Daily Archives: November 25, 2020

The Year of Living Offensively

Kirby Smart sounds like a man who’s a bit adrift these days ($$).

And Smart admitted on Tuesday that he’s not sure whether it’s time to de-emphasize havoc rate in favor of a bend-but-don’t-break approach.

“I’m torn between being the aggressor and you’re going to give up the explosive (plays), and fighting for negatives, and the whole havoc rate,” Smart said, then adding the other side of the dilemma: “The guys with havoc rate are going to give up explosives. So you’re trying to find a balance.”

The irony here, as Emerson suggests, is that Smart’s offseason soul searching this go ’round may be on the side of the ball where he’s been the expert.

But more worrisome for Georgia is there is talent on defense. They’re not trotting walk-ons out there, and they’re still struggling. This offseason is going to be critical for Smart, defensive coordinator Dan Lanning and the staff to make needed adjustments. They’ve seen that talent alone won’t do it for a defense.

That’s all why in a perverse way it may have helped Georgia to be knocked down a peg this year, rather than lose again in the SEC championship and be lulled into thinking it’s closer than it is.

I’m not sure that’s the exact lesson Smart took from the SECCG — he did take steps to re-work the offense, after all — but I do expect next spring practice (assuming there is one) is going to be quite interesting.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Tastes great

Damn, what is with this guy?

31 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

This time, it’s for real, Nick.

He won’t coach in the Iron Bowl.

10 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, The Body Is A Temple

Your 11.25.20 Playpen

Thanksgiving, 2020.  I almost want to make an oxymoron joke here, but for the realization that I am in fact extremely grateful that my loved ones and close friends have made it through a difficult year so far.

So, take the time in the comments today to tell us all what you’re thankful for.

94 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

COFH, always

Sigh.

On whether he has Thanksgiving traditions or if that is hard as a college coach…
“It’s tough to do in coaching. We have traditions a little bit for my family and for players and things like that in terms of eating. We try to always have a good meal on Thanksgiving Day, kind of after the practice in the morning, Then we also have a meal when we come back, because traditionally we would go to Georgia Tech or Georgia Tech would come to us, and we would have a big team meal Friday upon the return of all the players. So, that’s what we’ve always done.”

This is your reminder that not playing Tech this year totally sucks.  I know some of you disagree, but that just means you’re wrong.

I’m laying a marker down now.  If it’s Georgia’s fate to play in a meaningless bowl game, rather than schedule one against the likes of Texas or Northwestern or some other program I really don’t give a damn about, how ’bout the Dawgs line up the Jackets?  Remember, there is no win eligibility requirement to go bowling this season.

Hell, at least extend them the opportunity.  At a minimum, we’d get the pleasure of them turning it down out of sheer cowardice; in a best case scenario, we’d get to watch another ass whoopin’.  It’s a win-win.

Play ’em anywhere ESPN says.  I don’t care.  But make the attempt, Greg.  That’s all I’m asking of you.  Surely you’ve banked enough good will with Sankey to get his blessing for this.

56 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football

Saban and the Three Amigos

I like a lot of what Bud Elliott writes and I’ve certainly been on the Nick Saban “it’s the offense’s world and we’re just living in it” conversion bandwagon, but somehow this piece about his three former assistant coaches trying to make their way through life as head coaches just a step behind the master doesn’t really do much for me.

There’s been an offensive transformation in Tuscaloosa. Saban realizes that passing in the current college climate, with these rules, is so much more efficient than pounding the ball into the line of scrimmage. And that is with the best offensive line in college football and multiple future NFL picks at the running back position.

But his former understudies at defensive coordinator have not been able to achieve those results. And it’s not just that offenses run under head coaches Kirby Smart, Jeremy Pruitt, and Will Muschamp (twice) have not been as good as those of Alabama (probably an unreasonable expectation) — it’s that they have lagged far behind their respective defenses. The defensive side of the coaching mentorship under Saban is holding.

It’s too convenient, I’m afraid.  For one thing, Boom’s first gig, in Gainesville, came well before Saban had his revelation.  Beyond that, Will’s problem is not so much that he hasn’t seen the light as it is that he’s never recruited offensive players well and has a track record of hiring mediocre to poor offensive coordinators, regardless of their scheme preference.

