… that is the one I would have expected from DawgNation.
Monthly Archives: December 2019
If I’m worried about whom Jake Fromm will be throwing the ball to tomorrow (along with how well the blocking holds up), I’m not that worried about life on the other side, even with the absentees. Why? Because ($$).
Georgia embraced the no-name defense ethos because it lacked that superstar that other teams schemed around, a la Roquan Smith in 2017 and Deandre Baker in 2018. But the Bulldogs made up for it with their depth, using as many as 24 players in the regular rotation, with only Reed never coming off the field. It was a multi-layered depth: The starters tended to be a motley collection of former three-stars and transfers, with only safety Richard LeCounte a former five-star. But off the bench came all those five-stars: Nakobe Dean as a third-down inside linebacker, Nolan Smith and Adam Anderson as pass rushers, Tyrique Stevenson as a dime package defensive back. And so on.
With the absence of Brian Herrien and the questionable status of D’Andre Swift, Josh takes a look at three players who could receive more work in the Sugar Bowl than they have in any single game so far this season: Zamir White, James Cook and Kenny McIntosh.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm vs. Baylor’s exotic 3-3-5 defense: After watching several Baylor games from the 2019 season, its difficult to figure it out on defense. It’s a unique, exotic look and one that Fromm hasn’t really seen in his career. The coverages are similar to what the Bulldogs have seen but the blitzes aren’t. As previously stated, the Bears are going to take some chances and they don’t mind doing it on early downs. When they guess right and catch and offense trying to use play-action on first down, they can throw the quarterback for a big loss and wreck a drive before it gets started.
With that said, Fromm is a tough guy to outsmart. He hasn’t been himself the last five or six games but it’s difficult to put the “deer in the headlights” look on his face. His primary strengths are his ability to prepare and figure things out on the fly.
Dawgs247’s Take: Again, Baylor is going to create its negative plays and it won’t be a bad thing if Fromm just takes a few sacks in this game. Those won’t kill Georgia. What will hurt the Bulldogs the most is forcing the ball out to avoid the pressure and it ending up in the hands of a guy wearing green. The Bears do some creative stuff with underneath coverage designed to rob short, quick routes. Fromm will have to be careful with the football and sometimes do whatever it takes to make it to the next down.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned this season, it’s that you don’t have to be particularly creative with underneath coverage to rob Georgia’s offense of access to short, quick routes.
That being said, you’d think a 3-3-5 scheme would be just what the manball doctor ordered, but we’ll see how that re-jiggered o-line fares against what I expect will be a massive amount of stunts and run blitzes to offset Baylor’s size disadvantage.
Things like that are why I hope Pittman finds some degree of success in Fayetteville.
While we’re absorbed over Georgia’s roster numbers and motivation, let’s not overlook the fact that Baylor’s got its own distraction issue.
As news about NFL teams, like the Panthers, expressing interest in interviewing Matt Rhule started to get shared on major networks and social media for all to see on Sunday, Baylor players were getting ready for Sugar Bowl practice when Matt Rhule decided to have a team meeting.
The goal of that meeting for Rhule was full transparency – something not all coaches who are being pursued by other teams or organizations are willing to provide.
There, players shared with the Dallas Morning News that Rhule told them that he’d be “dumb” to not take an opportunity to talk with an NFL team.
Wonder if Rhule thinks it’s dumb for players not to explore transfer opportunities that might be beneficial for their careers. But I digress.
Anyway, you have to wonder how hard kids will play for somebody who’s at least open to the possibility of bailing on them after a special season.
You know, the mea culpas issued during James Coley’s presser didn’t interest me in the slightest. If you’ve watched the season unfold, or looked at the stats, it’s clear that Georgia’s offense regressed during 2019. Taking responsibility for that only matters in an exit review.
What I’m far more interested in hearing about is the why. Does the offensive coordinator have an idea what’s happened? What about the starting quarterback? It may sound stupidly obvious, but if you can’t identify the problem, you sure can’t fix it.
Surprisingly enough in this day and age of coachspeak, both Coley and Fromm managed to shed some light on what’s gone wrong.
Before I get to that, let me mention what I don’t think is wrong. Jake Fromm is a damned good quarterback. He hasn’t lost his ability to play the position. Someone who has the awareness to make a play like this as a true freshman on a big stage isn’t mediocre.
Listen to the way Herbstreit describes Fromm’s work on that play as it unfolds. Jake hasn’t forgotten how to play the position.
As for all the other stuff we’ve seen some insist Fromm can’t do — lack of arm strength, patience, inability to throw in tight spaces, etc. — it’s BS. He’s shown he can do all those things.
But tape don’t lie, either. This year has seen a downturn in his game. Here’s how Fromm describes what’s happened to him:
“It’s tough. Throughout the season you work less on fundamentals and more on scheme. That’s part of the battle of what you put the time into,” Fromm said. “For us, I know for me, I got away from the fundamentals and worked a little too much on scheme, and it hurt my progress with my feet later throughout the year.”
In my humble opinion, that’s a coaching failure. Sure, execution is on the player, but if you see a decline in fundamentals, you should be there to help turn that around, especially with someone as coachable as Fromm is. Like they’re apparently taking the time to do now.
“For us, we’ve been working throughout these last two weeks, a lot on feet, how can we get quicker, how can we develop a better base, how can we get better feet through progressions three and four,” he said. “We’re really working on that.”
Coley, in defending his quarterback’s season, doesn’t mention any of that. Instead, he pointed fingers at Fromm’s surrounding cast.
“It looks like you’re not accurate when guys are running a bender across the middle of the field and he keeps it vertical. You think he’s bending, and the ball ends up being short, and you end up saying, ‘Man, this guy threw a terrible ball.’ Or the guy is running a 10-yard stop route, and he runs it at 12, and it’s a low throw,” Coley said. “That’s not all the time, but it happens when you get injuries; it happens when you’ve got guys who haven’t played in a while, or if it’s their first chance, they’re a little nervous and take their routes a little deeper than they should, and it ends up looking like (Fromm)’s not playing as good as he was a year ago.”
Hey, I get all that. It’s not as if it’s any surprise that the receiving corps’ route running has been inconsistent all season. But it’s also not as if it’s any surprise that there are some receivers who have failed to improve over the course of 12 or 13 games that are still getting playing time. The question, again, is why they are. Remember, Coley is the guy who famously said in the preseason that his job is about “players, not plays”.
Instead of finding the core group of receivers who work best with Fromm, an admittedly harder task when Cager went down for good, Coley seems to have fallen back on relying on the running game even in the face of defenses gearing up ever more to stop it ($$).
“We’re still a pro-style offense, and that just gives us the flexibility to do a bunch of things. And again, it’s who you have out there and who you’re trying to feature. So what gives you the best chance: Giving the ball to the tailback who’s a really good player, or throwing the ball to a young guy who may not be ready for that moment yet? You know what I mean?”
Problem there is you’re hamstringing your quarterback, who also happens to be a really good player. And you’ll have to excuse me if I think this is some weak spin:
“I don’t really see it as the system that Kirby wants to run, or we’re forced to run this certain system,” Coley said. “As a staff, we sat down and we said, What gives us the best chance to beat certain teams with the players we have? And that’s the plays we’ve called to put our players in place.
Do I think Kirby is whispering in Coley’s ears what specific plays he wants run? Nah. Do I think the head coach sets a specific direction for the scheme he wants for his offense? Of course he does; that’s part of being the head coach.
Here’s a question I’ve got after reading all of that — what’s the hierarchy of skills Georgia looks for in its pass catchers? Is it more important to block downfield, or to run routes correctly? If you don’t trust a young guy to make a catch and that affects your playcalling, what do you (or your head coach, for that matter) see in him to put him out on the field in the first place?
In the end, it’s fine to shift blame away from Fromm, but if this is all you have as a defense,
“It’s a difficult thing to scheme around. But it’s what we do, and it’s what we get paid to do,” Coley said. “And we’ve got to do the best we can.”
… you’re not really offering much there as a concrete solution. I mean, even Fromm has a suggestion.
Fromm did let it be known that he’s ready to run, something he’s not been asked to do very much in Georgia’s offensive scheme.
“That’s where the game is going, and with my feet, I’m ready to go,” Fromm said. “Let’s go play football and be a football player.”
All in all, that doesn’t lead me to expect much in the way of new against Baylor, although I hope that a renewed emphasis on Fromm’s mechanics will pay some short-term dividends. But doing the best you can as the basis for a renewed offensive approach in 2020 is a pretty thin reed on which to rest your hopes.
Interesting observations from Bill Connelly:
I’d love to see a breakdown of those numbers for defenses facing Fromm, especially from the South Carolina game through the rest of the season.
Today’s version of you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, Sugar Bowl edition, looks like this:
Below is a list of players that we did not see at practice for the second straight day.
OL Ben Cleveland (academics)
OL Andrew Thomas (turning pro)
OL Isaiah Wilson (turning pro)
OL D’Marcus Hayes (undisclosed)
OL Justin Shaffer (neck injury)
RB Brian Herrien (undisclosed)
WR Lawrence Cager (ankle injury)
WR Dominick Blaylock (knee injury)
DB J.R. Reed (foot injury)
DB Divaad Wilson (undisclosed)
DL Tyler Clark (undisclosed)
DL Justin Young (undisclosed)
OLB Walter Grant (concussion)
ILB Quay Walker (undisclosed)
DB Tyrique McGhee (undisclosed)
Hey, it’s only fifteen, not twenty, so things are looking up, amirite?