Observations from the end zone, 2018 G-Day edition

Alrighty, then.  Hard to screw up a day in Athens with perfect spring weather, and the good news is that, except for the ass in the parking lot who thought it was great to blast — and I do mean blast — a lot of mediocre tuneage through his twin-speaker PA system, complete with DJ commentary, nobody did.

That includes the athletic department with its pass system that wound up doing nothing more than what was promised, namely, keeping track of where fans entered the stadium.  We showed up a couple of hours early and had no problem finding seats to our liking and in general, admission appeared to be an orderly process.  As much bitching as I do about things, it’s only fair to point out when they do no harm and such was the case there.

As for the game itself, it’s not hard to avoid drawing dramatic conclusions.  Smart wanted to emphasize the passing game and we were treated to an aerial display it’s very unlikely we’ll see matched during the season.  Given the walking wounded at running back and the opportunity to watch Justin Fields, I can’t complain as a spectator, but the after the fact analysis shouldn’t be looked at as etched in stone.

Still, this is an Observations post.  And with Observations, you get bullet points.

  • Kirby, you naughty boy.  After teasing us with comments all spring about how the offense was ahead of the defense and how we ought to expect a G-Day shootout, we got treated to a defensive display that, quite frankly, leads me to state for the record that I’m not worried about the first-team defense this season.
  • Breaking that down a little, in the secondary, LeCounte (man, he’s fast!) and Reed looked mostly great at safety, Poole showed me something at the Star position and Baker, no surprise, looks like a lock for All-SEC honors.  McGhee had his moments, although giving up the bomb wasn’t one of them.  Overall, it was a group that won more battles than it lost.
  • Inside linebacker?  Well, Natrez looked solid at second team, but the revelation was Monty Rice, whose name was called all day long, it seemed.  My one negative observation was that Nate McBride’s gonna have to work on his tackling technique.
  • Outside linebackers are going to be the strength of the defense.  Tons of depth and talent.  There’s something to the spring hype for Cox.  Tucker should have a lot of moving parts to mix and match for situational purposes.
  • The defense line was for the most part solid, if not spectacular.  If there’s a concern there, it’s that they seem to be missing that ability to penetrate and disrupt that Trent Thompson could bring.
  • Two things to pick on, defensively speaking:  nobody seemed to cover the backs coming out of the backfield on swing passes.  Herrien made a living on it all day, Hudson did well and Holyfield should have.  Second, as much as I liked out of the safeties, I saw them get beat on deep throws several times because of late reactions.  Given how last season ended, that’s something I’d rather not have observed.
  • It’s hard to judge the offensive line’s effort because of the spring game sack rule, but I will say it’s impressive how huge that first-team line looked.  Isaiah Wilson is a massive dude who can move well for a tackle.  Cleveland hasn’t gotten any smaller and Kindley is no midget, either.  If you were worried, Andrew Thomas already looks comfortable manning the left tackle position.
  • It wasn’t a day when the running game was emphasized, so, again, the most impressive thing I saw out of that bunch was how well Herrien did as a receiver.  Were I an opposing defensive coordinator watching the spring game tape, it’s one thing I’d file in the back of my head for future reference.
  • If there’s any area to take away some real hope for, it’s the receiving corps, which looks to have developed some depth.  No, the starting three of Godwin, Hardman and Ridley aren’t going anywhere, but Crumpton has really come on as someone who can make a tough catch.  Landers wasn’t as consistent as I’d like, but his touchdown reception was as good as you can do in that setting.  If he can keep that up, he’ll definitely be a real weapon in the red zone.  As far as the starting three go, Ridley looks like he’s really absorbed the confidence that came from stepping up in the national title game.
  • The tight ends played.  They even caught a couple of passes.
  • And that brings us to the quarterbacks.  No, it wasn’t one of Fromm’s better afternoons, but so what?  His day would have looked better if a couple of deep throws hadn’t been dropped.  On the other hand, some of those throws were what the professionals call “ill-advised”.  I’m not sure how much of that was being perhaps a little nonchalant in a spring game scrimmage and how much of that came from a game plan that over-emphasized the passing game, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over his day.  One big reason for that was watching the 57-yarder to Ridley open up on the pattern, seeing Jake recognize it and make the on-the-money toss.  I suspect there will be more of those coming.
  • I was excited by Fields’ showing.  Not in the “OMG!!!, he’s taking Fromm’s job!” sense, but, rather in terms of seeing all that talent and potential already being coached up.  He wasn’t perfect by any means, or even dominant, but he wasn’t rattled, made his share of checkdowns and can definitely hurt a defense with his legs.  He’s got a live arm that looks easy throwing.  His throw to Landers for his first touchdown was a real beauty, perfectly placed.  Yes, there is a reason to curb your enthusiasm a tad because he was working against the second team defense and a notable drop off in effectiveness in the secondary.  Still, Jim Chaney has to be salivating over what Fields can do with the RPO portion of Georgia’s playbook.  Bottom line:  there’s no way this kid is redshirting.
  • Because I know somebody’s gonna ask, it was fun watching Stetson Bennett, but, yes, he’s definitely on the slight side.  He’s got a decent arm and has some mobility, which is a good thing, because I worry he’s going to get snapped in two by an SEC defensive lineman one day if he gets caught.
  • You couldn’t tell much from special teams, but Marshall Long still has a long way to go in terms of recovering his ability to punt.  There will be a battle at punter come August.

