Daily Archives: December 6, 2019

The antidote to OMG!!1!

Matt Hinton, in his excellent SECCG preview, reminds of something about last year’s UGA-Alabama face off:

Like LSU this year, Alabama last year arrived in Atlanta unbeaten and essentially unchallenged, with a transformative offense whose combination of raw talent and downfield audacity had seemingly hacked the system. Instead of a coronation, though, the Tide were forced to eke out an ugly win that left their star QB hobbled and the rest of the team looking vulnerable for the first time, foreshadowing their exposure vs. Clemson in the national title game. Even in a win, just how closely LSU resembles its usual, prolific self will have implications well beyond this weekend.

In other words, this isn’t Kirby Smart’s first rodeo.  As Matt notes there, enough of what he did to slow Alabama’s offense was on point that Clemson borrowed from it in the championship game.  He’s going to have some answers to that daunting LSU attack.

He’s got plenty of tools at his disposal for that, too.

The Bulldogs obviously have the athletes up front to penetrate and disrupt plays in the backfield, but the mentality is more akin to building a wall along the line of scrimmage: Occupying gaps, setting edges, shedding blocks, pursuing as a team, etc. The middle linebackers, Monty Rice and Tae Crowder, are the leading tacklers, but there are no real headliners and virtually no end to the number of bodies UGA is able to rotate in without suffering a significant drop off — 17 players have started at least 1 game this season and 22 have been credited with double-digit tackles.

More important, there are no apparent weak links. It’s as fundamentally sound a unit as any in the country, and if it can keep Burrow in predictable passing situations the deep well of edge-rushing talent could give him more problems in the pocket than the pedestrian sack numbers suggest. Outside ‘backers Azeez Ojulari, Malik Herring, Nolan Smith, Adam Anderson and Quay Walker are all former top-200 recruits who have been credited with at least 8 QB hurries apiece.

Can Georgia make it a line of scrimmage game?  If so, I like the Dawgs’ chances.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Run, Georgia.

Gary Danielson, somewhat surprisingly, doesn’t think Jake Fromm is the key for Georgia’s offensive hopes tomorrow.

“There’s one player that has to have a good game for Georgia, and that’s D’Andre Swift,” Danielson said. “I don’t see how Georgia can stay in this game without the breakaway abilities of Swift. He’s the real deal. I think Swift is the key to the game. 

“Jake Fromm is going to show up fine. Their receivers are going to be what they are – they’re not game-breakers yet. D’Andre Swift has to be a difference-maker in this game.”

Josh describes what difference making has to look like.

On the other side of the ball, UGA’s offense tries to get back on track against a defense that can give up yards on the ground. In SEC games, LSU is allowing over five yards per carry. In addition to that. Using secstatcat.com, I was able to filter out their opponents inside runs and discovered that the Tigers are allowing over six yards per carry on these runs.

If you’ve read any of my posts of late, you know that these runs are UGA’s bread and butter, but have not been productive of late. But, on UGA’s 20 TD (against Power 5/non-GT) scoring drives, UGA ran the ball 2:1 with 75 of the 103 runs using inside zone or inside zone reads that averaged 4.9 YPA.

There it is, when the Dawgs run the ball in the middle with success they score.

So, don’t wince when they try that.  😉


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Dog eat dog.

You had to wonder when the schools and NCAA would start treating coaches the way they treat college athletes.

At least coaches can hire agents to negotiate their contracts, though.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Somebody knows what I’m talking about.

Brent Rollins gets it, dammit.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written this season, you hopefully see what is glaringly obvious about the above three plays. Play-action. Georgia will have to take chances and try to create explosive plays on early downs, especially in plus territory. Over the last two games, the Bulldogs have used play-action on 34 percent of their passing plays (44th-most in the FBS in the two weeks). This is a stark contrast from the percentages in the low 20s we saw prior to this game. Also, LSU is prone to allowing explosive plays in the passing game, as they are 89th in the FBS in percentage of explosive pass plays allowed. If Fromm plays the way he can from an accuracy standpoint, increasing the use of play-action will only help this offense Saturday, especially for the three to four shot plays they’ll inevitably take during the game.

No shit.  Gotta do it.  Call ’em, Coley.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Loss of control is out of control.

Surprise, surprise.

Expect exploitation of college football’s redshirt rule to be a topic of conversation the next time college football’s rules committee gets together.

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons is the current chair of the NCAA Division I Football oversight committee, and a recent rule change meant to benefit athletes will be getting additional scrutiny when the committee meets in January.

