My theory of manball


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.


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.


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.


Filed under Georgia Football

117 responses to “My theory of manball

  1. josh hancher

    Great Post. Still think that Dawgs on verge of breaking through. Emerson spoke on Staples that Jake played in spread system in HS. Maybe those 00 looks we used on Saturday replace the 11 personnel more often.

    I think tendency would have been, to bring in more blocking with OL struggles- but, Coley kept with a lot of 10 and 00 Personnel. If we are honest- had the right play called for winner on a clear our route for #7

    Go Dawgs!!


    • gastr1

      Another commenter pointed out yesterday that the play clock running down to near zero hurried up the snap and Fromm’s read. I think they were right. H never really even looked at 7. This is possibly because he didn’t have time to assess the defensive alignment and just decided where he was going with it prior to the snap.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brandon M

        IMO if you watch, he almost always decides where he’s going with it prior to the snap. Alot of the time he’s right, but if that initial read is covered or the D is playing press-man and those back-shoulder sideline throws aren’t there, then he struggles. What I can’t decide is if he’s being coached to avoid the middle of the field or if he just has his own unwillingness to go there.


  2. Biggus Rickus

    I think you’re reading too much into Smart’s comments. I also think it is a mischaracterization to say Fields struggled. He often seemed nervous when inserted into a game and looked to run if his first option wasn’t there during those periods. He also had a passer rating of 173.7 and ran for 266 yards at 6.3 per carry. He wasn’t ready to replace Fromm, but he didn’t struggle due to the offensive philosophy.

    Not knowing specifically what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to say what’s on Kirby and what’s on Coley. However, things being condensed seems to me to be a Coley problem. Georgia had plenty of big plays in the passing game as a percentage of its overall pass attempts the last couple of years, and the running game certainly found more space. Personnel may play into that to some extent, but I don’t think it comes close to fully explaining it.


    • Your second paragraph plays into something else I’ve pondered. I’m not saying Chaney was a fantastic offensive coordinator, but I do wonder if his experience caused Kirby to give him more leeway than he perhaps gives Coley.


      • Kirby knows less offense than Coley. Kirby has been an offensive assistant for all of 1 year of his career. He needs to stay the hell out of the offensive game planning and play calling other than when he needs to contribute for in-game decisions and to monitor.

        That’s why for all of those who believe Mike Bobo is coming back to Athens after CSU lets him go better hope Kirby is willing to release all control of the offense. That’s the only way Bobo returns to Athens … also with a big, damn guaranteed contract that has no alumni discount built in.

        Liked by 2 people

        • PDawg30577

          I don’t have enough information to “believe” Bobo’s coming back, but I sure hope he does. And if he gets back home, you’re right, he needs to be left alone to do his job.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Greg

      Fair post (Fields)…..but it ALL starts with Kirby. Thinks he also handcuffed Chaney last year. Probably one of the reasons he left other than money.

      Never thought I would say it, but I REALLY miss Chaney….at this point.


  3. BMan

    I think you’ve hit on something that’s been nagging at me. The offense, in particular the O-line, is clearly talented, but seems to be lacking something. Manball does indeed seem to rely on one-on-one match-ups. Each o-lineman blocks the guy in front of him, but there seems to be less instances of pulling guards or other play design elements that have been part of the game forever.


  4. Dawg1

    It seems to me, that we refuse to take what the defense gives us, and only want what we want to take from them.

    Therefore, we do not take advantage of any mismatches, and easily TDs, but only get what we get via imposing our will vs easy points. Clemson wins via scheme, Alabama has figured out how to do both.


  5. Geezus

    I agree whole-heartedly. Of course, it’s not that difficult to defend an offense that runs 3 plays: 1) Run up the middle, 2) tunnel/bubble screen, 3) shot “downfield”.

    One of my biggest questions, is what happen to Robertson?!? I thought he had the world-class speed as a receiver and was supposed to be the guy who could take the top off a defense.


  6. Reverend Whitewall

    Your point about not scheming to get guys open nails one of my frustrations. Our yards after catch have to be among the worst in the conference. Our WR’s are either getting back shoulder throws, or like you said the windows are very tight and they are tackled immediately after catching it. I understand Kirby’s philosophy but it would seem to be that it doesn’t have to be 100% either/or. Scheming to get a guy open a few plays a game doesn’t stop you from playing manball the rest of the game. I dunno. Our offense has been very frustrating to watch all year.


    • Kirby also made a comment about trying to get Pickens open over the middle, but we really rarely even try to run crossing routes. My guess is they don’t trust the receivers – but it’s very clear as you articulated above, that our play-makers are not getting the ball with space to create YAC. They are either sitting down and getting creamed after a short catch, or running out of bounds as they catch it.


