Daily Archives: January 4, 2022

Stepdaddy issues

My Gawd, this is pathetic.

When did IPTAY become a cult?

83 Comments

Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake

Observations from the armchair, Orange (you glad you watched?) Bowl edition

Considering the stakes and the expectations going in, you can make a good argument that we saw the best first half of football a Georgia team has played in the Smart era.  Other than the whiff at the end of the half, that was a team that was completely in control dictating the terms of play to its opponent.

There was no post-SECCG hangover, as much as some may have expected otherwise.

I tip my cap to those who foresaw the game for what it was — another matchup against a physical team that lacked the sheer talent of the Georgia roster.  Another Kentucky.

The defensive front seven got its collective mojo back, with a vengeance.  The offense, Todd Monken in particular, put the intervening three weeks between games to good work.  The Dawgs knew exactly how and where to attack the Michigan defense.  Between the two, that’s how you get to a 24-point halftime lead and yet another second half when the main goal of the opponent was reduced to reaching the end zone against Georgia’s second string defense.

Okay, Smart doesn’t want to celebrate because there’s unfinished business, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to bullet point.

  • Normally I start with the players, but I’m making an exception this time.  Todd Monken painted his masterpiece with that first half.  The playcalling and play design were stunningly good.  With regard to the latter, the play that stood out in that regard was the touchdown pass to Bowers on the opening drive.  The offense broke from a sugar huddle, not so much because of tempo, but to hide the fact until the last minute that the play was run from an unbalanced line with Bowers lining up at the left tackle spot.  It was another one of those plays when you sensed it would work just because of the formation.  And it did.
  • The other great thing Monken accomplished was helping Bennett bounce back from his subpar SECCG play.  There was a conscious effort made to avoid third and long situations and to scheme around Michigan’s gifted pass rushers.  Both succeeded, perhaps even better than Monken anticipated.  Bennett wasn’t sacked and didn’t turn the ball over.  The offense managed a stunning 10-16 on third down conversions (also, 1-1 on fourth down).  The 521 yards of offense Georgia piled up was the highest total the Michigan defense yielded all season, including their game against Ohio State.
  • The key to that was committing to the pass early and often.  In the first half, Georgia threw more on first down than it normally did.  (Let’s hear it for self-scouting.)  After all the knocks on Bennett, it was ballsy to put the game in his hands as the way to attack the Michigan D.  And it worked!
  • Of course, it helped that the offensive line, particularly the guards, chose to play their best game of the year.  Salyer being healthy again was huge, too.  Communication was good, although it seemed like Michigan preferred to generate pressure more with blitzes than with exotic stunts.
  • The running game was efficient and it just felt like it was a game when everyone knew their roles and played them to perfection.  White set the tone on the very first play of the game with that nine-yard gain straight up the middle.
  • The Michigan defense fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go against James Cook lined up on the outside with a linebacker in coverage.
  • Herbstreit was right to go nuts about how well McIntosh sold his trick play with the run, but credit also needs to go to Mitchell for running a perfect route to fool his defender and be in the right spot to collect the throw.  When Mitchell is on, he may be Georgia’s best receiver on getting separation in short and intermediate routes.
  • Good things happen when Jermaine Burton is healthy.  He sold the route on his TD catch perfectly and was a savage blocking downfield all game long.  It’s time to start focusing on getting him the ball more often.
  • Pickens only had one catch, but it demonstrated his physicality, as he walled off the defender from the slant throw.
  • Bowers made a phenomenal catch on his first reception, but that play was also beautifully designed — Washington took away one of the safeties in coverage, something Herbstreit noticed, and Pickens took away the other.
  • Bennett had a great game, no doubt, and it’s one to build confidence on.  Still, for all the good we saw, there were still a couple of brain dead moments that a more athletic, more talented defense than was Michigan’s would have taken advantage of.  It was also pretty stunning to watch Bennett sprint away from a good chunk of the UM front seven on his 20-yard scamper.  That probably won’t happen against ‘Bama, either.
  • As far as the defense goes, the night belonged to the front seven, who controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the game, closing off Michigan’s vaunted running game and making life miserable for the Wolverine quarterbacks with what seemed like constant pressure all night long.
  • SEC speed ain’t about fast running backs and receivers.  Hell, Michigan had some of those guys, too.  It’s about Trevon Walker and Jordan Davis running down backs.  It’s about Nakobe Dean coming across the entire width of the field to make an insane tackle for a two-yard loss on a swing pass to the speed back.
  • That wasn’t even Dean’s best play of the night.  That came after Michigan’s one big play of the first half, a deep pass that got them into the red zone.  On the next play, Dean diagnosed what was coming (you can see him gesturing to his teammates about the play call before the snap) and came around the end to sack the quarterback.  UM had to settle for a field goal and whatever little momentum had been created by the big play was immediately sucked out of the tent.
  • You know who had quiet nights?  Ringo and Poole.  And that was completely a good thing, especially in Poole’s case.  Hope that helps him build confidence for what’s coming Monday night.
  • Kendrick was named the defensive MVP, and I guess I can see why, (I would have picked Dean, fwiw) but he’s had better games.  The two picks were both good, and he had his share of tackles, including one for a loss, but he was beaten deep twice (fortunately one of those had an overthrown pass) and it seemed on both occasions he really wasn’t taking the receiver seriously, as weird as that sounds.  That definitely ain’t gonna work against Alabama’s group.
  • Also, with regard to that first pick, his decision to try to make a return out of it instead of just going down turned out badly, as Smith picked up his targeting penalty on the return.  Between the penalty and the negative yards on Kendrick’s move, it dramatically changed the strategy on trying to score in the last 90 or so seconds in the half.  And we all saw how that went.
  • Special teams were pretty much a non-factor on the night.  Let’s just hope Podlesny got his last whiff this season out of his system.
  • I guess Lanning wasn’t too distracted by the Oregon job.
  • Kirby’s done an excellent job all year — with one glaring exception — getting his team prepared mentally and emotionally for games.  It was easy for a lot of us to worry about things going south after the SECCG disappointment, but he had his Dawgs ready to play.

Under Smart, it seems like Georgia’s got the CFP semifinals sussed.  Now we get to see if this is the time they get over the final hump against their nemesis.

84 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Georgia’s “cheat code”

This is something.

Good things happen, Georgia, when you throw to the tight end.  Who’da thunk it?

17 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

A savior hasn’t come.

“Maybe I’m not capable of holding that weight on my shoulders, but no, I’m just treating it as a football game,” Bennett said Monday. “Do I know that means a lot to a lot of people? Yes. Am I trying to play some kind of savior by winning a national championship for millions of people? No. I don’t think that’s my job.

“My job is to go out there and throw completions to very talented people we have on this team. And I think it’s as simple as that.”

You know, a funny thing happened on the way to the national championship after last Friday night.  The social media discussion among the Georgia fan base morphed from the binary Stetson or JT debate that’s consumed us for the past month to a weary admission for some that Bennett’s good, but not good enough.  “Sure, he can beat the Kentuckys and Arkansases of the college football world, but can he succeed against the elite teams?  Nah.”

The flaw in that particular line of thought is the Orange Bowl showed us there are only two elite teams this season, and Stetson faces one of them in practice.  Even after the shellacking, Michigan remains fourth in Bill Connelly’s SP+ and ESPN’s FPI.  In other words, this season, every good team is Kentucky, basically.

So, what sounds like a profound argument really boils down to this:  is Stetson Bennett capable of playing well enough against Alabama for Georgia to win?  On the negative side, you’ve got the last two results to argue he’s not.  On the flip side, Alabama lost to Zach Calzada this season, he of the 123.67 passer rating who’s not even on the Texas A&M roster now.  ‘Bama may be great, but they’re not infallible.

My point here isn’t to pretend that Bennett’s suddenly going to put the team on his shoulders.  He’s very clearly aware of his role and his limitations.  But that’s not the same thing as saying his ceiling is so low as to make a Georgia win unlikely.

48 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Avoiding insanity at the national championship

There are lessons to be learned from the SECCG, if you’re Georgia.  This is one of them.

… For all the talk about how Young wasn’t sacked by Georgia, you would think it was ineffective blitzing in the SEC title game or merely dropped eight men into coverage on every Alabama pass attempt. To the contrary. Georgia brought pressure, and it was effective. Young was just 8 of 20 for 104 yards when the Bulldogs sent five or more pass rushers, according to TruMedia data. That equates to an average of 5.2 yards per attempt, which is far below the 9.6 yards that Young averaged for the game. When Georgia rushed four players or fewer, Young thrived by completing 17 of 23 passes for 308 yards. All three of his touchdown passes came on plays when Georgia did not blitz, and he averaged a staggering 13.39 yards per attempt on those plays.

Georgia approached Alabama and Young like they were any other offense Georgia faced this season, only to find they weren’t.  That’s an assumption the Dawgs need to discard come Monday night.

19 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“This s*** is insane.”

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard the news about Oklahoma’s stud freshman quarterback, Caleb Williams, electing to enter the transfer portal.  This comes after the departure of Spencer Rattler for greener pastures Columbia, SC.  That’s quite a change of fortunes for the Oklahoma quarterback room. Although, to Venables’ credit, they moved quickly in the aftermath to convince Dillon Gabriel, who left UCF, to change from UCLA to Oklahoma.

Whew.

Anyway, before Gabriel’s announcement, the brass at Oklahoma did something you wouldn’t have seen a school do even a year ago.  They went on social media with this:

Shorter Oklahoma:  “We’d like you to stay, Caleb, but we’re looking anyway.”

We’re a long way from the days when coaches told kids who wanted to transfer where they could go if they didn’t want to sit out for a year.  Needless to say, that’s not sitting well in certain quarters.

There are two kinds of football programs now:  the ones that sit around, whine about a world in which they have less control, and hope the Todd Berrys of the world can put the genie back in the bottle and the ones that adapt and use change to their advantage.

This isn’t exactly on point, except as illustration of what a coach who isn’t freaking out sounds like.

Adapt or… play in a bowl game.

48 Comments

Filed under Transfers Are For Coaches.

Moving the expansion goal posts

How it started

In the College Football Playoff era, there have been 16 semifinals: A dozen of those have been decided by 17 or more points; Nine have been decided by 20+ points; Three have been decided by 10 points or fewer. After Georgia and Alabama KER-rushed their challengers Friday, the average margin of victory in the semifinals is a smidge more than three TDs.

How it’s going…

The reality is that there usually aren’t four title-worthy contenders in a given season.  What’s interesting now is that many expansion proponents recognize the truth of that, so the goal is no longer to argue that worthy contenders are being excluded.  It’s that something has to be done to make some of the playoff games more entertaining.  So, let’s import the NY6 games into the playoffs!

By the way, the idea that, come expansion, there won’t be any manipulation of teams by the selection committee to produce favorable matchups is hilarious.  Bless his heart.

28 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs