Daily Archives: October 13, 2021

PAWWWLLL, how the turntables have turned.

Shot.

Jerome from Birmingham called in to “The Paul Finebaum Show” on Monday in a hysterical state. Mighty Alabama had fallen, and the sky would soon follow.

“We live in the moment, and right now my (dang) moment ain’t good!” Jerome shouted, a feeling shared by many Alabama fans.

Chaser.

I’m old enough to remember when Finebaum asked that question about ‘Bama.

23 Comments

Filed under Alabama, PAWWWLLL!!!

Today, in life comes at me fast

Shot.

… I think this team is brilliantly fashioned, the defense in particular. But don’t be surprised, assuming things hold up, if the best defense in the country and one of the best over the past decade seems underrepresented at season’s end on awards list. Not that anyone of us is likely to care all that much.

Chaser.

34 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Observations from the end zone, victory on the Plains edition

Every time I sit in the visitor section at bee-you-tee-ful Jordan Hare Stadium, I’m surprised I can’t see the Atlanta skyline from there.  Also, I keep thinking one day I’ll need an oxygen tank to help me navigate the trek to my seats.

But I digress.  Georgia won!

The Dawgs did, but it was a little different that what we’ve been accustomed to over the past few weeks.  Not so much a matter of first quarter shock and awe — hell, they were even sporting enough to spot Auburn an early lead — as it was a case of the more talented team slowly and steadily grinding down its opponent.  In its own way, though, that was just as scarily impressive as what the Dawgs had done to the likes of Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

I’ve already said something similar, but the way this team goes about its business, even in its first truly hostile environment of the season, is a thing to behold.  Aside from Nolan Smith letting his emotions get the better of him one time (and he was penalized for it), these Dawgs just went out and coldly showed Auburn who was boss.  The Tigers and their fans were the college football equivalent of a balloon that slowly, but steadily, had all the air leak out from it.

Have some bullet points now:

  • I wish I could say the run blocking continues to show consistent improvement, but, alas, I think the consistency part of that is still missing.  At least it appeared that way to me for much of the first half and even in brief, if spottier, moments in the second when Georgia’s offense had clearly worn down Auburn’s defense.  Zamir White’s touchdown in the fourth quarter was a perfect example of that, as he was caught in the backfield by a run blitzer the o-line didn’t pick up, but escaped, squeezed through the o-line and scored.
  • The pass protection, on the other hand, continues to be stellar.  Bennett played almost the entire game without being touched, the one exception coming on a roll out when he didn’t throw the ball away and took a big sack instead.
  • That being said, the most pleasant surprise of the day had to be Broderick Jones’ performance at left tackle after Salyer left with an injury.  Jones held up well enough that I hope it encourages the coaches to leave him there and move Salyer to left guard.
  • If you couldn’t tell from my comment above about the running game, the three backs, White, Cook and Milton all played well.  As Smart said in his post-game comments, Zeus is 100% back from his injuries.  He may not have elite top end speed, but his vision, balance and toughness are all elite.  Cook shows more and more that he’s not just an athlete, but a complete back who can run up the middle.
  • Speaking of Cook, how come his catch on the five-yard line that wasn’t ruled a catch wasn’t reviewed?  Granted, it was on the opposite side of the field from me, but it looked like he was in bounds and not juggling the ball.
  • I cannot say enough what a huge role the three freshmen receivers have played in Georgia’s success.  McConkey has proven to be way more than I thought they’d get out of him this season.  Bowers, ditto.  And Mitchell is going to be a monster when all is said and done.  For a true freshman, his route running, as he showed on his touchdown catch, is already at a ridiculous level.
  • Welcome back, Mr. Washington.  I almost felt sorry for the Auburn defensive back trying to defend you on that sideline pass that resulted in DPI.
  • I’m not sure, but I think the offense played a tough road game without committing a penalty.  Pretty amazing, if true.
  • I don’t know about you, but my sense of déjà vu watching Auburn’s offense run Bobo’s lengthy, scripted first series that wound up only netting a field goal was palpable.  Good times!
  • It was pretty obvious that Lanning had drilled into the defense’s heads not to let Nix scramble for big gains and for the most part, they were successful in containing him.  He’s got to be as exhausting to defend as he is to watch.  And, man, does he complain to the officials.
  • Speaking of which, while there are gaps in Brini’s game, he is absolute money in end zone pass defense.  That fourth down pass break up at the end of the first half was huge.
  • I know every week there’s the usual excellent cast of characters to praise, but there’s usually somebody who steps up that I don’t ordinarily note.  This week, it’s Quay Walker, who had a monster game.  In fact, both Walkers did, as Travon did his best to make Nix miserable.
  • Another shout out has to go to Dan Jackson, who had to step in for most of the game when Smith went out with an injury, played without incident and led the team in tackles.
  • Dean showed great hands on the interception.  He’s everywhere, kind of like Georgia’s version of Roy Kent.
  • Special teams were relatively quiet, which in a game like this, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Podlesny clanked a field goal, but Jackson had a nice kickoff return and Camarda was his usual steady self.
  • Coaching?  C’mon.  I’ve already mentioned Monken’s ability to set up the play action stuff and I loved his latest goal line wrinkle, bringing in White at fullback in the I-formation.  Lanning, as always, had his defense out there doing what it does best, shutting down the run.  Bigsby had that one freakish touchdown, but otherwise he was a non-entity.  Cox never looked comfortable in the passing game.
  • As for Smart, his teams come out every week and play to a standard.  They’re well prepared.  Nor are we seeing much in the way of in game decision making that could be called into question.  Georgia’s been a well-oiled machine from week to week and that’s to Smart’s credit.

