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Daily Archives: October 10, 2022
Georgia picked a good week to emphasize red zone conversions.
As Auburn enters the second half of its 2022 slate, it does so with a defense that has struggled in the red zone. The Tigers are 12th in the SEC and 96th nationally in red-zone defense, as opponents have scored on 87.5 percent of their trips inside Auburn’s 20-yard line. Auburn’s defense has also given up touchdowns on two-thirds of its opponents’ 24 red-zone trips this season after Georgia was exceptionally efficient in that area during its 42-10 win Saturday in Athens, Ga. The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on each of their five red-zone trips against the Tigers, with touchdown runs of 1, 1, 2, 7 and 15 yards in their latest win in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
More specifically, red zone conversions via rushing.
Of the 16 red-zone touchdowns Auburn has surrendered this season, 14 of them have been on the ground.
So… Vandy’s coming to town. What can we expect from Monken? Welp, Auburn’s defensive red zone TD percentage is 66.67%; Vanderbilt’s is 63.64%. That’s certainly promising. But scores may come a different way. Vanderbilt’s defensive passer rating is 123rd nationally. They’re also 111th in giving up passing plays of 10+ yards.
Seems like a good week for Stetson Bennett to work out some kinks in the passing game.
I’m never going to grouse about pounding the crap out of Auburn — and make no mistake about it, a 32-point win qualifies as such — but I ain’t gonna lie either. It was a weird day. How else to describe 42 points, 500 yards of offense… and five punts?
It’s games like this that make me appreciate Smart’s approach to managing this team. It’s young and feeling its way around. It’s also crazy talented. So, while he could raise the temperature in the locker room with a rant or two, he’s getting a far better response by being patient and giving the team space to find itself. And that’s exactly what it did with a vengeance in the second half. After the Bennett fumble, it finished with five touchdowns in six possessions before running out the clock.
You can be frustrated with the inconsistencies, especially on offense, but you can also be excited by the prospects of this team getting its shit together. It would also be nice to get a few injured players back by the Cocktail Party. And on that note, on to the bullet points.
- The story of the game was Georgia dominating both lines of scrimmage. You don’t rush for close to 300 yards without the o-line mauling some folks. And, while Auburn’s offensive line was a hot mess, the Tigers’ defensive line wasn’t bad; they just got ground down as the game went on. Gap scheme, zone scheme, it didn’t really matter. The line went out there and did some work. It was especially fun to watch them repeatedly push the back a few extra yards at the end of plays. They didn’t allow much penetration behind the line of scrimmage. Bennett had plenty of time to throw on most of his attempts. All in all, it was their best game of the season.
- Needless to say, the backs took full advantage of the o-line’s showing. I feel bad for Kendall Milton, who truly is snake bit and now runs the risk of being Wally Pipp’d by Edwards and Robinson, both of whom showed out. McIntosh wasn’t bad, but still looks to be hampered by his injury. (I’m not the coaches, but this would seem to be a good opportunity to hold him out against Vanderbilt and give him two weeks to rest up for Florida.)
- It wasn’t a big day for the wideouts from a receiving standpoint, though they had a fine day blocking (with one glaring exception by Rosemy-Jacksaint, who whiffed on a block that would have sprung McIntosh for a good gain on a swing pass). Some of that was on them, but Bennett seemed to favor certain targets over others, no matter the coverage. The biggest mystery to me at this point is why Blaylock isn’t getting more targets. He’s the best route runner of the group and has great hands.
- The tight ends did their thing — not just Bowers and Washington, but also Delp. And that was with Auburn’s defense clearly making an effort to take Bowers out of the receiving game. Bowers only had a couple of catches, but he was a demon in the blocking game.
- Stetson had a tough first half. Auburn, like Kent State and Missouri, came in with a game plan that assumed Georgia’s downfield passing game wouldn’t pose a threat. Unlike Missouri, though, it wasn’t built on playing a lot of Cover 0 and being overly aggressive; instead, their safeties played back, as they focused on shutting off Georgia’s perimeter game. They were quite successful in that regard and it took Bennett a while to gain his bearings. He missed seeing some open receivers and forced a couple of throws into coverage. Given that the protection held up most of the day, decisions like that seemed more from frustration than pressure. He finally found his bearings after his fumble to open the second half.