  7. Charlottedawg

    Why the fuck do we not run tempo all the damn time? How many times have we seen the offense sputter along for an entire half then, oh hey it’s almost halftime and all of a sudden the offense opens up just by running plays more. Why the fuck does it take 20+ seconds for the play to come in from sidelines? Even when we’re trailing? You know what makes it easier to beat your opponent in one on one match ups especially when you have better talent and depth? When he’s tired and his fucking heels!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Uglydawg

    The further along I got reading that, the more I wanted to scream.
    It’s exactly on point.
    Standing there and running the clock when you’re losing is just hard-headed crazy.
    Maybe we are wrong about Kirby being afraid of the long FG because of a potential block. Maybe he wanted OT so he could overpower the USC defense….hell, his O line and runners will show the world what it’s like to impose your will when everything’s on the line. Right? “Just go out there and blow them off the line, boys. Let’s win this thing in manly fashion”.
    (I’m sure I’m being unfair but good grief, what was he thinking?)
    The refusal to run up tempo is almost incomprehensible unless it’s a conditioning problem with the heavies on the O line. But I think it’s really that Kirby thinks that going at a slow pace and subbing with all of his depth will overwhelm a defense with less depth. “Let’s slow it down and strangle them” But we’ve all seen how well this offense moves in the HUNH and it’s maddening.
    I’m going outside and scream now.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Scuba

    Manball = Les Miles offense and results. I don`t see a path to success beyond getting lucky due to superior talent and will to win of said talent.

    Its not a good feeling when your teams leadership is outsmarted by Ed Orgeron.


  10. Greg

    “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.”

    Nothing wrong with what he is saying here, football boils down to all of that along with execution. The problem is, is when the talent matches up and you can’t do these things…..your philosophy needs to change. A little more creative play calling and scheming is required…..a “plan B” if you will.

    It seems like most every loss we have had, this does not happen, no adjustment. That, along with I do think he plays “not to lose”, rather than win….too many examples.

    I know it was a win last year, but I still shake my head at the Florida game. What was it, 5 downs & we still couldn’t get a couple of yards.

    Kirby ain’t gonna change, I just don’t feel he has the ability to…..way TOO stubborn. We are just going to have to out talent our foes….problem is, there is more and more parity these days.


    • Will (the other one)

      Dead on about the “playing not to lose” — they went into burn the clock mode too early vs Bama last year and lost, and nearly blew it vs ND this year for the same reason.
      Why can’t “dominate your opponent” be “beat them by 4-5 TDs” instead of this meathead nonsense? A TD counts the same whether you got there via extra difficult passing windows or clever schemes.


      • Lutz Dawg

        Did you see what LSU did to UF when they got the ball back up 7 with about 8 minutes left in the game? they came out throwing as they have the entire game and drove right down to take a 14 point lead. they didn’t sit on anything. If you have a QB you trust, let him be comfortable and eat the defense up.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Tony Barnfart

      The problem is that the University of Georgia gives him 6.6 million reasons TO change. I’m sorry, too stubborn to change doesn’t fly with me when you’re making 6.6large. We can get too-stubborn from the bargain bin.

      P.S. Not attacking you.


  11. Mayor

    Shorter version: It’s the coach stupid. Or IMHO more accurately, it’s the stupid coach. You have always been more cerebral than I am Bluto. I admit it—I prefer smash mouth football. But you have to play smart (no pun intended) football too. We need better schemes. You can play smash mouth and still out scheme your opponent. Smash mouth is about being bigger, stronger and deeper than and overpowering the opponent. It’s not about being stupid. As much as I am concerned about the lack of imagination being shown, I am more concerned with the bonehead decisions Kirby makes in game. I have posted about that before and predicted we would lose a game because of it. Voila, here it is. Even with the bad schemes and turnovers Georgia likely would have won the game with better decision making at the end of both halves. And the timeout when USC was out of timeouts and in total disarray….coaching malpractice. We need to hire a first rate OC and turn over all decision making in game to him. Kirby has demonstrated time and again that he cannot do it. Great recruiter—in game f*ckup.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. MattR

    Coaching was terrible. Smart is not a sideline coach. It was so predictable, I’m in section 122 calling the plays. It’s as if the coaches coached the game to lose it. Deliberately.


  13. ApalachDawg

    Could be wrong but uptempo seems to work best for us in Q3. Imho, it works so effective because we have pounded on the opposition for 2.25 quarters and we overwhelm the hell out them. Maybe that is why the perception / reality is that we are so effective with up tempo.

    I am still confident that we will be in the conversation after Dec 2nd.


