Take this for what it’s worth…
Daily Archives: January 4, 2021
One thing about a $15 million buyout is that you can afford to be choosy about your next job.
Will Muschamp has turned down an opportunity to return to Texas as its defensive coordinator, sources told CBS Sports. Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is among new coach Steve Sarkisian’s top candidates now that Muschamp has passed on the position.
I’m okay with that. Agent Muschamp needs to go some place that will let him keep doing a solid for his alma mater.
That ought to make finding a successor easy peasy, no?
Maybe I’m jaded, but I enjoyed that ending more than I would, say, a 41-21 blowout. It was nice to see Georgia’s spine stiffen after falling behind by eleven. Maybe, just maybe, the Dawgs weren’t mailing that one in.
That being said, kudos to Cinci’s Marcus Freeman, who took a look at Georgia’s three games with Daniels as the starter, saw that the closest of the three was the Mississippi State game, and based on that decided to go balls out on defense. Despite the game being by far the Bearcats’ worst showing all season in terms of defensive yards per play, his strategy almost worked.
The reason it came so close is pretty easy to see. The Dawgs were a pathetic 1 for 11 on third down conversions, by far their worst rate of the season, and only managed two touchdowns on six red zone opportunities, also a season’s worst. Some of that you can blame on JT Daniels’ two turnovers in the red zone, although, to be fair, the interception was followed by a scoring drive set up by good field position.
The rest could be blamed on an offensive line that picked a bad time for its shoddiest performance of the season. Here’s how Jake Rowe described it:
When you look at this game from start to finish, this was the poorest showing from the offensive line all year. The pass protection was problematic, especially in the second and third quarters. The run blocking was poor all game long. It was made to look worse by the fact that Cincinnati was committing a lot of resources to stop the run, but the Bulldogs were losing a lot of one-on-one battles at the point of attack. The left side of the offensive line struggled with some missed assignments while the right side looked out of sorts in the run game. A solid game from this group would have resulted in a much more comfortable UGA win.
All told, Georgia struggled until the final minute to win a game in which it (1) outgained its opponent by almost 150 yards; (2) averaged almost five yards more per pass attempt (and threw the ball more); (3) had more first downs; (4) ran almost the same number of total plays; (5) finished with eight (!) sacks and twelve (!) tackles for loss; and (6) had only about a three-minute difference in time of possession. Basically, the Dawgs screwed up just enough to keep the game close, and then finished by watching their playmakers make just enough plays to win.
And with that, on to the bullet points.
- I do question why Luke made the wholesale changes on the line he did, but that doesn’t mean I think he saw what was coming. Truss looked lost much of the game with both his run blocking and pass protection. Salyer overall had a pretty quiet game, but did have a couple of problems I saw picking up run blitzes. Ericson appeared physically overmatched on occasion and if there’s any position on the line I expect to be thrown open for competition this next season, it’s center. Shaffer played about as well at right guard as he did left, but, again, whiffed on a couple of key blocks. McClendon had trouble handling speed rushes all game long.
- No, they weren’t completely awful. 450 yards of offense means things had to go well some of the time. But in the first half, I’d say about half of the running plays saw backs get hit in the backfield. And I saw White and McIntosh on occasion get some yardage when there was some blocking support, at least enough to know that if the run blocking was more consistent, Monken wouldn’t have had to rely on the passing game as much as he wound up doing.
- The running backs didn’t get much on the ground, but made up for some of that with some key receptions, particularly McIntosh, who was a great fall back option on the winning drive.
- Speaking of McIntosh, he was the recipient of a beautifully designed screen pass. If there’s one thing I question about Monken’s day, it wasn’t giving up on the run, it was not dialing up more screen calls in the face of Cinci’s relentless blitzing.
- Seven — count ’em, seven — completions to the tight ends. Arik Gilbert, what are you waiting for? That being said, Darnell Washington with a year under his belt is going to be a scary sight for defensive coordinators in 2021.
- I thought George Pickens played his best game of the season. Seven catches at almost 20 yards a pop was big, but he blocked his ass off all game. And the strip of the defensive back after the interception was huge, as it resulted in Cincinnati starting at its own one-yard line.
- One thing JT Daniels is going to have to do this offseason is accurately gauge how fast Arian Smith is.
- Speaking of Daniels, it was not his best day as a Georgia Bulldog. It seemed like he missed seeing more open receivers — and this being a Monken offense, yes, there were open receivers on every play — in this game than he had in the three previous games combined. The interception was simply an ill-advised throw. The sacks came because he held the ball too long. As mentioned before, he turned the ball over twice. Yet, despite all that, he still managed almost a 70% completion rate, threw for almost 400 yards, and, perhaps most importantly, stayed calm, cool and collected as he drove his team down for the winning score. If that’s as bad as it gets for him in Athens, I think we can live with it.
- I’ve already mentioned the eight sacks and twelve tackles for loss, so it’s pretty obvious that Johnson’s transfer didn’t slow the havoc rate down. Ojulari and Anderson both had monster games. While Stevenson’s pass breakup was the defensive play of the game, Ojulari’s strip sack of Ridder that Anderson recovered was the play that turned the momentum of the game in Georgia’s favor. Helluva way to go out, Azeez.
- Really, the entire defensive front had a good day. Outside of that 79-yard run that opened up the second half — and much of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the back seven that didn’t clean it up property, especially Cine — Cinci’s run game was effectively shut down. Ridder, a big running threat all season, finished with negative rushing yards and a long run of 9 yards.
- Speaking of Ridder, I haven’t seen another quarterback this season complain as often to the refs at the end of a play as he did.
- That was one impressive sack Jordan Davis notched.
- Good play from Dean and Walker at ILB, but Tindall was a bit of a disappointment. His overrunning the receiver led to Cincinnati’s first score.
- Did the secondary miss Stokes and Webb? I’d have to say yes, especially in the first half. Stevenson looked tentative early on, although he obviously regrouped as the game wore on. Brini, too, looked a little uneven at the star until somebody flipped a switch. He absolutely blew up two screen passes. I think he’s starting to look like a real contributor in the secondary next season. Campbell slipped just enough to create space for the tight end to make a touchdown catch on Cinci’s last drive of the first half, but played well otherwise.
- Safety play wasn’t what I expected. Cine turned in his worst game of the season, and Smith turned in his best. You can see that his confidence is growing and that’s reflected in the speed at which he was playing.
- Special teams? Well, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Camarda’s shanked, four-yard punt sent up the Bearcats’ first touchdown. (Kevin Butler said in the post game show that was on Camarda’s mechanics, as he drifted to the right as he was punting.) He did have a solid day kicking off, though, as Cincinnati had no kickoff return yardage and managed to screw up what could have been a last second shot at decent field position when Georgia had to kickoff from its twenty. But Jordan Davis had a huge play to block a field goal — how does the game play out if Georgia had to come back from five instead of two at the end? And, of course, Podlesny got to be a legend for a day.
- As far as coaching goes, the team showed up motivated, which was 80% of the battle. Lanning’s defense held the Bearcats’ offense to their lowest yardage total of the season and essentially bottled them up in the second half, allowing Georgia to make its comeback. I would argue that Monken continued his take what they give you approach, and successfully; it would have looked a lot better in the end if the o-line had simply managed to hold its own consistently.
It’s the end of another season, one that, if we’re being truthful, was Georgia’s least successful since 2016. That it still resulted in eight wins in a shortened ten-game schedule and another NY6 game victory shows me that Smart’s done a pretty decent job of raising the bar from the reasonably high level it was left by Richt. All if which isn’t to say there shouldn’t have been more.
The quarterback situation came back to bite the program in the ass, for one thing. As a result, it seemed like it took a while for the offense to find its groove. That, in turn, put a fair amount of pressure on the defense to hold things together, and as we saw in the two biggest games of the season, it simply wasn’t up to the task. If this program is going to get to where we expect it to go, that is going to have to change dramatically.
Fortunately, the pieces seem to be there for that, assuming Daniels and Monken are back. I think Kirby is feeling his way through a changing era in coaching philosophy; it didn’t help that he lost crucial practice time due to the pandemic and Newman’s unexpected departure. It will be nice if Daniels returns, not only for Georgia’s prospects in 2021, but also because it will allow the program to set up a logical succession at quarterback, the most important position on the field, and something that has for the most part eluded Smart.
Okay, that’s it. When’s G-Day, anyway?
Assuming we’ve moved on to a post-COVID era in college football and are able to safely play a 12-game schedule, that sets up nicely for the Dawgs.
The opener will be a challenge, obviously, but from there things are certainly manageable. The cross-divisional games are a rebuilding Arkansas in Athens and an Auburn team that will be breaking in a new coaching staff (Gus’ insistence that the Georgia game be moved earlier in the season should come to bite Harsin in the ass, ironically).
We’ve already talked a little about the East, but suffice to say that it will range from Missouri’s offensive continuity on the plus side to a bunch of teams breaking in new quarterbacks, new coordinators and, in a couple of cases, new head coaches.
Oh, yeah — the season ends with a couple of tune up games against Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech. At Tech.
Really, there’s no reason this team can’t run the table after the opener, regardless of whether it wins or loses. Either way, it should roll into Atlanta in the CFP conversation. At least, that’s what I would expect. I’m sure Kirby would chastise me for spreading rat poison, but that’s how it looks from here.
Sorry, Gators, the Portal Master™ has no more fucks to give.
Either you do this because you really want out of Gainesville and recruiting, or you’ve seen how successful Todd Grantham’s agent is every year whipping up pseudo-hiring rumors and are taking a page out of his book, but in any event, it is hard not to imagine how much hay is going to be made about this on the recruiting trail by competing programs.
Not that Mullen cares, apparently.
UPDATE: Interesting note from Matt Hayes here…
Understand this: For the second straight year, Mullen hasn’t yet received a contract extension despite a 29-9 record and 3 straight New Year’s 6 Bowl appearances.
Christ, this whole article about the Tom Herman firing is a steaming pile of bullshit.
Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte wanted to keep coach Tom Herman in place for the 2021 season. He issued a statement on Dec. 12 saying as much, even though every word was torn apart on social media.
But as December rolled on, more things kept cropping up, creating the perception of real trouble within the program. “Circumstances changed,” Del Conte told the American-Statesman late Saturday.
“From the time I made the statement, I had not completed my evaluation,” Del Conte said. “When I completed that evaluation, it became apparent a change needed to be made.”
If you hadn’t completed your evaluation, why on earth would you give the man your vote of confidence? (Insert your “even Greg McGarity” observation here.)
And this is what were supposed to believe were the changed circumstances?
With Texas unable to win a title, players started opting out. Junior left tackle Samuel Cosmi announced he was skipping the remaining games, followed by junior safety Caden Sterns.
Seniors started opting out to start working toward the NFL draft, too — defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham and safety Chris Brown. Junior receiver Brennan Eagles opted out, and so did junior defensive end Joseph Ossai, who would later earn first-team All-America status from The Associated Press.
Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, the biggest name left with 2021 draft value, stayed put. He played in the Alamo Bowl but suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the second half.
School officials were astonished and concerned, albeit privately. Why would so many players suddenly want to quit on the team?
You can’t be that gullible. Nobody is. Otherwise, you’d have seen a rash of coaches fired along with Herman. As noted in the article, “Opting out of meaningless bowls is the wave of the future, though.” More like wave of the present, but you get the drift.
Throw in a little trouble on the recruiting trail, the racist fallout from “The Eyes of Texas” controversy (“With how The Eyes situation and lack of leadership is shaking out, I am asking for a refund on the complete sum of 2020 athletic gifts/ticket money”) and voilà! Changed circumstances, motherfucker. Never mind that stuff was brewing before Del Conte gave Herman his pat on the back for 2021.
No, the real tip that the verdict was in way before Del Conte finished his “evaluation” was this: “Within hours of his firing, the school announced the hiring of Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as the next Texas coach.” [Emphasis added.]
Don’t mess with Texas boosters.
Somebody’s gonna owe Georgia’s coaching staff a Christmas card this year.
Seriously, that gives you some idea of the length of Coach O’s attention span. Make sure you get a solid buy out before you sign on the dotted line, Marcus.
You get one guess which one Todd Grantham was playing.
Damn, you know Monken’s gotta be licking his chops over the rematch.