Daily Archives: May 11, 2021

Georgia, behind the 8-ball

Between Clay Travis’ laughably bad record as a gambling tout (there was a blog that used to run a weekly feature betting exactly opposite from Clay’s picks and won season after season) and a business model built on the basis of insulting its readers’ intelligence, I have little use for Outkick the Coverage, but this take on Kirby Smart’s approach to the transfer portal is so insane I have to share it with y’all.

It’s always frustrating to lose a player to another school, and the University of Georgia has certainly been taking it on the chin as of late.

The latest setback is former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o, who had his eyes peeled on going to Georgia for quite some time. However, To’o To’o has since decided to go another route, and he will spend his Saturdays for the next few years playing for Alabama, not the Bulldogs.

Losing To’o To’o is a big hit for Georgia, a program that simply has to get more with the times and figure out why young men around the country are using the transfer portal to go to other schools.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says that he still believes that players, in some regard, should come to you – that you shouldn’t have to go out and work to get players to come to the school.

“I would rather not use the portal because schools like Cincinnati and Georgia shouldn’t have to. You should be able to go out and recruit the right kind of guys,” Smart said.

It’s a very conservative approach by Smart and his staff, but one that is simply failing right now. Georgia just isn’t getting the players through the transfer portal that they need.

You know, except for little things like Georgia’s starting quarterback and Tykee Smith, that’s a perfect point you make there, bub.

By the way, To’o To’o is a solid player.  He’s also one that Georgia didn’t have real interest in because he doesn’t fit with the scheme Smart and Lanning run in this day and age.

… Meanwhile, offenses are dominated by run-pass option schemes and mobile QBs, making the blue-collar, inside-the-box linebacker something of an anachronism. Faster, smaller guys have largely supplanted bruisers.

“It’s a different world,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “You’ve got to have guys that can cover. Everybody now is looking for a little different [type of] guy.”

What’s fashionable at linebacker in 2021 is the hybrid player — a guy who can rush off the edge, hold up against the run and cover a slot receiver downfield, all with equal precision. Defensive coaches are looking for the speed of a Corvette and the utility of a Jeep.

To’o To’o showed at Tennessee that he’s an excellent run stuffer, but not so great in pass coverage.  Georgia’s been there, done that with other inside linebackers.  Making him the poster boy for Georgia’s transfer strategy is bizarre, to say the least.

59 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Transfers Are For Coaches.

“We’re capable of getting ourselves in a cold sweat whether we get cream cheese on our bagels.”

The hand wringing in this piece about the box the NCAA has forced itself into is just priceless.

“That’s where we are,” one high-ranking source involved in NCAA governance told CBS Sports. “We’ve not taken care of business. The participants have gotten more litigious. You throw that all together and the only way you get answers is through federally-mandated standards.”

Emmert’s words are more proof of the NCAA’s desperation. With Congress not to due to act anytime soon, the NCAA must do something. It needs at least a limited antitrust exemption from Congress with NIL implementation to keep it from being sued.

That’s because any hint of the NCAA limiting athletes’ NIL compensation could bring more legal action.

“The problem is we have a reasonably large legal exposure if we implement a rule without having an antitrust exemption to cover us,” one FBS commissioner said under the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. “That’s what people aren’t getting, why this has taken so long. We’ve got to figure out a way to get that. If we don’t get that, we’re a dead association walking.”

Save us, Obi-Wan Antitrust Exemption!  You’re our only hope.

Oh, in case you were wondering, that isn’t why this has taken so long.  The NCAA could have bargained for a limited exemption years ago in the course of all the litigation it chose to fight.  It didn’t because it chose not to.  The only difference now is that its hand has been forced by the various state legislatures that grew tired of waiting for a good faith effort from Mark Emmert’s bunch.

The NCAA could have solved this years ago, specifically in 2009, the moment Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for antitrust violations for putting his image on the cover of a video game. The NCAA’s official strategy: litigate, litigate, litigate. Since then, it has lost at almost every key turn.