That’s all I’ve got.  It’s a long ways to September 1st, and we’re all just gonna have to suck it up until then.

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The downside to cooking the books

For those of you who get a little ticked when I comment about folks’ general lack of grasping Econ 101 concepts when it comes to college athletics, take heart — you’re not any worse off than those who get paid to run athletic departments.

If you find yourself losing your place in Schwarz’ analysis, here’s the money graf:

The answers to these questions are hard to know with any precision because what matters is not what the current athletes would have done, but what future athletes will do. And so while neither EMU nor I can know the correct answer, I know that what EMU’s accounting has assumed is wrong – the P&L statements implicitly assume ALL tuition paid by all participants in these sports will be unchanged if the sports go away, i.e., all of the athletes, full, partial, or no scholarship, will continue to attend EMU. There’s no way that’s correct. Nevertheless, the numbers show $0 tuition/room/board/book revenue that would be lost from these four sports. Indeed, the NCAA’s accounting methodology provides no way to include this revenue, so this is a systemic failure within the entire industry. This is one example of how schools all make their Hollywood blockbusters look like money losers.

And the payoff…

This very much seems, based on the numbers, like “cutting for the sake of cutting” – for the athletic department to look like it is doing its part. And futile gestures have some value sometimes – like getting a technical foul and giving up a point or two to change the dynamic of a game. But does EMU really have $300K to burn up in a show of solidarity with other departments? I’d imagine those departments will feel even worse next year when another $300K needs to be cut because, gosh, our revenue went down when all those swimmers and wrestlers stopped paying tuition.

Bottom line?  Most of you could do at least a good a job as an athletic director than guys like this do.

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Monday morning buffet

Good morning, campers!  Don’t forget to pick up a tray on your way to the buffet line.

  • At 82,184, Georgia finished second in spring game attendance.  (Although I’m not really sure how they did the count.)
  • Nebraska, which finished first, made serious bank in the process.  (You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking right now.)
  • This is encouraging“We’ve seen prospects come out of academically inclined schools where the classwork is especially challenging and they had no edge over prospects who came out of other type schools that were not so highly rated academically.”
  • Nick Saban doesn’t have time for this (bull)shit.  In certain circles, that is referred to as “coaching”.
  • Every time I see a blurb like this, I think back to how much Bellamy and Carter abused Notre Dame’s offensive tackles last season.
  • Is Jeremy Pruitt simply frustrated at running a program that isn’t at the same level he’s been used to over the past few seasons?  If so, don’t look for him to relax in 2018.
  • Here’s a handy guide to college football venues where you can buy beer during the regular season.
  • The loudest sustained cheering at G-Day went to…

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Kirby brought his A-game trolling to G-Day.

To everyone whose heart skipped a beat after yesterday’s QBRs, Georgia’s head coach has a not-so-subtle reminder:

The key difference here is one quarterback is facing the No. 1 defense while the other is not. It’s not uncommon for the backup quarterbacks to outshine the starters during spring intrasquad games. Georgia sets up its annual G-Day Game where the No. 1 offense is going against the No. 1 defense, the 2s versus the 2s, and so on. So that first group, either way, has the tougher job. Conceivably at least.

“You all were sitting there last year saying the same things you are now because the other guy was throwing against the No. 2 defense and he was throwing it pretty good,” Smart said, referring to Fromm going 14-of-23 with 277 yards and two touchdowns this time last year. “Jacob Eason was in there going against the No. 1 defense, which at that time was really good. So, there’s a lot of similarities between those two situations.”

Then, again, remember that the true freshman wound up taking the starting job in each of those seasons… so maybe we should be asking who Kirby is really trolling here.

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G-Day cognitive dissonance

I know the Dawgs are recruiting his son, but, still, seeing Emmitt Smith decked out in Georgia gear is a little disconcerting.

Nice gesture… and it’s not like he really hurt Georgia during his (otherwise) great college career.

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Today, in do as we say, not as we do

Again, I can’t help but find it amusing at how fierce universities are about protecting their logos and catchphrases, while at the same time behaving like Chinese hackers when it comes to the intellectual property of others.

Nobody wants to use the reserve fund to pay for iTunes downloads from the Apple Store, I guess.

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The bling’s the thing.

Get you some 2017 SEC Championship ringy-dingy here.

And here.

Hey, look, Auburn fans! Georgia’s commemorating the teams meeting, too.

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