“If you have better players, you want to play as many plays as possible.”

If you’re posing the question which team is most likely to follow in LSU’s footsteps in the coming season by making a leap due to a change in offensive philosophy, it’s not hard to think of Georgia.  But that means you have to think about Kirby Smart.

“Nick Saban basically admitted this on the broadcast…Talking about the RPO and spread and how it’s really kind of just changed the game. He’s basically said that if you aren’t hip with the times that you just aren’t going to be able to have the explosive play rate of these other offenses. I think that if you’re a team that can recruit elite players, you almost have to run this. Because think about it — if you’re running a ton of plays — it increases the sample size. If you have better players, the more plays you are going to run. There’s better chance the talent is going to run to the top instead of shrinking in the game and kind of putting it in the chance whether you get turnovers or you’re worried about field position.”

If you’re recruiting at a better clip than almost every team on your schedule (remember, Alabama’s on the program this season), what’s the best way to use that to your advantage?  Manball says, play like an anaconda, slowly squeezing the life out of the other team by subjecting them to a physical pounding on both sides of the ball and play slowly to limit the number of opportunities each offense has, thus putting more pressure on the opponent to play each series efficiently.

Saban says college football is now in an era where explosive plays have a greater impact, making manball a less effective approach.  Is he right?  Well, neither he nor Kirby made an appearance in this year’s playoffs, but the four teams that did certainly had more explosive offenses than did Georgia.

I don’t presume to know if that’s enough to sway Smart, but I do wonder if something else may matter to him.  “… if you’re running a ton of plays — it increases the sample size” also means that your offensive players have the opportunity to play more.  Forget about the way that also puts pressure on the opponent and ask yourself what sells on the recruiting trail.  I’ve got a feeling that telling some star receiving recruit or a quarterback that you’re running 75 plays on offense instead of 65 might make a difference these days.  Does Smart?


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

56 responses to ““If you have better players, you want to play as many plays as possible.”

  1. Bigshot

    I’m thinking Kirby has learned his lesson. Why else would he go out and get a QB who could run that system. Am I right? Please tell me I’m right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 81Dog

    It’s like this: if you play 3 holes with tiger woods, you have a better chance to beat him than if you play 36 holes.

    You see this is basketball all the time. Less talented teams try to slow the game down. More talented teams want to speed it up. Talent improves your chance of winning over time. Less time improves your chance if winning if you’re less talented.


    • 81, you hit on exactly how we lost to South Carolina. We bled the clock, generated yards, but didn’t score points. We really had 7 turnovers in that game (4 turnovers, 2 missed FGs, and 1 turnover on downs). One of those turnovers was a pick 6. If you’re going to play that way, you better put points on the board when you get into scoring position.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Minnesota Dawg

      Exactly so. I’ve been harping on this for years. Deliberate-paced, ball control, field position ball is fine…most of the time. However, when you have that off-game (lose turnover battle, miss FGs, big 3rd down misses, blown calls), then you can get into BIG trouble…even against a much less talented team. As pointed out, this was UGA v. USC in a nutshell.

      UGA’s offensive style actually plays into the hands of less-talented underdogs, because the Dawgs’ self-imposed limited possessions mean that they HAVE to be efficient and leave themselves vulnerable to close games/losses based upon a handful of “bad plays.” It’s interesting to compare Kirby’s approach to someone like Spurrier…or even LSU this year. Offensively, those teams struck early and often through the passing game and big plays, then later attacked offensively through a tough ground attack. Using this approach, those teams demoralized the other team early, took the opponents out of their gameplan, AND physically dominated them with superior, deeper talent later in games.

      Georgia’s (Kirby’s) offensive approach makes more sense in the NFL….where a few losses to less talented teams (because of weird game events) is not going to hurt you. You’re still in the playoffs. In college ball, however, one bad loss can tank an otherwise championship season.


      • Although I think this is a valid point, I disagree. The conservatism on offense by Kirby is the same as betting on your defense, which is where our true talent advantage is. You’ve got a great punter and the best placekicker in the country. Ball control football with an elite defense and an elite place-kicker is not a bad formula. Obviously, LSU exposed the flaws in that approach, but they exposed the flaws in everyone else’s approach, too.


        • Minnesota Dawg

          “Betting on your defense”….I hear that said, but not sure I think it’s true. The defense didn’t fail Georgia against South Carolina. The defense “won” the bet, but the team still lost. The Carolina loss resulted from the failure of a conservative offense to be both efficient and to avoid turnovers.

          In fact, we came very close to losing several games in which the defense played very well AND we won the turnover battle (ND, Auburn, and A&M). Yes, if you have a conservative, inefficient offense then you will necessarily rely (rather than “betting on”) on your defense to be great all the time…but that’s a risky necessity when it shouldn’t have to be against overmatched competition.