- Defensively, the front seven turned in a fine game, although I doubt the stats show much, because it seemed like Ashford was throwing the ball away every other snap. No sacks, but they did get a ton of pressure. They also shut Bigsby down completely. Nolan Smith had a spectacular Bigsby TFL. The only knock I’ve got is not being consistent with contain and allowing Ashford to gain some rushing yardage as a result. Using Dumas-Johnson to spy on Ashford appeared to cut that down, though. The ILBs really stepped up in Mondon’s absence.
- Admittedly, as I mentioned before, Auburn’s offensive line didn’t put up a whole lot of resistance, which made their center’s bragging during the week ring especially hollow. I think they just got flagged again for a false start.
- Coverage in the secondary was solid, with a certain glaring example which shall remain nameless, which significantly contributed to Ashford’s throw the ball away count. Really, take away that one snafu, and it’s likely Auburn doesn’t gain much more than 200 yards on the day.
- Special teams was something of a mixed bag. The usually reliable Podlesny whiffed badly on a field goal, but was solid on kickoffs. McConkey remains an adventure on punt returns, combining a muffed catch he fortunately recovered with a dynamic return that set up Georgia’s second touchdown. Nolan Smith made a fabulous play to short circuit a puzzling fake punt decision. And Brett Thorson was the man — five punts, all downed inside the Auburn 20, with no return yardage.
- Monken called a good game. With Auburn overplaying the perimeter, it was hard getting Bennett untracked, so Georgia stuck with pounding the ball on short fields to get their first two scores. As I’ve already posted, the call that set up Bennett’s long touchdown run was a fantastic way of turning Auburn’s defensive game plan against them, but I thought Monken’s best job of the day was Georgia’s first scoring drive of the second half, when he started the work to get Bennett untracked. 500 yards of offense and five-for-five on redzone touchdowns is nothing to sneer at.
- The defensive coaches did good work, too. If Bennett doesn’t fumble and one of three (!) defensive backs at least managed to push Hunter out of bounds, the day likely would have ended with Georgia pitching a shut out.
Bottom line, once this team gets going, it’s hell on wheels. We’ve seen that in the fourth quarter on the road at Missouri and we saw it in the second half Saturday. The job from here is finding a way for that to happen earlier in the game.
Tennessee is back, baby!
Wonder if they’ll consult with Fulmer about how to handle the situation, if only for old times’ sake.
Turmoil… questions… excitement. In other words, just another week in the SEC.
- Alabama. If Metchie and Williams were playing, the TAMU game would have never been close.
- Georgia. Last season, Georgia’s defense gave up 10.2 points per game. This season, after all those departures to the NFL, the defense is giving up 10.7 points per game.
- Ole Miss. In case you’re wondering if Junior is still a dick, his team scored a touchdown with eighteen seconds left in the game, already up by seventeen, to cover the spread.
- Tennessee. Vol fans are the only people more excited about UT than the national media, which has a new shiny toy to play with this week.
- Mississippi State. It cracks me up watching a Mike Leach team dominate the time of possession stat.
- Texas A&M. Jesus, Jimbo, WTF was with that last playcall of the game?
- LSU. Got absolutely taken to the woodshed by Tennessee, which is not a thing I thought I’d type at the beginning of the season.
- Kentucky. Nothing like fumbling the ball on your opening play of the game and being down seven after thirteen seconds. It only got better with a blocked punt and clanked field goal attempt.
- Florida. Hard to believe, but the conference win over Mizzou was the Gators’ first in a year.
- South Carolina. Good conference road wins are good.
- Arkansas. Underwater in points margin, minus-2 in turnover margin. It’s starting to look like Sam Pittman’s magic may be running out this season.
- Auburn. It appears the Bryan Harsin Death Watch continues for at least another week.
- Missouri. They may be 0-3 in the league, but the Tigers are racking up the moral victories.
- Vanderbilt. Embarrassed Ole Miss for a half, which, I suppose, is progress of a sort.
Georgia missed on two deep passing plays against Auburn, both of which would have been easy touchdowns had they been completed. What happened?
There were chances.
