Upon further review, Arky edition

“… I’m worried about getting our team better. It’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems. And that was 100 percent evident watching that tape. The defense wasn’t as good as it seemed and the offense was not as bad as it seemed. We have to do a good job at doing better. That’s the only thing that matters.Kirby Smart, at yesterday’s presser

So, Kirby channeled his inner Ray Goff yesterday — and, really, that’s an evergreen observation on his part — to let us know he knows that we don’t know, even when we think we know.  So take what I’m about to post with the appropriate grain of salt.

I did watch the game again yesterday.  While I don’t want to dive down too deeply, a few things did manifest themselves, even to a relative tyro like me.

First off, the offense was as bad as it seemed, certainly in the first half.  Maybe worse.  As big a problem as Mathis was, he wasn’t the biggest.  Early on, the offensive line was a completely discombobulated mess.  It wasn’t that they were being physically dominated.  It was that on virtually every snap, there was a lineman or two who looked completely lost on his assignment.

The example that stuck with me the most was watching Trey Hill after the snap take a couple of steps back… and stand there without blocking anyone.  His body language was pure “WTF am I supposed to be doing now?”.  Whatever Matt Luke was selling, his guys were having trouble buying.  The wholesale shifting and subbing of linemen until they found a working five was absolutely necessary.

The good news is that things did settle down noticeably in the second half.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s Observation post, if you get the chance to watch the blocking on the TD throw to FitzPatrick, watch the way Cleveland and Condon flawlessly pick up a defensive stunt.

If you want the unalloyed good news it’s this:  Todd Monken knows how to design a passing attack.  There were receivers open on pretty much every passing play.  Here are a few examples:

That was Georgia’s best pass on the day and good for Matt Landers to be on the receiving end of it.  But watch FitzPatrick leak out on a delayed basis and be an open option in case Landers wasn’t there for Bennett.

That was Monken’s best play call of the day and something I swear you’d have never seen from Coley.  It came, if you recall, after a sack with Georgia still trailing.  Last year the call would have been some bullshit draw play up the middle in hopes of settling for a field goal, but Monken was aggressive and it paid off.  Stetson was clearly looking for Pickens all the way (not that I blame him), but watch Washington come open across the middle.  I love the whole thing and you should, too.

This comes out of a power formation, but watch the way White to the right and a tight end on the left leak out, with both being open.  Bennett has two viable pitch and catch options.

Which brings me to the real issue with Mathis’ game Saturday.  Here’s what Smart said about that:

… D’Wan [Mathis] did not play as bad as it seemed to some. I thought he did some good things watching the tape, and he had some unfortunate bad breaks that happened while he was in a quarterback.

He did have some bad breaks, to be fair.  But the biggest flaw in his performance was that he did a poor job of reading his receivers.  The interception he threw was a perfect example of both.  The intended receiver broke the wrong way on his pattern, but if you watch the play, the o-line gave Mathis plenty of time to see the field and he missed a receiver coming open across the middle near the goal line.

It’s the exact sort of mistake you’d expect from a kid with limited experience playing in his first SEC game.  Every rep that Jamie Newman took away in fall practice hurt Mathis.  And that’s a real shame, because there’s no denying Mathis has real physical talent.

Which brings me to my final point about the offense:  right now, knowledge is king.  Like it or not, the coaches have to prioritize the ability to play in the new scheme over sheer ability.  Daniels may be cleared to play, but if Bennett is better at taking what Monken and opposing defenses are giving Georgia’s offense, you play Bennett and don’t look back for a second.  Same deal on the o-line; Luke has to play the guys who know what they’re doing and if that means sitting someone who may be physically better, so be it.  (Fortunately, if the second half against Arky is any indication, Luke is on the mother.)

As far as Smart’s comment about the defense goes, well, maybe a little.  Georgia was a little sloppy on the Hogs’ first scoring drive, but tightened up noticeably as the game progressed, as some split stats indicate.

Defensively, average rushing yardage by quarter:

  • 1st:  3.71
  • 2nd:  0.80
  • 3rd:  1.29
  • 4th:  4.22 (garbage time, largely)

Oh, and Georgia did not allow a rushing touchdown again.

And here’s defensive passer rating by quarter:

  • 1st:  99.57
  • 2nd:  60.0
  • 3rd:  63.6
  • 4th:  60.0

It wasn’t particularly good to start with and got progressively worse.