  14. The problem with manball is understanding when it ain’t working and putting your ego to the side to do something else. If you have to go up tempo, you wear a team down that doesn’t have equal depth. Keep doing it until they stop it, give up, or fake injuries (looking at you, Brian Kelly).

    Kirby is so damn scared of putting his beloved defense in challenging situations that he can’t get past his insistence on playing conservatively.

    If you have recruited all of these players to be a Porsche, take the governor off and let the players play instead of having them stand around for 25 seconds waiting for a play call to come in and another 10 seconds to allow Jake to adjust the call. That seems to be what Coach Oeaux is doing in Baton Rouge and Saban is doing at Alabama.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. DawgPhan

    UGA has great talent but you still have to work to get the matchups where your guy is at an advantage. Doesnt seem like we do a lot of that last part.

    Tough spot with the offense because they are very good, but they dont seem like they are reaching their potential. And it seems like you need 30+ points to win one of these big games these days and it just isnt quite getting there.


  16. Derek

    A better way to put it is that it’s about “players not plays.”

    It’s all about execution. If the players perform, you’re fine. If they don’t you’ve got problems. (I would think that would imperil any philosophy in any sport.)

    Why would that be a mistaken approach with our roster? Especially when your defense is so good that if you get to 30 it’s likely a blowout?

    We had so many shots to win that game and move on but time after time the execution wasn’t there. Players didn’t make the plays. When they get people open, the qb threw to other players or it was dropped.

    You all can deny it but being physical on offense makes our defense better come Saturday. We went 15 years with a qb dependent system and were often soft, I.e., not physical. We needed a talented qb who played well or we weren’t doing anything.

    Now we have a team that can rely on defense, field position, a running game and only when the other team stops the run, do you need top notch QB play.

    If that moment comes and the QB and wrs are found wanting, what can you do?

    Keep in mind that the football brain trust around here hated on Bobo and now wants him back and mocked mercilessly an OC who is now 5-1 in the NFL with the fifth rated offense in the league.

    In short, be fans and stop trying your hands at X’s and O’s expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought Bobo after 2010 was damn good at his job. We could run almost anything we wanted at the time we wanted. I would love to see him with this type of talent up front.


      • Derek

        People weren’t so enamored after the USC game in 2012 though.

        I thought he did a good job too.

        Not sure about the whole let’s get Brice and not Deshaun deal, but….

        I know it’s shocking but bobo struggled too when we couldn’t block them and the qb had an off day.


        • The other Doug

          The poor blocking last Saturday would have been a decent/normal day when Bobo was here. We never had an OL this good.


          • Geezus

            I don’t think the blocking (in passing sets) was as bad as a lot of people are saying. I saw Fromm hold the ball too damn long and then either force a bad throw, or put himself in a sack/rushed situation. He needed some quick-hitters, not sitting in the pocket checking read 4 or 5 on every play (the fact that he could do that is a nod to the blocking).


      • Greg

        Agree, same here. I believe we broke a scoring record in ’14. If Smart could change, it may be with Bobo…..his buddy. Just guess – but thinks he would trust him.


    • illini84

      They hate everyone that doesn’t fulfill their dreams.


    • ASEF

      It’s not an either/or proposition, Derek. Everyone understands the benefit of a physical offense. But an optimal offense does both.

      Example: Alabama’s receivers are physical as hell. They also, time and time again, end up in situations where they make 1 guy miss and add 40 yards to the play. Coley isn’t giving his guys that opportunity. If he does, and they’re consistently getting taken down 1 on 1, fine, that is entirely on the players.

      I’ve watched SC 3 times this year. SC’s defense looked stressed against UNC and Alabama. Those offenses gave them a lot to worry about. Conversely, SC didn’t seem as conflicted in this game. More confident, more aggressive. And I think that was primarily because they were more confident in how the Georgia offense would operate.


  17. Charlottedawg

    Also since when does running the ball mean only straight ahead up the middle? Why has the toss sweep completely disappeared?


    • Derek

      No fullback. That’s kind of a deal breaker.

      Most teams have gone to smallish fast lbs that eat them up.

      TE’s are deemed more valuable and better match ups than FB’s.

      Remember the penultimate play vs. Vandy in 2016?

      Toss sweep fail…

      The key now is getting OL out on those small lbs and busting big plays over them. When people were playing 6’4” 255 ILBs the toss sweep worked better than running up the gut.

      That said a good key to defeating a big run stopping DL is making them chase on those jet sweeps. Get them tired and then run past them.

      I thought the backs made the OL look worse than they were. Too impatient and not going where they weren’t. 7 and 3 need to watch some tape of L. Bell and how he stays patient especially vs. a team that is doing a lot of stunting up front. Let those big guys run themselves out of the play.


    • spur21

      Our maulers can’t pull and lead the way 89 is a liability blocking for the toss sweep.


