Monthly Archives: December 2022

Your Peach Bowl game day post

Welcome back, my friends, to the CFP show that doesn’t seem to end if you’re a Georgia fan.  The defending national champs are 13-0 and seeking to defend their title today (I know, Kirbs, I know) in the semi-finals.  They’re favored to win today, but favored ain’t the same thing as guaranteed.

Cutting to the chase a little bit, I have to admit I like their chances not so much because of matchups here and personnel there (although those certainly don’t hurt), but because of the mentality, the toughness, this team has built and thrived on this season.  No, they haven’t been a perfectly oiled machine game after game, but you know what you can say about them?  They’ve stepped up in every big game they’ve played this season.

  • Season opener against #11 Oregon?  49-3.
  • First conference road game against a South Carolina team that wound up beating two top ten teams later in the season?  48-7.
  • Cocktail Party?  42-20.
  • #1 Tennessee?  27-13.  (Vols last score came with four minutes left in the game, remember.)
  • SECCG?  50-30.

Yeah, that’s how answering the bell time and time again looks.

I’d say tonight qualifies as another big game.

Perhaps the biggest factor that fuels that is Georgia’s quarterback.  He’s been at his best this season when the games are at their biggest.  As Matt Hayes pointed out, against Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU, Bennett amassed these stats:  1,183 yards passing, 13 TDs (3 rush), 0 INTs, good for a 197.6 passer rating.

So, yeah, I feel some confidence about Georgia winning.

As far as the aforementioned matchups go, sure, there are a few things I’ll be keeping an eye.  Believe it or not, the first of these is how Ohio State’s running game fares.  Don’t scoff, the Buckeyes do like to establish the run.  But, as Matt Hinton notes, there’s something of a catch to that.

Contrary to what you may have heard lately, the Buckeyes can in fact still run the dang ball. As a team, they averaged a shade over 200 yards per game on the ground (not including sacks) on a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. But that output does come with a couple of caveats: 1.) They were far less productive against the top defenses on the schedule, running for just 66 yards against Iowa, 98 against Penn State, and 143 against Michigan. And 2.) The running back rotation has been plagued by injuries, with TreVeyon HendersonMiyan Williams and true freshman Dallan Hayden all sidelined or limited in multiple games over the back half of the season. The leading rusher against the Wolverines, Arizona State transfer Chip Trayanum, was a converted linebacker who woke up that morning with exactly 1 carry to his name in an OSU uniform.

Henderson’s been ruled out and reports on Williams have been all over the place this week, although I do expect him to play.  But forget all that for a minute.  Defense under Kirby Smart starts with one thing, and one thing only:  stop the damn run.  And, boy, does Georgia do that.  As Matt also notes, “only 2 opposing offenses in the past 4 years have managed more than 4 yards per carry against Georgia while also scoring more than 10 points: Alabama in the 2021 SEC Championship Game and Missouri in an upset bid earlier this season, when half the Tigers’ output on the ground came on one play.”

If Georgia’s defense lives up to expectations, that makes Ohio State’s offense more one-dimensional and C.J Stroud’s life less easy.  (Remember, Georgia held Tennessee to 94 rushing yards and the Vols’ lowest yards per carry number of the season.  We know the rest of the story from that game.)  On the other hand, if somehow the Buckeyes crack the code and are able to move the ball on the ground, the odds that Georgia’s will have to carry more of the weight to win grow considerably.

That’s because a comfortable Stroud, combined with OSU’s formidable wide receiving corps, will provide the biggest challenge of the season to Georgia’s pass defense.  And while I think the coaches will have spend a considerable amount of time over the past four or so weeks cleaning up the mess left in the second half of the SECCG, facing a bigger challenge than a team that posted over 500 passing yards is something I’d prefer not to see the Dawgs face.

The other matchup I’m most keen on watching play out isn’t about personnel, but coaches — Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, versus Todd Monken.  Both men have been around the block and seen plenty.  Most of us believe Monken hasn’t shown anything close to his full playbook this season, and, on top of that, should have two healthy deep threats available in AD Mitchell and Arian Smith, neither of which have been around for much of the year, to add to the rest of his arsenal.  Does Knowles stick with what he’s done all season long — at seventeenth in defensive ypp, the Buckeyes’ defense isn’t exactly shabby — or does he decide to break form and mix things up in order to counter Monken’s playcalling?

If you’re wondering what “all season long” means here, OSU’s base defense is a 4-2-5.  The Buckeyes try to stop the run with six men in the box and play zone behind that.  But that’s in their base.  The thing is, Knowles is very aggressive and likes to blitz frequently.  When that happens, the secondary plays man.  Here’s what Graham says about that:

… OSU does not seem comfortable leaving their corners in man coverage very much. They only play Man Coverage on 36% of downs and when they do they are often blitzing. When OSU blitzes they don’t bluff. The Buckeyes come with 5 or 6 rushers on over 85% of their blitz packages. When they do that they play man on the back end. They’re only playing Man Coverage and NOT blitzing on very rare occasions. That is GREAT news for Georgia. UGA hasn’t been great against Man this year because the WR’s haven’t gotten loose very much. Bennett excels at picking windows against the Zone and he will do that a lot in this game. Worth noting, SBIV and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint have a strong report in this regard. I expect you will see MRJS make a big catch or two on 2nd/3rd & long in this game on deep in-breaking routes.

One other thing worth noting is that, generally speaking, 4-2-5 defenses don’t tend to handle 12 formations well.  All of that makes me think it might be sensible to dial back the aggressiveness for a while and see if OSU’s defense is capable of doing what Georgia’s defense likes to do to other teams early in games, make them work methodically down the field in order to score.

There’s one other matchup of note, mainly because it’s evergreen, and that, of course, is the play in the trenches.  OSU has plenty of good personnel on both of their lines, so I’m not claiming it’ll be a pushover, but if there’s been one satisfying trend for the Dawgs, it’s that line play on both sides of the ball has trended positively for the second half of the season (actually, since the Mizzou game for the o-line and since the return of Jalen Carter to the d-line).  I think for the Buckeyes to win tonight, it may simply boil down to making Bennett uncomfortable and keeping Stroud comfortable.  It’s just that I’m not sure how they get both done.

Getting back to Graham for a sec, he’s been consistently more optimistic about Georgia’s chances game to game (not in terms of winning, but in terms of the spread) than have I.  I also have to admit he’s been more accurate, too.  He’s picking Ohio State to lose by three touchdowns.

When you turn on the tape it becomes evident pretty quickly that UGA is equipped to play this game on any level. They can go fast, they can be methodical, they can play a ground and pound style, they can air it out and go tempo for 80-yard TD drives in five plays… That is the genius of the Monken/Smart partnership. They drilled this team all year to win games however they may need to be won. If something isn’t working they can pivot and adjust. This UGA offense is equally comfortable playing a game in the 20’s as it is in the 50’s. As for Ohio State, they spent all year doing what they do. If they can’t do that it feels like things could go south quickly. [Emphasis added.]

There’s a lot of truth there.  The ugly win at Missouri said as much about this team’s make up as the blowout in the opener did.  I have a feeling — and given my track record this season, you should definitely take that with a grain of salt — that the spread isn’t too far off from what we’ll wind up seeing tonight.  It’s a talented Ohio State team that makes me a bit cautious.  I’d certainly be happy to be proven wrong with a three-touchdown lead at halftime, though.

Add your thoughts in the comments, as always.



Filed under Georgia Football

Your non-Dawg game day post

Today’s complete slate of games…

First of all, Mickey, there are only four games today and you still managed to broadcast two of them at the same damned time?  There’s a programming genius who needs to be fired.

Anyway, three quick thoughts:

  • I think we see motivated ‘Bama today, since Young and Anderson are playing.
  • The Music City Bowl should be a showcase for some craptastic offensive play.
  • Gotta watch the Fiesta Bowl, if only for scouting purposes for the natty, right?

Your thoughts?  Have at ’em in the comments.


Filed under College Football

Today, in wretched excess


$2.5 million for a trophy?  Was Elon Musk a consultant?


Filed under General Idiocy

“This spread is disrespectful as hell.”

Per Erik Evans, “Georgia clowns these frauds in the closest thing to a mortal lock you will find today.”

Buckeyes by fiddy?  (I keed, I keed.)


Filed under Georgia Football, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

Ohio State’s secret weapon?

Too funny.

I can’t help but wonder if Ryan Day told his staff to humor Coach Corch if anyone got stuck on the phone with him offering help.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

TFW an 11-win season doesn’t sit quite right




Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

It’s been a while, but it’s game day, peeps!

Get ‘yer heads right, because I don’t want to have to send this guy after you.


Filed under Georgia Football

Where my head’s at this morning

This take, from The Athletic ($$), really nails it for me.

Brass tacks: Ohio State absolutely can win this football game, and it will not take a miracle or act of God to get it done. The Buckeyes have the talent to compete with any team in the country and the exact right stuff on offense to crack Georgia’s defense exactly where it’s most suspect compared to a year ago.

However, the more you watch these two teams, the more you’re left with the impression that for that upset to happen, Day must change some things about how he game plans and calls in-game. And Knowles must fix even more.

Georgia has the goods to just take Ohio State’s will early and never look back. The truest test in this game will be whether the Buckeyes have gotten off the mat after the bruising they took versus Michigan. They cannot try to chase ghosts from that game against Georgia or this will be a blowout.

We’ve watched a program whose coach’s first mantra is “it’s the recruiting, stupid”, so it’s a little silly to dismiss the chances of a team that’s recruited on close to the same level as Georgia has.  That being said, I question whether Day has the coaching chops to stay with Smart.

I have the feeling we’ll get that question answered in the first half, either way.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Georgia Football

The “manball spread”

Bill Connelly’s take ($$) on the evolution of Georgia’s offense under Todd Monken is a good one.

… And in 2022, we’re finally getting a sustained look at what a Monken attack might look like when it has its intended quarterback for the entire season.

It’s both unique and scary.

Georgia indeed spreads the field horizontally now. The Dawgs throw 32% of their passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, 16th in the FBS. But they aren’t stretching teams with wideouts. In fact, they have deployed four receivers on 0% of their snaps this season. Instead, they have fielded at least two tight ends 64% of the time, fifth-most in the FBS. They force opponents at all times to account for tight ends Brock Bowers (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and Darnell Washington (6-7, 265). They give Bennett loads of quick and easy passes to wide-open targets, and they either force teams to tackle big dudes in space or they get these big guys blocking for normal-size guys such as Ladd McConkey or Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.

It is, in effect, a manball spread.

Georgia ranks third in the FBS with 31% of its passes targeting wide-open pass catchers, and those could be wideouts (McConkey has caught 23 of 24 such balls), tight ends (Bowers and Washington: 27-for-30) or running backs (Kenny McIntosh and Daijun Edwards: 28-for-29).

These passes are thrown an average of just 1.3 yards downfield, and Bennett has averaged 11.7 yards per completion on them. All the “modernity” talk above was basically code for “scheming ways to get the ball into blue-chippers’ hands in space,” and one could make the case that Georgia now does that better than any offense in college football. It is ruthlessly efficient, and it has made the Georgia run game more efficient as well.

The only thing I’d add to that is some of this year’s design was born of necessity, rather than exclusively by design, simply because Monken had to scheme without having two of his best deep threats, Mitchell and Smith, available for most of the season.  (It will be interesting to see whether their availability tomorrow night has an effect on the overall game plan.)  Still, it’s friggin’ impressive.


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

First down or bust

Some interesting stats from Paul Myerberg:

You either beat Georgia’s defense on first down or not at all. The Bulldogs give up 3.5 yards per carry on first down but just 1.7 on third down, and have allowed opponents to convert five of 10 fourth-down tries. Through the air, quarterbacks have completed 62.9% of attempts on first down on 6.5 yards per attempt; those totals are cut down to just 49.1% and 5.5 yards per throw on third down. And it gets worse in even more obvious passing situations. Offenses trying to convert on third down and 10 or more yards have hit on only 41.3% of attempts on a measly 3.8 yards per pass.

But if any team can reverse that trend, it’s Ohio State. The Buckeyes lead the nation with a passing efficiency rating of 181.1 on third down, with 12 touchdowns against two interceptions and 39 conversions in 89 attempts. Overall, Ohio State ranks 20th in the Bowl Subdivision in converting 46.1% of third-down tries. The Bulldogs’ defense ranks third in giving up a first down on 26.7% of all third downs.

While I’m on the subject of metrics, another place to keep an eye on is red zone performance.  While both offenses excel in red zone conversion rates — Georgia is first and Ohio State is third — there’s a big spread between the defensive rates, where the Dawgs also rank first and the Buckeyes are 121st.


Filed under Big Ten Football, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!