Game day post: hot hand versus grinder

It’s pretty amazing that in the space of a mere week Dan Mullen’s gone from being the second-best coach in the SEC to THE SECOND-BEST COACH IN THE SEC!

All it took was embarrassing Ed Orgeron, whose SEC career record now stands at 18-28.

Of such things legends are born.

By contrast, Kirby Smart’s second season has been a steady grind:  a one-point road win against Notre Dame sandwiched between two slices of comfortable wins over cupcakes… oh, yeah, and the Dawgs managed to score more than forty point in a game for the first time in the Smart era.  (Thanks, Samford!)

I don’t mean to make light of Georgia’s 3-0 start, which has been accomplished without its original starting quarterback and has also managed to avoid any truly embarrassing efforts like last year’s Nicholls game.  The team has progressed.

The end result is that today’s meeting has turned out to be of more import than we anticipated back in August.  Tonight we’ll find out whether Kirby’s grind can handle Mullen’s flash.

I’ll have to be honest with you:  barring turnover diarrhea, it looks like a tough battle from where I sit.  Mullen’s offensive scheme is tough to handle when he’s got the right personnel to deploy, and Nick Fitzgerald is the right personnel for that.  Meanwhile, MSU’s Jeffrey Simmons is the kind of disruptive lineman you can build a defense around, which it appears is what Todd Grantham has done.  Making things even tougher, Simmons will be prepared to exploit one of Georgia’s obvious weaknesses, the interior of its offensive line.

So while I think Georgia is the more talented team — and while I also think that, unlike LSU, Georgia will be prepared both mentally and emotionally to take on Mississippi State — those two factors are pretty decent levelers.

That’s why this game boils down to the obvious:  (1) can Georgia play sixty minutes of assignment football on defense and (2) can the middle of Georgia’s offensive line handle Simmons.  It’s going to be a long night if the answer to both of those items is no.

I don’t think it will be, though.  Beating LSU by 30 points was the biggest favor Mullen could do for Smart.  You can bet the coaches didn’t have to waste any time last week stretching the truth to prepare the team.  They’re woke.

Still, Georgia is a young team feeling its way with a freshman quarterback making only his third start.  That’s not a recipe for a blowout.  Along those lines, if you follow this…

The ‘under’ is 3-0 for UGA with its combined scores averaging 45.3 PPG. Meanwhile, MSU has seen the ‘under’ go 2-1 overall, but the ‘over’ hit in its lone road assignment. Mullen’s team has seen its games average combined scores of 57.0 PPG.

— Georgia owns a 1-5 spread record in six games as a home favorite since Smart took over. On the flip side, Mississippi State has compiled a 9-3 spread record in its last 12 games as a road underdog.

… it adds up to a low-scoring game in which Georgia fails to cover, which sounds about right to me.  Playing in Athens winds up being the difference for the home team.  I’ll take that.

As usual, this is your invite to use the comments for your game observations.  See you on the other side.

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When your team is riding a 30-game losing streak…

… alleged shark-humping just means more.

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Negative-87 yard plays don’t grow on trees.

Can’t say that I buy the overall premise of this post, but this is a good point to absorb as you ponder Mississippi State’s impressive defensive statistics:

So far this year, Mississippi State has allowed just 618 total yards, 206 yards per game and 3.34 yards per play. That’s good enough to rank the Bulldogs from Starkville as the nation’s fourth-best defense (as measured by yards per play).

Included in that tally, however, is one huge outlier. Against Louisiana Tech, Miss State’s opponent fumbled, kicked, and otherwise back-pedaled for a loss of 87 yards on a single play. That happened. A truly opportunistic Mississippi State would have recovered the fumble and scored a touchdown off of it. But instead, LA Tech found itself in a hilarious third-and-goal with 93 yards to go.

If you back that play out and say that LA Tech ran for a gain of 0, the Bulldogs look quite different defensively.

For instance, suddenly Louisiana Tech’s 315-yard output crosses the 400 mark. That’s right, Louisiana Tech racked up 315 yards against the vaunted Mississippi State defense, and that includes an 87-yard blooper of a loss. That ain’t a great stat for Miss State, folks. Further, removing that outlier pushes Mississippi State to 705 yards, 235 yards per game and 3.81 yards per play. That’s actually a meaningful distinction drops the Bulldogs to 10th in total defense. Against Charleston Southern (only 17 points scored all year), Louisiana Tech and a typically poor and still-adjusting LSU offense, that’s not terrifying in and of itself.

It’s still a pretty good job, just not as atmospheric.  Further, one place where MSU’s defense clearly excels over Georgia’s is in garbage time.  In three games, Mississippi State has given up a total of 128 yards (120 passing; only eight rushing) and one touchdown in the fourth quarter.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Auburn, they couldn’t have done it without you.

A big thank you is deserved.

Straight seasons with a victory over an SEC West team for Georgia, which hosts Mississippi State on the first Saturday of 2017 with interdivision games. The next-longest active streak for an SEC East team is two seasons with victories over SEC West opponents. In regular-season games over the past six seasons, Georgia has a 10-3 record against the SEC West while the rest of the Eastern Division has a 20-55 record versus Western Division opponents. The SEC West finished with a 9-5 advantage over the SEC East in regular-season games last season after the East won the final four games. Alabama defeated Florida in the 2016 SEC championship game for the West’s eighth consecutive victory in the title contest.

Feel free to keep up the good work.

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Your eyes weren’t deceiving you.

Groo asks the musical question, “Was 3rd-and-Grantham really a thing?”

Apparently, yes.

But you knew that.

The question now is whether it still is.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Et tu, Aaron?

Aaron Murray, maybe to establish a little pundit cred, has picked Mississippi State, albeit reluctantly, to win tomorrow.  He’s going to be on the field for the game, which ought to be somewhat awkward, but the hilarious part is that some of his former teammates are giving him crap about it.

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Filed under Georgia Football

If MSU brings a Simmons to the fight…

Georgia brings a Carter and Bellamy.

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