Turn that turnover around.

Boy, talk about your cognitive dissonance.

Georgia: Nine turnovers. Georgia’s defense hasn’t been especially good overall, but it has managed to stifle its share of opponent possessions with nine takeaways, a total that is second in the SEC and tied for 14th nationally. In fact, if Georgia hadn’t gotten turnovers on four of Missouri’s last six possessions on Sept. 17, there is no way the Bulldogs would have slipped out of Columbia with a 28-27 win. Another telling turnover-related statistic: Georgia is 110th in points-off-turnover margin (minus-18). The Bulldogs’ struggling offense has turned those nine takeaways into just 13 points, while opponents have turned their seven takeaways into 31 points.

That’s… hard to do.  Factor in Tennessee’s incredible good fortune this season with fumbles (twelve total fumbles, only one fumble lost), and tomorrow’s shaping up potentially as one of the more frustrating games you’ll ever see.

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

So much for redemption.

Chubb’s ankle ain’t played Tennessee, PAWWWLLL.

8 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“That dang Gurley guy…”

I gotta admit this is pretty funny.  (h/t)

I wonder how long Dabo plans on saving that voice mail.

24 Comments

Filed under The Evil Genius

How can you mend a broken running game?

As we sit here on the eve of the Tennessee game, with Kirby Smart crossing his fingers that Nick Chubb will be available to play, it’s hard to avoid wondering what the hell has happened to one area everyone thought would be one of Georgia’s strengths in 2016.

It’s not idle speculation, either.  Take a look at Georgia’s yards per rush average over the past four seasons:

  • 2012:  4.87 (3rd in the SEC)
  • 2013:  4.55 (11th in the SEC)
  • 2014:  6.04 (1st in the SEC)
  • 2015:  5.14 (2nd in the SEC)

This season?  Currently, the Georgia offense is averaging 4.55 ypc, which is good for eighth in the conference.  (It’s hard to believe, but, yes, there’s an area that’s actually declined from Schottenheimer’s year in control.)

It’s easy to start by blaming injuries — Chubb’s recovery and Michel’s accident obviously come to mind here — but let’s not forget that Chubb was hurt for much of last season and seemingly everyone was hurt in 2013.

Sacks, perhaps?  Well, maybe just a tad.  This season, Eason and Lambert have combined to lose 34 yards rushing in four games, which averages out to minus-8.5 yards per game.  The rushing averages for quarterbacks over those same previous four seasons look like this:

  • 2015:  minus-4
  • 2014:  +1.46
  • 2013:  +16 (Aaron Murray rushed for 186 yards that season, fifth best on the team.)
  • 2012:  minus-0.21

Seth Emerson suggests another factor.

But it’s hard to miss that the running game went smoother in Lambert’s one start, and has struggled since then. Eason has audibled a few more times each game, and the more comfortable he gets that’ll happen. I also noticed him pointing out the Mike linebacker more As I’ve said many times, I’ve yet to see anything to indicate that Eason won’t pick things up. He’s just not there yet.

Georgia isn’t making defenses pay for their alignments because Eason simply isn’t schooled enough to check his team into better plays to take advantage.  That’ll come, but it’s going to take time.

I just wish I could say the same thing about Georgia’s offensive line.  Matt Hinton isn’t helping.

The Bulldogs haven’t been hapless on the ground, by any means. But they haven’t blocked anything as well as they did that pair of touchdown runs in the opener, and they’ve often looked out of sync. Between the tackles, especially, they’ve come up mostly empty.

Formation-wise, first-year coordinator Jim Chaney has added a healthy dollop of spread sets on top of a traditional, two-back foundation, and attempting to run out of the former has been an exercise in frustration. Part of that has to do with Eason’s statuesque presence, which automatically rules out large swathes of any spread-to-run playbook — kid’s got an arm, but at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he’s hardly a threat to keep the ball on a zone read (or any other designed run) and defenses don’t treat him like one.

More to the point, though, the front five has simply struggled to open lanes and allowed far too much traffic behind the line of scrimmage before the backs even have a chance to react.

There’s more than one reason for that, as Matt explains.

Sometimes the problem is as basic as a busted assignment — that’s what happened here, for example, when Georgia faced seven Missouri defenders in the box with only six blockers and simply neglected to block the Tigers’ best player, Charles Harris (No. 91 below, at right defensive end) on a straightforward off-tackle run by Chubb…

… But mental busts can be corrected. More often, and more concerning, is the frequency of blockers simply getting beaten at the point of attack. On this play, UGA wants to pull Wynn from his left guard spot to lead Sony Michel around the right side on a counter. The problem is that Missouri’s defensive end on the right side, Marcell Frazier (No. 55) beats tight end Jeb Blazevich off the snap and successfully caves him into the backfield, cutting off Wynn and clogging the intended running lane; Michel, one of the shiftiest open-field runners in the country, is forced to dodge his own linemen 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage before being swarmed over for no gain.

It’s a perfect storm:  the line is inconsistent, both physically and mentally, and the starting quarterback is both green and not a threat to run.  Georgia’s backs may be great — okay, they are great — but even the best running backs need some surrounding infrastructure to succeed.  As Hinton puts it,

Even if Chubb wakes up Saturday morning feeling 100 percent, though, it won’t mean anything against a nasty Volunteers front without a better push up front than he and the other backs have seen the past three weeks.

One way to do that with a largely immobile quarterback might be to emphasize what worked against UNC — old-school, downhill running behind a fullback or H-back — which also happens to be how Chubb came by most (though certainly not all) of his yardage in 2014 and ’15.

Running out of shotgun and spread sets often means more slowly developing runs and fewer opportunities for a powerful, one-cut runner like Chubb to build momentum and accelerate through a crease, especially when the defense is basically free to ignore the possibility that Eason might tuck and run with it himself.

But to a very large extent improvement is simply a matter of execution: No play will work if the blocking doesn’t come off.

Tomorrow sure would be a good time to start, fellas.

64 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

And so it’s come to this.

Tennessee beat writer offers consolation to Georgia fans, urging patience for better days ahead.

A fast recruiting start alone doesn’t take you where Georgia wants to go. But the Bulldogs are at least headed in the right direction.

You just couldn’t tell it against Ole Miss. And you probably won’t be able to tell it against UT, either.

You know, I’m really starting to dislike this season.

24 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

Damn, I’m jealous.

A Shakespearean tribute to Stanford’s offensive line — as a Georgia fan, aren’t you jealous, too?

4 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“Some things are worth waiting for.”

It’s always sad when a control freak loses a little control.

A few moments later, host Eli Gold said he didn’t want to mention names, but asked about the current transfer landscape in college football. He asked Saban if it had become like free agency.

“It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think it I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.”

Coming from the guy who bailed on the Miami Dolphins when the going wasn’t to his liking, that’s a bit rich.

But the best part of this is that Blake Barnett, the subject of Saban’s wistful pondering, may have found a loophole in the transfer rules. (h/t)

The assumption from fans, message boards and even national media was that the redshirt freshman would be losing the 2017 season of eligibility regardless of his transfer plans. So, why would he leave now, four games into an undefeated season? With a true freshman starter one hit away from injury, Barnett is still a critical piece of Alabama’s championship equation and he’s being painted as a quitter by critics.

But Barnett has a plan — and it looks a lot like something we’ve seen before in college basketball.

According to bylaw 14.5.6 in the NCAA transfer guide, Barnett as a 4-2-4 transfer (four-year institution, to a junior college, and back to a four-year institution), can be eligible one calendar year from the date of his transfer from Alabama so long as he graduates with a GPA above 2.5 over an average of 12 hours per term at the certifying institution of Barnett’s choosing.

That’s a situation that happens frequently pre- and post-semester. The timing of Barnett’s transfer is what makes him a possible trailblazer: He’d be eligible to play the conference schedule at his next destination.

247Sports reviewed the NCAA transfer guide on Thursday with an FBS compliance source who has first-hand experience and knowledge in placing players from JUCOs, military institutions and other four-year colleges.

“I’ve never seen this situation before first-hand,” the compliance source said. “Because it’s so rare for somebody to leave in the middle of the season.”

It’s worth noting that every person we talk to has slightly different perspectives on the interpretation of this rule. One source with significant experience dealing in junior college transfers believed that Barnett would be eligible immediately in 2017 at a four-year program. Still another source that coaches in the junior college ranks felt that Barnett wouldn’t be able to play at a four-year institution until the 2018 season.

The source who thinks Barnett might have all of 2017 available muses that by leaving Alabama now and arriving at a two-year institution with a mid-term date in mid-October, Barnett would be essentially wiping clean the fall of 2016 at Alabama from his academic record. Consequently, his midterm transfer to a two-year institution would allow him to retroactively start the clock to the beginning of the first semester, thus allowing him to be eligible for the 2017 season with three years remaining to fulfill three years of eligibility.

Honestly, I don’t know if this will work, but you’ve got to admit it’s creative, especially when you consider that he’s leaving a program known under Saban for aggressively pushing the envelope when it comes to NCAA and SEC rules.  If it works, you’d better believe Saban won’t be applauding Barnett’s ingenuity, though.  He’ll be solemnly urging a rule change to shut down future mid-season departures.  It’s in the young men’s best interest, you know.

 

15 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, The NCAA