There’s no such thing as a bad Auburn win and this was no exception.  The bonus is that the team has now been tested in a loud, unfriendly environment and passed with flying colors.  On to Kentucky (in Athens)…

72 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

2021 Mumme Poll, Week 6

Screenshot_2019-09-30 (1) Senator Blutarsky ( MummePoll) Twitter

Well, one thing seems certain.  With an unprecedented 74 teams receiving votes in this season’s first balloting, chaos has come to town.  Here’s what our top thirty looks like:

For handy comparison’s sake, here’s the top 25 from the AP and Coaches Polls:

There is a credible amount of correlation going on there.  And, pertinently, without the perception of bias that plagues the Coaches Poll.  Not to mention this:

A poll so easy, even a head coach has time for it.

324 people participated this week and the typical ballot had votes cast for 11.8 programs.  Consistent with prior years, 60.5% of the voters are from Georgia, but I don’t think we can chalk the Dawgs’ ranking up to hometown bias.

The vote by conference breaks down like this:

We may not like it, but the Big Ten is more credible with us that it’s been in a while.

Random thoughts and observations:

  • Your eyes do not deceive you.  One voter left Georgia off their ballot entirely.  That’s actually not that strange.  In 2019, after LSU established their regular season dominance, I think there was only one week then that the Tigers were a unanimous pick by our voters.
  • Speaking of 2019, I came up with a designation then I called Tier One, which consisted of teams appearing on at least 90% of ballots cast.  There are three that meet that criteria this week:  Georgia, Iowa and Cincinnati.
  • There are only nine teams that made an appearance on at least half the ballots, which is a little slim this early in the season, especially in a season of chaos.  The normal pattern is for that to shrink further and for a significant hollowing out following the over 50% crowd, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

What do y’all see there?  Have at it in the comments.

11 Comments

Filed under Mumme Poll

“Why can’t we?”

This is a fascinating mash up.

Saban’s the GOAT and he’s got the rings to prove it.  His change in philosophy there is cited as gospel now as to how you have to win championships.

So maybe I should duck when I ask this, but, what if Kirby’s right?  What if it’s still possible to win playing elite defense?

Now, Georgia’s only played a half season so far, but so far the results support Smart’s premise.

