Daily Archives: January 20, 2020

TFW you can never have enough analysts

Smart adds another former offensive coordinator to his staff.

Dawgs247 has learned the Southern Miss offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner is expected to join the staff at Georgia and that would be officially on Monday.
This position is not exactly determined yet, but we are told likely an quality control/analyst type off-field role.

Buster Faulkner, a 15-year coaching veteran, joined the Southern Miss staff in February 2019. He spent the previous three years at Arkansas State as its offensive coordinator, including tight end duties the last two seasons…

With Faulkner joining the staff Georgia could have as many as five former offensive coordinators on their offensive staff this season. Shawn Watson, James Coley, Monken, and Matt Luke.

Gettin’ mighty crowded in that playcalling booth…

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UPDATE:  As we like to say here at the blog, “if” is doing a shit ton of heavy lifting in this tweet from Seth.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Kirby is getting himself some Coley insurance.

44 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

As the coaching staff turns

— “We are excited to add Todd to our staff,” Smart said in a statement. “He has a history of establishing explosive offenses at each and every stop in his impressive career in both the National Football League and at major college football programs.”

There’s that “e” word again.

I confess that I’m still wrapping my head around the concept that Kirby Smart has decided on a change to the offensive direction of his program.  (No, that’s not meant as a complaint.)  I don’t have any idea what’s coming, given both the change at the coordinator position and Fromm’s departure, so I can’t say with any certainty how extensive Smart’s commitment to change on that side of the ball is, at least not yet.

That isn’t to say that I don’t have a few final thoughts on what has already transpired.

The most striking thing is the speed and decisiveness with which Smart has operated.  Lest we forget, as late as the 11th, we had a common perception that James Coley would be Georgia’s offensive coordinator for the 2020 season.  Just ask Jamie Newman.

A few days later, 2021 five-star QB Brock Vandagriff is chilling with Todd Monken and coming back today with his family in tow.  That’s quick, especially by Georgia’s traditional standards.  (Just ask Willie Martinez.)

Yes, Smart was also quick to pull the trigger on Matt Luke, but that was a decision forced on him by necessity when Sam Pittman departed for Arkansas.  Monken’s arrival was, in effect, engineered by Smart.  Consider the timeline:

  • January 1:  Georgia wins the Sugar Bowl.
  • January 4:  Scott Fountain departs Athens to join Pittman’s staff.
  • January 11:  Newman, primarily recruited by Coley, announces his transfer to Georgia.
  • January 17:  Todd Monken is hired as Smart’s new offensive coordinator.

There are two decisions in there:  one, opening up a staff spot and two, choosing Monken to fill it.  I don’t know how long it took Smart to settle on the first one, but it appears it took him less than two weeks to bring Monken on board.  With the stakes, that’s… well, that’s fast and decisive.

As far as Monken goes, you’d have to think the Georgia job is a perfect move for him.  The shorter the time someone has to go through life with “Cleveland Browns’ 2019 offensive coordinator” as the last entry on the resume, the better.  Here, he’s walking into a situation with a team loaded with talent, and, best of all, a fairly low bar to clear.  All our expectations boil down to something pretty simple — tweak the offense sufficiently to help return Georgia to the college football playoffs.  Considering the Dawgs have fallen just short in the past two seasons, that’s not a huge reach.

The question to ponder is what happens should Monken pull that off.  A coordinator who’s able to make Georgia’s offense something more than functional and polish Jamie Newman’s game sufficiently to make him an attractive NFL draft option is a coach who’s going to be in demand.  And it’s clear that Monken has ambitions to be a head coach again.  If Georgia’s return to the playoffs is a when-not-if question, then you would think so is Monken’s future in that regard.  How quickly that transpires is what we don’t know.

Which brings us to James Coley.  I’d like to think that Smart’s already sat down with him and explained his reasoning for making the change and perhaps even sold him on patience.  You know, stick around for Monken’s inevitable departure, pick up a few tips on play design and play calling and return to the OC spot in a better place.  But I doubt it.  For one thing, Smart hasn’t even announced what Coley’s new role is yet.  For another, that sales pitch didn’t work with Justin Fields and I’m not convinced Kirby’s found a more convincing way to push it.

I don’t see any way to sugarcoat this from Coley’s perspective.  It has to be both disappointing and embarrassing, especially if there was a certain element of Coley following orders about how to deploy the offense last season.  I also don’t think Smart did Coley any favors putting an inexperienced Hartley in the booth as Coley’s wingman.  Is it enough to point out that Coley is being paid almost a million dollars a year to take the hit?  Maybe so, but human nature being what it is, I’m skeptical how much that mollifies Coley.  The question from here is how Smart manages the disappointment.

