Damn. I really hope this is one of those classic Kirby Smart smokescreens.
Ask Kirby Smart what’s wrong with Georgia’s defense and his answer is, essentially, nothing.
To him, the reason that Mississippi State racked up 20 first downs and averaged 5:40 in possession time on four scoring drives of 71 or more yards boils down to it’s just what Mike Leach coached teams do.
So, no, Smart said Monday, he doesn’t expect South Carolina or anybody else to try to do what MSU did. Nobody does what those guys do.
“If you see the way defenses play Mississippi State, it doesn’t carry over,” Smart said Monday. “Most offensive coordinators we talk to, they don’t even put that game in their breakdown because it’s irrelevant since the defenses they’re watching are not the defenses they’re getting.”
I… um, don’t think the issue boils down to playing zone, boss.
All year, No. 13 Georgia (5-2) has been susceptible to wheel routes and curl flats into the middle of the field by running backs, flankers and tight ends. Eighteen of State’s 41 receptions against the Bulldogs came on those plays, including 14 on first down.
As Seth Emerson ($$) noted yesterday, it’s not like Mike Bobo has a lot of options available to him in the passing game right now.
… South Carolina doesn’t have much speed on the outside, which is why neither offense looks like some of the high-flying units out there. Bobo was hoping to fix that on the recruiting trail at South Carolina, but now he almost certainly won’t get to do that.
“He’s had to fully embrace what they’re good at,” Mason said. “But I think in a perfect world, and he even said this, he’s been forced this year because of personnel to maybe be more run-oriented. Much like in 2014. There’s no vertical threat outside. Ideally, he would like to be 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers), and then be able to get into the 22 run game stuff like he could (two running backs, two tight ends, one receiver). But right now they’re just predominantly all like we were in 2014.”
Mike Bobo may not be perfect, but he’s not incompetent. It would be coaching malpractice not to test Georgia’s underneath coverage early and often.
Kirby thinks he’s got the answers.
“Our guys are completely comfortable breaking on the ball, you are just not going to stop those routes playing zone all the time,” Smart said. “They are going to throw them and catch them. The idea is to stop them before they get more than five (yards), and then hopefully bring up some third downs and get some batted balls.”
“Hopefully” has been doing a lot of heavy lifting this season. Maybe this Saturday will be easier. Or not.