Daily Archives: August 25, 2020

Dawg porn line of the month

Nobody’s topping this bad boy.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em, peeps.

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UPDATE:  Or, to put it another way ($$)

Monken came off like someone who was ahead of the curve, and now most everyone is on that curve. The question is whether he’ll now try to push things further ahead — or whether merely getting Georgia on that curve will suffice.

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A short list, a good place to start

I’ll take it.  And hope for lots more this season.

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Monken speaks!

 

Savor our time together, Dawg fans.  It won’t be long.

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UPDATE:  You can’t be an offensive coordinator at Georgia without saying the “B” word.

Mention’s “Air Raid” and how he adopted that at Oklahoma State but stops way short of saying that’s something that is still a big part of his philosophy. Just wants to move the ball and score points. Says it comes down to being balanced and that doesn’t just mean run/pass. Also means distributing the ball to playmakers and keeping defenses off balance.

To be fair, that’s closer to the Leach definition of balance than the Bobo one.

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Bruce Feldman’s 15 coordinators to watch this fall…

… has Georgia’s defensive coordinator at number two on the list ($$).

2. Dan Lanning, Georgia defensive coordinator

The former William Jewell College linebacker has rocketed up the coaching ranks. Lanning was a graduate assistant at Pitt, Arizona State and Alabama, and at 34 had a strong debut season as Kirby Smart’s defensive coordinator in 2019, when the Bulldogs led the SEC in total defense. People with knowledge of the matter say he blew Memphis brass away and made a strong run at getting the Tigers’ head coaching vacancy. The hunch here is he will have his own program in the not-too-distant future. Lanning figures to have a dominant defense in 2020.

The Dawgs do have to replace strong safety J.R. Reed and Tae Crowder, but two highly touted sophomores, big-hitting Lewis Cine and Nakobe Dean, are expected to jump into those roles. Dean, who will bring even more speed to the Georgia defense, will line up next to standout Monte Rice (89 tackles) in the middle of a unit that is loaded at all three levels. Senior Richard LeCounte (four INTs) headlines what should be a terrific secondary that has some really long corners.

That sounds pretty Dawg porn-y to me.

“But,” you say, “what about Todd Monken?  Where is he on Feldman’s list?”

He’s not.  Kinda sounds like there’s a good reason for that, though.

Georgia should be a legit national title contender in 2020 if its offense can step up. (We’ll have more on new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and that side of the ball later in the week.)

Tell us more, Bruce…

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Previewing Georgia’s 2020

And

Key Offensive Team Stats in SEC Play:

The most important stats for Georgia to maintain against SEC defenses are its Sack Rate and Run Havoc Rate. Despite their reputation, Georgia’s offense was more mediocre than good in SEC play last year. But they still protected their quarterback phenomenally and didn’t let fronts affect their ground game too often. Both were crucial for their conservative offense to plod along. But even if UGA leans into being more aggressive and modernizes its scheme moving forward, the Dawgs will still have to keep their passer clean and provide a good amount of room for their backs to operate. Staying ahead of the chains and avoiding drive-killing plays is a good place for this offense to start to get back on track.

The most important stats for Georgia to improve against conference defenses are its Passing Success Rate and Touchdown Rate. Though UGA posted a top 5 Passing Success Rate in league play last year, their clip failed to crack 40%. In order to be a title contender that needs to drastically improve; especially if they want to contend for a title of any kind. Being good relative to your conference is one thing, being one of the best around is another. Georgia’s muted offense only generated a 3.35% Touchdown Rate, which was a bottom5 figure. Sure they managed to get by thanks to an elite defense. But again, this offense needs to display more potency and potential to put points on the scoreboard looking at the big picture. While I still have my concerns about Jamie Newman, Pro Football Focus has him as the nation’s 3rd-best quarterback (I shouldn’t have to remind you on who the top 2 are). His homerun arm is a big reason why. If it’s as good as advertised, he should be able to help UGA in both aspects. 

Key Defensive Team Stats in SEC Play:

Per ESPN’s SP+, no team in all of college football has a defense as superior as Georgia’s entering this season. In SEC play last year, however, they sported the 4th-best Success Rate. Still like their SP+ Rating suggests, they held the best Yards/Play, Explosive Play Rate, Touchdown Rate, and rush yards before contact average. UGA was a stifling bunch, and there’s plenty of reasons to believe the Dawgs will get back to doing that to opponents in 2020. Of course, maintaining all those elements will certainly help. But this unit still could shore up a few of its weaker traits.

Though this unit doesn’t have to change too much to keep up their dominance, Georgia must improve its Sack and Takeaway Rates to help create a preferable room of error for its fairly green offense. Last season, both clips finished inside the SECs bottom 4 in league play. The best defense in the land perhaps can become the best offense in the land if these two aspects can see significant gains year-over-year. Down-to-down prowess is great. Sometimes, a truly great defense needs to be more apt at executing game-altering plays. 

Weak spot is Georgia’s offensive line, which is quite the take after what was supposed to be perhaps the team’s strongest suit in 2019.  (Which is not to say StatCat is wrong about 2020.)

As much as the conventional wisdom three weeks ago was about Florida’s scheduling advantage, that pretty much has disappeared in the wake of the revamped conference schedule.

Georgia’s 2020 Schedule:

According to ESPN’s SP+ Ratings, Georgia enters 2020 with the SEC’s 2nd-easiest schedule. Thanks to the Gators only facing two top 30 offenses, they just edged out the Dawgs for the weakest slate. Though Alabama dons the top spot overall, Georgia is right behind them and rocks the No. 1 ranked defense by the SP+. In terms of Success Rate, the Bulldogs were top 5 in conference play on both sides of the ball. Thanks to a bunch of departures offensively, they’ll enter this fall ranked 33rd. Georgia’s most trying part of the schedule is from Week 2 until their bye week. All four of UGA’s opponents are ranked in the top 30. All have top 25 defenses with three being top 8. Not to mention, the Dawgs travel to Tuscaloosa in Wee4. For a team sporting a rather green offense, it’s easy to see the Dawgs dropping a game before their bye. Florida no doubt will be formidable. But from Week 8 on, its all downhill. Over that span, the SP+ projects their average margin of victory to be over 20 points. All in all, the metric favors them in nine games, which favors the over to hit on their win total line.

Georgia’s defense is set to face two top 20 offenses in Alabama and Florida. Though certainly difficult, the Bulldogs don’t look to be tested too much defensively outside of those two games. Half of their opponents fall outside the top 40 in the initial SP+. Those five also happen to be the conference’s worst offenses. Kirby Smart’s defense is expected to be just dandy. The question, again, is whether a mostly new group can produce right away. While Week 1 will be a decent tune-up game, there’s not a whole lot of time for this unit to gel before shit gets real. With six defensive foes ranked in the SP+ top 30, a few teams could upend them on any given Saturday. Still, let’s not pretend this isn’t one of the best overall teams in the nation.

It’s becoming a recurring theme for me, but Todd Monken certainly seems to have his work cut out for him.  Luckily, he’s likely to have a comfortable margin for error to work with thanks to Georgia’s defense.

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Gatoring, 2020 style

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While the defense is Florida’s backbone, the consensus is they won’t be anywhere near the title discussion if their offense takes a step back. The SP+ is confident enough in UF’s offense to have them ranked 12th ahead of this fall. If Kyle Trask can keep Florida’s offense humming, they have nothing to worry about. However, losing a decent amount of receivers paired with a style of play that’s reliant on yards after the catch screams he’s due to regress in 2020. And if the Gators’ ground game remains terrible, that might be all she wrote. While Florida may have gotten a pass defensively, half of their opponents are ranked top 20 with three others being good enough to be top 40. Only Vanderbilt and Arkansas fall outside of that range at this point in time. Florida might be a trendy pick to represent the East with the league’s easiest schedule, but their success hinges on their offense picking up where it left off.

It’s Mullen’s side of the ball, then, that’s the key.  Interesting.

WEEK 7:

Georgia @ Florida: Projected Margin Georgia by 2.5

Like you would except from a rivalry game of this magnitude feature the East’s top 2 teams, the SP+ figures the Florida-Georgia game will be highly contested. It truly could go either way; but as of today, the Dawgs are projected to win by about a field goal. Florida enters as the more well-rounded team. Both its offense and defense rank top 12 in the initial SP+. Georgia, of course, is led by is dominant defense. Like last year, passing should present Florida its best path to victory. Even if the Gators fix their ground game, Georgia’s formidable front stands to be the best against the run in the conference. On a down-to-down basis in SEC play last year, the Dawgs were average versus the pass. Kyle Trask has to rise to this occasion if he wants the honor to be the SEC’s QB1. On the other side of the ball, Todd Grantham’s prudence with blitzes might allow Georgia to take advantage of Florida’s defense on early downs. With the 2nd-worst Pressure Rate, Florida’s opponents were allowed to be more surgical though the air. The Gators finished with a bottom 6 Defensive Passing Success Rate in league play. Still, Florida stands to win if their offense shows up bests Kirby Smart’s bunch.

In last year’s meeting, Georgia made Florida one-dimensional on offense and rode that to a win behind what I hope was a worse offense than Grantham will seek to control this year.  I do think his last sentence is accurate.  It’s just that I don’t see that happening.

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More fizzle than sizzle

Josh looks at what Georgia has coming back in the explosiveness arena… and finds 2019 sadly lacking in that regard.

EPA, explosiveness, and efficiency are all related. EPA (Expected Points Added) is just a number to add value to a play. EPA numbers ascribe a value to a play beyond the binary “Successful/Unsuccessful” metric that is represented in the success rate. A successful play (play gaining 50% yards to gain on 1st, 70% on 2nd, and 100% on 3rd/4th) will have a positive EPA. Conversely, a play that is unsuccessful will have a negative EPA. Positive EPA plays are added summed to create Explosiveness for a game/season. That Explosiveness Metric is divided by number of Positive EPA Plays (AKA Successful Plays) to create Explosive Rate. Coach Smart after the SECCG lamented on UGA’s explosiveness.

Narrator’s Voice:  He wasn’t the only one.

To give you some idea of their relative merits, here’s a chart Josh compiled:

skill-position-metrics-900x506-1

Not a lot of Gs there, tellingly.  And what’s there isn’t all that great.

… But, to build on the EPA metric, you can glance and see that wide receivers dominate EPA numbers. Running backs get volumes of touches but tend not to be efficient/explosive with those touches. Zamir White’s EPA for 2019 was a paltry .06. In 2018, he was quite efficient for an RB at .296 on 178 countable plays.

Kirby wanted explosiveness, but Georgia’s ground game-oriented offense wasn’t built for that.  Regardless of who made that so, Smart knew he couldn’t stick with it.  Exit James Coley.

Todd Monken is being paid over a million dollars a year to be Smart’s offensive coordinator.  It is my sincere hope that next January I find him to be underpaid.

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Musical palate cleanser, showin’ the white boys how to do it edition

Chess Records released a bunch of crap in the mid to late 60s when it lost its way (Electric Mud?  Gah.), but one huge exception was Howlin’ Wolf’s The London Sessions, which he recorded with a bunch of British rock luminaries.

One of my favorite cuts from that time was this outtake of “The Red Rooster”, which combined Clapton trying to coax Wolf into playing acoustic on the cut and Wolf directing the Brits on the proper rhythm of the song.  It’s a real kick.

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