Serves you right to suffer.

At least it sucked for Spurdog in the end…

Throughout a coaching career that included the United States Football League, two moribund programs and two national championship games, you said the most stressful point in your career was last season. Can you elaborate?

I was at the end of my coaching career. Obviously, I wish I’d gone out a year earlier. I had two sons on the coaching staff, the pay was pretty good — there were a lot of reasons to stay. But the main reason was the stress level of the 2015 season. The year before our defense really struggled; we gave up more yards, more points, than any defense in South Carolina history. And we didn’t fix it.

Doubt he’ll fret too much about Boom having to clear the rubble he left, though.

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Filed under The Evil Genius

Has the spread stopped spreading?

Paul Myerberg has a story in USA Today that suggests college football defenses are starting to catch up with the offenses.

Yet as teams prepare for September, defenses across college football have taken steps toward closing the gap.

Repetition, increased familiarity, tweaked personnel packages and increased communication have helped to turn back time — offenses still rule, but more so than at any point in the last decade, defenses can hold their heads high.

“Defense has adjusted,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “Defense has caught up to the lightning no-huddle, the fast-break no-huddle.”

The most interesting point of view in his article comes from Rich Rodriguez, maybe the guy more than anyone else responsible for putting a lot of the swing towards offense in motion.

For defenses in this era, it’s not about winning the war; the opposition is always going to score points, often in bunches, and rare is the defense that can singlehandedly carry a team to a successful season. It’s about winning individual battles — on third down, for example, or in the red zone.

And no development has played a greater factor in a subtle defensive revival than the proliferation of spread offenses themselves. Ten years ago, a defense might face one or two early adopters of the style during the course of a single season. Now, teams will face an up-tempo opponent more often than not, and in many cases spend an entire year defending the system during practice.

“The more teams that do that, the more defense is going to study it. The more defense studies it, the more variety of schemes you get,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

“What we see now how teams are defending us now are much different than what they were defending 15, 20 years ago just because they see it all the time.”

It’s even affected his recruiting.

This has also led some programs to alter the way they recruit. In the past, Rodriguez would split his team’s 85 scholarships evenly between offense and defense. Recently, however, “it’s been flipping the other way,” he said: Arizona may have as many as 50 scholarships devoted to defense, compared to 30 on offense.

Nobody thinks college football is going to return to the grind it out times of 2006, but it was always a bit of an overreaction to pretend the sport was being irretrievably changed by the onslaught of the HUNH and the spread.  Hell, let’s not forget that Mark Richt was playing around with that stuff during his FSU days.

One thing Myerberg doesn’t touch on that I’m curious about is what effect the next wave of technology is going to have on the chess match between offenses and defenses.  If communication is one of the things that’s allowed defensive coaches to narrow the gap, what happens when they’re allowed to use computer tablets on the sideline for immediate analysis and when direct miking of players’ helmets becomes a reality?

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

You want more and you want it fast.

Continuing with the perspective point from the previous post, this Marc Weiszer piece is a nice summary of where most of the fan base resides from an expectation standpoint going into Kirby Smart’s maiden voyage.

There’s the hapless athletic director, setting a standard for Smart that none of his other hires to date have yet to meet.

When he was introduced as Georgia’s coach, athletic director Greg McGarity made mention of Smart “developing championship football teams.”

He expanded on that last week: “Knowing where we want our program to eventually be, he knows what it looks like. He’s been there. He’s experienced it at every level of the game. He’s grown up in a football environment since his dad coached high school football. He’s a student of the game. He embraces the philosophy I want to learn from others. He’s got a deep, deep pool of friends in the profession and he just wants to continuously learn, which are all positive things for me. I saw those things in Kirby as an assistant and he also knows a lot about the campus and the fabric of the University of Georgia.”

Where McGarity wants the program to be, he said, is being in the race for the national title in the College Football Playoff or contending for the top-tier bowls “on an annual basis.”

There’s the former player, ready for a change.

Bryan Evans redshirted that season in 2005. The defensive back from Jacksonville was being recruited to LSU by Smart before he left the Tigers for Georgia and helped land the Jacksonville product for the Bulldogs.