What I saw when I watched the game again correlated with those numbers.  In other words, I think I’ll let Smart worry about his defense.  (Although I should mention again his comment about spending more in-game time working on the problems with the offense as an indication about how worried he really is.)

Oh, as far as special teams go, here’s what Smart said about that:

I will be honest with you, I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about the special teams. I thought we missed some opportunities there. We left some things out there that were there. We didn’t handle a couple situations well. We had to burn a timeout. I was not pleased with that. Now statistically, you can look at it and say, ‘Well, you are crazy because you did this, this, this.’ We have an experienced punter who punted the ball well, and some really competitive gunners that we worked all offseason on being a better ‘pin the team inside the 10.’ Those reps showed. We were very fortunate to have those reps show. The return game, I thought we left some out there. If we block a little better or maybe we return a little better we [would] score a touchdown on that.

Maybe a little coachspeak going on there, but Smart did go on to say that part of the reason special teams play looked so good to us was because of the overall talent gap between Arkansas and Georgia, a gap that will be considerably smaller this week, with Auburn coming in.  Fair point.

Bottom line, there is plenty of room for improvement, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to this crazy year.  There is more to be fixed on the offensive side of the ball than anywhere else, but Monken makes me think that’s doable.  The questions are how long will the fix take and can the defense keep things under control until that happens.

It felt like Georgia blew a season’s worth of field position advantage in just a single first half and against a better team, it would have really cost them.  Gotta do better… er, buttah.

50 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

50 responses to “Upon further review, Arky edition

  1. OL is the biggest issue to fix for me. It’s scary that they still don’t seem to know the right mix.

    Liked by 3 people

    • akascuba

      I agree the O line was awful to start the game. Its scary to think what really good DC with more talent to work with can do. If they clean up their mistakes the offense gets better. If SB3 is running for his life it will be long day Saturday.

      Like

    • 123fakest

      It all starts with the Center, and Trey Hill is not a dang Center. Move him to guard where he can use his athleticism.

      Liked by 5 people

      • If you do that, it displaces Cleveland, who can’t play tackle.

        I think Luke will figure this out. While I don’t trust him like I did Pittman, he has a good reputation and has talent to work with, but it’s going to be touch and go for a while.

        Defense and punting is going to have to give us a lot of short fields.

        Liked by 1 person

        • They were figuring it out live. Which is a little scary, but also kinda amazing.

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          • biggusrickus

            With the lack of normal preparation, the old “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” line probably applies to this season. At least where there is significant turnover in personnel and/or coaches.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

              And this is where having Monken is such a huge advantage over having Chaney and Coley.

              Monken has proven time and time again he can make changes on the fly in his career. Those other two guys had no frakking clue what to do if their gameplan fell apart, as they often do.

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              • biggusrickus

                I thought the coaching staff did a decent job of playing with the pieces until they found something that worked. Now here’s hoping that’s the last time they have to do it to that degree this season.

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  2. The fact that our offensive line wasn’t getting a consistent push against a much less talented defensive line scares the hell out of me. Sure, they are SEC scholarship players, but our o-line should have been burying them from the get-go. The Pitt Boss and Odom knew we would try to protect the young QB, and they committed to not allowing that to happen. Trey Hill has been snapping the ball for 3 years now … get it together, young man.

    The defense is what it is. They are big, fast and physical. As long as they have field position and time of possession on their side, this defense is going to be difficult to score on. Nakobe Dean is already doing his best R impression.

    Special teams did exactly what we have hoped for with having as many blue chip players as we have. These guys created field position. Seeing a punt block is a sight for this guy’s eyes. The coverage on the intentional short kick was beautiful to watch (why anyone would try to run a kick back against our speed when they can fair catch the ball to the 25 is beyond me).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. akascuba

    Special teams was the biggest nice surprise of the day. Take out the bone headed penalties and it was a great day. If White arrived any earlier on his punt block he could have caught the snap. We finally are getting return yardage again on punts and kick offs. Punts now stop outside the goal line for the most part not cross it. That`s a lots of improvement in a single game. I hope it continues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pretty sure we could have had a MARTA turnstile at right tackle early in the game and been better off. At least they would have had to wait a second to scan their card.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Mathis had two receivers open on the interception play. The TE was standing on the “C” in Razorbacks all alone and the slot receiver was open for a TD breaking towards the back of the end zone. Even if the outside receiver ran the wrong route, he had taken 3 or 4 steps on the in route he did run and was settling down. It was obvious he wasn’t going to be breaking out and I don’t know what Mathis was looking at to throw the ball where he did. It wasn’t like he threw the ball on the receiver’s break and that was why it was picked off.

