Daily Archives: January 7, 2023

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I’m liking it.


The palm trees are a nice reminder nobody’s freezing their ass off this time.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stylin'

Cold feet

This is a great analogy ($$).

There’s a saying in soccer that the sport is like a short blanket — if you cover your head, you uncover your feet. Your goal is to cover what needs covering the most and cope with everything else. The same goes for American football, at least for teams that don’t recruit like Georgia.

We spent much of the run-up to last week’s Fiesta Bowl talking about Michigan’s rushing ability and whether TCU and its 3-3-5 defense could cope. The Frogs coped. Michigan’s Donovan Edwards rushed for 54 yards on his first carry of the game but gained just 65 in his next 22 rushes. Fourteen of his carries gained 3 or fewer yards.

TCU elected to cover its head (the run defense) and left its feet — its stellar pass defense — uncovered, and it just barely worked. Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy went 20-for-34 for 343 yards — easily a career high for the sophomore — but he also took three sacks, fumbled once and threw two game-changing pick-sixes. Michigan averaged 7.0 yards per play despite the inefficient rushing but made one too many mistakes.

So what the heck do you choose to cover up if you’re playing Georgia?

My guess is more of the same.  It’s also what OSU chose to do in the Peach Bowl and it paid off spectacularly in the middle of the game when Bennett lost his bearings.  (Not so much in the fourth quarter, though.)

I’d like to think it’s less likely that Bennett avoids losing his head the way McCarthy did — three sacks, fumbled once and threw two game-changing pick-sixes adds up to a lot of screwups, mainly because Stetson’s experience is greater and the gauntlet he’s run is tougher.

I also think he’s got a better offensive coordinator behind him who will know how to exploit a number of statistical advantages Georgia enjoys.

Georgia’s offensive line is one of the very best in college football. Among FBS teams, the Bulldogs have the highest pass-blocking efficiency score (93.5), the lowest knockdown rate allowed (1.8%) and the second-lowest pressure rate allowed (12.7%). In the run game, Georgia has averaged 2.6 yards before contact, which ranks sixth in the Power Five.

Meanwhile, TCU has the eighth-lowest pass-rushing grade (63.5) among Power Five teams this season. The Horned Frogs have pressured opposing quarterbacks on only 23.8% of their pass-rushing snaps, the third-lowest mark in that same group. TCU’s average depth of tackle in the run game is tied for 74th in the nation, at 4.6 yards downfield.

There’s more.

Todd Monken is a master at taking what a defense gives him.  I’m thinking he’s good with short blankets.


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

How much should we take away from the Big Ten’s performance last weekend?

We’ve been hearing all week that Michigan’s toughness got exposed on both sides of the ball, or at least that the Wolverines seriously underestimated TCU’s physicality.  I don’t think there’s any question about the latter’s accuracy.  I also don’t think Kirby Smart will make the same mistake Jim Harbaugh did.

And let’s not forget that for all the boasting about what the TCU 3-3-5 did to slow down UM’s running game, that defense still gave up over 500 yards of offense and more than seven yards per play.

What they did do well, though, was attack Michigan early and knock them off their usual comfort level ($$).

Prior to the TCU-Michigan game, the thing I was most curious about (though, not that curious, as I’ve seen this movie before) was whether Jim Harbaugh would adjust to reality versus the Horned Frogs’ alley defenders before kickoff or if he’d do the Jim Harbaugh thing and dare a team to show him how tough it is before making his changes.

To no one’s surprise, Harbaugh chose the latter. Michigan dared TCU to walk the walk, and the Frogs did exactly that. The Wolverines stubbornly spent most of the first half (and long stretches of the game) hammering between-the-tackle runs, many of them inside zones, something the Horned Frogs’ “Spill and Kill” approach ate up, time after time.

TCU’s defense lives in odd fronts, but its stack linebackers and alley safeties are so aggressive and so physical downhill. Harbaugh, though, didn’t get to his quarterback-run packages until late in the semifinal matchup. He didn’t do much by way of testing TCU’s edge with anything outside zone or even off-tackle counter-related until, really, the second half.

Hmmm… sounds like something Georgia would have tried in 2019.  Fortunately, this is 2023 and Todd Monken doesn’t work like that.

On the flip side, it’s all about the inability of Georgia to defend the passing game.  Honestly, that one has more legs.  Take a look at the receiving corps for Ohio State and for TCU.  Both have plenty of options, although OSU’s catchers are more concentrated in terms of production than the Horned Frogs’.  I suspect they’ll adopt a similar game plan to the Buckeyes’ Peach Bowl scheme.  Bill Connelly ($$):

The Frogs are happy to run the ball until they get stopped — they’ve topped 40 carries in six games this year, including the win over Michigan — and if teams decide they have to keep seven or more defenders in the box, Duggan will hit them with a big pass. Like Georgia, the Frogs are solid with both the run and the horizontal pass, which stretches defenses out enough to open up opportunities downfield. (And they’ve been better than Georgia at hitting those downfield shots.) Whatever their opponent can’t stop, they’ll do.

Georgia can stop the run, though, and I doubt TCU will want to expend a lot of energy trying to prove otherwise.  With one exception ($$):

One coach set an interesting over-under for Max Duggan’s rushing totals if TCU is going to win. He said that he’d have to run for at least 70 yards, which would require Georgia’s rush discipline to be as poor as it was against Ohio State.

“They need to run the quarterback,” the coach said. “They do a good job of getting in spread formations and running the ball. Georgia wasn’t disciplined in its pass-rush lanes. If you watched the game, they were all over the place and [Ohio State QB C.J.] Stroud took advantage. I think Stroud has a little more initial quickness than Duggan, but Duggan is a much tougher runner.”

He’s also more expected to run.  I don’t think Georgia’s defense will scheme against Duggan’s propensity to run the way they did Stroud (which was basically to ignore it).  But I also worry that Georgia’s man coverage is going to give Duggan some attractive opportunities to tuck and run if the coverage drops off from the line of scrimmage.  Unlike the Peach Bowl, I think Georgia will have someone on defense set to spy on the TCU quarterback.

Should make for a fun chess match.


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

It’s special. We should appreciate it.

Bill Connelly ($$) wrote yesterday what I’ve been thinking about ever since the field goal attempt was shanked.

After losing half of their defensive starting lineup to the first round of last spring’s NFL draft, after dealing with random attention-span issues and a few key injuries, and after surviving a ferocious Peach Bowl semifinal against Ohio State on Saturday, the Dawgs are banged up but on the doorstep of a repeat. They went 41 years between titles before ending the drought last season; they might end up having to wait only 12 months for another. What a run.

After wandering in the desert all those years, to think this team has a legitimate shot at not having to move the national championship trophy for another year is pretty stunning.  I haven’t pinched myself yet, but I’ve thought about it.


Filed under Georgia Football


How much should we read into this?

I’m thinking not much.  With regard to TCU, one man’s “just happy to be here” is another’s “playing with house money”.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, Georgia Football