If there’s a cat in the bag, when will Kirby let it out?

In yesterday’s post about Smart not having to address a question about how much autonomy is being granted to Todd Monken to run the offense, I had a commenter state that Orgeron kept his offensive changes last season under wraps, too.

That’s actually not the case.  LSU’s head coach was talking about the playbook being opened up before the spring game.

Orgeron said Thursday (March 7) it’s a “new offense” in 2019 that will see LSU spread the ball around more and use different formations.

That was also the plan in 2018, and LSU spread the ball the most it has in years, but injuries and pass protection issues limited its ability to fully commit to it. Mix a healthier, more experienced offense with the addition of Brady, and there will be more changes.

“We’re implementing the run-pass options that Joe brought in,” Orgeron said. “We’re implementing the Saints’ passing game that Joe brought in.”

He said it.  It’s just that nobody believed him at the time.

Now, I don’t believe Kirby Smart is going to be nearly that open this spring, but I also wonder how long they can keep changes to the offensive playbook — assuming there are any, of course — hidden from view.  When you’ve only got about 40 practices to implement a new design, that’s not a huge amount of reps to use to get your players ready, especially when you’re breaking in a new starting quarterback.  You almost have to show some of your hand in the spring game, don’t you?


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

43 responses to “If there’s a cat in the bag, when will Kirby let it out?

  1. Normaltown Mike

    Hold G-Day in the Indoor facility and only players and staff?


  2. The other Doug

    Kirby already said the big difference will be long passes to get explosive plays. Other than that we will see the QB keep it and run a few times.

    We still have a road grading OL and elite RBs, and we’re going to build the offense around that.


    • So, you’re saying Monken has about as much freedom as Coley did, just that the parameters have changed slightly.


      • The other Doug

        Yep, but I do think Kirby wanted to open it up a bit but after South Carolina they couldn’t get the passing game going. Most of the final games we came out throwing, but couldn’t make it work. After the first drive or two we went back to Man Ball.

        One thing I didn’t mention was the passing routes. I do think we will see better routes and a plan to get guys open.


        • dawgtired

          If this is the case, and it may be so, there has to be more to the Coley/Monken exchange than we know. It could be the lack of success related to lower-level coaching. Meaning, schemes and such weren’t the problem but coaching the kids up to execute within the scheme.
          It appeared we were attempting to dig ourselves out of the rut, only to have miscues to prevent the success of doing so.
          If with Monken we get both, some improvement on scheme AND better detailed coaching at the player level, it will be a win/win.
          It’s possible that Kirby’s parameters leave room for much personalization from the OC.


          • Russ

            You may be onto something. I thought (as others did too) that we opened up the scheme a bit in the latter part of the season, but execution was spotty at best. Look at how the Tech game opened with three straight drops/missed throws (one of which should have been a pick 6). Yeah, we Kirb-stomped them from then on out, but even against a HS team like Tech, we had trouble executing out of gate.

            And others here have mentioned the route running by our WRs. I’m not savvy enough to really figure out where the blame lays, but I know other 4 and 5 star receivers regularly get open, when ours seemed to have problems for much of the season.

            tl;dr – Yeah, I think it was coaching up the players as much or maybe more than scheme.


        • Tony Barnfart

          Newman’s athleticism is going to make it where receivers have an easier time getting open via second chance routes. As much as it gives you a run threat, an athletic QB nowadays makes it to where your passing game is no longer dependent upon tiny split second timing windows that have a huge opportunity for failure if one little thing goes wrong.

          Frosh receivers and a QB who was either told, or had no choice, but to play like a statue in the pocket was a recipe for passing game disaster. We were shooting a pellet gun at cans on the fence while LSU had a shotgun.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Greg

      tend to agree…and if the new QB can execute it, if the receivers can block and hang onto the ball, it will work.

      Don’t believe we will ever see a full “air raid” offense from Kirby….and I have no issue with it.

      Will stay in the pro offense with some tweaking imo….


  3. mp

    On Mandel’s latest podcast, he and Bruce Feldman spent a lot of time talking about Georgia. One thing Bruce mentioned was how “tight” UGA was during SEC Championship. Kirby brings that culture. It’s the Saban way. However, I wonder if that works when you’ve been over the hump…when you haven’t, can you be wound too tight that you suffocate yourself?

    Kirby not letting anything about the offense out is emblematic of that exertion of control. Just relax, man. Saying something now is not putting it on tape for other coaches to watch.


  4. Derek

    Ogeron knew they were hitting 80% in practice when he said that.

    That helps you commit to it I would think.

    If they were hitting 50% Ed probably would have said: “we’ll see.”

