Daily Archives: November 12, 2021

Bill Connelly’s keys to Saturday’s game

Mind you, Bill’s not predicting a Tennessee win.  He’s just answering the question “how do you beat Georgia?($$).  He’s got three criteria, all backed with some data:

Step 1: The Dawgs settle for field goals.  One thing Georgia is not particularly good at this season is red zone touchdown rate, where they rank 86th nationally.  Bill cites the Clemson game and the first half of the Florida game where things were a little dicey because Georgia couldn’t get in the end zone.

Step 2: The opponent strikes deep.  This one’s relative — Georgia’s pass defense against the deep ball is merely good, not great (29th in success rate allowed).  On top of that, you’ve got to keep your quarterback upright (“Georgia is 16th in sack rate despite almost never blitzing”) to have a chance to strike deep.  That last task poses an even more monumental challenge for UT, which is an abysmal 123rd nationally in sacks allowed.

Step 3: Stetson Bennett runs into trouble on passing downs.  This is the one that concerns me from a scheme standpoint.  What if Tennessee doesn’t go balls out to stop the run, but chooses to play a softer defense that doesn’t allow Bennett easy opportunities to throw against single-man, press coverage — and still manages to do a fair job of handling Georgia’s run game?  Bill points out that Stetson’s strong suit isn’t throwing under pressure:  “Obviously everybody is better when they’re not pressured, but a 74% completion rate and 12.7 yards per pass versus 38% and 8.4 is quite a difference.”

A lot of stuff would obviously have to go right for the Vols to have a real chance at the upset, and I’m not finding that likely.  The rebuttal to Bill’s three keys are that (1) given their offense’s pace, it’s hard to see Tennessee’s defense holding up for four quarters as Clemson’s did; (2) it’s hard to see UT’s offensive line giving Herndon the kind of consistent time he’ll need to pop a few big pass plays; and (3) Georgia’s got JT Daniels available in relief, if necessary.

Still, any given Saturday and all, it’s worth thinking about.



Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Your Daily Gator is hot.

Brian Edwards runs a tout service and is also a loyal Florida fan.  His column on Todd Grantham’s departure is… well, if you’re a Georgia fan, a sheer pleasure to read.

That pathetic effort from UF’s run defense came less than a month after LSU gashed the Gators for 321 rushing yards. On that afternoon in Redstick, the Tigers won a 49-42 decision despite the efforts of Florida backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, who led four consecutive touchdown drives in the second half.

LSU averaged 7.1 YPC against the Gators. To give you an idea of the utter ineptitude of Grantham’s scheme against the Tigers, consider that they had averaged 1.9, 3.5, 3.5, 2.3, 1.3 and 4.2 YPC in their six previous games. Furthermore, they have averaged 2.2 and 2.7 YPC in their two games since then.

LSU has produced more than 100 rushing yards in only three of its eight games played against opponents not named Florida. The second-highest output on the ground was 147 rushing yards at Kentucky.

How Grantham was even allowed on the airplane home from Baton Rouge was baffling. The fact that he wasn’t pink slipped by Monday at noon Eastern on Oct. 18 was a defiant act from Mullen that wreaked havoc on the sanity of Gator Nation.

This isn’t the only time Mullen has tested the patience of the orange and blue faithful.

The rehashing from there is delicious, topped by the finale.

Less than 48 hours removed from UF’s putrid effort at South Carolina, you’d be hard pressed to find many Gators who remain in Mullen’s corner. I exchanged texts with a prominent Florida player who was a starter for three seasons under Spurrier in the ’90s. In response to me saying that it’s time to cut the cord on Mullen’s tenure, he replied, “100 percent agree. That was embarrassing. I’m so pissed I can’t even think straight.”

Imagine how he’s gonna feel when Mullen returns for the 2022 season.


Filed under Gators, Gators...

If perfect is the enemy of the good, is the good the enemy of mediocre?

Andy Staples is an unabashed fan of playoff expansion, and more power to him for that.  I am a little bit amused by his recent enthusiastic piece on the resurrection of the 12-team format ($$).  Here’s how he characterizes the original proposal, which became tainted by its association with history’s greatest monster, Greg Sankey:

The original plan called for the automatic bids to go to the six highest-ranked conference champs regardless of the autonomy status conferred upon them by the NCAA. It was admittedly a more elegant solution that ignored major college football’s caste system and provided a better chance for less financially robust leagues to put teams in the CFP.

But something, something, Texas, Oklahoma, trust destroyed intervened.  And now we get the latest version of football’s greatest invention since white bread.  Here’s how Staples sees everybody winning now:

… It might be worth it to Sankey to try to horse trade approval of the compromise in exchange for a smoother exit for his league’s 15th and 16th members.

If that happened …

• The SEC would get something it wants (more at-larges and maybe Oklahoma and Texas sooner).

• The Big 12 would definitely get one thing it needs (legislated legitimacy) and probably something else it needs (a better TV deal than it would have gotten).

• The Big Ten would get something it wants (conference champions getting most favored nation status and more at-larges).

• The ACC would get something it needs (a guaranteed spot for when the league is down) and something it could use later (more at-larges for when 2016 happens again).

• The Pac-12 would get something it needs (a guaranteed spot).

• The Group of 5 leagues would get something they need (a guaranteed spot in the Playoff, which is not as good for them as the original proposal but is much better than what they get now).

If you missed consideration for “the best”, or even “the deserving”, you’re not alone.  Money doesn’t care about any of that.  The P5 will slap this together, throw in the obligatory praise about helping the kids, move on and collect the checks.

And anyone who thinks the carousel is going to stop at twelve is seriously deluding themselves.  Expansion will only end when there’s nobody willing to pay more for it.  But y’all enjoy the brackets!


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

“If there is not a penalty, why would anybody change their behavior…”

Like the weather, everybody talks about changing the targeting rule, but nobody does anything about it.

There’s a reason for that.

“I’m not going to tell you have the answer yet,” Shaw said. “I think the rules committee will look at ways to modify the penalty without losing the impact of player safety and behavior.”

He added: “We can’t have anything that immediately looks like, ‘Football said, ‘We’re OK with targeting.’ Anything backtracking is not only not good for the game … certainly some of these plaintiff lawyers would love that. They would want to show a pattern of behavior that the NCAA really does not respect player health and safety.”

… Any backtracking on targeting could be a disaster for an already-diminished NCAA and its member schools.

“No doubt, you can’t put in safety rules and then take them away without people like me getting in your kitchen,” said Houston-based attorney Eugene Egdorf, who has led some of the highest-profile head trauma cases against the NCAA. “Make the rules better but making it less important, I would argue, [is not good].”

That’s why Steve Shaw is never going to have an answer.  The only folks that are going to have an answer are coaches who don’t like losing a starting player for half a game.

For three years, AFCA coaches have unanimously supported two levels of targeting. But even that proposal doesn’t remove that subjective nature of the game’s most controversial rule. The latest definition of targeting calls for a series of “indicators” for officials to judge in real time before throwing a flag. The replay official confirms from the booth any targeting call.

That AFCA proposal remains a significant talking point. The NCAA rules committee will meet early next year. Any change could come by early summer.

“We’re not against targeting,” Berry said. “What we’re against is the fact that a young person is [sometimes unfairly] disqualified from the game. These plays tend to be very quick and happen very fast. … We’ve reached that critical mass.”

When you don’t have a good reason, pull out the doing it for the kids card again.  Compared to that, Luke Fickell’s assholishness is almost refreshing in its lack of bullshit.

“It’s impossible to get out of the game, so I don’t think kids should [necessarily] be thrown out of the game,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “You don’t need to have the highlight knockout. You can do better. The NFL doesn’t throw people out. They fine them. I guess maybe we could fine college players now that they have NIL.”

See you guys in court, eventually.


Filed under The NCAA

“It’s a take-a-shot team, and it’s a pound-you team.”

As much attention as Tennessee’s offense has gotten for its big play passing attack, it’s first and foremost an offense that likes to run the ball.  In fact, the Vols average five more rushing attempts per game than does Georgia.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that somebody’s completely aware of that.

“Make no mistake about it, they are a tremendous run-game team,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They have a crazy average of runs per game. They wear you down. They wear you down. They wear you down. They’ve got good backs and a physical O-line. This is not an Air Raid team.

“They wear you down” three times is the way you know he’s serious.  Very serious.

Really, although UT goes about its business in a different way than does Georgia, the guiding philosophy behind both offenses is similar, with similar results.  And not just in the rushing game.  Bennett and Hooker are one and two in the conference in passer rating, while being 11th and 12th in passing attempts.  One big reason for that is that they’re the only two SEC quarterbacks (and only two of four nationally) averaging more than ten yards per pass attempt.

Which secondary does a better job of preventing the big pass play is going to be a major key on Saturday.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Uhhh… so you were serious about that, Coach?

Mike Leach announces that about forty students answered his post-loss rant about a replacement place kicker.  They’ll host a tryout sometime next week.

“We’ve got to get their paperwork and all that stuff, and they have to be approved,” Leach said Wednesday. “And we haven’t seen them yet, so I’m sure it’ll come in all shapes and sizes.”

Lordy, what a way to run a railroad.


Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

“Florida is running for their life right now.”

You guys know I don’t delve into recruiting as a general rule because it’s generally a waste of time to track the feelings and whims of seventeen year olds who are being both sucked up to and pressured into making what is likely the most important decision of their young lives.

But there’s always the exception that proves the rule.  Meet Georgia’s latest commit, four-star wideout Raymond Cottrell, once on his way to the University of Florida. It’s not the flip itself that’s post-worthy, although I commend his good taste and common sense.

It’s the reason for the flip that’s noteworthy.

“The reason I made that decision is because of the way Florida recruits. I don’t understand why, but for example, the wide receivers coach, Coach (Billy) Gonzales, I would rather him have a relationship with me. Still, we barely talked,” Cottrell said. “I’ve been talking to the linebackers coach, and that’s not even my position. For me, I take it like I have to have a relationship with my coach. If I’m sitting here fixing to play for you, I need to have a relationship. Coach Hankton built the relationship up from eighth grade when I got offered by them. I’ve got trust in those guys. I didn’t feel the trust or relationship with Florida.”  [Emphasis added.]

Way to read the room, Gators.  Yessir, that’s how you close a gap, Dan.  Keep up the good work.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

It’s your funeral.

It’s unusual enough that Tennessee selected the Georgia game for homecoming.  On top of that, there’s this:

Hard to believe Willie Martinez hasn’t warned them about wearing black for a big game at home.  After all,

A TideSports reporter covering practice was filming the team during warm-ups during the week leading up to the game. Caught on camera was the raspy, multi-decibel voice of S&C Coach Scott Cochran, putting the team through its daily paces. At one point on the video, the infamous Cochranian quote can be heard as clear as a bell: “They wearin’ black jerseys because they know they goin’ to a f***in’ funeral!”

Honestly, I hope Smart gives Cochran a chance for a reprise this week.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange