Saturday’s chess match

As indicated earlier, Dan Lanning’s job looks fairly simple to me:  take away the deep threat in the passing game and limit Jefferson’s ability to do damage with his feet.  There may be some tweaking to the scheme (particularly, as I mentioned, in playing more zone), but to me it seems like defensive success for Georgia will be more about execution than anything.  Yes, I’m probably guilty of oversimplifying here, but if the Dawgs maintain contain and force Jefferson to beat them with an intermediate passing game, I’m not seeing a lot of Hog points showing up on the scoreboard.

The question I’ve got is what happens on the other side of the line of scrimmage.  Does Odom dance with what brung him so far — and, let’s be fair, that’s been very good, as Arky is second in the conference in defensive ypp against P5 opponents — or does he throw a change up at Todd Monken?

The reason I ask is because of the Clemson game.  Yeah, I know the tendency to explain Georgia’s anemic offense in the opener is to chalk it up to injuries and the need to throw inexperienced players into the mix, but I don’t forget that Venables completely changed his MO for that game and had Monken… well, I hesitate to say confused, rather more like non-aggressive.  In any event, the 4.20 ypp Georgia averaged against Clemson is the lowest in Monken’s time in Athens.

Second lowest (4.36) came against Arkansas in last season’s opener.  In fourteen games, those are the only two in which Georgia’s offense was held below five yards per play.  I’ve got to think that Venables saw something in last year’s Arkansas game that helped convince him to take a similar approach.

My gut, then, tells me there’s definite value to dropping lots of defenders back in coverage in order to force Georgia to work its way down the field.  My head, though, says there is one difference for Saturday, and that is Monken has better weapons to deploy than he did in the two other games.  Most notably, the quarterback situation is vastly different from what it was when Mathis started against Arky, but the overall health of the offense is improved from the Clemson game, particularly when it comes to the receiving corps.

If Odom wants to stick with what’s worked so far, he’s facing a quarterback in Daniels who won’t be confused by zone looks and is also savvy enough to take advantage of a busted coverage or two (if you go back and look at the Texas A&M game, those were there, but Calzada couldn’t close the deal when it was offered).  He’s also going to have his hands full with Georgia’s tight ends, assuming Washington is back and able to contribute.

So, does he stick with his 3-2-6 scheme, swap it out wholeheartedly for something else, or mix and match?  He’s certainly been around the block enough to have more than one card up his sleeve, but going away from your strength is often a dicey proposition. Then again, if Monken’s prepared a game plan for that and you show up looking different, maybe that throws a wrench into Georgia’s offense.

That being said, if you’re Arkansas going into this game, you have to be thinking Georgia’s not going to let you score more than in the upper teens at best.  They only managed 20 against TAMU, the best defense they’ve seen so far, at a neutral site.  If that’s where the Hogs’ offense is going to land, they’ve got to do what they can to limit Georgia’s explosive plays.

Maybe this comes down to whether either team can get off to a quick start and put the other in a hole.  Both are capable of that.  We saw Georgia obliterate Vanderbilt in less than a quarter last week, while Arkansas took a 17-0 lead over the Aggies that it never relinquished and that allowed Odom to run his defense the way he wanted.

In other words, I don’t know how this will play out.  But I’ll be watching to see who gets the better of this chess game.



Filed under Georgia Football, Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Strategery And Mechanics

30 responses to “Saturday’s chess match

  1. fisheriesdawg

    If I’m Arkansas, I absolutely sit back and make Georgia beat me with 3 rushing and 8 sitting back.

    And if I’m Georgia, I tight end that defense to death. Come out in a bunch of 12 personnel sets and wear their LBs down as they have to bounce between filling gaps against the run and trying to cover the middle 2/3 of the field in front of the safeties.

    Liked by 8 people

    • moe pritchett

      Agree. Plus Ladd has proven himself a weapon and can range those intermediate passes just over the TE’s and under the deeper guys ; Smith, RJS, and Kearis. If Odom stays w three rushing, maybe we can run the ball much more efficiently…I think. But all I just said and $2.59 will get you a Happy Meal.