“I think it’s probably one of the best pickups that we could see,” Evans said of Smart’s hire as head coach. “The reason I see that is I just feel his intensity will be what Georgia needs. Coach Richt was a great coach but later on in his career, I felt that we were not as hungry or competitive in the big games that we were early in his career. Change is good. “

There’s the former head coach, urging patience… not that most want to hear that.

Ray Goff, who was fired as Georgia’s coach in 1995 after going 46-34-1 in seven seasons, knows there’s little honeymoon time these days for coaches.

“People have got to be a little patient,” he said. “It’s still a difficult thing to go from being a defensive coordinator and assistant coach to be being the head football coach. There’s just so many things going on that you’re responsible for.”

Tell McGarity that, Coach.

There’s the good friend, with a little perspective as a peer.

“I think we all know this business is a bottom-line business that people want results,” said Bobo, Colorado State head coach. “Sometimes they want those results extremely fast. I think Kirby is going to be focused on how he can make Georgia the best possible program every single day. He’s committed to the process. He believes in the process and if he can get his players and his alumni base to believe in the process, then I think he’ll have a chance for that trajectory, that course you want that everybody wants Georgia to take. Hopefully the ball will bounce right and it will go that way for him.”

Then there’s Smart himself, right in the middle.

“I don’t think it matters where you come in, you’re expected to win,” Smart said. “They expect the culture change. It doesn’t matter if you come in after a guy who won or a guy who got let go because he didn’t win enough. Mark Richt was certainly a successful coach here. He had a track record of winning games. That’s up to the eye of the beholder whether it was enough or not. Obviously the fact that I’m here is an opportunity created. It’s just hard to say personally what is good enough, what isn’t good enough, what’s going to be good enough? I think the job I’m charged with is to the do the best job I can every day to make this program as good it can be and that’s what I plan to do.”

… So how will Smart define success this season?

“To get the most out of this group of young men that we can possibly get,” he said. “I don’t put numbers on that. I don’t put value on that. … I want them to overachieve. I want them to be the best they can be. That’s what I’m charged with. That’s my job and that’s what we’ve got to do. What that is? I don’t know what that is. That’s relative to who we play and a lot of other things.”

Smart has told the team to focus on getting better each day, not on thinking about winning the division or an SEC championship right now.

“The pressure to win began in December,” Smart said. “That pressure never goes. I promise you I’ll put more pressure on myself to win than any fan will or any part of the Dawg Nation will. That never leaves, but that’s not the focus. You focus on that, you get lost in the shuffle.”

Good luck with that, Kirby.  Seriously.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Factoid of the day

It comes from, of all people, Mark Bradley.

Know how many previous first-year Georgia coaches won nine games? None.

Kind of changes your perspective, eh?

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Filed under Georgia Football

It’s the little details that matter.

The Dawgs are reportedly holding today’s practice at the Georgia Dome.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Coming together

Yeah, the news about Eason was the big story from yesterday, but this is a pretty big deal, too.

But Friday, head coach Kirby Smart, during an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show, gave his most optimistic outlook on Michel, who suffered a broken left forearm in a July 3 ATV accident, yet.

“I’ve got great confidence in Sony,” Smart said. “He’s worked really hard to get in shape.”

The preface of Finebaum’s question to Smart was about any media reports that suggested Michel didn’t have much of a positive outlook for the season’s start.

Smart said that any reports stating this were not accurate. Since the injury occurred, Smart has played more of a wait-and-see approach with Michel.

While Smart didn’t say Michel would play against North Carolina, his tone was different than in previous comments.

“The kid’s out there doing everything he’s been cleared to do,” Smart said. “He hasn’t been cleared to do everything. He looks great. He’s running. He’s doing 7-on-7. He’s in a black jersey. He was returning kicks yesterday. He’s doing a lot of positive things. It’s just he hasn’t been cleared to play yet.

“We won’t know that and it may even be a game-time decision.”

Sounds to me like they’re preparing as if Michel will play.  Add to that Elijah Holyfield’s return and the disappearance of Nick Chubb’s brace, and the running back corps is in a different place than even the most optimistic of us expected.

It may also be one reason the coaches are turning to Eason as the starter.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The Fabris Pool is open for business.

Week 1 picks are up.  Go get ’em.

If you haven’t signed up yet, click here.

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Filed under GTP Stuff