Need a big ol’ plate of preseason happy talk? Mike Griffith is serving up a steaming portion here.
Daily Archives: April 15, 2021
Just a reminder that expanded playoffs always lead to greater parity (and chaos!)…
… except when they don’t.
Once again it’s a shame if you don’t have a subscription to The Athletic, because Andy Staples’ piece this morning ($$) is a must read. It’s an exploration of play calling on the first play of any drive. The numbers say that throwing on the first play of a drive significantly increases a team’s chance of scoring.
In the past two seasons in the FBS, teams that gained at least the distance of an FBS average completion (8.7 yards) on the first play of a drive went on to score 40.9 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. But that still might be too a high a degree of difficulty for the three-things-can-happen-when-you-throw-and-two-of-them-are-bad crowd. So how about this? Teams that complete a pass of at least five yards on the first play of a drive went on to score 37.9 percent of the time. That’s a pretty attainable goal. Only four of 130 FBS teams last season averaged fewer than five yards per pass attempt (incompletions included).
And this really hammers it home. Teams that threw a pass on the opening play of a drive and did not gain yardage — either because of an incompletion or interception — went on to score touchdowns on 21 percent of those drives. Meanwhile, teams that gained five or fewer yards running the ball scored touchdowns on 22 percent of those drives.
And yet, only 28 teams threw on the first play of a drive more than 50 percent of the time during those two seasons. You may be familiar with one of those that didn’t.
… First-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken threw on 39.5 percent of drive openers. Predecessor James Coley only threw on 32.7 percent despite having a much more experienced QB (Jake Fromm) in 2019. This made the Bulldogs more successful when they opened with a pass (13.2 yards per attempt in 2020 vs. 9.2 yards in 2019) and when they opened with a run (6.3 yards per rush in 2020 vs. 5.5 yards in 2019).
Ultimately, the point Staples strives to reach is that offensive coordinators don’t need to behave robotically and call a pass every time. That’s what the Bruce Lee quote in my header is all about: “In the context of offensive football, “Be water” means to take the yards the opponent is dedicating the fewest resources to defend.”
Dare I say it? That’s pretty much the playcalling opposite of manball. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So, a few days ago, somebody suggested a little debate/temperature taking on which personnel development would have a bigger impact on Georgia’s 2021 season: George Pickens’ absence, or Tykee Smith’s addition.
Sounds like a good post topic. To get things started, here are a couple of takes.
From Seth Emerson:
Meanwhile, this 247Sports list of the top ten impact transfers for this season doesn’t even mention Smith. (Although Tyrique Stevenson makes number seven on it.)
At this early point, the contrarian in me leans slightly in Smith’s favor, simply because (1) I have a lot of faith in Todd Monken’s ability to scheme and (2) the secondary really looks to need the kind of experienced talent Smith brings to the table. Like many of my spring feels, though, subsequent events may render them obsolete. We shall see.
Where do you see things?
As you can imagine, there’s a lot of angst today in the college coaching ranks over the new transfer rule hitting football and basketball. Here’s a typical example:
“I’ve always been about developing players, but it’s not developing players anymore,” says Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. “It’s about assimilating a team for next year that can win.”
Yes, because guys like Nick Saban don’t want to spend time developing talent.
“You’ll see less and less people signing 25 high school kids,” says Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck.
We already know about Dan Mullen, P.J.
“Mid-majors are fixing to feel the pain,” Grass says. “The Power 5s are going to have FCS big boards and mid-major big boards. It’s a trickle-down effect. Us being the minor leagues? There’s a little validity to that. The top 25 are going to poach the mid-majors and the mid-majors are going to try to poach the FCS guys.”
They used to do that with coaches, too. Somehow, y’all survived.
“It’s no longer building for the future,” Kampe says. “The portal is going to be like the Brazilian steakhouse. The Michigans of the world will have a schmorgasboard. And at the end of next year and the next, they’re going to go back and get more steak.”
Basically, what all these quotes tell me is that most FBS coaches don’t want to spend their time on player development. It’s easier to let some other guy do that. It must be nice to make millions a year and not have to work as hard.
You know who’s really gonna benefit the most from the new rule? Not the coaches running around looking to replace recruiting high schoolers with lower division talent on a wholesale basis. It’ll be the Sabans and Smarts of the world who mine that high school talent and pick and choose transfers on a limited basis to fill an immediate need. (Which isn’t to say they won’t have a transfer big board. Shit, Saban’s probably had two analysts working on that for a few years now.) What do you think will be the more successful approach over the long term?
And here’s the final word:
“It’s really crazy right now. Never seen anything like this,” he says, “but two years from now, it’s like the stock market—it’s going to find its way and recorrect itself.”
Kendall Milton would like a word with all us Georgia fans who think the offense is going to be nothing but the JT Daniels Show.
“This is Georgia; this is RBU. So, I feel like the run game is always going to play a part in the offense,” Milton said in a post-practice Zoom call Tuesday. “But we’re an offense that has a lot of weapons all over the field. With all those weapons, everybody wants to get the ball. So, you’ve got to make the scheme basically where it fits everybody.”
He’s not wrong, as far as that goes. (In fact, it’s another good reason why I believe Georgia needs to run more offensive plays per game than it’s done in previous seasons under Smart. But I digress.)
Even so, check out what Milton says he’s been working on.
“I’m trying to work on my pass-pro (protection) and being able to work in the passing the game with routes and everything,” Milton said about areas of emphasis for him. “I feel like those were the two biggest things I need to improve on going into next season…”
LOL. Running the ball between the tackles will only get you so far these days, son.
This seems like a good point to bring in Graham’s preseason take on the position, which, coming from Graham, is nothing if not thorough.
After an off-season full of hearing pundits make comments like, “Kendall Milton is what Zamir White was supposed to be,” and “McIntosh and Milton are going to take the majority of the carries from Cook and Zeus,” we were a bit loaded for bear.
Here’s the deal folks, as of this moment there is only one bell cow in Athens, and he wears #3. That’s not to take away from Kenny McIntosh or Kendall Milton, but the advanced stats say that Zamir White is at the top of the depth chart for a reason. For example, did you know that Zeus had over 100 carries more than the next most used running back on UGA’s roster last year?
Oh, and another thing, you know what every down backs have to be able to do well? Block. You know who has struggled in pass protection? Kenny McIntosh. In fact, there’s a lot of data that says the coaches don’t trust him to line up at running back on passing downs unless he’s going to run a route. But the stats say that KMac can do some SPECIAL things with the ball in his hands. Decisions, decisions…
Oh, and James Cook? He averaged 10.91 yards per a touch last year. Pretty good! Kendall Milton looks like the next every down back in Athens, but what will this year bring after he got less carries than any other back on the team in 2021 due to injuries?
And Daijun Edwards? DO NOT SLEEP ON DAIJUN EDWARDS. Guess who had more YAC per a carry than anyone else in Athens last year? Him. Edwards could vulture carries away from Milton and McIntosh just as easily as they could steal touches from Cook and White. Todd Monken has a lot of toys to play with.
Indeed he does. Just don’t expect to see a lot from those toys at G-Day. For one thing, my guess is that they’re going to emphasize the passing game this Saturday. For another, they’ve been a little banged up at running back this spring.
No big deal. They already know what they’ve got with White and Cook, and by all accounts I’ve seen, Milton has really blossomed this spring. The tough thing is McIntosh, who really could have used a full spring to work on his shortcomings (ironically, also in the passing game). Hopefully, he’ll be able to shore things up at August practice.
Bottom line, it’s a deep group. What are you hoping to see from Georgia’s backs this season?
Dennis Dodd has a good piece (no, really!) about the challenges college football defensive coordinators face these days.
If you read the article, Steele comes off as an optimist. My favorite quote, though, is this:
“Jimbo is a defensive coordinator’s dream,” said Bennett, now defensive coordinator at North Texas. “It’s like playing for a wishbone team. He believes in ball control, possession and protecting the defense.”
Manball, she lives!
Along those lines, you might also be interested in this SEC StatCat post about some SEC offensive trends and concepts that worked last season.
Nibbles from around the world of college football:
- According to Mike Leach, Will Rogers was the first true freshman quarterback he’s worked with.
- Here’s Athlon’s fairly milquetoast analysis of Florida’s 2021 schedule.
- Who has coached the most seasons in Kentucky football history?
- Roll ‘Bama Roll’s take on 2021 Georgia: “The defense of course will always be elite, the running game is loaded, and if Kirby finally finds some wideouts to let JT Daniels take the top off, the Bulldogs are legit. They would actually be my favorite…if you can trust Kirby Smart 15 times in one season.”
- Dick Vitale isn’t happy with the new NCAA transfer rule.
- Meet former UGA player Wix Patton, who gave up football to pursue a music career. (h/t Hunkering Hank)
- From Chip Towers’ update on G-Day: “Unfortunately, traditional tailgating still will not be allowed. Fans will be directed into designated parking lots and won’t be allowed to set up tents, grills or television sets.” Don’t say you weren’t warned.