Daily Archives: June 2, 2021

Et tu, Stew?

Dang!  Mandel plays the 1980 card ($$).

Is this Georgia’s year? — Alec A.

Given it hasn’t been Georgia’s year for four decades…

That Montana crowd’s getting rougher.

42 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Meanwhile, at Clemson

If you think Gator fans are bitter about Gilbert, check out these hot takes about Kendrick:

Woo, baby, somebody thinks their shit don’t stink.

50 Comments

Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

Today, in roster management

Apparently, Daran Branch is no longer with the team.

A day after making two big-time additions in the form of cornerback Derion Kendrick and pass catcher Arik Gilbert, DawgNation has learned that defensive back Daran Branch is no longer a member of the Georgia team.

Branch is no longer listed on the Georgia roster as provided by Georgiadogs.com and has not been for some time. Branch also was not a participant in Georgia’s spring game either.

The redshirt freshman appeared in just one game as a freshman, registering a tackle in Georgia’s win over Missouri.

Georgia landed Branch out of Amite, La., after he flipped from Ole Miss on National Signing Day in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Branch was the No. 675 ranked prospect in the 2020 cycle.

Branch becomes the third defensive back to leave the team since the end of the 2020 season, as cornerback Tyrique Stevenson transferred to Miami and Major Burns transferred to LSU.

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Is it go time for Georgia?

Ordinarily, I’d brush off columns like the one Brandon Marcello wrote yesterday after the Kendrick and Gilbert news came out.

You can practically hear the clock ticking in Athens this summer.

Georgia is attacking the offseason with an unmatched urgency, and Tuesday in a span of only 17 minutes the Bulldogs grabbed two of the better players available in the Transfer Portal: Arik Gilbert and Derion Kendrick. This wasn’t just an effort to pick up the best of the best, a practice that is now becoming common for the bluebloods in the still-early-days of the Transfer Portal. No, Gilbert and Kendrick also fill the biggest holes on a roster already packed full of former blue-chip prospects.

… This wasn’t an effort by Georgia to build depth. This was a plan enacted several months ago to turn weaknesses into strengths, and should Kendrick and Gilbert get to campus and join practices in August, the Bulldogs will shake up the SEC.

Kirby Smart has built the best roster in his conference, and possibly the country. Only Alabama and Clemson can match what the Bulldogs can roll out on Saturdays. Smart knows it and his players know it. The pressure has been building year to year and is cranked beyond the boiling point.

… No more quarterback controversies. No concerns with depth. No more excuses.

But you know what?  He’s right.  There’s only so long a Georgia fan can be excited about talent accumulation for accumulation’s sake.  At some point it has to be turned into results on the field.  Given that, along with this year’s schedule, it’s not a stretch to say that point is now.

It’s time to beat Alabama. It’s time to lift a couple of trophies. It’s time to win a national championship.

Kirby Smart’s got the bodies.  Does he have the touch to push them across the finish line?

93 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

What Gilbert brings to the table

While Arik Gilbert may not fill a need in the same way Kendrick does, there’s no way you don’t chase and take a talent like him.  This kind of production from a true freshman in SEC play ($$) doesn’t walk up to your door every day:

In fact, Gilbert’s 53 targets at LSU last year (6.6 per game) would have tied Pickens for the most by a Georgia player in 2020. Gilbert was also very active on third down, reeling in 11 catches for 107 yards, seven for first downs and one for a touchdown. That’s more third-down receptions than Pitts had last year for Florida, and similar to the impact that Pickens has had on third downs and in the red zone.

One more eyebrow-raising nugget: Those 11 receptions that Gilbert had on third down last year were more than Georgia tight ends’ combined targets on third down (10).

Gilbert caught 35 passes in eight games, which was 11 more receptions than all Georgia tight ends combined in 2020.

So, yeah, Smart would have been insane not to go after Gilbert.

The opportunity he presents for Todd Monken is pretty crazy, too.  Imagine sets with Gilbert, Washington, Jackson, Burton and another receiver, or, to put even more pressure on an opposing defense, Cook out of the backfield… I, uh, will be back in a moment…

[Sounds of a cold shower running…]

Okay, where was I?  Oh, yes.  The debate that cropped up yesterday was about word from Gilbert himself that Smart had told him Georgia would use him as a wide receiver more than a tight end.  There were rumors out that that Gilbert had lost a significant amount of weight (30 or so lbs.) from last season’s 253 pounds; this note from former Georgia receiver Terrence Edwards undercuts that somewhat.

(More thoughts about Gilbert from Edwards here.)

I swapped some tweets with Max Toscano, who writes for And The Valley Shook! about this.  Max is convinced that Georgia, in choosing to use Gilbert as a wideout, will be squandering his physical advantage and talent.  (Max wrote a very good piece about Gilbert and the flex tight end last year that you might want to read.)  He watched a lot more of Gilbert last season than did I, so my first instinct was to defer to his call, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder how much of this is semantics.  I mean, what makes a flex tight end a flex tight end is the ability to scheme him at the receiver position, something that LSU did a fair amount last season, as Graham Coffey notes in this clip.

Which brings me to my second reason for not wholeheartedly buying into Max’ argument.  Am I really supposed to believe that Todd Monken can’t figure out what to do with Arik Gilbert?  Honestly, that’s a bridge too far for me.

In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about this.  Gilbert doesn’t make up for the loss of George Pickens, but I’d rather have his skills in the toolbox than not, that’s for sure.  And imagine what Monken can dial up if Pickens does make it back this season.

I may need to take another quick shower.

29 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics, Transfers Are For Coaches.

What Kendrick brings to the table

Derion Kendrick is both a talented player and a player who fills a need for Georgia.

With regard to the latter, I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  I believe Kirby Smart has had two epiphanies since becoming the head coach in Athens.  The first came after the 2019 SECCG when he reluctantly came to the same conclusion that Nick Saban had previously reached:  old-school manball was no longer a viable offensive philosophy in an era of wide open spread passing attacks.  Adapt or die.

The second came after last season’s losses to Alabama and Florida, both of which ran dynamic spread passing attacks.  Georgia’s defense simply didn’t have enough bodies to deploy in pass defense against five-receiver sets.  Remember Monty Rice trying to cover Jaylen Waddle?  Yeah, that didn’t go well.  Mullen did a good job taking lessons from Sarkisian’s game plan and wore Georgia’s linebackers out with wheel routes when the secondary was focused on Pitts and company.

If the first problem was one of scheme and philosophy, the second was personnel related.  Smart knew at season’s end he was losing his top three corners and that his roster, while talented, was green.  On top of that, he suffered roster defections like Stevenson and Burns, exposing the defensive backfield’s overall lack of experience even more.  A loaded signing class wouldn’t fix that.  Smart instead chose not to sign as many recruits as he could, leaving open spots on the roster he could fill from the transfer portal.  Which is what he proceeded to do this offseason.

Kendrick isn’t some magic formula that completely transforms Georgia’s secondary into the best in the country.  I’m not even sure yet if he qualifies as a lockdown corner.  Take a look at what David Hale tweeted yesterday after the news came out.

This is a player who handled mediocre passing attacks with ease, but struggled with elite offenses.  (“Hey, that’ll fit right in with Georgia,” he said sarcastically.)  That being said, I think David hit the nail on the head with this observation:

And, as Seth Emerson notes ($$), Kendrick does bring a fair amount to his new team.

Last season at Clemson, Kendrick allowed completions on 11 of 24 passes where his man was targeted, per Sports Info Solutions, a percentage that would have ranked second on Georgia (for defensive backs with a minimum of 10 targets.) The completions resulted in 258 yards (or 10.8 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns.

Kendrick has three career interceptions. Tykee Smith had four in two years at West Virginia. All returning Georgia players combine for only two, including zero in 2020.

Another tidbit: Per Pro Football Focus, Kendrick has been flagged for pass interference just once in 576 career coverage snaps, including zero in 193 last season. That fits in well with a Georgia team that was flagged for defensive pass interference only six times last season, tied for the second-fewest in the SEC.

Seth goes on to call Kendrick coming to Georgia a no-brainer, and I agree — for both parties.  Kendrick gets to flash his talent in a contract year, with a chance for that to turn into a lucrative NFL opportunity.  Georgia, at worst, gets a player with two years of experience at a top flight P5 program to shore up a secondary that may not be lacking in talent, but certainly is in on-field time.  (At best, maybe the Dawgs do get that lockdown corner.)  Between him, Tykee Smith and Brandon Turnage, Kirby Smart shows that he’s bound and determined not to get caught with his pants down defending five-receiver sets this season.

Like, for example, Clemson’s.

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics, Transfers Are For Coaches.

One last transfer housekeeping issue

Sure, the NCAA now allows the transfers of Brandon Turnage from Alabama and Arik Gilbert from LSU, but that still leaves Georgia in need of the SEC’s blessing.  At this moment, there remains an intra-conference ban on the books that would require both to sit a year before being allowed to play in Athens.

However, Mark Schlabach reports that SEC chancellors and presidents are expected to vote whether to change the rule on Thursday.  Barrett Sallee confirms that such a vote is expected this week and that a change is expected to pass.

So, watch for that — and be glad that it isn’t Greg McGarity representing Georgia’s interests this week.

6 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Your Daily Gator copes with grief.

It can’t be easy watching Arik Gilbert spurn your program and sign with Georgia.  It’s only natural to search for answers in this crazy world as to why a talented kid would make such a dumb decision when he had it all right in his hands.  It’s even more natural, once the frustration passes and you stop seething, to explain it all away.

You know about the seven stages of grief, right?  Here’s what they are in Gatorland:

  • Kirby has bag men.  Dan doesn’t.
  • Georgia lacks academic standards, unlike Florida.
  • Gilbert will be wasted at tight end in Athens, unlike in Gainesville.
  • Kirby will underachieve, as always, unlike Mullen, who always gets the most out of his talent.
  • If Georgia doesn’t win a natty, it will be an embarrassment, unlike at Florida.
  • When Kirby doesn’t win a championship this season, his seat will get hot.  Dan just got a contract extension.
  • 1980

Fun offseason, eh?

37 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

Of bugs, features and the CFP

Gee, how familiar.

The hilarious thing is that an eight-team playoff is being offered as a way to fix the “problem”.  The reality is a guarantee that all P5 conference winners make the field simply enshrines it.  Add every Notre Dame team that manages to lose two games or less in a season, along with the top G5 team, to the eight-team quarterfinals and you’re down to one wild card spot a year.

It’s an invitation for further expansion, and why not?  Mo’ money is all that fuels postseason decision making and the built-in instability of this set up will encourage adopting ever bigger playoff fields.  But it’ll be the same group of four or five at its core and those will be the programs that dominate the finals.

Enjoy those brackets, though.

16 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Musical palate cleanser, pass the audition edition

I’m not sure what exactly caused me to pull this clip up, but I still enjoy watching it as much as ever.

Three things in particular:

  • For a bunch who hadn’t played live for a while, these guys were tight.  (Ringo has to be one of rock’s most underrated drummers.)
  • It’s the end days for the group, and yet there’s still palpable energy between them.  They’re clearly enjoying playing together.
  • Their sense of humor remained intact ’til the end.

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized