Daily Archives: December 2, 2021

First thoughts on the SECCG

I’ve looked at stats, read beat writers’ takes, checked game film and after all that, it’s coming down to three things for me.

Bryce Young’s feet.  If you haven’t looked at the stats from the Iron Bowl, you might want to, because they’re pretty astonishing.  Auburn’s defense did a great job of bottling Young up.  His 110.25 passer rating was easily the worst of the season for him and being sacked seven times led to him rushing the ball 11 times for minus-23 yards.  He moves around, but prefers to throw the ball rather than take off running with it.  I wonder if there will be a greater emphasis on calling RPO plays where he does in fact run more than we’ve seen to take pressure off a shaky o-line and a precarious running back situation.  Remember, he did pull the Iron Bowl out when he had to, but if he goes 25/51 Saturday, I like Georgia’s chances a lot.

Take a look at something Bill Connelly ($$) posted yesterday:

One key: Bryce Young’s sack rate. After averaging 42.7 points per game against its first six power conference opponents, Alabama averaged only 24.0 points (in regulation) against LSU, Arkansas and Auburn. Opponents are doing a better job of taking away quarterback Bryce Young’s quickest reads and making him freeze a bit: Young went from taking sacks on 5.6% of his dropbacks and throwing 30.3% of his passes at or behind the line to 9.9% and 18.8%, respectively. He’s completing more downfield passes, but at a price.

Georgia has the best defense in the country. The Dawgs harass quarterbacks without blitzing (ninth in sack rate, 80th in blitzes per dropback) and swallow up short passes. Auburn held Young to 4.9 yards per dropback last week, and Georgia’s pass defense is quite a bit better than Auburn’s. Can the Tide make enough plays to keep up?

If they can’t run the ball with at least some effectiveness, my answer is no.

Georgia’s offense staying out of 3rd downs.  In conference play, Georgia hasn’t been bad converting third downs, but they’re nowhere near being in Alabama’s class in that regard.  (Over the course of the entire season, ‘Bama is second nationally.)  The reason we haven’t noticed is because, under Todd Monken, Georgia has been fabulous staying out of third down situations.  The Dawgs, in fact, have taken the fewest third down snaps in the country.  Third down has been Stetson’s kryptonite, as reflected by his passer ratings by downs:  188.78 on first; 218.08 on second; and 128.35 on third.  If Alabama’s defense proves capable of forcing Georgia to take more third down snaps, I’m afraid we’re gonna notice.  For them to succeed in that, though, I think they’re going to have to come up with a way to contain Brock Bowers without compromising their defense in other facets.  They’re the second-best defense Georgia faces this season and I think they’ll try to scheme on that side in much the same way that Clemson did.

Intangibles.  Each team carries their own set into the game.  For Alabama, it’s dealing with the reality that it’s the underdog in a championship game it has to win to make the CFP field.  That’s alien territory for that program.  Saban and his players may seem calm and businesslike in their public statements, but I find it hard to believe there isn’t at least some level of anxiety, especially after that narrow Iron Bowl escape, as they prepare for Saturday.  Still, this is Saban, the GOAT, a man who’s certainly been around the block a few times before.  If Alabama goes down, it won’t be due to lack of preparation.

On Georgia’s side, we all know what that is, what Seth Emerson ($$) refers to as the “got to see it to believe it” factor.  I was there for the 2012 and 2018 SECCGs and the 2017 national championship game, and the common thread in all three was that the Dawgs couldn’t hold respectable leads in any of them.  Kirby may swear up and down that the past isn’t the present, but you can’t convince me that every player and every coach on this team hasn’t thought at least a little bit about the recent postseason history between these two teams.  What does give me hope this go ’round — a lot of hope, in fact — is that Smart has done a fabulous job of keeping this team focused and on an even keel from the opening kickoff in Charlotte through victory formation at Georgia Tech.  He’s got the weapons.  He’s just got to make sure his team finishes what it starts.

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Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Danielson on the SECCG

Dial this clip up to the 3:30 mark and you’ll hear about ten minutes from him.