    • Geezus

      Here, here!

      Our backs are awesome, but they do not possess the same “in-the-hole” toughness as Gurley or Chubb. Find a way to get them in a lane! Sweeps, counter-trays, whatever.


  18. Former Fan

    It would be interesting to see if some of the same concepts that were used in the opening game with Vandy are still in play. Those were Oklahoma concepts. But against SC, it seemed like man coverage everywhere and we were trying to hit fly routes down the sideline.


  19. MDDawg

    I just posted something about “players, not plays” in the previous thread, lol.


  20. 86BONE

    All idle fodder…we just got curb stomped my SC…damn, just damn🤬
    Great teams do not lose to mediocre teams, period!
    Perfect timing as deer hunting is right around the corner so no more TV for me, just “GTP” reading on Monday mornings!


  21. Diving Duck

    Kirby is posed this question often and he always references “the line and our backs are the strength of our offense”. He never acknowledges that the game plan involves attacking a defense’s weaknesses.


  22. Gravy Dawg

    The problem is us Georgia fans were spoiled by 20 years of exciting offenses. Richt brought the Florida State speed and score mentality to us. In 2001, coaches complained about his quick tempo offense. Does anyone else remember that? I do. It was awesome. They complained we were going too fast between plays! It was great. Glorious. Fast. Quick. Fun. Playmakers. Open field. Pass records shredded. Speed kills. Wild Dawg. 60-year-bomb. Score. Fun.

    Richt and then Bobo continued on most of that trajectory until the bitter end days.

    But, our luxury in dynamic offenses goes back further.

    Before Richt, we had Donnan.

    Remember Donnan? Rough dog. Not the greatest record, but Donnan had cut his teeth on offense and brought an impressive pedigree from Marshall. And while he was at Georgia, we didn’t always put up big numbers, but the offense was fun to watch. Air Georgia. Toss sweeps. Curl routes. Bubble routes. Space. Reverses. Air Georgia. Fakes. Fun. More toss sweeps. Play players on both sides of the ball. Why not? Big holes. Speed. Fun.

    We left 20 or so years of dynamic offenses to four consecutive years of manball.

    As the Senator has penned, we live and die by it.

    Ah, the problem.

    I don’t love the love the concept of manball, but I don’t hate the concept and I enjoy watching our backs bust through space and chew up the other players. Heck, I grew up on Herschel and Worley and Tate and co. and enjoy the sheer violence of smash-mouth football.

    The manball offense can work.

    And It does work if you look at our record in 18 and 19. But the problem is when it doesn’t work, it appears to lacks room for adjustment. You have committed to it and thus lack the creativity, innovation or, simply, don’t have the playbook to counteract. The view from my section is it is a one trick pony. Adjustments are minimal and they appear to be built around the principals.

    But, more than that, win or lose, it is simply not as fun to watch.


    • J.M.

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.


    • Biggus Rickus

      That is some idealized nostalgia. I remember the Richt offenses (and early Bobo ones). They were often about as exciting as a nap. There were such explosive days as the 13-7 win over South Carolina in 2002, the 16-13 win over UAB in 2003, and the 16-13 loss to Florida the same year. They still write legends about the dynamic offense on display in the 2004 13-3 win over Marshall and the 14-10 loss to Florida in 2005 (this is me cheating since Shockely was hurt). 2006 got off to a roaring start, with Georgia scoring 18, 14 and 14 in wins over South Carolina, Colorado and Ole Miss. Bobo took over in 2007, and the offenses were generally better after that, though ’09 and ’10 were pretty brutal. There was also the 2007 South Carolina game that Georgia lost 16-12 in Athens to an unranked team who would finish the year 6-6.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Truth can hurt; and is always harder to accept…


      • Minnesota Dawg

        Don’t forget about that 2004 19-14 loss to UT…in Athens….as the 3rd ranked team in country. Where our offensive problems were explained by the head coach as “We were waiting for someone to make a play…and nobody made a play.”

        In terms of feeling, as the game clock melted away, this one feels very similar–although that UT was a much better team than this Carolina bunch.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. more spinners

    Bear Bryant once made the comment he wanted his players “to be mobile, hostile, and agile”.
    How many times did SC’s front 4 and in closed LBs punish the Dawgs O line.
    Very often, go back and take a peek at center Hill.
    Well, they had many opportunities to wilt and to give up points based on the number of plays the Dawgs ran, but they did not. There was an awful long stretch were the “Smart offensive scheme and philosphy ” did not produce against a SEC D front. Not the first time, think of games against Bama, Texas and the Gators at times.
    Bud Elliott’s comments as well as mine re those 2 clips from Sundays post re OT plays solifiies Smart’s approach. Fromm sits 5 yards back in the pocket, he throws from a “well”, never any RPO with him because his O line is too heavy and clearly not mobile, hostile, and agile. Every thing is bunched in front of him. Watch what Bama, OU, OSU, LSU are doing for the QB re passing and the running game. Big difference
    With Smart’s scheme if he gets behind the chains, or the scoreboard, or his D does not get field position or turnovers, his offense will not put points on the scoreboard, ie, SC’s win.
    Change the scheme with a passing / spread OC.
    You can put that FB or HB in their all you want now in the SEC. It will not work at UGA because this O line does not move and get of the ball snap quick enough or with enough explosiveness.


  24. Bill Glennon

    “The game plan is out: teams will continue to stack the box against the Georgia run game and make (QB) beat them with his arm or his legs.”

    This game plan has been out since Nichols State in 2016.


    • Haute Dawg

      What legs? Jake runs mostly when chased out of the pocket. His big runs come because no one is expecting it. But count the number of times he keeps the ball on a spread option. Almost none. That could be driven by “let’s not get Jake hurt” mentality cause our backup options aren’t great. But, opposing defenses have caught up. Don’t bother chasing Jake, they go after the back.

      On pass plays like Saturday, a occasional QB run keeps the DB’s honest in man coverage if they know they might have to hustle back to make a tackle. Otherwise, stay draped all over your man because a pass is coming, no run threat.

      So to make “manball” work a little better, why not throw in some I formation plays? Fullback? Use a tight end. Gronk made that work. Sure would add some excitement on the second and short plays when there’s a play fake and we swing the pass out to TE. Seems like Aaron Murray made that play work a few times. But I’m just a fan, not getting paid any large ones to design plays. However, for that price I could get interested…


      • Bill Glennon

        I agree with you. My point is just that ever since Jacob Eason was a freshman starter and we had Chubb and Sony in the backfield, the conventional wisdom has been to stop the run and make UGA throw it. Mike Griffith know this. It is not a “hot take” based on the result this weekend.

        I can’t defend the lack of creativity and adaptability on Saturday, but I will defend the concept of “manball” as a base offensive philosophy that works if the head coach recognizes how to punish a defense for selling out to stop it.

        Right now, we don’t have such a head coach.


  25. Manball is trying to physically dominate your opponent and trying to break their will in the 4th quarter, right? I think what is more demoralizing is when you go score 28 points in the first quarter and the opposing defense has no idea how to stop you. Trying to limit possessions and drain clock when you have superior talent and depth is moronic. It’s more like cave-man-ball. It is stupid, backwards coaching, and one day these elite offensive recruits will wake up and wonder why the hell would they want to play in such a backwards ass system when they can go literally anywhere else and get a ton of touches and score a bunch of points and win a bunch of awards and get drafted just as highly if not higher.

    The players vs plays debate doesn’t seem to be framed correctly. To me, it means it doesn’t matter how great your play is, it should be designed to get the ball in the hand of your playmakers because they can make something happen that you can’t design. The way this is being framed sounds more like are the plays not working because the play sucks or because the player doesn’t execute? What are the plays you call designed to do? Assert your will or score points? What are we doing with James Cook? Why aren’t we finding ways to get Pickens the ball? Can Pickens block? Yep. Can he do something when he has the ball in his hands? Who knows? We only throw back shoulders down the sideline to him with 0 possible YAC even if he can fight through the defender to catch it.

    Sometimes Jake needs to throw it 50+ yards downfield, just to remind defenses that he could do that if he wanted to. As it stands, he has check-downs (which is where he wants to go with the ball 95% of the time, because manball), back-shoulders down the sideline which are becoming lower percentage throws as SEC secondaries are more physical, and stops/outs outside the numbers. Fromm looks over the middle only when nothing else is open. Throw the damn go route to Pickens or Robertson. If your guys are having trouble getting open, have rub routes or crossing patterns. Hell, for that matter, have a route combination that was invented this decade. Design run plays that go outside that aren’t the super-obvious jet sweep. Design plays that put pressure on the defense. Have Fromm run the damn ball to keep the defense honest.

    Speaking of… Fromm is like an offensive coordinator playing quarterback. Sometimes, I think it would be better to have a quarterback playing quarterback. Have that swagger that you are going to do what it takes to win the game like a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. I see that in Joe Burrow who has that confidence and backs it up with the talent. In Jake I see a future coach up in a booth somewhere, who can break down film good af.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. The other Doug

    Great post.

    I think the result of Man Ball is the offense is very predictable. You can be predictable when you win the one on ones, but when you’re not the defense is there to make the tackle or break up the pass.

    We can eliminate the OC as the root of the problem because Chaney is gone, so how much of it is Kirby and how much of it is Fromm? Smart has only coached one season without Fromm as the starter, and it was the throw away season with out the road grading OL. Also, Smart seems to be recruiting QBs that are more dual threat. Eason was already lined up and Fromm was a steal from Bama, but since those two it’s been more mobile.

    This isn’t meant as a slam on Fromm. I’m just pointing out that perhaps the Man Ball is a result of scheming to the QBs strengths, and once Fromm moves on we will see something with a little bit more excitement. For the next year or two they can play Man Ball, but they need to have a Plan B.


  27. Tony Barnfart

    For the love of all things holy, can someone explain to me the point of doing running plays from a zone read look if the QB never keeps it ? It seems like manball would prefer a quicker downhill push. All the not-really-reading-shit-zone-read handoff seems to do is make blocking assignments harder and clog the play up.


    • GaskellDawg

      Setting Alabama up for the last second winning TD in the SEC Championship Game; plan is for Fromm to keep on the zone read for the first time all season and fool Alabama into ignoring him for a TD scamper.

      Only explanation I can think of.


  28. more spinners

    Yesterday was not an outlier.
    As much as I hate to utter these thoughs I shall share them.
    To get into the playoffs they have to get by 3 teams currently ranked in the polls…Florida, Auburn, and Missouri.
    I do not think they win all three of them based on Saturdays play and past 8 games [5-3]. All three of those teams are much improved, and Florida has a much better defense that SC has. Let’s see what the Gators do on back to back road games after tough loss to LSU. If they beat SC, then many of us think beating UF will be tough, and if they do, it is an upset…they are ranked higher because of their play against LSU.
    Every East game is now a must win to get to the SECCG. Only way to playoffs is to win the SECCG…Kirby has not been able to do that.
    Kirby put his team in a deep hole with his new shiny OC, put that under the broad heading of “game management”…scheme, coaches, turnovers…all part of coaching and game management, Kirby.


  29. It’s so fucking frustrating. You don’t HAVE to fight someone by walking up to them and punching them in the face. You can also sneak up behind them and pop them when they aren’t looking.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Mark

    Kirby has not been able to make the playoffs after winning a SECCG? That’s news to me.


  31. FlyingPeakDawg

    From the world of Kirby’s 3 dimensional chess games…he picks a game to throw to grab his team’s attention. We know this is true from the past two seasons and we know being undefeated is too hard. Looking at our slow start, Kirby’s decided to give his summer rooming buddy a bone in order to keep his job at USCe. You can always tell when Kirby is throwing a game by how vanilla we play. Really, this game became a logical choice once it was clear that dumping TAMU would not hurt Bama.

    It’s all part of the plan. We’ll come out against the Cats and show an offensive explosion. We’ll strangle the gators with manball and run the table into the SECCG as planned.

    Kirby’s on the mother.


  32. CEPH

    I watch the head coaches from the major programs and Kirby is the only one who acts like an out of control banshee on the sidelines. It is embarrassing when your head coach has to have someone hold on to his britches to keep him on the sideline. The other head coaches watch the game and address their assistants and players accordingly. Kirby is in the middle of the offensive huddle, defensive huddle etc. AND how can you preach control to your players when your head coach is more out of control than anyone else on the sidelines. If you are having to coach your assistants on the sidelines then hire some that you don’t have to. Kirby is still coaching like an assistant!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Corch Irvin Meyers New USC Trojans Corch (2020)

    I am sick of watching Bama and LSU’s offenses, knowing we have athletes every bit as good, and knowing our coach would stubbornly, stupidly try to win games inside a fucking phone booth than win with a wide open offense that takes advantage of those athletes he keeps recruiting.

    What the fuck is wrong with Kirby? Seriously. What is wrong with him that he outright refuses to to adapt, to evolve, to fall into the same fucking trap that got Les Miles fired at LSU?

    Why are we always stuck with these coaches who refuse to do anything differently, who refuse to do everything it takes to win, like Saban and Dabo do, instead demanding the entire world change to fit their idea of how it should be?



  34. WarD Eagle

    Everybody picks apart a loss.

    You never see this level of wisdom and insight on a win – unless you work in the athletic department.

    Lose – I think the QB squints his left eye a little more when he’s going to pass.


    • Geezus

      I’ve been on Coley all year. I believe he’s grossly overmatched in every game. He’s not a power 5 OC (as his offense has borne that out).


    • Brandon M

      Which is honestly one reason I think we not only deserved but needed to lose that game. Eeek out a W there and a lot of these issues and shortcomings just get swept under the rug.


