We’re gonna need a bigger Process.

Jeez, four games into the season, and I’m already typing one of those existentialist posts about Georgia football that I loathe.  Not a good look, Dawgs.

I’m sure there is a temptation on the part of some who thought a coaching change was unnecessary to point to yesterday’s crushing loss as a certain form of vindication.  Since I was a Richt agnostic by last season, while I can understand the sentiment, I can’t say I share it.

The problem with jumping to conclusions after four games is that you’re relying on a small sample size to justify a big picture argument.  Even so, I do think there are certain takes that are justified early on.

  1. This team has some serious structural flaws in personnel. Georgia doesn’t appear to have an offensive tackle.  It certainly doesn’t have a reliable place kicker.  (Auburn got a school record six field goals in its win yesterday; it’s legitimate to question whether Georgia will exceed six field goals for the entirety of the 2016 season.)  It’s starting a true freshman quarterback who’s never played in a pro-style offense before this spring.  The defensive line is both green and thin.  Some of these issues will likely be addressed through more experience, but some don’t stand a chance of being fixed this year.
  2. Jacob Eason isn’t the only rookie in red and black.  I don’t know if you heard what Greg McElroy said during the broadcast, but it really stuck with me.  Basically, he noted that he came out of a similar high school shotgun passing attack as Eason did, but whereas he got to learn the ropes on Alabama’s scout team for a season, Eason is getting his baptism by fire in live SEC play.  That’s understandably rough.  The same thing, relatively speaking, can be said about his head coach.  Smart may be a Saban clone — at least that’s what we’re hoping — but he doesn’t have Saban’s history.  Saban was a head coach at three other college programs and on the NFL level before taking the Alabama job.  By the time he got there, he’d had plenty of time to learn what did and didn’t work running a program.  Georgia, on the other hand, is OJT for Smart.  Once again, we’re seeing that working for a great head coach and being a great head coach aren’t the same thing.
  3. The team hasn’t bought into Smart’s vision for the program.  Small sample size arguments can cut both ways and, like it or not, it’s noteworthy that in four games, Georgia hasn’t shown up to play in half of them.  Yes, it’s true that Mark Richt had his share of humiliating losses.  So that’s nothing new… except that Richt had a few years under his belt before we started seeing those.  You want an even nastier comparison?  Kirby Smart’s fourth game was a 31-point loss to a conference opponent that for a while was on pace to be an epic disaster for the program.  Richt’s fourth game led to Munson’s Hobnail Boot call.  Sure, it’s not like Georgia didn’t lose a few more games that year after the Tennessee win, but it was clear that the team had bonded with the coaching staff in a way that made them believe.  The mindset of this year’s squad is nowhere in the same vicinity of the 2001 team.  The question yet to be determined is when the players will buy in.  (Using “if” in that last sentence is too depressing for me to consider.)

At the time of the events leading to Richt’s dismissal and Smart’s hiring, you will recall that my misgivings centered around the athletic administration’s inept track record in hiring/firing.  If the stories we heard at the time were true — the fig leaf of hiring a search firm to cover a decision that McGarity had already reached and the panic that hit several big boosters from the news that Smart, one of “our guys”, was speaking with South Carolina about becoming the head coach being just a couple of those — I think my concerns were certainly valid.

I mention this not because I’m seeking my own form of vindication here, but because if Kirby Smart does have a vision in the sense of a concrete plan on how to take the Georgia program to the next level, he’d best realize he’s on his own on implementing it and bringing it to fruition.  The people he answers to don’t have a clue.  (I’m betting McGarity has begun honing his “remember what Saban’s first season in Tuscaloosa was like” marketing pitch to the fan base and Mark Bradley next offseason.  That should work like a charm.)

I assumed Smart went into this season trying to have his cake and eat it, too, by transitioning the program into his model while remaining competitive enough to be a factor in the divisional race.  There’s a very good chance a week from now that approach will have been blown to shreds.  Tennessee may or may not be as good a team as Ole Miss, but that won’t matter in the slightest if Georgia doesn’t show up for the game next Saturday.

If that is what happens, that’s when things really start getting interesting around Athens.  Kirby may know where he wants to go with Georgia football, but that doesn’t mean he knows the best way to get there, or maybe even any way to get there.  Regardless, I expect him to try and stand by his convictions in that regard.  Where this all goes in 2016 if his team never buys in to it, for whatever reason, could get pretty ugly.  For a lot of reasons, I hope things never reach that point.  But I can’t say I’m not a little uneasy this morning in that regard.  Piling up bad losses in a very short time can do that to a person.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Georgia Football

The denial is always worse than the cover up.

Hey, if you need to get your blood boiling today, Ken Starr is doing a live Q&A right now. Sample bullshit:

Yeah, that’ll work.