He thinks it’s going to be a low scoring affair that may come down to which team runs the ball better.  If he’s right, I know whom I’m going with.

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Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

“”I thought there was a chance we’d get to the end today.”

Wrong, bacon breath.

On Wednesday morning, College Football Playoff staff members had a hotel meeting room reserved for a potentially historic news conference to announce playoff expansion — a floor-to-ceiling backdrop with the CFP logo, a two-team audio/visual staff with a sound system and a lectern and chairs for the media.

By early afternoon, it was all disassembled.

“I thought there was a chance we’d get to the end today,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We didn’t, and there were good and appropriate reasons why we didn’t.”

Here’s where they’re at:

In other words, same as it ever was.  It sounds like there’s still a group out there who think they’re gonna get Greg Sankey to vote against his interests and agree to an eight-team format with conference champ AQs.

“I think that an eight option is still alive,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said.

“I’ll let Craig speak for himself,” Sankey said. “I was part of a group that brought forward a recommendation of six conference champions and the six best remaining teams. Or I can stay at four.”

Does that sound like a man who’s ready to be convinced, or a man who knows he’s got sufficient leverage?

I’ve said this already, but if there’s a group still letting their hurt fee-fees force a meaningless confrontation over format that winds up leaving the current structure in place, I hope they keep sucking their thumbs for years to come.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Taking the temperature of a couple of fan bases

Yahoo Sports has a good piece assessing the mind sets of Alabama and Georgia fans as their teams head into another SECCG clash.  The header puts it nicely: “Rival, threat or obstacle: What are Georgia and Alabama to each other?”

Truthfully, it doesn’t feel like a rivalry to me.  The hatred simply isn’t there.  And it sounds like the feeling is mutual.

“I don’t think most Alabama fans consider Georgia a rival,” says Josh Chatham, editor of the SB Nation Alabama site Roll ‘Bama Roll. “Georgia and Alabama share a mutual hatred of Auburn and Tennessee — it’s like, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ They’re a threat, not a rival.”

If Georgia is a perceived threat for ‘Bama fans, Alabama under Saban definitely qualifies as an obstacle for us Dawg fans.

“They’re viewed as the giant that Georgia can’t beat,” says Drew Hubbard, sports editor of the Red and Black, Georgia’s student newspaper. “It’s always been, ‘Georgia’s good, but they’re not Alabama good.’”

That’s certainly been the case in their last three postseason meetings.  Does Georgia’s 2021 success perhaps change the vibe going into the SECCG?  Probably not too much.

Give the Dawgs faithful credit, they’re achieving the balancing act of enjoying the ride while keeping expectations in check.

“‘Cautiously optimistic’ is probably the best way to put it,” Hubbard says. “These are the same people that watched 28-3 [the Falcons’ Super Bowl debacle] and second-and-26. They don’t know what it’s like to win a national championship. We won’t believe it until we see it happen.”

“This year, it’s been interesting,” says Allen. [Ed. note:  GTP reader!] “People see me out and about [in Birmingham] with a Georgia shirt on, or see the Georgia flag on my house, and say, ‘You’re going to kill us this year.’ I’m not ready to go there. I’ve been a fan for 40 years, I’ve been down this road before.”

It’s going out of the championship game that’ll mark both sides.  A ‘Bama win will just reinforce the good, but not good enough mantra as it applies to Georgia, while a Dawg victory… well, we’d have a different song to sing.

“A win would make it so much more fun,” Hubbard says. “It would fix the ‘little-brother’ attitude. Alabama has 18 national championships, Georgia is the laughingstock of the conference having all this talent but nothing to show for it. But [a win] would make this a much more level playing field.”

“If Georgia does [beat Alabama] and becomes the top dog in college football, they would have taken down Alabama, the defending SEC champion and national champion,” Woods says. “They could shut the door on the past and establish themselves. If they got a dominant win, that would bode well for Georgia for the future.”

Indeed.

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Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

Advanced stats say it’s Georgia, then everybody else.

In graphic form, it’s pretty graphic.

The offensive numbers are respectable, but the defensive numbers are insane.  What we already know, in other words.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!