This is the sound of a man who got his way.
Brian Fremeau’s updated his FEI rankings. Georgia’s fifth on it. As Bill Connelly’s advanced stats model also has Georgia fifth, it’s pretty safe to assume that Georgia will rank fairly high in their F/+ projections.
That’s not really the information that I wanted to highlight, though. This is:
I’ve been taking a closer look this offseason at single-game opponent-adjusted efficiency data (GFEI) and in particular, the performances that are most exceptional. Four games highlighted the championship attributes of the Buckeyes last season: the three postseason wins and a 49-37 win over Michigan State (FEI No. 10) on the road in November. All four victories ranked among the top two percent of GFEI ratings last season. No other team posted as many top-25 GFEI ratings as Ohio State.
In fact, only two teams managed more than one top-25 GFEI rating. Oregon had three. The other school? Yeah, you guessed it.
Oregon and Georgia (three each) were the only other teams to post more than one.
The same team that managed three of the most dominant performances in college football – a rare feat, as Brian indicates – also managed to get beat by two mediocre division opponents, one of which came decisively. It’s what drives you crazy as a Georgia fan.
So what are we supposed to make of Ian Boyd’s premise? “No one likes to pick Mark Richt’s team, but the Bulldogs may be one of the best situated teams to make a run in 2015.”
There may not be any crying in football, but there sure is a fair amount of whining.
“I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?” Saban told reporters during a teleconference in October 2012.
Despite the efforts of Saban and other coaches, such as Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, little has changed about how college football is being played heading into the 2015 season. No-huddle offenses are snapping the ball faster and scoring more quickly than ever before, leaving opposing defenses huffing and puffing to keep up with the game’s frenetic pace.
“The hardest thing to do in college football right now is to play defense,” Arizona State coach Todd Graham said, “and it’s the most important thing.”
Which is another reason Gary Patterson impresses the hell out of me.
It’s time to meet Louisiana-Monroe. Here’s an introduction from Bill Connelly:
Berry’s 2015 squad should be competitive again simply because of the defense. It was one of the best in the mid-major universe last year, and it returns two of its top four linemen (along with a load of exciting underclassmen), its top three linebackers, and four of its top five defensive backs. There will once again be plenty of play-making potential from this speedy, confusing 3-3-5.
But there’s nothing guaranteeing the offense will rebound, and if it doesn’t, ULM will again be more a tough out than a Sun Belt contender.
At times last season that was indeed a very salty defense, holding Texas A&M fourteen points under its scoring average and Georgia Southern seventeen points under its. And most of that group comes back.
It’s the offense that’s the big question. It was downright anemic in 2014. And as Bill notes, ULM has to replace its starting quarterback, starting running back, leading receiver, and three multi-year starters on the line. The new starting quarterback is a redshirt freshman.
To shake things up on that side of the ball, Todd Berry is putting the band back together, so to speak.
The #FUNROE offense in 2012 averaged 33.8 points-per-game, 432.8 yards of total offense and converted fourth downs at a clip of 68 percent — good enough to finish among the top-20 in the country. The reward at the end of the year was the winning season and bowl appearance that had eluded the program since making the jump to FBS 18 years prior.
But something changed after 2012. ULM went from freewheeling to cautious the next year in order to keep a battered Kolton Browning — the indispensable cog of the operation at quarterback — upright and off the sideline. #FUNROE was dead by the midpoint of last season. Senior transfer Pete Thomas, a pocket passer diametrically opposed to the mobile Browning, led the Sun Belt in passing, but the Warhawks fielded the conference’s worst scoring offense.
Making matters worse were stale play calling and a conservative mentality that Berry said “tore him up inside.”
The first thing Berry did after taking over the offense was dust of the 2012 playbook — much to the excitement of the roster — and add a few of his own personal touches…
While the offense itself looks about the same formation-wise, Berry has made a few tweaks and added some option football and passing concepts from the run and shoot, a four-wide receiver attack made famous by the University of Houston in the 1980s that’s among Berry’s favorites.
“Coach Berry taught us how to read coverages when we all got here so him adding that is no big problem,” senior wide receiver Rashon Ceaser said. “We’re going to take it and run with it and make it work.”
It’s a good mindset to take into a game in which, as a big underdog, you’ve really got nothing to lose by being aggressive.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in how the Warhawks are preparing on defense for what Schottenheimer will throw at them, take a look here.
UPDATE: From Jake Rowe, five more things to know.
I mentioned how relieved Richt sounded at the presser announcing that Greyson Lambert had won the starting quarterback job. He’s not the only one who’s relieved.
“I think we were happy to have a name, a face at quarterback here at Georgia,” Sophomore running back Nick Chubb said when asked for his reaction to the news. “When it happened I was excited, excited for him, excited for the program. We can start planning around him for the first game.”
The star tailback added that he believes getting Lambert settled into the starter’s role helps the team — that the process of preparing for three quarterbacks is tougher than what it takes to play with one.
As things played out, it became apparent that Richt and Schottenheimer were struggling over the decision to name a starter. Regardless of why you think the process played out the way it did, there’s little doubt the coaches were conflicted. So there was no reason to question Richt’s uncertainty in that regard.
But the idea that they might be willing to let the competition spill over into the opening game this Saturday – at least – well, I had a harder time buying that one. The offense needed a starter picked. Let the guy who probably has the second-most direct stake in that decision explain.
Brandon Kublanow, the Bulldogs starting center, agrees.
“I know I wanted someone. I know I wanted them to pick someone,” Kublanow said. “Just for reps. Just for continuity. It is what is. They had to pick somebody and it was Greyson. I’m excited.”
The relationship between quarterback and center is an important one. Whether it’s snap count, cadence, or the actual calls and checks made to change up blocking scheme and protections, the two need to work in unison.
Working with three different signal callers throughout camp helped Kublanow learn just how important it can be to settle on one guy at the position.
“Having the same guy back there definitely helps,” Kublanow said. “Not as much snapping wise but more verbal communications and make different calls and stuff. We need him on the same page.”
Not just him. It’s not fair to Lambert to leave him splitting reps at this point. Sure, he’s got more real game experience than Bauta or Ramsey. And with the change at offensive coordinator, there isn’t as much of a gap learning the offense as there might have been if Mike Bobo were still calling plays. But one area where Lambert is way behind the others is simply getting used to what his offensive teammates do. This is a huge week for his comfort factor.
And that’s why this is important, too.
It’s not certain how long Greyson Lambert will hold on to Georgia’s starting job. All that’s clear is the transfer from Virginia is the starter this week, and not part of a rotation.
“We’re not thinking a rotation,” coach Mark Richt said on Tuesday, adding: “Not game one anyway.”
A day after Lambert was revealed to be Georgia’s starter against Louisiana-Monroe, the decision remained the topic du jour around the program. Naming one guy as a starter was a surprise to many, as the competition seemed so close.
But it had star tailback Nick Chubb’s endorsement; Chubb said he preferred one guy to a rotation, and gave Lambert a thumbs up.
It’s not about making Lambert feel like somebody’s not constantly looking over his shoulder. (Hell, as I mentioned yesterday, he’s used to that.) It’s about letting him develop a rapport with guys he’s only had a month to work with. Timing ain’t easy. Every early play is precious. And that’s why I think you might expect Lambert to play longer on Saturday than you’d normally expect a Georgia starter to play in a cupcake game. Right now, it’s all about the reps.
The surest sign of the transition from Tony Ball to Bryan McClendon as the receivers position coach? This.
The three top backups at wide receiver are all rookies: Terry Godwin, Michael Chigbu and Jayson Stanley.
“They’ve got to be ready to play,” wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “We have a young group so the freshmen will be playing.”
As Mitchell indicates, some of that’s due to necessity. And just because the three are listed there is no indication of how much playing time they’ll be seeing right out of the gate. (Another reason to hope there’s a comfortable lead on Saturday is to get the backups time with Lambert early and often. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to keep Mitchell fresh.)
But it’s hard to imagine Ball letting three true freshman sit in his top six rotation from the get go. There will be a learning curve.
Evidently, some portion of the fan base’s reputation precedes it.
Hell, there will probably be some folks in the stands still cussing Bobo after the first three-and-out. A knee’s gotta jerk, y’all.