  3. I think Kirby learned a lesson this year (or I hope he did). He wants what Alabama has: a more finesse-based offense with a line of scrimmage that can grind you into the dirt. He also wants a defense that does play like an anaconda and just suffocates the life out of offenses. The question is can you find the balance in good-on-good practices that allow both of those to develop.

    At the end of the day, he is who he is. He understands to win consistently you have to be able to run and stop the run. I have a feeling he would love to have the defense he has built combined with an offense that runs for 180-200 YPG (2,400 yards) and passes for 250-275 (3,300).

    He does that and we’ll be happy very soon.


    • Damn ee….that’s a shit pot load of offense right there, cause you know there are some dc’s out there with 8 in the box just waitin on UGA to show up


      • DIW, I know you’re being a bit tongue in cheek with your comment, but in reality, the high end of the range (475 per game) would only rank #11 in this year’s total offense rankings. The low end (430 yards) would be #45, where FU was ranked. This whole thing is about getting the offense where it was the last 2 years (2018 – 466 YPG – 18th and 2017 – 435 YPG – 32nd).

        The real issue is that we dropped from 35 to 30 PPG.


    • Classic City Canine

      You don’t have to run/stop the run first anymore to win. That’s outdated thinking and I hope Kirby gets that out of his brain.


      • Derek

        One team won without running the ball so no teams need to run the ball.

        After all its easier to have a Burrow, Chase, Jefferson and Moss than to do what every other fucking championship team has done ever and rtdb.

        Liked by 1 person

        • This concept that running the ball and defending the run isn’t necessary for success is a bunch of BS. Here are the stats for the 4 playoff teams (sacks included as rushing yards) – rushing offense and rushing defense:

          LSU 2,502 (167 per game) 1,812 (120 per game)
          Clemson 3,606 (240 per game) 1,741 (116 per game)
          Ohio State 3,735 (266 per game) 1,452 (103 per game)
          Oklahoma 3,363 (240 per game) 1,877 (134 per game)

          Can you use the passing game to set up the run? Sure, but you better be a threat to run the ball to win and to stop the run to win.


          • Down Island Way

            With those championship D’s, came an offense that (use lsu) built a big lead, the opposition threw the game plan out the window and started passing everything in an attempt to narrow the score, hence making the rush defense #’s look skewed, not that the d didn’t forced the issue, the offense forced the opposition


            • Not sure I agree with that based on the statistics. On a per rush basis, here are the numbers:

              LSU 3.72 YPA (30th in FBS)
              Clemson 3.24 (13)
              Ohio State 2.98 (6)
              Oklahoma 4.09 (49)

              Ohio State & Clemson clearly could defend the run. LSU’s rush defense was sufficient (I actually thought we should have probed their front 7 more than we did early). Oklahoma’s run defense was suspect as we would imagine.

              There are 2 ways to stop/slow down the run and make an offense one dimensional … the Georgia way by the defense taking away the ability to run or the LSU way by the offense forcing the opponent to abandon the run. Over the long run, the Georgia way is a better way to do it year in and year out.


      • LSU’s running game was key to their success. It was Burrow making plays with his legs when plays broke down. Edwards-Helaire had 1,400 yards rushing. They combined for over 1,700 yards rushing (and that includes 34 sacks for -211 yards for Burrow). I didn’t say you have to run & stop the run first, but if you can’t run or stop the run, you typically lose.


        • Derek

          One reality is that LSU is the first team to pass more frequently than run and win a natty since BYU did it in 1983 while not playing anybody that won 7 games. (I haven’t looked but I be shocked if there was a third team to do this.). Running the ball and playing defense has always been the key to being in a position to play for championships. LSU flipped the script.

          Another reality is that no quarterback focused passing offense had ever won every game on their schedule. Typically, and we saw this a lot under CMR, when you live and die by the qb, he’s going to have a bad week along the way no matter how good he is. For example, none of Spurriers teams went undefeated. Run first and balanced offenses with great defenses have won almost every SEC and national title as undefeated teams.

          A third reality is that the chances of having a grad transfer qb for 2 years who has no classes to attend and is focused on just football and has a great set of receivers is difficult to replicate. LSU is a unicorn. We have not seen this before and we’re unlikely to see it again.

          The idea that LSU circa 2019 is something that other teams can mirror is as off base as suggesting that because Butch Harmon coached Tiger Woods that he could replicate that performance with a series of other golfers. Not gonna happen.

          I do think that the protections that are afforded QB’s has changed the game to where those who can get out of the pocket and make plays are huge. It used to be that you wanted a big, tall pocket passer because near death awaited any qb dumb enough to take his chances. That’s changed. And its changed the game.

          Athletic qbs and pace are the trends going forward in my view but I don’t think there are many 6,000 yard passers winning sec and national championship trophies in our future.

          Physicality has been the main characteristic of championship teams throughout history and we’ll settle back into that historical trend.

          Rtdb. Stop the run. Throw efficiently but not exclusively. That is your winning football formula.

          Liked by 4 people

          • David H.

            I’m not disagreeing with your overall premise, but just to correct your first sentence; it’s more common than you think:

            Miami, 1989: 42.3 passing attempts per game, 39.4 rushing attempts per game

            Miami, 1991: 36.0 passing attempts per game, 33.8 rushing attempts per game

            Florida State, 1999: 38.2 passing attempts per game, 35.7 rushing attempts per game

            Oklahoma, 2000: 37.5 Passing attempts per game, 34.5 rushing attempts per game.

            Clemson, 2016: 41.9 passing attempts per game, 39.3 rushing attempts per game.

            Source: https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb


      • Tony Barnfart

        You absolutely have to be able to run the ball and stop the run. I think the new language we recently called “balance” coaches now call for “stressing the defense” or “attacking all areas of the field”.

        If any one area of the attack is neglected or totally ineffective, it (almost mathematically) stands to reason that a defense is going to have an easier time defending the now more limited ways you ARE choosing to attack. That’s where you get the feeling of banging your head against the wall.


      • Will (the other one)

        It’s going to be an interesting chess match. Clemson didn’t try to stop the run at all, and threw out a 3-1-7 defense to limit the pass as much as possible. It worked for a quarter. A great QB with a great passing system in place cannot be totally shut down by any defense in CFB right now. Meanwhile you’d have to go back to 2012 Bama to find a run-first team without a mobile QB who won it all.


        • Derek

          The insane thing is that you throw 7 dbs at them and they don’t ck to run. Just keep chucking it with success. I just don’t think that’s replicable. I really don’t think there are many qbs that can face that number of fronts, coverages, changing the picture, everything that could be thrown at them and they kept on.

          We played GREAT defense and they scored a td on their opening drive. Its just unreal what they did.

          When you give Smart and Venables and Saban the rosters they have and the best they can do is be a speed bump on the way to a TD you’re watching something special.

          Most mortal qbs would melt at what was thrown at that guy. The offense would go into balance and simplify. Not them.

          Tua is a bad m-fer with a fleet of receivers and we neutered him in the seccg.

          Burrow and co.? Not so much.

          Don’t hold your breath thinking that performance is a trend. Its singular.


        • Sure, but we were one play away in 2017. And we beat one of those pass-oriented teams in the Rose Bowl to get there. It’s not like the game has changed so much in two years. Otherwise Mike Leach would have a natty by now. Your average Oklahoma fan might tell you the offense and the passing game will get you only so far.


  4. Remember when running backs had to get “lathered up”?


    • Derek

      It helps a guy like Derrick Henry to have a high pitch count thats for sure.


    • The Dawg abides

      That bothered me a bit this year with our apparent obsession on rotating players, and watching OSU run Dobbins 30 times in the crucial games, and LSU and Clemson rely almost exclusively on CEH and Ettiene during crunch time. You ride your best horse when it matters.


  5. Macallanlover

    I can understand all the “Kirby is stubborn” comments over the past year plus, just cannot buy into the “Kirby will never make a change” due to being stubborn. The man isn’t dumb, and he can read the recruiting trail/bad PR as well as anyone. If there has ever been a season to hit him squarely between the eyes that football has changed, it was this one. Explosive plays by all the big boys were too numerous for them to all make the highlights on every single Saturday. We will see a significant tweak this season, and that is all that is required, imo. Book it Dano!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mayor

    Go fast works only if you make first downs. Go fast blows up in the O’s face if the D stuffs them.


  7. I’m all for a dynamic, fun, offense but not at the expense of emphasizing playing great defense. Didn’t Alabama have their worst season in a long time with a relatively crappy defense? I am not saying there is a direct correlation but I’ve seen over the years great scoring teams with weak defenses. Example – Bama 2019, Big 12 conference each season. Hell, even during the Murray/Bobo years we could score 40 a game but couldn’t stop anyone if we really had to.

    I’m for improving our offense by getting better receivers than this year. The play calling I thought sucked first half of the season but was better in the Florida game and late in the season. Maybe Coley has learned.


    • Ohio State and Clemson did alright defensively this past season.


    • Russ

      Bama had some injuries on defense making them play kids before they were ready. Which will help them next season, unfortunately.


      • I am not a stats guy so let me ask those who are- which unit was worse this year- bama D or Dawgs O.
        Bama had some injures and we kicked our best receiver off of team and Cager couldn’t stay healthy .


