Seth gets asked in his latest mailbag to address the quarterback pecking order in spring practice ($$).
This was supposed to be the year where we didn’t have to deal with endless questions about QB1 and now there are reports of Carson Beck taking the majority of first-team reps during (at least a couple of) spring practices. Is there going to be a quarterback controversy and, if so, have I just contributed to it?
Beck as well as Brock Vandagriff have been getting some first-team reps, but people are probably overthinking this: In Stetson Bennett, you have a sixth-year senior who was just named offensive MVP of the national championship game and the Orange Bowl. And before those games, Monken and Smart were pretty clear about Bennett being the starter. The only reason anyone would doubt his being the starter for this season is, well, the same reason people never expected his career to go this far.
There’s certainly an intense competition going on at quarterback … to be the guy in case Bennett goes down. That’s why you give Beck and Vandagriff reps with the first team now, so you see how each performs in those situations. Bennett then gets just enough starter reps this spring to be on track, and in the preseason you get ready for Oregon, which by the way is not the kind of opponent you give someone their first start when you have the national championship-winning quarterback still on the roster.
So, is that all there is to it? I’d like to think so, and not because I’m in Camp Doubt Stetson. What I’m a wee bit troubled by, though, is that I don’t remember players lower on the totem pole getting more reps during spring practice when Fromm and Daniels were QB1s. Given that Stetson’s never been through a spring when he was the clear choice at starter until now, I am not exactly sure why he doesn’t need those reps himself. That’s why I can’t entirely discount the steady stream of whispers I’ve heard about message sending coming from his coaches.
That being said, I think Seth is absolutely correct that the coaches would prefer Stetson as the starter for the Oregon game, because in a setting like that, there’s no substitute for experience (all other things being equal, of course). What I hope isn’t going on right now is Bennett assuming that preference will excuse a lackadaisical approach to his job along the way. Kirby Smart doesn’t strike me as a guy who does “fuck with me and find out” less than seriously.
Let Brent Rollins count the ways.
- Inline – 319 snaps: 93.8 receiving grade, 24 receptions on 31 targets, 488 yards, seven touchdowns
- Slot – 242 snaps: 69.7 receiving grade, 21 receptions on 28 targets, 273 yards, two touchdowns
- Wide – 91 snaps: 81.7 receiving grade, 10 receptions on 11 targets, 112 yards, three touchdowns
- O-Line & Backfield – 5 snaps: 1 reception on 1 target for a nine yard touchdown
Hmmm… I’m not seeing a lot of bad options there.
As a related matter, I should probably do a post on my favorite Monken play calls last season, but this one…
… and Bowers’ fourth quarter TD in the national championship are probably my top two. (And, by the way, if you look closely, those two plays were run out of different formations. Against Michigan, Bowers is lined up as a tackle-eligible. Georgia ran that as a hurry up and caught the Wolverine defense completely flatfooted.)
Anyway, read the whole thing. It’s enjoyable, to say the least.
Bill Connelly ($$) has an exhaustive piece up about how analytics are seeping into college football playcalling. Check out this chart for one example of that:
It’s slow, but it’s coming.
College football’s most visible believer is Lane Kiffin, whose first real exposure to the strategy came at Alabama, believe it or not.
He quickly concluded that if or when he got another head-coaching opportunity, he would commit to innovation in two ways. First, he would combine a lot of pro-style concepts and present-day bells and whistles (motion, et al) with what he called “Baylor tempo,” reminiscent of the 85-plays-per-game Baylor offenses of the early 2010s. Second, he would go all-in on the math. He would quickly become CAI’s most vocal client.
After winning two Conference USA titles in three years at FAU, Kiffin earned a trip back to the SEC as head coach at Ole Miss, and he has remained committed to those initial tenets. Over the past two seasons, his Rebels have averaged more snaps (78.9) and more fourth-down conversion attempts per game (3.6) than anyone else in the FBS. Sometimes it works beautifully, as when Ole Miss went 4-for-4 on fourth downs against eventual national champion Alabama and had the Tide on the ropes deep into the fourth quarter. Other times, it fails for all to see, as when the Rebels went a Chargers-esque 2-for-5 against Bama in 2021, failed on the first two drives of the game and got blown out.
I sort of liken this to how spread offenses started out as a way for programs with less resources to level the playing field against the bigger boys, only to find it become a dominant strategy across the board. We’ll see if analytics follows a similar course.
They may not have known what they signed up for, but it couldn’t have taken them too long to that figure out.
Man, paying recruits to come play at a school will be the death of college football as we know it.
I bet Spurrier enjoyed that even more than Taylor did.
Brenton Cox swears he’s turning over a new leaf in his final season at Florida.
“I can’t make all the plays, but the ones that I could have gone harder on I took off,” Cox said Tuesday. “I can honestly say I took off a couple plays but I’m here to make it up.”
I’m pretty sure this is one of them.
“It’s been a discussion that I don’t play hard, so he’s been preaching to me that if you’re not at the TV box by the time the play is over then it’s a ‘loaf,’ you’re not running to the ball,” Cox said. “That’s helped me turn the other way and get going when I’m done with my rush.”
Yep. That was a loaf.