Daily Archives: October 14, 2021

A lesson in play design

This tweet is about Stetson, who does a terrific job on the play, but that’s not what I’m posting about here.

I didn’t catch it live, nor on the highlights clip I watched, but Brent is right about the two defensive players running into each other.  But look closely to see why it happened.  You’ve got trips up at the top and the receiver out wide runs off a defender on a deep route.  It’s McConkey in the slot who messes up the coverage, though.  He retreats from the line of scrimmage, and the Auburn player on him doesn’t react until just at the moment when he crosses path with the defender who has responsibility for covering Bowers.  That’s what gets Bowers open for Bennett’s toss.

Essentially, Auburn ran a pick play on itself there.  Todd Monken is an evil genius.

28 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

How does Kentucky expect to win on Saturday?

No, I’m not trying to be a smart ass by asking that question.  I read stuff like this and genuinely want to know what kind of game plan Stoops will come up with to pull off the upset against Georgia.

Following each momentous, historic streak-snapping Kentucky football victory, Mark Stoops proclaims the Wildcats have “knocked down another door.” None of those victories were earned overnight. Stoops’ program methodically improves, knocking on the door repetitively before kicking it down with authority.

Saturday afternoon the eleventh-ranked Wildcats will be three-touchdown underdogs against No. 1 Georgia at Sanford Stadium. Kentucky has not defeated Georgia since 2009. Even though it is the first meeting of 6-0 teams in the history of the SEC East, few outsiders believe Kentucky can pull off the upset. Everyone inside the Kentucky locker room believes the Wildcats can defeat the Bulldogs.

I mean, that’s great and all — you certainly don’t want your team to walk out on the field thinking they have no chance — but I doubt the ‘Cats will be the only confident team suiting up this Saturday.  It’s gonna be a road game in front of a loud, hostile crowd that clearly spooked a top-ten opponent in Arkansas.  What exactly does Stoops come up with to steal a win?

I doubt it’s going to be an offensive explosion.  As Barrett Sallee points out, UK has been fairly limited in that regard this season.

The Wildcats are 10th in the SEC in total offense at 411.8 yards per game, ninth in scoring offense at 31 points per game and eighth in plays of 40 or more yards with six.

In all three of those statistical categories, Kentucky trails Arkansas and Auburn, both of which have already faced Georgia’s defense.

We’ve all heard about just how great the Bulldogs are, but they’ve only given up two plays of 40 or more yards, held opponents to 27.59% on third down and have only allowed opponents to enter the red zone eight times in six games.

(With regard to that last statistical tidbit, check out Georgia’s ranking in defensive red zone touchdown percentage.  Yikes.)

So you’ve got a less than dynamic scoring offense taking on a soul crushing defense.  Where do you go from there to even things up?  You’ve got to try to limit Georgia’s offensive possessions.  You’ve got a pretty good defense, so that’s at least a possibility, but you’re 126th nationally in turnover margin, so that’s not a likely route for leveling each team’s possessions.

All I can come up with is using your running game (and UK’s got a good one) to run clock, hoping that you can win the coin toss and combine keeping Georgia from scoring on its last possession of the first half with taking the second half kickoff and forcing the Dawgs to come up short on a drive or two by either forcing a turnover on downs (another thing the ‘Cats do well) or a whiff or two on a field goal attempt, something that played a major roll in beating Florida.

That’s a lot of ifs, though.

55 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Monken, Bennett and Daniels

Statistically speaking, do you know what the biggest difference is between Georgia’s top two quarterbacks?  Per Mike Griffith, it’s third down performance.

In SEC games this season:

• Daniels is 9-of-9 passing on third downs for 118 yards and 9 (-of-9) conversions for first down.

• Bennett is 8-of-14 passing on third downs for 43 yards and 2 (-of 14) conversions for first downs.

I actually guessed the answer before I read it, mainly because I remembered how insane Daniels’ third-down work was last season (a 230.50 passer rating!) and that, fairly or not, no one refers to Stetson on third down in similar ways.  Daniels hasn’t been quite as stellar this season, but his 185.38 rating is his best on any down.  As you can see here, Bennett’s strong suit is throwing on early downs, where he’s been remarkable.

You think Monken is aware of those tendencies?  Of course he is.  You think he manages his play calling for each with that in mind?  Of course he does.

I’m not going to get into a debate about who should be starting once Daniels’ health is deemed satisfactory.  If there’s a season ever in which I trust the coaches to make the right decision, it’s this one.  But I point this out to note that the right decision might very well involve how likely it is that the coaches feel the need to plan for games in which offensive performance on third down will be crucial… you know, like the one coming up in a few weeks in Jacksonville.

29 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Evolutionary or revolutionary?

I’ve got a couple of good pieces on Georgia’s defense to point y’all to today.  The first, at PFF, looks at how Smart has refined his defensive approach to counter spread offenses.  And “refined” is the key word here.

When Smart left to take over at Georgia, he knew better than to reinvent the defensive wheel. However, newer approaches to stopping newer offenses needed the space to be accommodated within his schemes. The way the staff recruited its front seven had to be changed, and the coverage concepts and the way the defense played up front needed tweaking.

Winning at the highest levels will always come down to having the right good players in place, but just rolling out 11 athletes can create issues (I’m looking in the direction of Columbus, Ohio). I think there have been faster, and outright better, defensive players at Georgia prior to 2021, but what we’re breaking down today is a scheme much more interested in attacking the spread than defending it.

The article goes on to break down ways in which Lanning’s defense is doing that, but let’s skip straight to the conclusion:

I think, too often, we discuss offensive innovations without giving much thought to whether a philosophical counterpunch even exists on defense. Offenses can change their cadence, and defenses can move/stem the front (something else Georgia is excellent at) and draw linemen offside. Different formations create additional gaps and spaces, and certain fronts eliminate them. There are a multitude of answers for the concepts you see from the best offenses in the sport.

It’s been funny to see half the college football world act like the current era of offense is, for a number of reasons, impossible to limit, while the other half continues to believe that at some point the momentum would swing back defense’s way, because that’s been the nature of the sport over time.  Maybe Kirby’s the one who’s actually cracked the code.

Meanwhile, over at UGASports, Brent Rollins looks at how Georgia had to adapt to all the personnel changes in the secondary this season and, in so doing, how that wound up making the defense better as a whole. Those changes came after this:

The Georgia Bulldogs’ defense allowed an average of 40.7 points and 539 yards per game in losses to LSU, Alabama, and Florida in the previous two seasons.

Those defenses had future NFL draft picks Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Richard LeCounte, and Mark Webb, as well as DJ Daniel and current Miami Hurricane starting corner Tyrique Stevenson in the secondary.

All told, the Bulldogs lost almost 2,300 combined snaps among those six players and Major Burns transferring to LSU. Losing those players combined with the numbers above gave Bulldog nation a lot of fear about how well the secondary would hold up this fall.

We did, and so far, the secondary has more than lived up to its potential in limiting opponents’ passing games, although it’s only fair to mention that Georgia hasn’t seen passing attacks this season anywhere near the level of the three offenses Rollins cites there.

The individual statistics are certainly impressive.

The five primary players (Derion Kendrick, Kelee Ringo, Latavious Brini, Lewis Cine, and Christopher Smith) have allowed just 396 yards in coverage, with just 190 of those coming after the catch…

Ringo and Kendrick have been especially superb on the outside. In fact, here are their numbers in coverage:

– Ringo = 3 receptions allowed on 18 targets for 40 yards and a 16.4 passer rating

– Kendrick = 3 receptions allowed on 11 targets for 83 yards and a 20.6 passer rating

Such passer rating numbers are good for the 7th and 9th best in the FBS for those with at least 10 targets. Furthermore, all five primary secondary players have a pass break-up or interception and more plays are being made on the ball (which goes with the scheme change described below). In fact, a play on the ball (interception or pass break-up) is happening at a rate of one for every seven targets. Last season, a play on the ball was made once every 11 targets.

Rollins then goes on to look at what has changed structurally.  First, it’s the coverage.

Well, what do you think Georgia’s defense has done without the experience and skillset of those now NFL-level players? They’ve played more zone coverage. While it seems so simple and logical, sticking with that concept and executing it when you have been a certain type of team over the past two years is actually quite difficult.

How much more zone? A significant amount. After being, in essence, a 50-50 man versus zone team over the past two years with Cover 1 the most played coverage, the Georgia defense has played a variation of zone coverage concepts on almost 70 percent of its snaps this season. That number doesn’t even include the combination of man and zone, such as 2-Man or two deep safeties with man coverage underneath. Cover 1 is now the Bulldogs’ fourth-most played coverage through six games.

Kirby, as a Saban disciple, hasn’t built a huge part of his reputation on zone coverage.  But you know who has?  His new secondary coach, Jahmile Addae.  And one of his additions from the transfer portal, Tykee Smith.

Second, it’s the way the secondary has meshed with the defensive front.

While pressure is something the Bulldog defense is applying at a rate unseen during the Smart era, it’s primarily doing so because the combination of good coverage and the frequent zone concepts meshing with the elite pass rush skills. In particularly in the Clemson and Auburn plays, notice the two deep safeties preventing any throws over the top and the quarterback holding onto the ball in spite of being ready to throw.

If you break down the time aspect of the Bulldogs’ pressures this year, it looks like this:

– 2.5 seconds or less = 25% of pressures and sacks

– 2.6 to 3.5 seconds = 25% of pressures and sacks

– Greater than 3.5 seconds = 50% of pressures and sacks

For reference, on 17 of 74 qualifying Power 5 quarterbacks average time to throw is over 3.0 seconds.

I know it’s been a common refrain this season to say the pressure from the front seven has made the secondary look good, but the funny thing is I can’t help noticing from week to week a steady stream of coverage sacks and quarterbacks being forced to throw the ball away because of effective coverage.

I suspect if things hold up, that we’re going to see a lot more of this sort of analysis.  I also suspect if things hold up, that Dan Lanning is going to be a very hot name for schools with head coach openings.

In the meantime, take a little while to read both articles.

27 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Don’t get too comfortable back there, dude.

Shot.

Chaser.

There’s a guy fervently hoping the ‘Cats can put together some semblance of a running game Saturday.

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Paranoia strikes deep.

Just a reminder that coaching douchebaggery isn’t limited to one specific conference:

This isn’t Riley’s first brush with media restrictions.

Neither Rattler nor Williams were made available for interviews after the emotional win, which marked the biggest come-from-behind victory in the rivalry’s history. ESPN sideline reporter  that Riley denied her the opportunity to interview Williams on the postgame broadcast.

The tweet, which was later deleted, read: “Dear viewers, please know I am always working for you. I asked to interview [Caleb Williams] postgame and Lincoln Riley said no. That kid deserved this stage and this opportunity. I actually apologized to Caleb who expected to be interviewed.”

Like coaches across the sport, Riley has a history of paranoia around outsiders viewing practice. In 2020, the University of Oklahoma applied an “opaque film” on 54 dorm room windows that could conceivably see the Oklahoma practice field. The move came as many classes at Oklahoma moved online due to the pandemic.

“While I don’t think very many people would intentionally expose our student-athletes to a competitive disadvantage, it would only take one instance to create an unfavorable situation,” Riley wrote in a letter to students affected by the blurring at the time.

Doing it for the kids is undefeated.  That’s how you know he means well.

28 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, General Idiocy

Check out the big brain on Dan.

I’m sorry, but some of my headers just write themselves.

How many football minds has young Jayden been around?

16 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...