Daily Archives: June 21, 2022

Mailin’ it in

This Dawg Post piece compares the Alabama and Georgia offenses in garbage time (defined as when a team is leading by more than 38 points in the 2nd quarter, 28 points in the 3rd quarter or 22 points in the 4th quarter) last season.  I don’t think it’s any real surprise that ‘Bama kept its foot on the gas longer than did Georgia.

In 2021, in the 12 games that Stetson Bennett started, approximately 33% of the game time was played in garbage time. Not surprisingly, during this “throttle down” time, Bennett threw only 2 of his 29 touchdowns, while throwing another 2 touchdowns late in games when Georgia was leading by more than two scores, but not yet in garbage time.

In contrast, Young’s Alabama team played in garbage time for less than 20% of its season. Those forgetting (conveniently or otherwise) are reminded that Alabama struggled in wins over Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn and lost to Texas A&M. Moreover, in 2021 Alabama was much slower to throttle down its offense when a game was in garbage time or approaching garbage time. This is not an opinion.

Alabama and Young often continued firing the ball down field in garbage time. In fact, Young threw nearly a quarter of his touchdown passes (11 of 47) when his team was either in garbage time (6 TDs) or nearly in garbage time, where he threw 5 touchdowns while Alabama was up by three or more scores. Simply put, Georgia played significantly more of its 2021 Season in garbage time than Alabama. And when Georgia went into garbage time, it was less likely than Alabama to have its starters in the game and to continue passing the ball.

This is proposed as an argument that the gap between Bennett and Young isn’t as large as many people argue, something I don’t care much about.  What I do think it’s an argument of interest for, though, is it being a good reason why Jermaine Burton left Athens for Tuscaloosa.  Pad those stats, young man!

76 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

First!

I figured eventually someone in the national punditry would rank Kirby Smart ahead of Nick Saban.  I just didn’t think it would be this soon and that it would come from Matt Hayes.

1. Kirby Smart ($7 million per season; expected extension this month): His team is the defending national champion, and he has proven he can recruit and develop better than any other coach in the game.

Think about this: In the age of quarterback means everything, Smart won a national title — and is a favorite to win it again this season — with a game manager at the most important position in football.

He was a blown coverage in the secondary from winning the 2017 national championship, and Georgia is a recruiting machine — with or without NIL. He’s locked in at No. 1 until he’s knocked off the mountain.

Which brings us to …

2. Nick Saban, Alabama ($9.1 million): He is the mountain. The gold standard for college football coaches, and other than Bill Belichick, all football coaches.

But it’s hard to ignore what his No. 1 student has accomplished at Georgia — and how it has been to the detriment of Saban and Alabama. All of those elite Georgia defenders are the same players Smart was recruiting and developing at Alabama as the Tide’s defensive coordinator.

There’s a reason Alabama’s defense has declined (from its own elite standard) over the past 5 seasons. It’s not the DC or the scheme; it’s the players.

It’s close, but in the SEC, it’s not about what you’ve done. It’s about what you just did. Right now, Smart has the edge.

I guess that means Nick will be back on top of himself if ‘Bama wins the natty this season.  Or something like that.

29 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

Not going anywhere

Well, duh.

Offensive tackle Olaus Alinen (Loomis Chaffee School/Windsor, Conn.) said head coach Kirby Smart stressed stability as a key factor when it came to pitching him on the Georgia program.

Alinen said that Smart reiterated he has no plans to leave UGA and that he’ll stay put for a long time.

“He made a really big emphasis on that he’s going to sign this big long contract and stay there,” Alinen said. “There’s going to be stability in that program and how they’re going to develop you and get you ready for where you want to be at. They’re going to be able to win championships.”

You may think that will pose a future problem for Jimmy Sexton, but I doubt it.  He’ll argue the contract extension/raise after this one will be all about reassuring recruits for the long term.

9 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Kentucky and regression to the mean

It’s one of last season’s odder statistical anomalies:  Kentucky managed to win ten games while finishing last in the conference in turnover margin, at minus-11.  That is not an easy thing to do.  Perhaps this had something to do with it:

Good teams find ways to win close games, and Kentucky has gone 16-8 in one-score games since 2017. But they exceeded even their own pace last year. After going 11-7 in such games from 2017-20, the Wildcats were 5-1 last year. That includes a 3-0 mark in the SEC with two of those wins against teams they’ll face on the road this year in Florida and Missouri. Their lone one-score defeat was a three-point loss at home to Tennessee, who the Wildcats have to face in Knoxville, Tennessee, this year.

Mark Stoops is a good game day coach, and I can’t figure out what that might portend for the ’22 season.  Does UK maintain its winning ways as turnover margin swings back more favorably?  Or do one-score games come back to bite the ‘Cats in the butt?  I have no idea.

15 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Another look at returning experience

Erik Evans, ladies and gentlemen, playing the Metchie and Williams card:

Last year, a decade of Top 5 recruiting paid off for the perennial also-ran Dawgs, as an experienced Georgia team was able to field healthier elite depth to out-talent the Tide down the stretch.

Well, that ain’t gonna happen this season, bitchez!

The reigning champs are obviously going to get some love, on talent potential even if not demonstrable production. The passing game should be serviceable with one outstanding guy on the outside and the nation’s most dangerous TE getting throws from a reasonably accurate game manager. The running game (and OL) took a hit, but there is still more than enough in the tank to likely run through a retooling East. But, unlike the West, the East’s rebuild makes everyone instantly better. While the Dawgs eyes maybe on Florida and Tennessee, don’t overlook a UK squad with a competent passing attack, and the annual trap game at South Carolina.

The greatest issue however is one of depth — the same bugaboo that bit Alabama last season. UGA lost 11 players by way of the NFL. But the portal exodus after the season was more concerning: 17 guys are gone. It is very hard for anyone to lose 28 players, no matter how well they’ve recruited, and have the next-man-up be as good as the folks on the two-deep. I suspect it will matter at least once, and perhaps twice, to keep UGA out of the Natty.

I don’t know where he learned his math, but those numbers don’t quite jive with reality.  The Dawgs had 15 players taken in the NFL draft, 14 of whom were starters.  Here’s how that breaks down today:

Georgia lost 14 starters as well as 33 lettermen from the 2021 team. On the flip side, the Bulldogs return 13 starters — 7 on offense, 3 on defense and 3 on special teams — and 55 lettermen for the upcoming season.

Georgia’s returning starters on offense are Bennett, Bowers, McConkey, wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, center Sedrick Van Pran, right guard Warren Ericson, and right tackle Warren McClendon. Defensively, the returning starters are outside linebacker Nolan Smith, defensive back Kelee Ringo and safety Christopher Smith. As far as special teamers, the returning starters are long snappers William Mote and Payne Walker as well as kicker Jack Podlesny.

As far as how “the next-man-up be as good as the folks on the two-deep” goes, here’s Jordan Hill’s breakdown:

  • Quarterback.  “Georgia won’t have a quarterback competition this fall with the return of Bennett, who proved himself capable last season en route to the Bulldogs’ national championship.”
  • Running back.  “… Georgia’s three returning scholarship running backs account for 163 carries for 809 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.”
  • Receivers.  “Losing Burton was a significant blow for Georgia as was losing George Pickens, who didn’t get to truly shine last season after spending most of the fall working his way back from a knee injury. The tight end room is arguably the deepest in the country, and Bowers is expected to produce once again while fellow tight ends Arik Gilbert, Darnell Washington and Oscar Delp look to contribute, too. Georgia has plenty of options at wide receiver going into a new year; the question will be who separates himself from the others in order to play a bigger role.”
  • Offensive line.  “Let’s start by considering the starting offensive line from G-Day, which featured left tackle Broderick Jones, left guard Xavier Truss, center Sedrick Van Pran, right guard Devin Willock, and right tackle Warren McClendon. Looking at those five offensive linemen specifically, they’ve combined to appear in 101 games with 45 total starts between them… and between these 12 offensive linemen, they have 148 games and 66 total starts under their belts.”
  • Tackling.  “In total, Georgia returns 27 defensive players who at least recorded 1 tackle last fall; combined, these players were responsible for 187 tackles once last season came to a close in January.”
  • Sacks.  “In total, Georgia returns 10 players who at least had 0.5 sacks last fall. Those 10 players combined for 20.5 sacks in total in 2021.”
  • Interceptions.  “In total, Georgia returns six of the nine players who had at least one interception in 2021. Three of the four players who had pick-sixes are back: Smith (against Clemson), Dumas-Johnson (against UAB), and Ringo (against Alabama).”
  • Special Teams (Kicking).  “Podlesny is all set to be Georgia’s placekicker once again, but the battle to replace Camarda as the kickoff specialist doesn’t appear to be decided yet. Podlesny and Zirkel battled during the spring for the job; during the G-Day game, Podlesny had 6 kickoffs with 1 touchback and a 54.0 yard average, while Zirkel had 5 kickoffs with no touchbacks and a 51.6 yard average. Thorson looks to be the favorite to replace Camarda at punter, though the window for Jones to win the job isn’t shut just yet.”
  • Special Teams (Returns).  “Georgia is in great shape when it comes to bringing back established return men from last season. All six players who were credited with returning a punt are back in 2022, with the lead man being wide receiver Kearis Jackson. Combined, these players had 33 returns for 323 yards.Three of the four kick returners from last season are back, with the only departure being White, who only fielded two kickoffs in 2021. Between McIntosh, Kearis Jackson and Mekhi Mews, that’s 15 returns for 285 yards back from a year ago.”

In terms of inexperience, when the one glaring hole you’ve got in the two-deep is at punter, life ain’t that bad.  With all the blowouts last season, there were plenty of opportunities for backups to play and gain meaningful experience.  Does that mean I expect the defense to go out there and not miss a beat?  Hardly, especially early.  But methinks Erik is engaged in a wee bit of wishful thinking there.  Or projection, at least.  I’ll go out on a limb and say Georgia’s “less experienced depth” will show out better in ’22 than Alabama’s did in ’21.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Pete Fiutak’s SOMP picks

Okay, not exactly, but here are his selections for this year’s CFP field, and all I’ve got to say about them is that I don’t think I want to live in a world where Georgia doesn’t make the semis and Lincoln Riley does.

All of which is my not-so clever way of reminding those who haven’t participated in this week’s poll that here is the link to do so.

19 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, GTP Stuff

Nice tradition you got there. Shame if anything were to happen to it.

Bill King brought up something I hadn’t seen mentioned before.

Another tradition that might be altered by impending change is the Dawg Walk. Under the plans for a $63.5 million two-phase renovation of Sanford Stadium — which will widen the south side concourse, add restrooms and build a new tower for the press box, so that its former location can become lucrative box seating — the Sanford Drive bridge (officially known as the Gillis Bridge), reportedly would become a part of the stadium on game days, requiring a ticket for access.

Since that portion of Sanford Drive already is closed to vehicular traffic on game days, it’s a major pedestrian thoroughfare that would be lost to fans.

However, another possible issue with this plan is that the bridge also is where lots of fans gather to watch the players and coaches parade into the stadium during the Dawg Walk, held in the Tate Center parking lot down below. It’s even where the Redcoats’ solo trumpeter opens the Battle Hymn during Dawg Walk.

If a ticket is required to access the bridge — and you’re not allowed to exit and re-enter the stadium once your electronic ticket has been scanned — that would seem to preclude many fans (including a lot of kids) watching the Dawg Walk from the bridge.

I don’t know that necessarily means B-M is looking for a way to monetize one of the dwindling number of unique game day experiences we fans can still access.  But, if nothing else, it sure feels like another way to exercise control over the fans’ day.  It seems the spirit of Michael Adams lives on.

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football