Daily Archives: December 5, 2019

Looks like somebody threw away a perfectly good offensive strategy.

There is no statistic about Georgia’s offense this season that drives me crazier than this one.

For the love of Gawd, fellas, why do you do this to me?  Is it something I said?

37 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Kirby knows.

From Seth Emerson today ($$):

“I don’t know that the adage defense wins championships stands as much as it used to,” Smart said. “When you saw scores from the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s and you saw scores of games, it was indicative of defense, compared to now. Now, it’s like I got to play pretty good defense and I got to score a lot of points.”  [Emphasis added.]

Doesn’t mean he has to like it, though.

32 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Hunker down one more time.

Hear me out.  I know most everyone is laser-focused on whether Georgia’s offense will have enough of a pulse come Saturday to make a real game of it, but I grow more and more convinced that the key matchup will be on the other side of the ball.

To state the obvious, the Georgia defense/LSU offense collision is definitely a strength vs. strength deal.  Check out these advanced stats, in case you need further convincing.

Screenshot_2019-12-05 DawgStats on Twitter ChampStats from Dawg_Stats https t co 4Gtc3bsvk8 Epic Matchup when LSUfootball h[...]

Those stats are real, and they’re spectacular.

Bill Connelly’s SP+ calls for a final score of LSU 29, UGA 26.  My question boils down to whether Georgia can do something to shave that LSU tally south of 26 points.  Maybe, just maybe, that Dawg defense can.

It’s gonna be a daunting task, though.  It’s not just that the LSU offense is hell on wheels.  It’s also that it’s structured by nature to work away from Georgia’s greatest defensive strength, stopping the run.  The Tigers’ offense uses the pass to set up the run.  (With that quarterback and those receivers, who can blame them?)

Burrow will operate out of 4- and 5- receiver sets all game long.  Georgia will likely be forced to counter with its dime package for most of that.  That’s going to keep some key personnel off the field more than Smart and Lanning would like.

Fortunately, there is some depth at cornerback due to Tyson Campbell’s injury situation.  There’s also some additional talent that will have to be relied upon.  For example,

I don’t worry about the ability of Georgia’s defense to prevent the big play.  They’ve been doing that all season.  But what LSU does to attack the middle of the field with its passing game?  Yeah, I worry about that.  The Dawgs are going to have to make adjustments to take away the slant pass that has seemingly been a problem all year.

That’s all well and good, but it’s still not the matchup I referred to at the beginning of this post.  For that, take a look at this video of the SEC Network’s Marcus Spears.  It’s his take on what Georgia is capable of doing to limit Joe Burrow.  He’s bullish about that — and before you dismiss him, he reminds the viewer at the beginning of the clip that Smart dialed up some coverages that Tua had problems with in last year’s SECCG.  Kirby and Lanning may be challenged, but they won’t coach scared.

Anyway, as I watched the video in its entirety, I got to a conclusion I can’t shake.  This game is going to come down to what Georgia’s four-man front can do with LSU’s offensive line.  If the Dawgs can control the line of scrimmage with four, get pressure (with this defense, that doesn’t necessarily mean sacks), keep Burrow contained in the pocket and prevent Edwards-Helaire from having an unchallenged day on the ground, that will enable Smart and Lanning to mix all kind of looks behind them.  That should help greatly limit LSU’s mid-field passing game.

I may even be underestimating what Georgia will be able to do with pressure.  Keep in mind that sacks allowed aren’t something LSU avoids.  The Tigers are next to last in that stat in conference play.

I’m not saying this is a lock for Georgia.  Far from it.  I’m saying that I don’t see a path to victory if Kirby can’t get his defense to play well with a four-man front, because without that, I don’t see how LSU stays under thirty points.

In other words, it’s the trenches and in the SEC, that still means more.

28 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Nice legacy you got there.

How ’bout these apples?

That has the makings of a pretty good trivia question.

25 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Biting the bullet: reviewing my 2019 SEC preseason predictions

Once again, it’s accountability time.

I made my preseason picks bed and now I have to lie in it.

As always, schools are listed in the same order as they were in my preseason post, with this season’s won-loss totals.

[Ed. note:  Please read that last sentence again, carefully, before you blast me in the comments for not agreeing with the order of presentation.  You’ll save us both a lot of time.  Thanks!]

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  The most lather, rinse, repeat program in college football.  As I said in last year’s preview, if Alabama isn’t in the national title hunt when the Tide plays in the SECCG, it’ll be a complete shock.  A regular season loss would be a mild upset.
  • How I did:  Hi, there, complete shock.  Didn’t see you coming.
  • Final grade:  C-

LSU (12-0, 8-0)

  • What I said:  There’s an awful lot riding on the supposed change in offensive philosophy this season.  Color me unconvinced.  LSU is too talented to have a mediocre season, but the schedule and Orgeron have me thinking the Tigers are on their way to nine regular season wins in ‘nineteen.
  • How I did:  Um… I’m convinced now.
  • Final grade:  D+

TEXAS A&M (7-5, 4-4)

  • What I said:  Yeah, I think Jimbo can coach when he’s motivated.  But between that schedule, the wholesale losses on the defensive front and Trayveon Williams’ departure, the won-loss record will take a step back in 2019.  Seven wins is pushing it a little, but I think TAMU gets there.
  • How I did:  Nailed it.
  • Final grade:  A

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Mullen left Moorhead a stacked roster and that showed on defense.  But Fitzgerald was a poor fit for what Moorhead wanted to do offensively, and that showed, too.  This year’s roster looks more pedestrian, but presumably Moorhead will get more out of his offense.  The schedule is certainly manageable, so I can see an eight-win season coming.
  • How I did:  The defense slid as expected, but the offense never picked up the slack.
  • Final grade:  C-

AUBURN (9-3, 5-3)

  • What I said:  It’s one of those patented Auburn years — you know, when nobody’s expecting great things from the Tigers, so they outperform expectations.  That being said, for all their obvious strengths (and that defense is gonna be a real good one), they play six preseason top twelve teams and Gus is counting on a true freshman quarterback to run his offense.  I’ll say nine wins, maybe even ten if Gus finds his lucky rabbit’s foot again.
  • How I did:  Didn’t miss anything.
  • Final grade: A+

OLE MISS (4-8, 2-6)

  • What I said:  Hard to see this season being anything other than a long, hard slog.  The roster has been significantly weakened by sanctions and Ole Miss is making a radical change in scheme on offense.  The schedule isn’t awful, but I have a tough time coming up with more than four wins.
  • How I did:  While the offense was entertaining at times, 2019 played out pretty much as expected.  Just ask Matt Luke.
  • Final grade:  A

ARKANSAS (2-10, 0-8)

  • What I said:  This is year two of a massive rebuild project.  I think the Hogs will win three games this season, but only because the schedule is so soft.
  • How I did:  The record remained the same as it was the year before, but you could make an argument that Arkansas regressed.  Ugly season.
  • Final grade:  B

 

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  There’s a high ceiling on Georgia’s season because of the talent level.  The big question is whether Smart has the program ready to take the next big step, which is beating Alabama.  In the meantime, history and a formidable schedule suggest one regular season loss for the Dawgs.
  • How I did:  The journey may have been a little unanticipated, but the destination wound up in the same place.
  • Final grade:  A

KENTUCKY (7-5, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Stoops is a good coach, period, but no program like Kentucky survives the loss of its two best players unscathed.  Still, that schedule will somewhat ameliorate the drop.  Call it an eight-win regular season for the ‘Cats.
  • How I did:  No way to anticipate the quarterback injury situation, but Stoops did a good job with what he had.
  • Final grade:  B-

FLORIDA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  Mullen, to his credit, stabilized the program last season.  Like it or not, he’s a solid coach.  2019 looks like it’ll be dependent on team health in two key areas.  The ceiling appears to be a ten-win regular season; the floor, if injury luck and turnover margin go south, bowl eligibility.  I’ll sort of split the baby and say nine wins, for now.
  • How I did:  Mullen reached the ceiling, even with his second-string quarterback.
  • Final grade:  A-

MISSOURI (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Odom is another good coach who deserves more credit than he gets.  The schedule is favorable, to say the least, and I could see Mizzou rolling into Athens with a 7-1 record.  Plus, there’s more talent on this team than you might think.  That being said, you never know how a team reacts to postseason ineligibility.  Right now, I feel comfortable with a nine-win prediction.
  • How I did:  Between the quarterback situation and the way the NCAA jerked Mizzou around on sanctions, the season wound up falling off the table.  I recognized the possibility of the latter, but still…
  • Final grade:  C

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-8, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Muschamp has repaired the dumpster fire of a roster Spurrier left him with.  On offense, the big fix has to be getting Bentley to turn the ball over less; you’d have to think with his experience, that’s not an insurmountable task.  As you might expect with a Muschamp-coached team, the ‘Cocks have some good pieces on defense.  Man, oh, man, that schedule, though.  It’ll be a yeoman’s task to win eight games.  I’m thinking seven wins, and that would be a good year for SC.
  • How I did:  Boom went bust.
  • Final grade:  D-

VANDERBILT (3-9, 1-7)

  • What I said:  Vaughn is the most under the radar player in the conference.  Vandy has some nice pieces at wide receiver and tight end, but who’s going to step up at quarterback?  Overall, it looks like another typical Vanderbilt season coming up — five wins, maybe six if the ‘Dores can extend the winning streak against the Vols.
  • How I did:  There’s really no excuse for how bad Vandy’s offense was this season.  I’m a little surprised Mason kept his job.
  • Final grade:  D-

TENNESSEE (7-5, 5-3)

  • What I said:    UT will improve its won-loss record again, but when you’re in a conference where everything starts with line play, and your lines are the weakest part of your team, there’s only so far you can go.  The Vols will go bowling, but that’s about all.
  • How I did:  It’s not that I underestimated the Vols so much as I underestimated how weak much of the SEC East turned out to be.
  • Final grade:  A-

There you have it.  How do you think I did?

18 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

It’s complicated. And if it’s not, they’ll make it complicated.

College athletes, Gene Smith is here for you.

“We need to come up with a method to allow our student-athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness, make sure it’s something we can regulate, and make sure it’s something that’s not tied to athletic ability,” he said. “We don’t want to turn this into a pay-to-play model or a situation where they’re compensated for their athletic ability. We’re trying to find a way to keep it tethered to the educational process.

“It’s a complex issue, and we feel good about the direction we’re headed in. But the reality is we’ve got to work with the federal government to come up with a national law,” he said.

Though name, image and likeness attention tends to be focused on the fraction of top athletes who are destined for the pros, Smith said Olympic sport athletes stand to benefit significantly because many of them are on partial scholarships that cover between 15 and 30 percent of their college costs.

“Many of them leave with debt … so they’ll take advantage of this opportunity to hopefully reduce the debt they incur getting their education,” he said.

So… kids, feel free to bring in those dollars, as long as they find their way back to the schools in some form or fashion.  I figure Gene is just months away from putting together a company store proposal so kids will have an official NCAA-approved resource where they can take their hard-earned bucks — at a profit, of course.

At least at Ohio State, they’d be able to get their tats on campus.  Progress, of a sort.

(h/t)

9 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

“Georgia has won. But it has not provided much entertainment.”

Will Leitch has written 5,000 words — five thousand!  I can go days without writing five thousand words — about Georgia’s 2019 season.  While I could criticize some of it as a mite unfair, particularly trying to compare the ebb and flow of this season with that of that wonderful 2017 one, I’ve got to admit this bit resonates with me:

What this has set up is a high-stakes gamble, one in which a fanbase—one that is not necessarily known for its cold, rational behavior—is asked to be happy with winning, and winning only. In which much of what we think of when we think of cheering for a sports team (exciting play, inspirational individual story, an underdog “we can do this, guys!” aesthetic) is shelved for an implicit understanding that the people in charge have no one and nothing to answer to other than the scoreboard. You have seen it in the reaction to the crowd’s boos at the Kentucky game, the idea that fans somehow were booing the players rather than the millionaire coaches, something the staff surely knew wasn’t true but promoted anyway. You have seen it in the stubbornness and resistance to acknowledge basic truths that might be inconvenient, like when Smart continued to deny that he changed defenses with a lead late against Auburn even though the formation switch was obvious to everyone watching. You have seen it in the insistence that the offense is fine, that Jake Fromm is fine, that critics are mere haters, or gripers who just don’t understand what football really is.

The bet is that if they win, they do not need to be cheerful or inspirational.

Or fan friendly… but I digress.

Don’t take this too far.  I certainly haven’t.  But years and years of close, but no seegar eventually got Mark Richt unceremoniously canned.  Kirby’s a better organized, ‘crootin-machine coach than Richt was, but when his raison d’être being sold to a fanbase expected to shell out its devotion and money in ever-increasing levels is winning is all the entertainment we need and should expect and he can’t quite make it to the summit, where do you go from there?

I don’t say that to be critical of Smart — I’m happy as hell with what he’s done these last three seasons — but only to ask the same question Leitch is getting at:  how soulless do we want Georgia football to be?  (No, I’m not going to ask the question that question begs, because the answer to that one is more depressing than I want to contemplate this morning.)

34 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football