To an open McConkey deep.
“I thought that was there,” Bennett said. “That one hurt. I thought that was there.”
“It was just a little miss… I don’t know,” McConkey said. “It was far. I could have made the catch. I don’t know.”
Did he slow down too much?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll have to go watch the film and see what happened.”
Bennett couldn’t hit an open Bowers either on the right side earlier.
“With Brock, just threw it too far,” Bennett said. “It was like he was almost too open. The safety got picked by the corner. They were playing soft man on the outside and press man on Brock. Brock beat him, got picked. I think I got too fine with it. I don’t know.”
Apparently, it’s a complete mystery. Good thing it didn’t matter.
Bill Connelly has a subset of SP+ that he calls Resume SP+ ($$).
… Resume SP+ attempts to fill that latter gap. It is a look at two things: (1) how the average SP+ top five team would be projected to perform against your schedule (in terms of scoring margin) and (2) how your scoring margin compares to (1). Throw in a seven-point penalty for every loss a team has suffered, and you can say that this is what the CFP rankings would look like if SP+ were in charge.
(Note: Because of the high bar teams have to clear in getting compared to an average top-five team, and because of the loss adjustment, almost every team here ends up with a negative score. It is what it is.)
And here’s how his top 10 in Resume SP+ looks after Week 6:
1. Ohio State (6-0): +8.4 PPG
2. Georgia (6-0): +5.8
3. Alabama (6-0): +4.3
4. Tennessee (6-0): -1.2
5. Ole Miss (6-0): -4.0
6. Michigan (6-0): -4.5
7. TCU (5-0): -6.6
8. USC (6-0): -7.6
9. James Madison (5-0): -7.6
10. Clemson (6-0): -8.9
Funny how the same three teams keep showing out this season.
I hope you have a subscription to The Athletic, because Seth Emerson’s piece about the process that led to Ray Goff being hired to succeed Vince Dooley as head coach ($$) is a must read.
Seth politely calls it “topsy-turvy”, but I believe the military acronym FUBAR is a more apt label. If you weren’t around in those days, it’s hard to appreciate how good we’ve got it now.
Anyway, it’s very well researched and definitely worth your attention.
A Saturday of all-conference action should lead to some significant sorting out, and it appears it did.
- Alabama 3.72 (7.49 o; 3.77 d) [NC: -.53]
- Georgia 2.63 (7.24 o; 4.61 d) [NC: +.09]
- Ole Miss 2.34 (6.91 o; 4.56 d) [NC: +.35]
- Tennessee 2.03 (7.21 o; 5.18 d) [NC: -.20]
- Florida 1.58 (7.29 o; 5.71 d) [NC: -.01]
- Mississippi State .89 (6.31 o; 5.42 d) [NC: -.26]
- South Carolina .75 (6.00 o; 5.25 d) [NC: +.06]
- Kentucky .61 (5.69 o; 5.08 d) [NC: -.35]
- LSU .60 (5.87 o; 5.27 d) [NC: -.53]
- Texas A&M .50 (5.65 o; 5.15 d) [NC: -.41]
- Missouri .32 (5.52 o; 5.20 d) [NC: -.27]
- Auburn .26 (5.56 o; 5.30 d) [NC: -.27]
- Arkansas -.30 (6.18 o; 6.48 d) [NC: +.13]
- Vanderbilt -1.05 (5.83 o; 6.88 d) [NC: -.65]
- +5: Tennessee
- +4: Mississippi State
- +3: LSU, Vanderbilt
- +2: Georgia
- +1: Ole Miss
- -0-: Florida, Texas A&M
- -1: Missouri
- -2: Arkansas
- -3: Kentucky
- -6: Alabama, South Carolina
- -9: Auburn
- The way it breaks for now: four teams in the top tier (+2 net ypp), Florida, seven between 0 and 1 and two in the red.
- Tennessee is getting good play and that turnover margin number makes them dangerous.
- Mississippi State is similar, although not quite on the same level as the Vols.
- I keep repeating myself, but when Arkansas doesn’t have turnover margin on its side, it doesn’t have much.
- Vanderbilt is beginning its statistical descent into being Vanderbilt.
$95 million for this kind of coaching genius?