    You want to throw it and catch it on Saturday? Throw it and catch it well during the week.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lazy Grad

    interesting non-UGA related news (wasn’t sure where to put this)… Multiple sources in college fball tell me former @NDFootball OC Chip Long is being hired as an Offensive Analyst @Vol_Football…. https://twitter.com/JohnDBrice1/status/1225618906586533893, wasn’t he the OC for ND when ND played UGA last season? Will be interesting to see what kind of leeway a former OC will have under Jim Chaney.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. GruvenDawg

    I am not a proponent of it but I have a feeling we really won’t see any changes until we play Bama. Then we will see some of the new route and run concepts Luke and Monken brought in. I think you do it all year so the guys get live fire reps against someone other than the scout team and 1st string D. Use the whole field and route tree, execute and make someone stop you. Why hide it? Are you saving it for Florida? You can’t they moved Auburn up so do it all season.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Will (the other one)

    Coach O may have talked more, but they were either still learning, or keeping a lot under wraps in the spring game, based on the reports:


  8. Mayor

    So what if you show some new plays in the spring game. Make up some others for the fall.


  9. If you weren’t going to change, why push one of your best recruiters out the door?

    UGA ran a lot of spread formations last year. They tried to use personnel to create mismatches (like moving RBs and TEs around the formation), but it seemed more like window dressing more than plays designed to exploit resulting mismatches. The deep shots were few and far between, and there were lots of times the designed routes were all less than 10-yards.

    If there is going to be a difference, it will be how often Newman throws it down the field and how often he keeps on read plays. I think those tweaks will make a huge difference. I think getting plays in that exploit a mismatch will be key, too, and I expect we’ll see Newman and Co. look to the sideline to get those pre-snap adjustments (and probably a slower pace with all of the new faces). They will have a talented OL, but they need to stay healthy to gain as much experience together as a unit as they can. They have talented RB’s. They have Pickens and a bunch of talented freshmen to catch the ball. Maybe this is the year of Matt Landers and Demetris Robertson. Maybe guys like Kearis Jackson will take a leap. Lots of maybes, but we know the talent is there, and we know the defense is real and spectacular. That will provide some cushion for a new offense to find its legs.


  10. DawgPhan

    Everything on offense just looked really hard. We had to really fight for 6 yard completions. If the offense just looks easier next year it will be an improvement.


    • Tony Barnfart

      I know the bottom line stats say our offense was..OK….but yes, the visual of a constant struggle is exactly how I would describe it. Much in the same way a lower tier SEC team struggles vs our D…….that’s what every possession on offense felt like. At least to me.


  11. MGW

    We’d all like to hear specifics cause that’d be real fun and interesting but we’re just not going to get it. He has zero incentive to say anything so he isn’t going to. It’s some Art of War shit that you can’t really argue with, even if he goes a little overboard with it.

    As for GDay, I actually expect we’ll see plenty as far as what the O will look like in general but without showing too many wrinkles. How could that not be the case without wasting practice time learning plays you’re never going to run in a real game, just to stage a great big head fake that’ll last through maybe the first game of the season?


    • MGW

      But any suggestion of “well he hasn’t said anything yet so in spite of all the staff changes and that dual threat transfer who’s definitely our starter, and the amazing 2017-2018 offenses, he must just be too stubborn to change anything and I’ll believe it when I see it” is patently absurd, bordering on evidence of severe mental disability.


      • Mike Cooley

        This. If we are just going to run Man Ball Light as some seem to think we will then why would Kirby go to all the trouble to make the moves he has made? That doesn’t make sense. I don’t think we will become an Air Raid team and don’t want to do that. But there is a whole lot of room between Hal Dumby and Man Ball.


    • J-Dawg

      I agree. If Kirby just plays manball on G-day he’ll be roasted by Dawg Nation. He has to show some new wrinkles.


  12. UGA '97

    That’s likely the difference but Burrow said it all clicked after the UGA game towards the end of 2018 season. Good call that Orgeron didn’t even use the words “explosive” and, that ww just didn’t believe him and it was coach speak since he said the same with Canada and Ensminger the year before. Orgeron being “Hands Off” of the Offense with a master schemer allowed it to thrive.Orgeron also didn’t real it in after Auburn, and trusted Brady. Kirby said the O needed to be more explosive yet became too “Hands On” after SCe loss and it became less explosive. So will he take lessons from LSU vs Auburn, and allow Monken to do the same?


