LOL. This is better than “we swear, the tight ends will be more involved in the offense this year.”
Daily Archives: December 2, 2019
Just inject this directly into my veins.
Finebaum ought to be a real treat today.
Truth be told, for all intents and purposes, Saturday’s game was a glorified scrimmage, sort of like holding G-Day at historic Grant Field. The majority of the crowd wore red. The second stringers couldn’t keep up with the starters. Et cetera, et cetera.
That’s why I’m not going to bother with the usual bullet point exercise this week. For one thing, the defense was so uniformly excellent and Tech’s offense so badly outclassed across the board — the Jackets didn’t manage a single first down until after the Blaylock fumble in the second quarter — that it’s really not worth spending the bandwidth to point out individual performances. They were all good, including the kids who hadn’t made it off the bench to play in weeks.
Forty of the Jackets’ 139 total yards on offense came on the last series against Georgia’s backups. After the game, Collins apparently bragged about the number of explosive runs his team managed. There were two, one for eleven and one for sixteen yards, the latter coming in the aforementioned last series. That’s some brag, Geoff. As bad as that was, Tech’s passing game was even worse: 5/21 for 40 yards.
Honestly, it looked even more inept in person than it did on the stat sheet. Georgia was far bigger and far faster; there simply isn’t a scheme or an attitude in the world that can dent the sheer gap in talent between the two teams.
As far as the offense goes, hear me out: James Coley did a good job. They could have mailed in a game plan and just mashed the Jackets’ defense all day long (indeed, one of my favorite plays came when Hill had to sit out, the Dawgs shifted a few linemen around, added another for good measure, had Fromm take a snap under center and hand off for a big gain as the line simply shoved Tech’s front seven out of the way). But that’s not the way Coley went.
There were a lot of numbers to take away from the offense on Saturday, but the two most significant in my mind were 29 and 0. The first of those was the number of pass attempts called for Fromm. (For comparison’s sake, the total number of Fromm’s pass attempts in 2017 and 2018 against GT was 32, combined.) Clearly, the game plan called for Fromm and his receivers — more significantly, the ones remaining in the wake of Cager’s season-ending injury — to get some good work in.
Unfortunately, while the intent was worthy, the results were spotty. Fromm again failed to complete at least half of his pass attempts. Right out of the gate on the first series, Fromm was lucky to avoid a pick-six on his first toss, Jackson didn’t run his route correctly on the second and Robertson didn’t finish his route or fight the defender for the ball on the third.
Things started clicking on Georgia’s third series, though. A series of solid runs, mixed with a good completion to Simmons and some uptempo work, culminated in a Herrien TD run. Much the same could be said of the next one, with a little more pass mixed in and a beautiful touchdown throw and catch by Woerner.
Then the second quarter happened. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did — fumbles, blowing an onside kick recovery and some questionable end of half clock management made for a forgettable fifteen minutes. But even with that and Tech’s lone score of the day, Georgia still had a double digit lead at the half.
The offense’s funk dissipated in the second half, as Georgia scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away, but there was something about the way things played out that made me realize more clearly than I had all season that there are major communication and trust issues between Fromm and his receiving corps.
I know there’s been a wholesale change at receiver, but we’re at game twelve now and things should be smoothing out. Instead, what I saw were several occasions when receivers ran the wrong routes or didn’t run their routes cleanly, much to Fromm’s notice.
I suspect that’s contributed to one thing I’ve criticized Fromm for this season, perhaps somewhat unfairly, that being him not going through his checkdowns thoroughly. That may be happening on occasion, but I also think there are times he’s making his pre-snap read with an eye not only on what the defense is giving him, but also which of his receivers he trusts.
The clearest example of that I can remember was an incompletion to Wolf on the left sideline when Fromm had Jackson open on the opposite side for a big gain, had he chosen to go that way. I simply don’t think Jake’s comfortable with Jackson at this point.
There were a number of completions when Fromm clearly went through his progressions. Woerner looked like his third read on the touchdown catch. He was patient with the beautiful throw to Blaylock on his touchdown.
I know there are whispers about something being physically wrong with Fromm, but that’s not what I saw out there. He’s still capable of making the throws, but he’s not comfortable with all his guys. And I don’t know how you fix a problem like that at this point in the season.
As far as the other number goes, Saturday marked the eleventh time in twelve games that Fromm didn’t throw an interception. Georgia is undefeated in those eleven games and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. They’re gonna need that from him again this Saturday.
Anyway, back to Coley for a second. I liked his game plan. He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t as stubborn, either. He dialed up a number of plays that did the trick on getting receivers open. (The play design on the Pickens touchdown was perfect.) He finally made an effort to get James Cook involved in the offense — Cook should be getting six touches in a game as a minimum. He didn’t let the Swift fumbles dictate becoming overly conservative.
The short version is that while I’m concerned about the passing game chemistry, I’m less worried about Coley than I’ve been. I just hope that what I watched wasn’t dictated by the quality of the opposition, at least not entirely. He’s going to have to be creative going forward to make up for what will be missing.
Special teams? Well, sometimes they were special. Camarda is getting close to being money — even his weaker efforts got good yardage due to fortuitous rolls and he absolutely nailed one punt that was downed on the two, instead of the old touchback special. Blaylock had some nice punt returns and White had a great heads up play on the pooched kick off that Tech didn’t sail high enough. Campbell’s recovery of the muffed punt was the perfect way to set the game scoring record, too.
But Blaylock had his own muffed punt that proved costly. The Dawgs whiffed on an onside kick recovery that I have to believe at least half the stadium saw coming. And Blankenship missed a field goal at the end of the first half. Yeah, that was one helluva second quarter for special teams.
Kirby wanted this game and coached like it. He was calling fourth quarter blitzes with the backups, for goodness sake.
All in all, a good win. I just left wondering if there was anything there in the aftermath to build on. We’ll soon see.
A common response to any hedging on Georgia’s 2019 season is often met by comments like this:
The cursed scourge of manball, unholy epidemic! 11-1, manball! Horrid manball! 35-6 in three seasons manball! You devil! You minx!
Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top, but you get the point. And you know what? It’s a fair rebuttal.
After all, this marks the third straight year Georgia has won eleven games, a program record. The embarrassing loss to South Carolina left no permanent mark, thanks to the team running the table on the respectably rugged schedule that followed. The Dawgs are right where they want to be at this moment, heading to the SECCG for the third straight year. A win there and it’s on to the CFP for the second time in three years.
Heady times, indeed. So why am I even a little apprehensive about what’s to come? I think it’s because there’s one substantial difference between this year’s Georgia team and its two immediate predecessors.
To illustrate, take a look at the current SP+ picture.
In those previous two years, what was striking about Smart’s team was how balanced it was across the board — never tops in any category, but never being outside the top ten in any category, either. As long as you could count on Georgia to play its game, it would never be out of any matchup because there was never an area of play where it would risk being outclassed.
This season paints a different portrait. The Dawgs rank first in defense and special teams, but the offense, at 29th, ranks far outside the top ten. Like it or not, there is some vulnerability there that is new. There are teams, like Clemson and Ohio State, about which it’s not easy to make the statement that Georgia merely has to play its game to stand on equal footing. LSU is a closer call, true, but even there, there are grounds for similar concern.
None of which is to say that the Dawgs face a hopeless situation starting Saturday. Far from it; when you’re tops in two of the three unit groups, you’re gonna show up and make a game of it, no matter the opposition.
But, 11-1 notwithstanding, ask yourself this question: if the offense doesn’t bring more than it has since the Notre Dame game, how far do you see Georgia’s postseason going?
If you’re looking for an introduction to the basics of LSU’s passing game and you can hold your nose for three minutes, Urban Meyer has a decent explanation.
One thing I’m really looking forward to watching over the next month is how many Alabama players make the business decision to sit out the most meaningless postseason any of them have faced in order to prepare for an NFL payday.
“Since when is determining to play or not play in your bowl game just about what the NFL needs to see?!? The NFL has known about these guys and their abilities for years. You play to go COMPETE in another game with your boys. And if you decide it’s not worth it..you skip,” Herbstreit tweeted Sunday.
Herbie knows the NFL doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a kid not playing in a bowl game. He’s just worried that Mickey’s going to have to feign excitement about an Alabama game that the team and its own fans won’t care about much.
That should be fun. Live by the football playoff, die by the football playoff, ESPN.
A lot of heads rolled across college football yesterday, among them Ole Miss’ Matt Luke, about whom the school president was promising a bright future at OM just a little over a week ago. Such is life when you spit the bit spectacularly at the Egg Bowl, I guess.
The move isn’t sitting well with many of Luke’s players, who are threatening a revolt over his dismissal. It’s not sounding like the usual discontent that comes from player loyalty, either.
After the meeting concluded, junior offensive lineman Chandler Tuitt said “half the team” is talking about leaving. Tuitt said if the entire coaching staff is dismissed along with Luke, he doesn’t think many players are going to stay with the team.
Carter told the players the decision was for the program.
“But you realize, there’s no program without players,” Tuitt said. “You’re basing stuff off the fans. But we don’t care about the fans that much. I’m going to be honest. We’re here for the coach. We love football. If you don’t want to support us, that’s just your fault.”
Boy, that’s a sure way to make yourself a fan favorite. Here’s another doozy of a quote:
“But that’s not the case with a lot of guys. A lot of guys came to school here because of coach Luke. They don’t have any ties to Ole Miss football. That’s what scares me is how are those guys going to respond to this?”
Makes you wonder what the hell they’re selling in Oxford. Or what the AD means when he says stuff like this to the quarterback:
“He said with the business side of it, he felt there needed to be a change,” Plumlee explained.
That’s a curious rationale, to say the least, considering the buyout the school will have to pay if the entire staff is dismissed is expected to run in the neighborhood of $12 million to $17 million. That’s a major chunk of change anywhere, but at a lesser conference school that’s already taken a financial hit from NCAA sanctions, that’s brutal. And that’s before you get to what you’ll have to shell out for the next Jimmy Sexton client who gets the job.
Then again, this is the SEC. “Business side” doesn’t mean what you and I think it means.