What do you want to talk about, Shane?

But now that some veteran players are using the rule as a loophole — playing four games before sitting the remainder of the year so they can transfer — Lyons said the oversight committee with revisit the topic.

“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons said in an appearance on MetroNews Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.

“In my role, I’m worried about the 120 guys in the locker room, not just the one individual. In a lot of cases, the one individual is getting a lot of publicity for not playing any further. A lot of that erodes what you’re trying to do in the locker room to build a team. And they’re the ones making a decision rather than a coach determining the playing time of a student-athlete.

“It’s something the committee will look at in their January meeting to make any adjustments as necessary.”

Cool, man.  Now do coaches.



Filed under The NCAA

Q&A-ing with the (not so much) enemy

This is one helluva stat.

This, remarkably, will be the tenth consecutive meeting between the teams in which both are ranked. The lowest Georgia has ever been ranked coming into a game against LSU is #18. #13 for LSU.

And, yet, there’s surprisingly little rancor between the two fan bases.  As Poseur writes, “Even then, it’s hard to find an LSU fan nursing a grudge against Georgia or vice versa.”  (It  helps that both sides share passionate dislikes of Auburn and Florida.)  Hell, I was rooting for the Tigers to beat ‘Bama and if they wind up as SEC champs, I’ll certainly be hoping they spoil Dabo’s mood.

Anyway, as we’ve done in the past, GTP and And The Valley Shook! have swapped Q&As in anticipation of tomorrow’s meeting.  I did two of ’em over there, one straight and one tongue and cheeky.  Here’s what ATVS’ Zach Junda had to say in response to my curiosity:

1.       I can’t even begin to tell you how jealous I am of the LSU offense’s prowess this season.  How in the world did Orgeron become convinced to ditch the Tigers’ traditional approach and bring in Brady to rework everything (especially considering how poorly the Canada experiment went)?

I know right! We can’t believe it either. Orgeron deserves all the credit in the world. He hired Canada, saw it wasn’t working and pulled the plug immediately. He saw that the Ensminger offense wasn’t good enough to beat Alabama and went out and gambled on a 30-year old wunderkind. O said in the press conference when he was officially named coach at LSU he was going to run a spread offense and hire the best minds in the game. It took some time and some experimenting but he kept his word.

2.       If I could only bring one thing to an LSU tailgate that would be guaranteed to impress everyone, what would it be?

I’d say bring something that would unite Georgia and LSU. And what do the those two fan bases hate? The Florida Gators. Who have those teams both beaten this year? The Florida Gators. The solution would be bring some fried alligator, it makes for a wonderful appetizer and olive branch.

3.       Is it just me, or does Grant Delpit’s game seem a little off this season?  How banged up is he now?

It’s not just you. He’s a Thorpe Award finalist which is surprising, frankly. Maybe it’s a makeup for the Thorpe award he should’ve won last season. Anyway, there’s a few reasons why Delpit hasn’t looked like the Delpit we saw in 2018. John Battle graduating means he’s had to play more of a centerfielder role and get the other DBs lined up. He’s best suited as an in the box, attacking safety. Battle gave him that freedom; losing that changed his game. Then there was the ankle sprain he suffered late against Auburn. It was most noticeable against Ole Miss. I lost count of the number of times John Rhys Plumlee blew past him. He was basically playing on one leg that night and it showed.

But things have started to turn in his favor in recent weeks. He took the week off against Arkansas and looked healthy against Texas A&M. And the emergence of true freshman safety Maurice Hampton Jr. has really helped out the secondary as a whole and Delpit specifically. Hampton is a two-sport star and will be playing baseball for the Tigers come spring. He’ll man the outfield so on the gridiron he’s literally playing center field. That LSU has a second coming of John Battle has allowed Delpit to look like…well, Delpit.

4.       Honestly, this is a balanced looking LSU defense to me – 4th in the conference in defensive yards per rush and 5th in defensive passer rating.  If you had to point to the area of greatest concern, considering what Georgia prefers to do on offense, what would that be?

I’m concerned Georgia is going to lean into the strength that is their offensive line and try and wear down LSU with its running game. Texas had 121 yards on the ground; Vanderbilt got 145; Florida, Miss State, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas all eclipsed 100 yards. This is a run defense that can be had. And remember, Georgia was having its way with LSU in Baton Rouge before inexplicably abandoning the running game early. The question will be, can the LSU offense get out to a big enough lead that Georgia has to abandon the run.

5.       Tell the truth – would beating the Dawgs this Saturday mean as much as beating Alabama did?

No, absolutely not. For one, I think it helps that LSU not only beat Georgia just last season, but they beat them pretty soundly. And for another…I mean those guys have just been making the entire state miserable for about a decade. Alabama spoiled what would have been the greatest season in school history in 2011, kept LSU from possibly winning a second straight championship in 2012, ruined Leonard Fournette’s Heisman hopes in 2015 and shut out the Tigers in consecutive home games in 2017 and 19. That win was a long time coming and in a way, nearly washed away all the bitter disappointments suffered for eight long years.

6.       One statistical area where I’m a little surprised is in sacks allowed, as LSU’s offensive line has given up three times as many sacks as has Georgia’s.  Where’s the vulnerability, since Burrow poses something of a run threat?

So the offensive line play has been up and down, with probably more ups than downs but the downs have been real stinkers. In the opener against Georgia Southern, LSU could only average 3.7 yards a carry against a Sun Belt team. Against Texas it was 3.5. Burrow also got sacked five times against Alabama. But the good performances have been really, really good. Burrow wasn’t sacked once against Florida, I don’t think the Gators even registered a pressure. And against Arkansas, Clyde Edwards-Helaire got 181 yards on SIX rushes. So the quality of the line depends on who LSU’s got up front. In the games that the line has been strong were the ones where left tackle Saahdiq Charles wasn’t withheld for a “coach’s decision.” With Charles hopefully back for the year, it lets Adrian Magee slide back into his natural left guard position. Add in Austin Deculus getting healthy again and manning the right tackle spot we should see the best yet of the offensive line.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

“It has been downright dull in all honesty.”

David Ching points out that, at least in one aspect, this has been an unusual season.

Since the CFP launched in 2014, the selection committee’s weekly rankings have been known for two things: their volatility and their remarkably unreliable projection of the eventual playoff participants.

In 26 sets of weekly rankings released between the 2014 and 2018 seasons, only once did the committee’s top four include each of the teams that would participate in that season’s playoffs. Late in the 2016 season, the committee listed Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington – the eventual semifinalists – as its top four in both the second-to-last set of rankings and on Selection Sunday.

But that’s it. That’s the only time.

Otherwise, the top of the rankings changed in some way nearly every week. Just six times in 26 opportunities between 2014 and 2018 did the top four remain exactly the same from one week to the next. And just eight times did the same top four teams carry over from any one week to the next, regardless of their order.

In addition, the committee never had the same top four for more than two consecutive weeks in any previous season. So when the identical four teams – Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Georgia – comprised the committee’s top four for the last month straight, we entered into uncharted territory.

That means Georgia wins tomorrow, amirite?  I mean, if the 2019 CFP race is all about lack of drama, there’s no team exemplifying that better than the Dawgs.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Well, if you’re looking for a stat to hang your hat on…

This one ain’t half bad.

And here’s the thing — Georgia has to play great defense because of the way its offense is built.  And vice versa.

“You’ve got to play good football to win, period,” Smart said. “I don’t know that the adage ‘defense wins championships’ stands up as much as it used to. When you saw scores from the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s, 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. I can’t play horrific defense. I can’t play bad defense, but I might not have to be perfect,’ is the way a lot of teams have had success. They probably take more chances and risk and they just score tons of points.

“An explosive offense allows you to play a certain way on defense too, because you know that you’re going to score a certain amount of points. Sometimes that changes things. But you go over the history of the last 10 years, there’s still been some really good defenses that have won national championships. The Alabama ones, the Clemson ones. A lot of them get overshadowed by really good offenses, but there’s been some good defenses winning.”

“Right now, it’s hard to argue with the success that Kirby’s had,” said former Bulldogs quarterback Eric Zeier, who works as an analyst on the school’s radio network. “I think what would dictate change would be how we perform in a game like the one we have coming up on Saturday. I will say this: The style of offense you play can dictate how you look and how you feel on the defensive side of the ball, as well. At Georgia, you’re practicing against big and physical teams constantly. When you start to spread it out and open things up, that’s what you see every day. It’s a little bit different mentality, and I think it affects how your team functions and what its identity is.”

Call it an impose your will question, if you like, but tomorrow’s game comes down to which team can take the other out of its comfort zone.  Can Georgia’s offense chase Joe Burrow and Company if the Dawg defense can’t slow them down?  Can LSU’s offense prevail in a real slugfest if both of Georgia’s lines control the action?  Stay tuned.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!