“Too little, too late,” said David Ridpath, an Ohio University assistant professor and president of The Drake Group, an organization focused on reform. “The membership could have solved [NIL] months ago.”

Put that on the tombstone.

14 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

No, not him.

Anybody care to guess whom PFF says is Georgia’s top rated returning player?

73 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“The spread option is back in Gainesville.”

Here’s another good piece from David Wunderlich, this time on how Dan Mullen looks to be returning to his offensive roots this year with Florida.

Dan Mullen comes from the modern spread-to-run school. It’s a large and decentralized movement with almost as many subgroups as it has practitioners. Depending on how it’s defined, it can include anyone from the usual suspects of Rich Rodriguez and Urban Meyer to Bill Snyder and even Paul Johnson.

We don’t have to guess at the principles of the philosophical line that Mullen descends from. In 2003 an awkward, Utah polo shirt-wearing Mullen filmed a tutorial DVD for Coaches Choice that the company has since uploaded to YouTube.

The initial introduction is no different than what you might hear from anyone in decades past detailing the point of spreading the field. “The theory behind our spread offense,” he explains, “is that we want to attack defenses and make them have to defend the entire field.” Through one sentence, the scheme is indistinguishable from, say, the West Coast Offense.

The distinctive parts come in when Mullen takes just one step beyond that. “Our ultimate goal in having a successful passing attack is to allow the defense to spread out so we’re able to run the ball,” he says in the passing game portion. In the segment on rushing, he says the offense is option-based and that three, four, and five-wide receiver sets are a “deception” designed to make defenses think the Utes are “a pass-oriented team”.

All well and good, but, as David notes, there’s a catch these days.

To combat the zone read option of offenses like Mullen’s specifically, defenses developed what’s called the scrape exchange. The unblocked defensive end will go after the running back every time, and a middle or outside linebacker will “scrape” around the end of the line to pick up the quarterback option. There are ways for offenses to then adjust to that and for defenses to respond and so on, but the plain vanilla zone read doesn’t work as well as it used to if the defense anticipates it properly.

Defenses also began employing different kinds of players who must do more than defenders of the past did. Florida under Todd Grantham uses the Star position, which is like a nickel cornerback who can at times function as a safety or even a linebacker. Other defenses will employ a Spur, which is a heavier position that’s more just a safety/linebacker hybrid. A Spur does less in coverage but must do more against the run than a Star does.

In other words, defenses won’t be caught off guard by Florida going back to the future with a mobile quarterback in the Emory Jones Era.

He thinks Mullen will have a few new tricks up his sleeve, tricks he’s learned over the past season with the Trask, pass-oriented scheme he ran to combat that.  The only thing about that is Emory Jones ain’t Kyle Trask.

17 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Strategery And Mechanics

Rattlin’

I like it when a school has its contractual priorities in order.

UGA lined up more than just a football game with Florida A&M to fill a nonconference matchup in 2028.

The Rattlers are also bringing with them their well-known band, the Marching 100.

Georgia is paying Florida A&M a $650,000 guarantee for the game in Athens on Sept. 9, 2028.

The contract between the schools, signed last December, stipulates that “The Band of the Visiting Institution agrees to perform at halftime of the Game,” according to a copy obtained in an open records request. “The Visiting Institution shall notify UGAA in writing of the number of band members who will be attending the Game…”

Package deal, baby!

8 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Narrative-ville

I highly recommend you give a listen to this week’s episode of the Andy Staples Show, which is a very solid and fair look (with Seth Emerson) at where the Georgia program is at and how it’s gotten there.

Staples makes a point about halfway through that Georgia can’t overachieve — it can only achieve or underachieve.  The funny thing about that is, it’s a point that can only be made by someone who doesn’t buy into any of the narratives Andy mocks at the beginning of the podcast.  Kind of like an inverse version of Dawgrading.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football