’t playing manball, but found itself in some sort of Plan B mode, so be it.  The issue for me is different.  There are pass plays and there are pass plays.  As Seth noted in his Second Glance review ($$) today:

Then there was the seeming predictability of Georgia’s offense. During those first three drives, Georgia ran it six times on first down, and passed it five times. That’s a good split. After that, Georgia ran it 13 times on first down and passed it 16 times, but many of those passes were in the two-minute and four-minute offense. But even more notable was the rather conventional thinking on second downs:

Second-and-short (1-3): Five runs for 4 yards, 1 TD. One pass for 16 yards.

Second-and-medium (4-6): Five runs for 14 yards. One pass for 8 yards.

Second-and-long (7+): Seven runs for 39 yards. Eight passes for 35 yards, one interception, three incompletions.

The offense was so predictable, perhaps, because the first five games had lulled them into a sense that they could be and get away with it. And it was actually more predictable than usual.

Georgia found itself throwing the ball a lot more than it prefers because it was in chase mode for much of the game.  More than that, though, as Bud Elliott noted, Georgia’s offensive scheming is incredibly restrictive.

The offensive philosophy is about power, about winning a place.  It’s not about scheming a player open.  The stats back that up, too.  Georgia is second in the SEC in offensive plays of 10+ yards, right there with offensive powerhouses Alabama and LSU, but change the scale to gains of 20+ yards, and the offense drops to ninth in the conference.

Kirby wants more explosive plays — hell, what coach doesn’t? — but listen to the way he thinks his team should get them.

“Being explosive is a lot of things,” Smart said. “It’s blocking downfield. It’s winning one-on-ones. It’s speed, vertical speed versus horizontal speed. There’s a lot of things combined in that.”

It’s all about players beating players.  Nothing about play design or offensive philosophy.  What all that should tell you is that when it comes to designing an offense, Smart values efficiency over explosiveness.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it also leaves you without much to fall back on when, like Saturday, the efficiency engine sputters repeatedly.

Let me suggest another example to illustrate my point.  Justin Fields struggled, to put it kindly, in Georgia’s offense last season and has clearly blossomed in his first year at Ohio State.  Sneer, if you like, at a scheme that lessens his burden of reading a defense, but also consider something Eric Zeier said after the game Saturday, that Fromm is being asked repeatedly to throw into very tight windows, presumably because those are low risk throws designed to take advantage of his accuracy and smarts.  The problem, of course, is when he’s off, or his receivers are.  All those sideline passes aren’t designed for a significant margin of error.

The bigger question to ask is whether that’s the best use of a superb quarterback like Fromm and the wealth of skill position talent that Georgia boasts.  I’m thinking maybe not so much.

The closest we see things open up, scheme-wise, is when Georgia goes up tempo.  The results are usually the same:  the offense is effective, receivers find openings, the backs find more room to run and opposing defenses find themselves on their heels.  The other thing that’s the same is that Georgia won’t stay committed to pace, even when it finds it working.  Up tempo simply isn’t part of Kirby’s DNA.

That’s what manball means to me.  It’s not inherently good or bad.  It’s simply either effective or it’s not.  And the issue for me with regard to Georgia’s offense is what to do in the case of the latter.

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UPDATE:  And here comes Mike Griffith with a “players, not plays” hot take.

The game plan is out: teams will continue to stack the box against the Georgia run game and make Jake Fromm beat them with his arm or his legs. Saturday he did neither, but only part of that was on him.

The Bulldogs receivers struggled against press coverage, and the top target (Lawrence Cager) is playing with a separated shoulder.

Talented freshmen George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock must grow quickly, Demetris Robertson must continue his ascension in the ranks and UGA needs Kearis Jackson to return to opening game form.

Players, not plays, will be the key to solve the problems.

I’m gonna take that as a form of validation.

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UPDATE #2:  Hey, don’t take my word for this.  Here’s Matt Hinton.

The biggest on-field story in college football over the past few seasons is the abrupt transformation of Alabama and now LSU from conservative, ball-control attacks into full-fledged spread passing juggernauts…

Georgia has the same caliber of athletes (including at quarterback, if you ask me) but has not made the same philosophic leap. If there is one genuinely alarming trend from Saturday’s loss, it’s the ongoing lack of the kind of explosive plays that Bama and LSU are thriving on — emphasis on ongoing:

(*Utah State is not a Power 5 opponent but is included in LSU’s total to balance out the number of games; at 41st nationally in Defensive SP+ the Aggies are roughly the equivalent of an average Power 5 defense.)

Thirteen plays of 20 yards or more in 4 games is downright pedestrian, and not just compared to the most explosive offenses in the country: It ranks next-to-last in the SEC vs. Power 5 opponents, ahead of only Texas A&M. The Bulldogs aren’t challenging secondaries deep and aren’t creating run-after-catch opportunities for their wideouts with anywhere near the frequency of their blue-chip peers.

Against South Carolina, Fromm averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt and connected on just one downfield ball, a 33-yard strike to freshman George Pickens late in the 3rd quarter. (That drive was thwarted by a fumbled snap on the first play of the 4th.) The story was the same in Georgia’s hard-fought, 23-17 win over Notre Dame, when he finally ventured downfield to hit Lawrence Cager for a 36-yarder that set up a crucial touchdown late in that game. When that’s the full extent of your big-play prowess, efficiency and workmanlike efforts between the tackles can only go so far. Sustaining drives and scoring points means those elements must function perfectly on a consistent basis.

When any part of that equation fails, you get what happened on Saturday: A perfectly solid outing by the defense and ground game, the supposed lynchpins of the team, undermined by a handful of chaos plays that swung the outcome. By the old rules, the defense-and-line-of-scrimmage rules, the Bulldogs are arguably the most fundamentally sound outfit in the conference — Bama and LSU are lagging well behind in the salt-of-the-earth categories — and potentially in the nation. As long as they continue to impose their will on those terms, they’re going to be very difficult for anyone to beat without an outbreak of chaos. But the best teams in college football right now are the ones operating at such a furious pace the chaos barely registers.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Observations from the 35, South Carolina edition

You didn’t have to be a very astute observer to see that something was off early on Saturday.  Blame it on whatever you like, but the visitors came into the game more focused than the home boys were and played that way throughout.  The talent disparity meant that the ‘Cocks never could grab hold of the game for good, but the focus disparity left Georgia in scramble mode all game long.

If you want to make the argument that this game was a perfect storm of not playing badly, but just playing badly enough, that’s a fair take.  The defense played well for the most part, except for one busted coverage that allowed for SC’s one offensive touchdown.  The offense generated far more yardage and first downs than did Carolina’s, dominated time of possession, scored touchdowns on both red zone possessions and managed a 50% third-down conversion rate, but also shot itself in the foot so many times with turnovers and fourth-down conversion failures that it ran out of bullets in the end.

Special teams played a part in that, too.  Camarda rebounded nicely from his struggles in the previous two games — his first punt was one of the best kicks I’ve ever seen from a Georgia punter — but it’s not a good thing when the take at the end of the day is that he was the best thing on special teams.  Rodrigo missed two field goal attempts (one blocked).  The punt return game was incredibly passive, so much so that visions of Logan Gray danced in my head.  Some of that was due to porous blocking, but Blaylock had a couple of very early fair catch calls that left me puzzled.  It’s great that he didn’t fumble, but a lot of those decision left Georgia having to play long fields to score.

Sprinkle in a few timely penalties (although Georgia benefited from a couple, to be fair) and there you have it.  Boom.

A few bullet points worth mentioning:

  • It’s not that the offensive line flat out stunk, but it was very inconsistent all game long.  Thomas got called for a hold.  Wilson got beat by a speed rush a couple of times.  Kindley is obviously not completely healthy and struggled on occasion.  Cleveland got called for a hold on a play where he simply didn’t get out fast enough to block a man down field.  Hill regressed.  He got abused by Kinlaw several times and his failure to snap the first ball of the fourth quarter cleanly contributed to a brutally timed fumble.
  • At this point, there is come clear separation in the receiving corps and it’s time for the coaches to realize that.  Blaylock, Cager, Pickens and Robertson need to be taking most of the snaps.  Landers isn’t getting anything done out there and while Simmons is good for blocking, he lacks consistency catching and that cost.
  • If there’s a more disappointing player on offense than Woerner this season, I’m not sure who that would be.  His blocking was there sometimes and totally absent others.  He’s being poorly used in the receiving game, but I’m not sure how much of that is on him and how much on the play calling.  Wolf wasn’t much better, although at least he got a critical holding penalty called that saved the fourth quarter drive for the tying score.
  • Good and bad was the story for the backs, as well.  Swift and White ran tough, but missed several reads that would have gotten them more yardage.  I scratch my head every week about the way James Cook is being used.
  • Fromm had a poor game, no doubt.  Some of that was due to the inconsistent line play, but it was apparent from about the middle of the first quarter that he wasn’t his usual sharp self.  I wish he would keep the ball more often on the read option; as it was, the Gamecock defense didn’t respect that at all.  Despite that, he deserves credit for managing that late scoring drive that gave Georgia a chance to salvage the game.
  • The story on defense was better — after all, they held the SC offense to ten points in regulation and kept them out of the red zone, to boot — but let’s not forget that for most of the game they were defending a third string quarterback who was a wide receiver at the start of the season.
  • That being said, the front seven played well.  Tyler Clark’s play in the second overtime was awesome and capped an excellent day on his part.  The outside linebackers didn’t come up with a sack, but did manage plenty of pressure throughout the game.  Rice and Crowder were all over the place.
  • Outside of the bust on the touchdown pass, the secondary did a good job handling the Gamecock’s dink and dunk passing attack.

Which brings us to the coaching.  Part of me wants to go with a the less said, the better approach, but aside from the poor job of motivation and a ridiculously conservative game plan against an inferior opponent that spent the entire second half trying to do just enough not to lose, Kirby’s inexcusable and costly decision making at crunch time at the end of the second half, starting with letting precious seconds tick off the clock after Joyner was stopped short on third down, was a key part in the loss.  And don’t get me started on his time out that bailed out South Carolina in overtime…

Enough said.  I’m not going to insult your intelligence by bringing up the “all their goals” crap, because even though it’s technically true, no team playing at the level Georgia played at on Saturday is going to run through the next six games unscathed.

There is obviously enough time for this bunch to get its collective shit together, but that’s an abstract until we see it on the field when it matters.  For now, all I can say is that I hope they aren’t gonna need a bigger mirror.

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Filed under Georgia Football

My Mumme Poll ballot, Week 7

Screenshot_2019-09-30 (1) Senator Blutarsky ( MummePoll) TwitterIn the end, I wound up with last week’s ballot, minus a certain local team we’re familiar with.

  • Alabama
  • Clemson
  • LSU
  • Ohio State
  • Oklahoma
  • Penn State
  • Wisconsin

True, Penn State’s win wasn’t impressive, but Iowa is a pain in the ass to play, and I’m not yet prepared to ding a team that manages to survive and advance.

There aren’t any one-loss teams I’m considering, but I am keeping a loose eye on Minnesota, which is playing good offense and ought to get to 8-0 before its next challenge.

My ballot time was less than ten minutes this week.

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Filed under GTP Stuff

“Ray just apologized for those actions.”

His team just suffered its most embarrassing home loss in 25 years, but Greg McGarity is focused on the bigger picture.

South Carolina has officially apologized for tearing off pieces of UGA’s treasured hedges to celebrate Saturday’s upset over the Bulldogs…

What did McGarity, who has taken a strong stance against “property destruction” to the hedges in past years, think about what happened after Saturday’s game?

“I don’t like it all.

“We sure don’t do that when we win at an opponents’ venue under Kirby’s leadership.”

His sniff is almost palpable.

Let no one say the Georgia Way doesn’t have its priorities straight.

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Filed under Georgia Football