Well, now. This is different.
Nice move, Coach Smart.
The Birmingham News surveys the SEC’s fourteen SIDs to get a list of the league’s best players. Care to guess how many Georgia players made it?
If you’re bored, click here for a little fun, if you’re into analytics. It’s a link to a preseason analytics and predictions e-guide produced by McIllece Sports. What’s McIllece Sports, you ask? For the last two seasons, the site has finished second in the Stassen Poll, which tracks preseason college football predictions.
Anyway, it’s free and you’ve got nothing better to do than wade through it, right?
If you want to go straight to the punch line, head to page 118 for their preseason outlook on Georgia. You’ll find it’s not particularly optimistic: game by game, it works out to 8-4 overall and 4-4 in the conference, good for third in the East. Losses are projected against Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida and Auburn. Note that the latter two are by the narrowest of probability margins, and that their overall odds actually favor a 9-3 record (which at this point feels right to me) slightly over 8-4.
If you’d have told me a couple of months ago that the hot take on Georgia would be downplaying the secondary and feeling upbeat about the offensive line, I would have scoffed.
Kirby Smart, who so far isn’t all rainbows and unicorns when talking about his team, actually sounded kind of happy about the state of his offensive line, at least when he was asked about it at SEC media days.
“I feel much better now going into fall camp having watched what we had in spring and watched those guys improve under Coach (Sam) Pittman’s tutelage. And Tyler Catalina coming in as a transfer, we hope to give us some competition there for a starting job,” Smart said. “I think the toughest job is staying injury free and trying to find eight guys, nine guys to rotate in there.”
That being said, I’m not sure how far to take that beyond Smart’s obvious satisfaction with Pittman’s coaching chops (duh) and the added depth Catalina brings to the table (also, duh). Or, as Emerson summarizes,
The question now is where everybody goes. Brandon Kublanow, the only senior returning starter, is also the only one who, barring something cataclysmic, will have a definite position: Center.
Every other spot could see some movement before the North Carolina game. The coaches have a set lineup they’ll come out with on the first day of preseason practice, but there will be a month, especially the first two scrimmages, to see if there should be tinkering.
“I’m sure some things will move,” Kublanow said. “That’s how it always is in fall camp, you’ve got guys shuffling everywhere.”
If there are plenty of moving parts on the o-line, my wish is the same as it is for the quarterbacks: find a rotation and find it quickly, so the offense has as much time to settle in during August camp as possible. The obvious big questions surround Catalina, both as to whether he’s good enough to crack the starting line up and, if so, which tackle position he takes. If those get answered by the first scrimmage, I may begin to cautiously share in the optimism. If not, I guess we hope Pittman’s a magician.
Speaking of Pittman, here’s a little something the guys at Bulldog Illustrated dug up:
Third, and probably his biggest decision, is what type of blocking scheme Pittman will use. In a 2010 article written by Buck Sanders of Scout.com, Pittman (while OL Coach at North Carolina) provided an analysis of the three blocking schemes and when they are used:
“Zone blocking teams want to cover their linemen. I mean, that the bottom line and that’s why you saw us go towards a huge zone scheme toward the latter part of the year, because we wanted to cover our linemen for movement.”
“Your gap teams are your smash mouth teams, but most teams that are zone teams are also a gap teams at times.”
“When you start talking about man schemes, you better be really good. A man scheme is when you put your linemen in a one-on-one block regardless of movement…Those (man blocking) schemes are effective when your guy is just better than the guy he is assigned to block. You are betting you can physically whip your opponent.”
In the same article Pittman went on to say that, “You go into games with different runs based on the configuration of the defense, or based on who they have over there”.
I suppose that means we’ll know the line’s made it when they’re playing man schemes and whipping the other guys. I doubt that will be in the opener, though. Gotta crawl before you can walk.
Is it just me, or do things seem to be getting a little weirder in Mississippi these days?
You know what Paul Johnson’s dream job is? Kirby Smart’s.
The new dynamic, of course, for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is that for the first time in his nine seasons with the Yellow Jackets, the Georgia coach on the other sideline will be Kirby Smart. Johnson isn’t sure what that could mean for the rivalry.
“I have no idea, we’ll see,” Johnson said. “I’ll have a better idea in a couple of years I guess. They’re always going to have good players. The place recruits itself. That’s not going to change for sure. It will be interesting to see how they do. It would be hard to say until we watch them play.”
“The place recruits itself.” Could there be anything more Chantastic for the genius?