  13. Uglydawg

    Just some thoughts.
    If there is a wholesale change of offensive style..which I doubt there will be…then wouldn’t the starting QB job need to be decided almost immediately? It would seem that there just aren’t enough practices in the spring to have both a QB competition and also install and sharpen a new system. If this is right, then Jamie is the man right from the beginning and I doubt that surprises anyone.
    IF however…Kirby is just going to implement a moderate amount of new juice into manball, there should be room for some qb competition. I would still think the competition will be for the #2 spot.
    I still wonder what we have with JN. On one hand, they hype and accolades are exciting. If they are correct, he will likely be that magic piece to the puzzle that Georgia has yet to finish. On the other hand..he played in the ACC and didn’t fare well against Clemson. And yeah..I know he was in a tough situation at WF…and he’ll have a better line, backs, etc..at UGA…but he’ll be facing some much better defenses too. Either way..when we look at the QB situation post-Jake, this was the best and only logical way for CKS to go.


  14. And your an attorney, correct?! So when you go to court do you reveal all you’ve got up front? I’m a big fan of CKS keeping his plan in house. Makes for a better September!
    Your stewing, ranting and laying in the aisle throwing a tantrum adds to the enjoyment!!!


  15. junkyardawg41

    Effective offenses are about a synchronized dance. Are the QB and RB at the right mesh point on step 3. Are the WRs selling Run and Pass the first 3 steps the same. Do we have the same dance moves for the run as we to the play action?
    Coley’s problems were:
    1. He didn’t know how to coach up a dance card. There were plenty of instances where things were “off.” Fromm was at step 3 and the RB was a step 2 1/2. Off Synch.
    2. As SB brought up earlier in the year, Coley apparently didn’t know play action was even legal.
    3. The play design and play execution weren’t complementary. Players and Plays exacerbated the issue.

    I say all that to say that I think Monken will hone in on the details of synchronization — because that is what makes the pro game go. Play action and motion will make a big comeback this year.

    So to answer the question, I think what you want to see in the spring game is a running play and a very similar looking play action play with the same rhythm. I don’t expect to see a lot of dynamic complex concepts — but building block basic plays. And how well we execute them. E.g. might be an inside trap followed up by inside trap play action.


  16. FlyingPeakDawg

    Just as long as we still use Cook on third and long draw plays up the middle I’ll be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Uglydawg

    If on a scale of 1 to 10.
    Where Pure Manball is a 1
    Wide open West Coast style Air-Raid is 10.
    Where on that scale do you imagine CKS wants this offense to be?
    I know it may vary a point or two either way depending on the opponent and game/season particular circumstances. (and that’s the beauty of the situation..the offense should have flexibility)
    And also by how much you trust your D.
    I’m guessing #6 (it will ultimately decided by how good Newman and his receiving corps are) but I bet Kirby’s wanting a 5 or 6…max.
    (And I’m betting that Newman’s legs are at least as important to Kirby as his arm, and Pickens’ staying healthy and out of trouble is a key that can’t be overstated…look for offenses to try to get under his skin and cause him to blow up. THIS is one area where Newman’s maturity and leadership will be crucial)
    BTW.. I would put LSU’s O last year at a 7 or 8.


    • Macallanlover

      You need to revise that scale, you said it went to a 10, and that LSU was a 7 or an 8. That would indicate to me your scale really tops out at an 8. If not, please show me an offense that has ever performed at anything higher than a 7. That that LSU offense played like a well trained symphony in every….single….quarter,….of….every….single….game.

      And when you do that, you don’t have to “hide” your scheme, or pretend you are bringing out a new bag of tricks that you have been keeping under wraps for your “tough challenges”. When they steamrolled Auburn, Bama, Georgia, OU, and Clemson, it was with the same scheme, same players, executing the very same plays that crushed Georgia Southern in the opener. You may have seen an offense more impressive on a total season basis, I haven’t. So, between 7 and 8, on an 8 point scale, is somewhere near the average I saw in the seven games I saw them play.


      • Uglydawg

        I agree that LSU’s offense was as good or better than anything I have ever seen.
        I need to clear up what the scale represents..It’s not a performance grade. If it were, I’d give LSU a solid 10++++ and I wouldn’t have said Kirby wants a 6…of course he would want a 10.
        The scale doesn’t represent how good an offense is but the amount they rely on the run verses the amount they rely on the pass.
        Run/Pass raition. 1 is run the most run heavy, 10 the most pass heavy.
        1 is the dogged determination to run the ball almost every single play.
        10 is throwing it almost every single play.
        LSU didn’t throw it every single play. But throwing or running, they were amazing to say the least.
        I rated LSU 7 or 8 based on the fact they they mostly threw but also did run the ball a bit, especially late in the games…and did so very well with their excellent running back.


  18. W Cobb Dawg

    We don’t need a new playbook, though QB keepers and (successful) long plays would be a leap forward. We do need to fix the piss-poor coaching at WR and QB.