16 Comments

Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

Game day thoughts, Georgia-Ole Miss edition

Okay, it’s go time.  A few seasonal stats for your perusal:

  • For Georgia’s defense, it’s déjà vu all over again.  Missouri and Mississippi are one and two in the conference in offensive pass yardage.  Missouri and Mississippi are the SEC’s twelfth and thirteenth ranked teams in offensive rushing yardage.  These are both pass first and ask questions later offenses. Missouri got off to a quick start last week throwing the ball all over creation and it’s reasonable to expect Ole Miss to do the same.  How Georgia deploys its safeties in the first half could be a big deal; Lock had a much rougher go of things after Tucker gave Briscoe safety help on his side of the field in the game’s second half.
  • Yeah, it would be nice indeed if Georgia’s defense racked up a few sacks today. They’re next to last in the SEC in that department.  What I’m really curious to see, though, is how the inside linebackers hold up.  Between Kelly’s threat to run and Evan Engram, they’ll really be challenged.
  • One thing’s pretty certain:  if either team gets in the red zone, look for a score.  The Rebels defense is 14 of 14 there; Georgia isn’t doing much better at nine of ten. (It’s worth noting that Ole Miss’ offense is a little better at converting than Georgia’s.)
  • For Georgia’s offense, at first glance, things look tougher this week, as Mississippi is fourth in the SEC in defensive passing yards, compared to Missouri at thirteenth. But when you scratch the surface and look at defensive passer rating, it’s a different story:  Missouri is fourth and Ole Miss is twelfth.  Ole Miss is the only team in the conference without an interception.  Neither team’s run defense has been stellar so far, although Mississippi’s has had it tougher.  That being said, Missouri did pretty well loading the box last week.  It’s not unreasonable to expect Ole Miss to come out the same way.  Chaney and Eason have to make them pay for that, or it’s gonna be a long day.

In other words, expect this game to look a lot like last week’s, with one big difference.  Ole Miss’ offense has a lot more experience in its offensive system than Missouri’s did.  It’s hard to see how Georgia’s defense doesn’t face some of the same struggles it had in the first half in Columbia.  If we can expect the Rebels’ defense to sell out against Chubb and Company, is it reasonable to think Georgia’s defense makes a similar decision with regard to Kelly?

You’ll notice one thing I haven’t mentioned is special teams.  If I don’t mention them in tomorrow’s Observations post, it will have been a good day.  Unfortunately, I expect them to merit a bullet point or two.

I wrote yesterday that I don’t have a good feeling about this game.  I don’t think Georgia is going to be able to maintain the time of possession advantage that’s help power it through its three wins and without doing so, I think Ole Miss, with its more dynamic offense, wins and covers.  Call it a ten-point difference.  Sure hope I’m wrong.

Consider this your game day comment thread home.

411 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s key to the game

EHHHHHH!!! Wrong, Hans.

Or, at least it could very well be wrong if the Rebels decide to commit their safeties to stopping the run.  Georgia didn’t throw the ball so much in the Missouri game because it wanted to.  It had to.  Until Ole Miss shows that it respects the pass threat from Eason and his receivers, Chaney won’t have any choice this week, either.

Funny thing is that Barnhart gets much closer to a real key with his next tweet.

The big deal in Columbia wasn’t Georgia throwing the ball 55 times.  It was Georgia running over ninety plays on offense.  If that happens again today, the Dawgs will have made a real game of it.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Your weekly non-Dawg game day post

All football Saturdays are good.  This one’s a little gooder than average.

#11Wisconsin

#8Michigan State

12:00 PM

Sparty is only a 3.5-point favorite at home.  Not sure why.

#19Florida

#14Tennessee

3:30 PM

Meteor game alert!  I like the Gators to cover here, for two reasons:  one, I respect a streak and two, the Florida defense is by far the best unit on the field today.

Vanderbilt

Western Kentucky

4:30 PM

From the venue to the spread — Vanderbilt is an eight-point road dog to a mid-major — there is something really wrong about this game.

#18LSU

Auburn

6:00 PM

Hoo, boy, there are gonna be some tight sphincters at game time.

South Carolina

Kentucky

7:30 PM

This is the kind of game where each team’s fan base is pessimistic about their chances.

#7Stanford

UCLA

8:00 PM

Stanford is a slight favorite.

#17Arkansas

#10Texas A&M

9:00 PM

This game’s been a little under the radar this week, but should be a good one.  Nobody wants to lose in the West.

Feel free to toss in any other games of interest in the comments.

31 Comments

Filed under College Football

Mornin’, sunshine.

Here’s something to get your day started.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Uneasy lies the point spread

I’m not gonna lie to you. I don’t feel particularly optimistic about Georgia’s chances tomorrow.  It’s the why that’s so part I’m having trouble putting my finger on.  Yeah, it’s a road game, and, yeah, Ole Miss is ranked.

But the Rebels have a losing record and in the course of that have managed to blow two huge early leads.  Games with Alabama tend to take their toll the following week and I can’t help but think the early start doesn’t help Ole Miss’ cause in that regard.  There’s also the reality that Hugh Freeze is under immense pressure to win; if Ole Miss goes to 1-3, there’s very real chance this season gets away from him, maybe even to the point that the school goes proactive on its postseason as a sop to the ongoing NCAA investigation.  In short, the intangibles don’t favor Ole Miss, either.

I suppose my knee jerk response is to see a talent advantage on the side of Freeze’s troops, but this Jeff Sentell post neatly skewers that perception, as well.

So why my gloom and doom?  I don’t know, exactly.  Any suggestions?

70 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football