  35. Bright Idea

    Tight formations and using Woerner and Wolf in the slot and flexed out could be hindering the receivers from finding space. We’re keeping TEs in the game to prevent the eye in the sky from identifying our formations by personnel. If we have any, lets use quicker WRs who can possibly stretch the defense. Only on seam routes are the TEs wide open and we don’t seem to like those. Why not use Cook more downfield?


  36. doofusdawg

    We are basically running the same offense we ran for years with CMR. It takes pretty much all eleven guys to “execute” on any given play for it to be explosive. If one guy doesn’t do his job then the odds of success drop exponentially.

    Scheming reduces the number of players that have to execute successfully for the play to be explosive. For example… look at the slants that Alabama runs over and over. The quarterback needs to be accurate but he gets rid of the ball so quickly that the entire offensive line just basically has to exist. The receiver has to catch the ball then simply out run the defensive back for a touchdown. That’s two guys out of eleven that have to win their battles… nowhere near eleven.

    For years we were bailed out by guys like Chubb and Gurley and Swift who through amazing individual effort made explosive plays… despite the lack of execution by the offensive line. And as I said repeatedly over the years under CMR and now with Kirby… if it is all about execution then we should score on every play.


    • Otto

      I basically agree with much of this. The WRs are going vertical in man and not getting separation, slants seems to be rare and would have a higher chance of success. Further as Blutarsky states play calling was predictable, and obviously a successful play is harder when the D knows what is coming.

      Saturday night, LSU and UF both did a better job of setting up isolated match ups where play makers could get in space giving the QB and RB or QB target easier decisions.

      The WRs should have come down with enough passes to get the W despite play selection and the FG team which is usually automatic would have usually bailed out predictable play calling and the WRs not playing up to their level. I also agree with those that want Fromm to carry more on the RPO. LSU used it with success with Burrow who I put as on par with Fromm at running the ball.

      In no order Play selection, QB, Receivers, and FG team hold responsibility for this past Saturday.

      The D could have come up with a turnover but you can’t blame them for 10 points in regulation, and 3 points in 2 OTs.

      I would be interested to read the same break down of play selection for both Auburn games in 2017, LSU 2018, and Texas. It seemed like this game was called like the regular season Auburn and LSU games but against a lesser team, and the usually sure handed receivers had butter fingers.


  37. addr

    Every time I hear the players, not plays hot take I think of the season Fields is having. Or Lincoln Riley taking backup quarterbacks and turning them into Heisman trophy winners and first round draft picks. Did those players just magically go from 2nd string talent to the pinnacle of their positions in a single leap?


  38. 79Dawg

    Coach Manball says “no regrets” on any of the coaching decisions during his press conference!


  39. In hindsite, the only positive I can come up with from Saturday is that we now know that our kicker can’t be trusted at this point to come through under pressure. If we lose another one this year, I doubt it we be because we take our foot off of the gas near or in the red zone because we are getting Rodrigo warmed up for the “automatic” 3 points. No, he can’t be trusted, so our coaches will have to play for 6 instead. Better to have learned that now than later when trying keep pace or worse, facing elimination. Ironically, David Pollack was on GameDay Saturday morning talking about how pissed he was at Billy Bennett after the LSU game in 2003. Richt had told everyone to leave the guy alone after the loss since he was still needed for the season, and Pollack implied that he did not listen to Richt’s advice. Had Rodrigo made that kick against Bama last year the game may have gone very differently. He blew it then and blew it Saturday.


    • Tony Barnfart

      Hot Rod is the least of our problems. Our problem is a passing game that relies exclusively on sideline back shoulder and jump balls with zero opportunity for YAC. Couple that with a running game that seems to go exclusively between the tackles and we cut the opposing DCs work in half at least.


      • All I am saying is that he can’t be relied upon to win a game for us. Coley has to call plays accordingly from now on.


        • He can’t be relied upon in the sense that kicking a field goal is not a certainty because there are lots of outside forces that can affect a kick, from wind to a bad snap to a bad block to a bad hold. Rodrigo has been rock solid as a kicker for a long time, and he has won many games with his leg. UGA doesn’t beat Oklahoma or Notre Dame without him in 2017. UGA’s best shot to win that game Saturday, after the turd of a game the offense had, was Rodrigo hitting a 55-yarder, and the fact they ran a stupid play in an attempt to make it a 50-yarder instead ranks up there with some of the dumbest coaching decisions I have seen. I would have given Rodrigo a shot at the 60-yarder, and the next time the game is on the line, I would absolutely put it on his foot again. He isn’t going to make them all, but he is darn close.


  40. Dawgflan

    Someone needs to print out the Update #2 article from Matt Hinton and nail it to the door of B-M Martin Luther style. Reform is needed!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Biggus Rickus

    On the last update, Georgia was 10th last year and 7th in 2017 in 20+ yard plays. There’s more to it than manball, seeing as Georgia had the same philosophy the last two years.


  42. Senator- I know we jousted back and forth yesterday about this subject. This post absolutely clarified your points yesterday and I agree 1000% on the analysis. My apologies, Sir!


  43. Macallanlover

    If the goal of manball is domination, then it certainly isn’t schematic. It also isn’t making them adjust to your preferred way of running your offense, it is being diverse enough to take advantage of what you are giving your offense. To do that you must use alignments, shifts, motion, tempo, etc., as required, to attack all areas of the field and not be afraid to use any method of delivering the ball in any given situation.

    That style of offense hasn’t ever been at UGA, under any coach, and it certainly hasn’t been with KS who has stubbornly tried to break you and bend you over to fit his comfort zone. Sort of like the mirror image of Mike Leach’s “do it his way” system with the Air Raid. Seems like “manball” is primarily played at OU, Bama, and more recently, at LSU. They throw it, run it, use screens, use TEs, reverses, counters, power runs and jet sweeps, etc., and have multiple/different stars on their offenses every week. Saban made that transition gradually over a few years, Orgeron and Riley dove head first into the pool. They can hit you from many angles, at any time.


    • If the goal of manball is domination, then it certainly isn’t schematic.

      I think Kirby is making it pretty clear that his definition of manball is not what you are suggesting. When Kirby mentioned they ran some 5-wide sets, you could almost feel the incredulity in his tone, like he was giving us peons what we wanted even though he knew that shit wouldn’t work, and he was the least surprised of all when it didn’t.

      I agree with you that there are many different ways to dominate an opponent and break their will, and scoring points in bunches is one of them. Alabama, LSU, Clemson, and Ohio State are able to combine explosive offenses with good-to-great defenses (OSU’s D is the best of that bunch). Kirby even said in the preseason that UGA needed to score more points this year. But in games, he reverts to controlling the clock and limiting possessions, which serves an opposite purpose. I wonder if it will take Cook or Pickens transferring and/or whiffs on the recruiting trail before Kirby changes to be more like the offenses at Bama, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Recruiting seems to be the language Kirby is most fluent in.


      • Macallanlover

        I was using the Senator’s quote above. I think we have already experienced talent losses in some recruiting battles because of our style, and I think that will continue. WRs, in particular, love to the center of an offense’s attention. It isn’t like the way RBs see the sharing of the load and getting fewer carries, they are the most likely to complain about not being targeted. In an offense that throws around 22-27 passes a game, there just isn’t that many ESPN highlight opportunities at UGA.


  44. Dave

    I have often wondered why so many teams have multiple huge wide receivers in the mold of Pickens and we apparently can’t recruit them despite Kirby’s success at every other position on the field. We get great athletes at the position but they tend to be in the mold of Terry Godwin. Perhaps manball, as described here, is part of the reason.


  45. Tom Glavine

    Chicks dig the long ball.


  46. Minnesota Dawg

    You know, when I repeatedly (implicitly) hear “Scheming is for pussies!!”…..I start to think that you don’t know how to scheme.

    If our coaches do actually know how to scheme, now would be a good time to start. Would be a shame to waste all this talent….again.


  47. Anonymous

    OK. You did a much better job of explaining your thoughts in this post than you did yesterday. In my verbiage, instead of “man ball”, you are wanting Kirby to have an alternative to a pro-style (i.e. “players not plays”) offense when it isn’t working. “Pro-style” is designing the offensive game plan around personnel mismatches (e.g. CB X can’t handle the speed of WR Y)

    I don’t think Kirby will change unless he faces a couple of 9-3 seasons. Even then, he might just double down on recruiting. It is baked into his DNA. Coley and Chaney are both solidly in the pro-style / “players not plays” group. You can spot the pro-style guys vs. the scheme guys by how they talk in interviews. The pro-style guys always talk about playmakers and execution. The schemers talk about angles, space, and adjustments.


    • I think the line is far more blurred than you make it sound. LSU’s offense is suddenly dynamic because Coach O brought in a passing game coordinator from the Saints. New England’s offense borrows plenty from Leach’s Air Raid concepts.


      • Anonymous

        You are right. It isn’t a line so much as a it is a scale of degree. LSU brought in the guy from the Saints specifically to help them with scheme not to help them identify if a CB has stiff hips and is likely to tun around in an inefficient way while adjusting to certain double-move routes. New England does both. They scheme to get players in space as well as take advantage of personnel mismatches. We are at the point now where college teams need to be doing both as well. What I wonder is how many more games Kirby will have to lose in the same manner as he did on Saturday before he gets the lesson that you can’t just keep calling inside zone and wear down the defense with combo-blocks executed by giants… at least not in the era of high quality, science based strength and conditioning programs.