As for Kirby Smart, Bud sort of undermines his whole argument by noting reality.

In Athens, Smart’s is the most interesting case of the three. His offenses in years two and three (2017 and 2018) ranked 7th and 3rd in SP+, which is awesome. Georgia didn’t seem all that shaken up about losing coordinator Jim Chaney to Tennessee, and based on the results at Tennessee, that sentiment seems justified. But Georgia’s offense dropped to 32nd in 2019 and 43rd in 2020.

Smart might be the former Saban defensive coordinator-turned-head coach who gets it and is willing to play modern football. His parting of ways with coordinator James Coley and bringing in Todd Monken to run a more wide-open offense would suggest so. As does bringing in transfer quarterbacks Jamie Newman and JT Daniels. But with the pandemic, Georgia did not get to fully install and rep its new offense due to the lack of spring practice and summer team workouts. Newman opted out before the season even began. And though it is now obvious that UGA should have turned to JT Daniels earlier than it did, as he looked great Saturday against Mississippi State, he certainly was not ready in September following his 2019 knee injury.

It’s entirely possible that Smart realizes how many points are required to win at the highest levels of the sport and that factors beyond their control (opt-outs, injuries, COVID) are currently masking the changes and shift in attitude already taking place at Georgia. After all, Smart has presided over two top-10 offenses in his five seasons. But while the process changes are somewhat evident, the results have not followed.

Screwing up a coordinator hire because he overvalued Coley’s recruiting prowess and being left at the altar by a graduate transfer quarterback doesn’t exactly qualify as failing to recognize how the college football world has changed.  That isn’t to say Smart’s decision making has been spot on, but he clearly has some awareness, dating back to last year’s SECCG, that it was adapt or die time for Georgia.

If, after Monken has had a full season and spring practice, along with some newfound stability at the quarterback position, Smart is still insisting on running an offensive scheme that harkens back to the 2017-8 glory days of manball, then Elliott’s got a better point.  Until then, though, not so much.

That brings us to Meathead… er, Jeremy Pruitt.  It’s hard to argue with this take:

Tennessee is an interesting case with an obvious issue. The offense has regressed every year that Pruitt has been at the helm. The Volunteers have one of the worst approaches in the SEC. They smash the ball into the line with an inefficient running game, then ask their quarterbacks to bail them out in the negative leverage situations they create. They set their QBs up to fail. Tennessee has one of the lowest rates of throwing the ball on early downs, using play action on those downs, and generally setting up a quarterback for success. Instead, it’s clear by its playcalling that Tennessee does not believe in its quarterbacks, so instead of setting them up for easier throws in more favorable situations, Tennessee tries to slam the ball with the running game. And since opponents know this, defenses load up against it, which has resulted in a rushing attack ranking 61st in success rate and 115th in efficiency. That results in unfavorable throwing situations, and lots of them.

“A big reason Tennessee won down the stretch [in 2019] was due to Guarantano’s execution throwing downfield behind the chains or on third downs,” said Clark Brooks of SEC Stat Cat, a site which tracks SEC stats on an in-depth basis. “He was tops amongst returners in loads of those stats. But clearly, he hasn’t been able to replicate that magic.”

Pruitt’s tenure so far looks like a defensive coordinator trying to win a football game played in the style of 1990.

True dat.  Ironically, as Elliott notes, of the three, Pruitt was the one on Saban’s staff when it really accelerated the change on the offensive side of the ball.  Yet he’s the guy that best fits Elliott’s premise.  How long that’s going to work in Knoxville is anyone’s guess.

27 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

“I mean, a lot of those things you saw, you’ve seen all year.”

You know, if you squint hard and forget Georgia played Florida a couple of weeks ago

Smart explained that Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis could just as easily have connected on big plays like Daniels did against Mississippi State, when he completed four passes of 40 or more yards after the team had three completions of more than 40 yards in the first six games combined.

“Like I told you, I’d seen it in so many practices,” Smart said. “You guys have asked if we have confidence throwing it, and yeah. I’ve seen those same plays. I’d seen Stetson [Bennett] and D’wan [Mathis] make some of those plays against us in practice, so I knew it was there.”

I just can’t.

Kirbs, don’t tell us it’s raining.  Please.

31 Comments

Filed under Blowing Smoke, Georgia Football