    • practicaldawg

      Yeah, the TE situation we have is the one thing that gives me pause on expecting them to play deep and keep it all in front of them. Bowers and friends would feast on their LB matchups.


    • biggusrickus

      That assumes they can stop the run that way. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Georgia’s OL can control the line of scrimmage. It’s the one concern I have about the team as the competition ramps up.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tony BarnFart

      Lots of rub routes to our tight ends


  2. I think JT was playing hurt in game 1 a lot more than we knew/know…this offense is more dynamic now than against Klempzen. I don’t recall Barry being such a good chess player at Mizzou…I think he brings heat early and gets burned a few times before playing back…at that point our run game starts pounding … Go Dawgs

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We run at them, they blitz more and we get big plays out of the mix. Not only should our offense look in control, but our D will suffocate them. 34 – 10.


  4. charlottedawg

    The offense is what worries me the most in this game and scoring a bunch of points is far from a given. In their 2 games against ranked teams, a JT / monken offense has scored a grand total of 25 points (22 against Cincinnati and 3 against Clemson). Stating the obvious but I don’t care how good your defense is, that lack of production is eventually going to get you beat if not blown out by a good team. they’re going to have to start producing against good competition not just against overmatched teams.


    • jcdawg83

      He scored 24 points against Bama and 28 against Florida without JT and both of them were ranked. I like to think he would have done better with JT.

      Liked by 2 people

    • HirsuteDawg

      That Cincinnati game was with a put together – I’m not going to play in the bowl game squad. We are better than that. As for Clempson, other than first game jitters I got no idea.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. jcdawg83

    I’m far from an expert but I don’t see Odom changing his defense much. His 3-2-6 defense has gotten him where he is and I don’t see him revamping it for one game. He may bring some linebacker or corner blitzes to dial up pressure but I think he sticks with the defense he has had success with.

    Venables had all Spring and Fall camp to work on a game plan for Georgia. Let’s be honest, beating Georgia was a big deal for Clemson. They knew their schedule outside of us was a joke and beating us would give them legitimacy. No one suspected they might be an above average offense this season five minutes before kickoff in Charlotte. I don’t think Odom has had this game circled and spent an inordinate amount of time scheming for it.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. spur21

    If we win the toss and defer I can see Arky going deep on the first play. After that who knows.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    Don’t know a lot about Arky’s STs, but our STs have been effective and together with our D it’s allowed us to make a living on the opponents side of the field. Jefferson is gonna need industrial strength earplugs if he’s pinned deep on the east end of Sanford, and he’s not so hot on 2nd & 3rd downs to begin with. If Arky’s D is the real deal I could see us kicking a lot of FGs and having to jam the ball into the end zone with our RBs. But I don’t see them scoring much on our D.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Geezus

    I’m just glad the chess match will be at noon and I can move on to other more productive things with the rest of the day.

    Liked by 3 people

    • californiadawg

      Same, although my productivity involves bar hopping to watch the other 14 top 25 matchups tomorrow. Gonna hydrate all day like I’m prepping for a marathon tomorrow.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. uga97

    The Oline & the run game & D helped us survive vs Clemson…now it’s time the upperclass Wideouts step up in a big big way.


  10. I just don’t get where Arkansas scores enough points to win without a bunch of turnovers and cheap field position. We will control the run game without committing a safety to the line of scrimmage (except when we want to). The teams that have beaten us over the last few years:
    1) Florida 2020 – dynamic passing game with a difference makers everywhere and a QB who was able exploit match-up problems
    2) Alabama 2020 – dynamic passing game with an excellent RB, 1st round draft picks at receiver, and a QB who was able exploit match-ups
    3) LSU 2019 – ditto Alabama 2020
    4) South Carolina 2019 – turnover/mistake fest by Georgia
    5) Texas 2019 – dual threat QB who was a threat in the passing game (now playing on Sundays) and we did a lot to help them
    6) Alabama 2018 – dynamic passing game and eventually wore down our defense who had controlled the game for most of it
    7) LSU 2018 – they whipped us our defensive line and Coach O threw the kitchen sink at us
    8) Alabama 2018 (CFP) – see #6 above
    9) Auburn 2017 – hot quarterback on the road with a balanced attack.

    Do the Hogs really look like any of these teams? The only way they win is a bunch of mistakes made by Georgia. Can we just roll our helmets out there and win? No. If we play to our potential, I just don’t see a path for Arkansas.

    Final comment – if you are going tomorrow, BE ELITE!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Biggen

      Spot on. I have a hard time seeing them scoring more than 18-ish. Can they really expect to hold us under 30?? I don’t see it happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Biggen, the only other thing I can say is that only 1 of those games happened between the hedges. If we show up and show out, there is a real home field advantage at Sanford Stadium now that really hasn’t been there consistently over the last 40+ years.

        Liked by 2 people

    • miltondawg

      I will be interested to see how effective Jefferson is. If he isn’t 100%, or at least well enough to be a very real threat running the ball, I don’t see how Arkansas scores much or sustains drives. On the flip side, I think that we see Daniels for two or three scores and SBIV plays the rest of the game. I think Georgia wins, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all Arkansas covers the big number.


      • Running QBs haven’t been the kryptonite (Jalen Hurts 2018 possibly the exception because Walker was injured during the game) that has hurt us. It’s been a QB who can throw it around the field with 3+ threats catching the ball. A Tua or Burrow hurt us with his legs because he was using his legs to buy time to throw.


    • Down Island Way

      Some time in the 3rd quarter, “Madman Monken” is check mate arky, their only reply will be…”It was fun while it lasted, we’re fucked now”…


  11. kevinsauer

    TEs will be the difference on Saturday.


  12. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I appreciate the work you put in Senator. Nine fairly long paragraphs densely packed with stats, analysis and links to other stats and analysis with lots of thoughtful insights, but in the end, you could have just said this:

    “…I don’t know how this will play out. But I’ll be watching to see who gets the better of this chess game.”

    Oh, you did.

    But it was better your way. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. TripleB

    I’m no offensive coordinator, and I haven’t even stayed at a Holiday Inn lately, but if Arkansas drops six to stop the deep pass, we should be able to make their safeties and LB’s make a lot of tackles with our running backs and Tight Ends. After a while them guys should get tired of tackling Zamir White (and his crew), Bowers, and possibly Washington. This might be the game to be patient and see who gets tired first. Once they get a little weak, sprinkle in some big plays featuring speed/finesse guys. That’s what good teams with talent at every position would do, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    • jcdawg83

      In a 3-2-6 defense there are generally only 5 guys on the defensive side of the ball who weigh 225 or more pounds. Those are the players who have to control the line of scrimmage. The 6 dbs may be physical but they don’t have the bulk to constantly be taking on running backs head to head. Those 6 dbs can come up and make tackles on 220 pound running backs but they don’t want to have to do it a lot. The same can be said of tackling 230 pound tight ends with wide receiver speed. I look for the defensive linemen and the linebackers to play close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run and the 6 dbs to play fairly soft zone coverage to keep plays in front of them and eliminate the big plays and be available to come up and assist with tackling the running backs.

      Monken really needs to take what the defense gives him tomorrow. I don’t think we will be able to gash them running the ball inside, they will have the gaps pretty well covered and the dbs will be flying to the line of scrimmage on obvious run plays. I also think it will be hard to throw deep on them, there will be too many dbs back in coverage. The underneath passes, wheel routes and passes to the backs coming out of the backfield should be there all day, especially if the wide receivers are running deep routes to keep the dbs back. Run the ball off tackle with the tight end getting the seal on the end or the linebacker and make the dbs come up and make the tackle. Do that a few times until the dbs are really biting on the handoff and then go play action and let a wide receiver or tight end run past the db coming up. I think that is the only way we hit any deep balls.

      Disclaimer: I am not a coach, did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night and am frequently wrong when trying to predict football matters.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. spur21

    Dawgs 30 – Pigs 13 because CKS is a gentleman.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. 69Dawg

    See my comments in a later tread. It’s all about our center vs their Nose Guard mano n mano. If VP can’t handle him after the snap the RB’s are going to have a long day. If VP skies a couple of snaps we’re in for some turnovers or TFL.