Daily Archives: September 21, 2020

We have reached peak preseason happy talk.

LOL.  About damned time.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Third and you-know-who

A couple of choice stats, via The Athletic ($$):

36.4

The defense’s third-down percentage last season, which ranked 40th in the FBS and seventh in the SEC behind LSU (29.6 percent), Auburn (29.9), Georgia (31.6), Texas A&M (31.6), Missouri (33.2) and Alabama (35.7). Florida’s total was really dented in the game that mattered most — when Georgia converted 12-of-18 third downs.

96.82

Florida’s defense held opposing quarterbacks to a 96.82 passer rating on third down, 15th-best in the nation and fifth in the conference. Digging deeper into the situational metrics, the Gators were splendid on third-and-10 or longer (74.06, ninth in the FBS and second to Alabama in the SEC). Where Grantham’s defense slipped up was on plays ranging from third-and-7 to third-and-9: They ranked 63rd nationally and eighth in the league in those situations (111.92).

I’m surprised nobody has suggested I add “third and Grantham” to the list of Florida’s negatives in today’s preseason predictions post.

15 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Stats Geek!

TFW you have to create your own home field advantage

I had no idea this was a thing being seriously considered this season.

SEC rules have said that amplified sound and the band can’t be played once the center touches the ball.

Athletic directors have had “robust debate,” whether piped in crowd noise should be allowed to continue then like it would under normal attendance.

“I am a proponent of the crowd noise being played past the time when the center has his hand on the ball because I think our student-athletes and our coaches, they’re used to competing in an environment on the road that has a significant crowd noise,” Yuracheck said. “I think the crowd noise continuing I think is good for your TV audience and I think it just enhances your atmosphere in your stadium.”

Said Georgia associate athletic director Alan Thomas: “A lot of people are looking at, ‘Hey, can we pump in crowd noise?’ Since we have to put it through a sound system do we have to cut that when the center’s hand touches the ball or will they allow us to continue that?”

Fake juice is better than no juice at all, I guess.

42 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Today, in honesty in punditry

Most of the SDS staff picks Florida to win the East, which, in and of itself, is nothing special, but I have to take note of two takes.

First, their Florida guy goes with Georgia to win the Cocktail Party, because “… I won’t pick Kirby Smart to lose that game until it happens, and the road to Atlanta in the East goes through Jacksonville.”

Second, check out this guy’s “here we are now, entertain us” rationale for picking Florida:

I sound like a broken record, but I always root for the best story. In the East, that means Florida finally beating Georgia and returning to Atlanta.

It’s honest, like I said, but I do not think best story means what he thinks it means.

28 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

There will be football.

Fingers crossed, but in case you had lost track…

You may commence praying to the football gods that both teams enjoy a COVID-free week.

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UPDATE:  Vegas thinks this SEC season may not be quite the meat grinder the conference would prefer you think it is.

18 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Fabulous freshmen

How deep is this year’s Georgia team?  Look at Jake Rowe’s list of the outlook for each member of the 2020 signing class and tell me how many of them are likely to be significant contributors this season.

I’ve got Jalen Carter, a couple of the wide outs (like it or not, there are opportunities there), Washington… and that’s about it.

10 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2020 edition

To be perfectly honest with you, I thought about taking a pass on making preseason picks this go ’round, because 2020 has the potential to make 2007 look sane and rational.  In the end, in the spirit of “eh, what the hell”, I’ve decided to plow ahead.  Besides, if I whiff badly, I’ll just blame it on COVID.

Before I get started, allow me the usual caveat about the format, which will be ignored by the usual four or five commenters.

The format for my picks, in case you haven’t tuned into this broadcast before, hasn’t changed.

Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year, look at areas of potential improvement and decline and assess in what direction I expect each to go by comparison to 2010.

In other words, pure seat of the pants BS.

Based on that, the teams are listed in the order of [last season’s] conference order of finish.  Remember that, before you start freaking out over where a school shows up in this post.

Don’t say I didn’t warn ‘ya.  And with that, on to my picks.

SEC WEST

LSU (15-0, 8-0)

  • Pros:  Defensive backfield; recruiting; cross-division schedule
  • Cons:  Severe personnel losses from last year’s national championship team; Brady departure; defensive scheme change
  • Outlook:  They recruit very well and that can’t hurt, but they have so much to overcome it’s hard to see how the Tigers avoid a drop off.  The good news is they play Vanderbilt, Missouri and South Carolina from the East, so the drop won’t be too far.  8-2 looks about right.

ALABAMA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Virtually unmatched depth; Nick Saban and The Process; running back; wide receiver; offensive line; special teams
  • Cons:  Replacement of Tua
  • Outlook:  The Tide lost two regular season games in 2019.  I can’t see that happening in 2020, as this is a team that is better built to weather the pandemic storm than any other program in the conference, and probably the country.  One loss, maybe — and that seems a stretch.

AUBURN (9-4, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Kevin Steele knows what he’s doing; linebacker
  • Cons:  Another hyped change in offensive scheme with Chad Morris; running back; losses on defensive line; defensive back
  • Outlook:  The Tigers are getting hyped, being ranked in the preseason top 10 by several outlets.  It’s all going to depend on Cox’ growth and Gus’ rabbit’s foot.  For now, split the baby with seven wins.

TEXAS A&M (8-5, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; cross-division schedule; defensive back
  • Cons:  Linebacker; special teams; opt-out attrition rate
  • Outlook:  The conventional wisdom is that TAMU, freed from its brutal 2019 schedule, is a likely breakout candidate.  Eh, maybe.  Everyone’s been expecting Jimbo to coax greatness out of Kellen Mond; time is running out for that.  And the departure of his top receivers doesn’t help.  Seven wins is what that all adds up to.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; quarterback; defensive line; kicking game
  • Cons:  Defense; offensive line; special teams; radical change in offensive scheme; schedule
  • Outlook:  I like the Costello pick up, provided he stays healthy, but the Air Raid is dependent on timing and not having spring practice definitely hurts in that department.  Defense isn’t going to be good this season.  MSU should be peskier as the season progresses, but there’s only so much you can do when over half the teams on the schedule are preseason top 25.  All told, looks like three wins to me.

OLE MISS (6-7, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Running back; punter; quarterback
  • Cons:  Deteriorating team depth; coaching changeover; defense
  • Outlook:  The Laner will be presented with the check for NCAA sanctions, as the roster is a mess.  Three wins is about it.

ARKANSAS (2-10, 0-8)

  • Pros:  The Hogs can’t be any worse than they were last year; running back; offensive line
  • Cons:  Defense; special teams; schedule; new coaching staff
  • Outlook:  Poor Sam.  But Pittman can’t say he didn’t know what he was getting into.  Looks like a third straight year without a conference win from here.

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (12-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Overall roster depth on par with Alabama; defense; experienced coaching staff
  • Cons:  Special teams; quarterback; receiving depth
  • Outlook:  The defense is going to be special.  The question is how much will the offense improve.  Smart has upgraded at offensive coordinator, but the experience level at quarterback has to be a concern.  Regular season loss to Alabama seems almost inevitable, but unless the offense regresses from its 2019 level, it’s hard to call for another one.

FLORIDA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Staff stability; quarterback; tight end; secondary; special teams; schedule
  • Cons:  Depth at offensive line; running back
  • Outlook:  Mullen, whatever his warts, is a good coach.  The schedule is going to make him look good this season.  The o-line shouldn’t be an outright liability, but the running game looks to be weak and that means he has to rely on Trask the passer more than he likes.  Trask was lucky with turnovers last season; will that continue in 2020?  Two losses is my pick.

TENNESSEE (8-5, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Left side of o-line; running back; kickers; improving defense
  • Cons:  Quarterback; receivers
  • Outlook:    Yes, they’re better, but when the season likely comes down to Guarantano becoming a consistent starter, the Vols probably don’t have as bright a future as they hope.  Five wins.

KENTUCKY (8-5; 3-5)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; offensive line; experienced roster
  • Cons:  Running back; receiver; special teams
  • Outlook:  Stoops is a good coach.  This isn’t the deepest roster, but it’s stocked with experienced players.  Let’s say five wins.

MISSOURI (6-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Defense
  • Cons:  Total rebuild on offense; schedule; new coaching staff; special teams
  • Outlook:  Normally, the Tigers use a soft early schedule to build momentum into the conference season.  That ain’t gonna happen in 2020, as six of Mizzou’s first seven games are against ranked opponents.  The final quarter is soft, but they’re gonna get the crap beat out of them before they get there.  Three wins, maybe four.

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-8, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Improving talent level; upgrade at offensive coordinator; defensive backfield
  • Cons:  Running back; linebacker; schedule
  • Outlook:  The schedule is a killer.  Bobo may help, but he won’t help that much.  Hard to see where Boom scratches out more than three wins.

VANDERBILT (3-9, 1-7)

  • Pros:  Linebacker
  • Cons:  Schedule; overall lowest talent level in the division
  • Outlook:  It’s a shame the ‘Dores don’t play Arkansas, just so we could get a definitive answer on which of the two is the conference’s worse.  Winless 2020, coming up.

That’s all I got.  And you?

23 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Today, in talk is cheap

Man, if there was a poll for a program running its mouth, Central Florida would be the national champs three years running.

Last week?  You mean the week you beat **checks notes** Georgia Tech?  That week?

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

“Now, it’s like I got to play pretty good defense and I got to score a lot of points.”

Seth Emerson ($$):

… Smart turned to that man he briefly worked with 15 years before: Monken. As Smart enters his own fifth season as Georgia head coach, it’s the most important of decisions.

Smart’s specialty, even after that one year as an offensive coach, has been on defense, and defense has not been the problem at Georgia — top 5 in the SEC in defense each of his four years, second in the entire nation last year — nor are there any signs it ever will be.

If that holds, Smart’s legacy at Georgia, which seems set to be defined by whether he wins that elusive national championship, is going to be determined by the other side of the ball.

I’m old enough to remember a time when a Georgia head coach’s legacy could only be secured by hiring a good defensive coordinator.  Goff, Donnan and Richt all proved that.  (Hell, you could argue Dooley did, too.)  Now, the conventional wisdom has been turned on its head.  Sure, some of that is due to Smart’s background and defensive coaching prowess.  But the game has changed.  Kirby Smart seems to know that.  Is Monken the guy who secures the legacy for Smart Emerson refers to?

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“I don’t want to come across as the champion complainer.”

Now why would anyone think that, Bill Moos?

Athletic Director Bill Moos received the Huskers’ eight-game Big Ten schedule Friday night and saw that all things he’d fought for with the slate hadn’t come to pass.

“I wasn’t toasting champagne,” Moos said.

Moos said Saturday the Big Ten staff — and not the scheduling committee put together by the league — made the scheduling decisions, and used the original nine-game conference model created by the league for the first iteration of the 2020 league schedule. That schedule included road games at Ohio State and Rutgers, and a home game against Penn State.

The Rutgers game was dropped. Ohio State and Penn State, arguably the Big Ten’s best teams, remained.

What’s more, the Huskers play the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions — plus Big Ten West favorite Wisconsin — in the opening month…

“For obvious reasons, I was hoping we could dissemble the schedule because of unique circumstances and rebuild it to be fair for each school in the conference,” Moos said. “I was outspoken on that, to the point where they heard it from me every day. The rationale was there, I didn’t think we needed to follow it. Nebraska is playing five AP preseason Top 25 teams. Ohio State’s playing two.

“I’m sure my friend (Ohio State Athletic Director) Gene Smith is smiling today. His friend Bill Moos is not. I’ve got a good football team with a great football coach that deserves a break here or there to start getting back on track to being a contender in the Big Ten West.”

Nebraska football, can’t live without it, can’t live with it.

17 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football