    Mathis obviously has physical talent, but, at this point at least, he has big issues knowing where to go with the ball and distributing the ball within the offense. Stetson did a good job with that allowed us to move the ball.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Daniels may be cleared to play, but if Bennett is better at taking what Monken and opposing defenses are giving Georgia’s offense, you play Bennett and don’t look back for a second. Same deal on the o-line; Luke has to play the guys who know what they’re doing and if that means sitting someone who may be physically better, so be it.”

    You said it all right there.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. ApalachDawg aux Bruxelles

    I wonder how much Cade Mays could have helped with some of the Oline issues? ifs and buts…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. DawgFlan

    Given the O-line play in the Sugar Bowl I expected Luke to have a solid line ready to go. Negative. O-line and big hit aside, Mathis still looked like an actor on stage that forgot all his lines. Painful to watch. It’s up to the coaches to figure out if it was an anomaly or who he is.

    Clean up the penalties on D and ST and we good.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

    I agree on Mathis just not seeing the open receivers and not throwing on time. That is far more important that being a running threat. The only way this offense works at all, not just passing but running, too, is having a QB who can sit in the pocket and throw the ball quickly and on time to the open receiver. That’s not Mathis right now. It is Bennett, but also, it is Daniels, too. Look at this:

    Like

    • dawgman3000

      Impressive highlights, but quite frankly, I’m more interested in seeing how those 10 ints came about. Hopefully going against the best defense in the conference every day in practice will alleviate my concerns with that

      Like

      • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

        The 10 INTs came because he was a true freshman playing in a bad offense. It’s not rocket science, man.

        Those highlights were the first game of his sophomore season in a new offense that’s more in line with Monken’s offense. No long developing plays. No antiquated blocking schemes. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL right then and there.

        Dude is a baller in a spread offense. He’ll be really good once he gets his feet wet. Well, unless he plays with a fear of injury. That can happen sometimes and is understandable.

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        • dawgman3000

          I hope you’re right. By the way, you nailed it about Leach making some noise in the conference my man. That was the cannon shot of all cannon shots.

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          • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

            Thank you. What people tend to ignore (just as we all did, myself included, about Corch’s offense succeeding in the SEC) is that Leach wasn’t bringing Wazzu’s talent with him to Starkville. There are no 245 pound DTs in Starkville. He has the most talented team he’s ever had, and that counts for a lot. His offense is designed to make unequal equal by simply wearing the defense out because his team has repped these 15 plays over and over again until they’re muscle memory. So unless you have Bama or Georgia’s defense, he’s gonna make you hurt. And he may even do that to us and Bama, too.

            So combine that offensive efficiency with a good defense that has some depth and suddenly Mississippi State is more dangerous than it’s ever been. Except for Dak’s final season.

            I just wish he was playing against Floriduh and Grantham’s defense this year!

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            • Tony BarnFart

              Yeah, my Tennessee brother-in-law spent the whole month of August bitching to me about how unfair it was that we drew Miss State in the coronadraw.

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              • Tony BarnFart

                How freaking big could THAT game be in November ?

                Like

              • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

                What you should do for the next forever is make fun of your Vawl Brother-in-Law for going along with Fat Phil’s palace coup and watching The Great Pumpkin hire dumb as rocks Jeremy Pruitt when they could’ve had Mike Leach. And then thank him, profusely.

                It’s gonna drive him insane.

                Liked by 1 person

        • Not just a true freshman, but a true freshman who reclassified from a junior to a senior so he could start college a year early. And still finished on a high-ish note, putting up very good numbers vs a good ND defense in a losing effort. He’s got some Aaron Murray potential if he’s fully recovered

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          • Corch Irvin Meyers, New USC Corch (2021)

            I forgot about that.

            JT Daniels was basically a senior in high school during his freshman season.

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  10. I did not say the word “passing tree” once from Sat until just now. I said it every 2 minutes in 2019. It never had to be complicated aka Lincoln Riley. For me, just not wanting to through the OC out in the dumpster is a statement on Monken. We did go IZ, which apparently has to happen with Kirby, but otherwise, play calling was all there.

    Like

  11. theotherdoug

    When Mathis was in the OL looked lost, but when Stetson came in they got it together. I think whoever was calling audibles/protections for the OL when Mathis was in screwed up. Stetson mentioned he called the wrong protection on a play and had to make it work with his feet, so we know he was calling them. btw, it was probably the center calling it when Mathis was in.

    We’ve been looking for a guy to take some pressure off Pickens and it just might be Washington. Jeebus that guy has to scare DCs.

    I think Kirby’s comments about special teams is his personality and coaching style. Sure you did great, but you weren’t perfect. He practices until it’s perfect.

    Anyway, let’s kick Auburn’s ass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Washington is my fav. I followed his recruiting. His sophmore and junior years are gonna be wild. He could be a guy that scores a lot of short TDs – just throw the ball 2 feet above his head where no one can get it.

      Like

  12. It’s gonna be a long season if Bennett is our best option. He made some nice plays/calls but he also threw a couple passes that should have been picked and better teams would. His arm also seems noodle-ish.

    I expect the OL, with a new coach, scheme and faces to have issues. This feels like the old days of having an OL made up entirely of guards but at least these guards are all highly talented.

    After game 1, the defense and ST look about as good as they have been but the offense looks worse. There is no shortage of offensive talent, though. Unfortunately for us the schedule is 100% front loaded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TripleB

      That’s what I’m worried about. I think Arkansas made Bennett look a little better than he was. We are about to play much faster defenses. We are also about to face d-lines that will make our OL look a lot worse if they don’t improve quickly. I hope Daniels can get up to speed and throw a quicker ball to open receivers. If he’s not ready, I think we have to play offense very carefully.

      On the positive side, if our quarterback(s) can get comfortable, and if our OL can create less pressure, it looks like this offense will make better use of our talent. I also saw a lot of open receivers. I also noticed that catches were caught by a lot of different receivers (two tight ends, Jackson, Robertson, etc.). That makes us way less predictable.

      The big problem is we don’t have much time to improve. Better have a good week of practice.

      Liked by 2 people

    • biggusrickus

      He threw three passes that could have conceivably been picked off, and I don’t think any of them “should have been”.

      Like

    • Everytime I say he threw some potential pics until he got warmed up, someone feels the need to correct me. But he did. His throw into dbl coverage with pickens was no bueno, forcee pickens to try and knock it down. He is not only on the shorter side, he releases low. His balls look like “darts” because they are slower and lower.

      But we have no Fromm, Fields, or Newman. So it is how it is. Bennett has guts and appears to be a good leader. And we need more than one game to see.

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      • biggusrickus

        Because I think you’re misrepresenting things. Taking a shot to Pickens in coverage isn’t the worst thing in the world. He didn’t get the ball up enough, but it wasn’t a terribly risky throw. The other two were a tipped ball that was far closer to being caught that picked, and a high and slightly off target throw where the DB still had to go through the receiver to break it up.

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  13. rigger92

    I think I have finally settled in on tempering my feeling about how good our team could be this year. Most everyone was in “show me” mode regarding our Offense, and clearly are still waiting for crisp execution and effectiveness. I also felt that our team as a whole wasn’t as physical as it has been, but that is also true for most other teams, I suppose. Circumstances. The D and ST were right on. I can see why UF got a big press clippings day after their win, I do wonder why the experts are ignoring giving up 600 yards though.

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  14. Greg

    WOOD be happy if they just go ahead and make a change at center. Don’t see the play at OL getting much better until we do it. Hill is definitely more suited at guard.

    I do understand that he was probably the best we had a year ago….and maybe this year….bite the bullet & just do it. The breakdowns on the offensive line this year and last….a lot of them started at center, “the QB” of the OL.

    If if hasn’t got much better by now….it ain’t going to.

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    • 69Dawg

      If he hasn’t learned to snap the ball right by now he is not going to learn. It is a when he will miss the snap not if he will.

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  15. W Cobb Dawg

    “…but watch Washington come open across the middle.”

    I saw a fricken giant come across the middle! Washington towers over everyone else. Makes 6’3″ Pickens look average height.

    Like