As for Smart himself, again, I’m more impressed by his willingness to challenge himself in how best to manage his program.  I don’t know how Monken works out, but at least we now have evidence that Smart is open-minded about how to achieve success.  And as I also pointed out last week, in hiring two former head coaches to round out his staff, he’s also shown that he’s comfortable with himself.  (Not to mention that in hiring Luke and Monken, both of whom will have an opportunity to rehabilitate their reputations after being fired from their last positions, Kirby’s following a certain process á la Tuscaloosa.)

That last paragraph, more than anything else in this post, is why I’m optimistic about where the program is headed from here.  What about you?

122 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Amateurism is what the NCAA says it is.

This year’s NCAA convention is meeting in California, of all places.  Expect plenty of whining like this:

“It’s plausible that some states that are considering various bills right now could act and have them go into effect even during 2020, and that of course would be very, very disruptive of college sports,” Emmert said. “We’ve got maybe over 30 states that have indicated an interest in or have dropped bills, whatever the number is, with varying implementation dates and varying models of what they think college sports should look like. They’re moving at a faster pace than Congress and a faster pace than can be done through the NCAA legislative process.”

Maybe if you didn’t wait until the states started moving to act, you wouldn’t have that problem.

Of course, that’s not really Mark’s problem.  This is:

“… At the same time…moving from a collegiate model of students to paying employees is utterly inconsistent with what universities and colleges want.”

That’s a fine attitude in a world where what college athletes want isn’t relevant.  Unfortunately for Emmert’s constituents, that’s no longer the world they operate in.  The question is what’s it going to take for them to realize that.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“But you don’t put up (his numbers) without significant talent.”

From a generally positive piece about Jamie Newman from a Wake Forest beat writer’s perspective, comes a couple of holes in his game:

“Newman is looking for a system that doesn’t put as much of an emphasis on designed quarterback runs,” O’Neill said. “I think he understands how valuable he is as a runner; he just doesn’t want that to be the best feature of his skill-set. His acclimation will come as a pocket passer who can also hurt teams by scrambling.”

If there’s any part of Newman’s game that needs work, it’s his “short-to-intermediate passing accuracy,” O’Neill said. It’s worth noting that Newman threw 11 INTs last season — 2nd-most in the ACC. (Fromm, by comparison, had 11 in 2018 and 2019 combined.)

“It’s not bad; it’s just not where it needs to be for him to be a 1st-round QB,” O’Neill said. “He struggles to read underneath coverages and it’s led to a few interceptions … In a different style of offense, he should improve in this aspect.”

No doubt some of the interceptions came because of the pressure on Newman to carry the Wake offense.  But struggling to read underneath coverages is a coaching issue as much as it is Newman’s.  We’re still waiting to hear how staff responsibilities shake out in the wake of the Monken hire.  Whoever winds up coaching quarterbacks will have his work cut out for him, no matter who wins the starting job.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“It’s exactly what Nick Saban has been saying.”

I don’t think this comes as any shock to a Georgia fan.

Attendance for the seven games run by the College Football Playoff dropped to an all-time low this postseason, halfway through the CFP’s initial contract that created the New Year’s Six games and the CFP National Championship. The attendance at those seven games were down a cumulative 42,500 fans or 8 percent from a playoff-era high in 2015.

That’s an average decline of 6,069 fans per game across the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Sugar Bowl and CFP National Championship. A sellout crowd of 76,885 Monday watched LSU defeat Clemson at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the title game. That brought the CFP attendance total to 492,220, down 3 percent from the previous season.

For the fourth consecutive year, four of the seven CFP games decreased in attendance from the previous season…

Georgia and Baylor drew only 55,211 in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl. That was down 16,238 from the previous year’s game, another non-semifinal when Texas beat Georgia. The Georgia-Baylor game was the eighth-lowest attended Sugar Bowl since it started in 1935. Three of the lowest-attended Sugar Bowls since the early days of the game in 1939 have come since 2013.

Naturally, Baghdad Bill says there’s nothing to worry about.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said the overall decline was not a concern.

“This is all best viewed in a game-by-game perspective,” Hancock told CBS Sports. “… Digging deeper into the game-by-game [attendance], the Sugar Bowl had a school with very small alumni base [Baylor] and Georgia had been to the Sugar Bowl last year.”

Overall bowl attendance is up, but then, so are the number of bowl games.  What the numbers suggest is that there is a hollowing out at the level just below the playoff games.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that suggests to Bill’s bosses.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football