        • ASEF

          Bama had 4 true freshman starters in the front 7 and 2 more playing back up. Both ILBs. Catching one of those guys in coverage was pretty much an automatic first down.

          They still ended up a SP+ Top 10 unit (opponent and pace adjusted stats).


  8. “Sen”tax is the written version of Manball. It’s taking the same word over and over and trying to makes sentences more interesting (or get more clicks?).


  9. RangerRuss

    You don’t see me writing much analysis here because there are too many doing a better job than I and anything I have to say would simply be repetitive.
    However, at the risk of being redundant I’ll say this. Coach Smart knows what he’s doing. He recognized the shortcomings of the passing game, schemed around it and did a damn good job. If Spec hits one of his missed field goals the Dawgs beat SC but still end up 12-2 or, at best,13-2 with the inevitable second loss to LSU barring a huge upset. That’s the reality to which I’ve come to terms. Of course there are those who will find this not to their satisfaction. There are therapy groups for those negative folks that meet every day at the bar at 5.
    It seems Kirby is doing everything possible to address his team’s deficiencies. Recruits know this as he’s still recruiting at a level previously unknown at UGA. I have faith in the Man but am a bit skeptical that he’ll solve those issues before September. I’ll still support our head coach, root for the Dawgs and continue reading GTP and making smartass comments. We should all pile on the negative vibe merchants and give them the attention they crave as their mom’s are too busy in i84’s basement.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. ASEF

    An offense that wants to compete for a championship has to be able to run and pass against elite defenses. Both.

    A defense that wants to compete for a championship has to be able to defend the run and pass at an elite level. Both.

    No one is asking Kirby to abandon the run. But the offense has to take advantage of college rules that make offenses literally impossible to stop if the talent levels are equivalent. You’re hoping to slow them down more than they are slowing you down in those games. And if we’re deliberately slowing ourselves down, we’re kind of playing into the opponents hands during those 2 games where the competition is elite – like a SEC championship or a playoff game.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would point to Oct.4,2014 as being the day that Nick Saban’s opinion on offensive philosophy began to change/evolve. If one studies the game film of Alabama vs Ole Miss that day and compared that to just about any Bama game the past two seasons you would see a lot of similarities (and the reason Saban wanted to add Freeze to his staff two years ago). Personal errors aside Freeze is an astute offensive mind and play caller. Unlike Malzahn who gets stuck on HUNH Freeze understood that going toe to toe with Bama for four quarters through uptempo snaps would bring disaster in the fourth quarter. Freeze utilization of no huddle was to force Bama personnel changes & alignments, use clock and then signal offensive plays late and pick the spots for explosive shots. I would challenge that by watching 14’ Ole Miss & 18-19’ Bama Offenses’ one could flip the uni’s and not distinguish much difference.
    As an example of the disaster that uptempo/more plays can reek on the balance of both sides of the ball just watch the disaster that OleMiss experienced once Longo started calling the plays (and attrition from probation didn’t help either). Speed/volume put the depleted defensive side (and poor coaching from McGriff) on the field too much.


  12. duronimo

    Fact is, for all the talk of beating your opponent into submission, there’s much less testosterone involved in man-ball we actually see. Kirby plays the clock, not the other team. He is constantly trying to minimize the chances of losing. Obviously that’s fear based … the opposite of being aggressive. That said, I’m a big supporter. We’re lucky to have him at UGA.


  13. The Dawg abides

    My problem with this year’s offense is that it seemed to be a tweener. It seemed manball was the preferred approach, but we stayed mostly in 11 personnel while trying to execute said manball. We stayed with this formation while failing to use it’s features. Unimaginative, predictable inside zone runs right into a clogged line, underuse of play action, laughable faux read option plays, and few RPO’s.
    If this was Kirby’s offensive philosophy, then I wish he would’ve just gone all in on manball like Wisconsin and Stanford. I-formation, qb under center, some two TE sets, lots of motion, creative blocking schemes like pull and pin, and take shots down field with lots of play action.
    Not saying I prefer that style of offense, but it would’ve meshed better with what Kirby obviously wanted to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Minnesota Dawg

      Completely agree. I generally dislike the overused “don’t have an identity” remark as a criticism for an inept offense. But, in Georgia’s case, I think it is fitting.


  14. While I agree that RPO is the current fad, I don’t think it’s a game changer like the forward pass. Pro style isn’t gonna die anytime soon. I believe it’s being way undersold that LSU has elite players all over that offense.

    Of course the scheme change made a huge difference but I don’t see teams with less talent making that kind of jump. You still have to have talent that can’t make use of the advantages a certain offense can provide. I don’t think our offense struggled for lack of RPO but more for the fact that


  15. UGA '97

    recall a shared a tweet from bill connelly about the importance of explosive plays. from that to coley’s ears!