The No. 1-ranked Dawgs have given up 33 points in six games, all wins. Nobody’s scored more than 13 on Georgia, and two have scored nothing at all. Georgia’s defense has given up two touchdowns, the same amount it has scored, and also added a safety. The Bulldogs’ 5.5 points allowed per game would be the fewest of the century, ahead of 2011 Bama’s 8.15. (Lest anyone think it’s strictly a result of an early season schedule, Georgia’s points allowed per game drop to 5.2 against Power 5 teams only, compared with 7.8 for Alabama a decade ago.) By yards allowed per play, for which ESPN’s Stats & Information Group has data going back to 2004, Georgia’s 3.56 is just behind 2011 Bama’s 3.32 and 2004 North Carolina State’s 3.47. In expected offensive points allowed per play, Georgia’s -0.35 figure leads 2011 Bama’s -0.33 for first place since at least 2004.

With regard to that last stat, one little secret:  playing elite defense means playing winning football, as this chart indicates.

Obviously, it’s a long way between now and January, but, for the sake of argument, let’s say Georgia’s success holds up all the way through to the end.  What’s the lesson to be learned from that?  I suspect some would dismiss it as a mere outlier, the exception that proves Saban’s rule.

Others, I’m sure, will point to this:

The most important area in which Smart has copied Saban is recruiting. Alabama was a singular recruiting force for most of Saban’s tenure, signing up the country’s No. 1 class every year from 2011 to 2017, according to the industry-consensus 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. The Tide are still mega-elite, and in 2021 they signed the highest-rated class in the history of recruiting rankings. Over the past half-decade, though, the Dawgs have joined the Tide in the highest tier of player acquisition. In 2016, Smart’s first year, Georgia had the sixth-most-talented roster among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, based on the recruiting ratings of its players in 247Sports’ Team Talent Composite. Smart signed up a couple of No. 1 classes of his own in 2018 and 2020, and by 2020, Georgia had narrowly passed Bama in its player ratings. In 2021, the Tide and Dawgs are basically tied at the top.

Well, duh.  How is that any different than recruiting elite offenses?  None of the teams that have successfully competed for CFP titles have been slouches on the recruiting trail.  You’re not gonna win anything without having enough Jimmies and Joes first.

Like it or not for some, if Georgia grabs the brass ring, some of it has to be attributed to coaching philosophy and scheme.

Georgia’s defense is built for its time, and it shows on game days, too. With the nickel base defense all the rage now, the Dawgs line up with at least five defensive backs on the field on 68 percent of their snaps. Stopping the pass is where a defense butters its bread. A hint of that is that pass defense accounts for 76.2 percent of Georgia’s total defensive EPA so far, compared to 58.6 percent of Bama’s in 2011.

Watch enough of Georgia (it doesn’t take much), and you’ll see moments where the Bulldogs’ discipline and creativity mix with their talent to make opponents look bad.

If it happens, the offseason debate should be as fascinating as that Saban-Smart mash up.  Along those lines, I have to give some credit to Stewart Mandel for having an open mind about it in his Mailbag today ($$):

We know offenses have taken over college football, and scoring at will (exaggerating a bit) is a DNA trait of the last several national champions. So realistically, can Georgia ride a defense to a championship, or is it a matter of time before the Dawgs meet their match on offense? — Kraig B, Atlanta

It’s true: The last national champion to rank lower than No. 3 nationally in offense was 2017 Alabama, and even that Jalen Hurts-led team ranked No. 13 (6.6 YPP). But Georgia’s defense so far is the most dominant the sport has seen in many years. The Dawgs are allowing a ridiculous 5.5 points per game. No team has allowed fewer than 10 points per game over an entire season since 2011 Alabama (8.8), whose defensive coordinator was one Kirby Smart. Georgia is also allowing the fewest yards per play (3.6) and lowest opposing passer rating (85.2) since that 2011 Alabama team. I did not think it was possible to put up those kind of numbers against today’s college offenses.

With a defense that dominant, Georgia doesn’t need to have an elite offense. It’ll presumably need to score some points if it runs into Alabama, or in a Playoff game against Ohio State (48.5 points) or Oklahoma (41.2). But there’s something many may be slow to recognize about this year’s Georgia team: So far, they’ve been capable of doing just that.

Even accounting for that 10-3 win over Clemson in Week 1, Georgia ranks No. 12 nationally in scoring offense (39.8)…

I completely get why there’s a “believe it when I see it” vibe around the nation’s No. 1 team. We’ve been fooled by Smart’s teams before. But you know who could care less about curses and narratives? Vegas. It’s pretty telling that Georgia is a massive 23.5-point favorite against No. 11 Kentucky. That’s a level of respect you usually only see for Alabama in some of its big SEC games. It tells me the oddsmakers don’t have the slightest concerns about UGA’s offense. I’m with them.

32 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

A different way to havoc

It’s not just what advanced stats have to say about Georgia’s defensive performance that impress.  Some of the raw numbers regarding blitzing and sacks are just as crazy good.  Consider these:

  • Georgia is blitzing on 18.8 percent of opponent dropbacks, its lowest rate under Smart, but is getting sacks on 12.1 percent of dropbacks — the highest rate under Smart.
  • Eighteen different Georgia players have at least one sack, and 12 different Bulldogs have recorded at least one full sack. That’s the most on any Power 5 team in the country and second-most in the FBS. In just six games that’s already more than Georgia had all of last season (11) or four years ago when it reached the national championship game (10).

23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

CFN’s Georgia-Kentucky preview

Pete Fiutak:

Don’t meltdown when things start going wrong – and they will go wrong.

The intensity of Sanford Stadium – along with the NFL defensive front on the other side – helped cause penalty after penalty by Arkansas in the 37-0 Dawg win.

Auburn couldn’t throw its way back into the game, Clemson couldn’t do anything right, and no one seems able to solve the No. 1 defense in the country. Kentucky has the offensive line and the running back in Chris Rodriguez to get pounding. The big yards won’t be there, but the Wildcats have to at least maintain some semblance of ball control with No. 24.

You can’t commit penalties to have any shot at Georgia. Kentucky is among the best in the SEC at keeping the flags to a minimum.

You have to bring the defense. Kentucky has yet to allow anyone to hit 175 rushing yards and no one has thrown for 300.

You can’t turn the ball over and have to take the ball away to pull this off, and …

Kentucky doesn’t come up with takeaways and it has a turnover problem.

Three things to unpack from that:

  1. The ‘Cats are impressively consistent — not elite, but consistent — on defense.
  2. UK has a turnover problem that likely isn’t going to be resolved in a positive way Saturday.
  3. Intensity at Sanford may be a bigger issue that I anticipated.  A quick check of Kentucky’s schedule reveals they’ve only played one road game so far.  That was a 16-10 win at South Carolina that was by far the closest conference game the ‘Cocks have played this season.

Thoughts?

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

TFW you run out of moves

I’ve watched some of the highlights from the Auburn game and the most cringeworthy moment from the broadcast is Rick Neuheisel excitedly burping about Bo Nix: “he’s going Manziel!”.

Yeah, right.

17 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football

Gettin’ after it

Call me out for looking ahead, if you like, but here’s a stat I’d file in the back of my head if we get a certain match up in the SECCG:

Given the current state of Alabama’s o-line and that of Georgia’s defensive front seven, I’d look for the Dawgs to notch another entry on that list.

10 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

See you in Jacksonville.

This does not sound like a quarterback who’s gonna play against Kentucky.

You know what?  That’s fine.  The coaches are confident in Stetson.  Stetson’s teammates are confident in Stetson.  Georgia will be fine Saturday.

Meanwhile, JT gets two more weeks of rest and rehab before rolling into the Cocktail Party.  Have him ready then, because you know third-and-Grantham will be ready… oh, wait.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple