Yeah, it’s personnel. Just not in the way you mean it.

For those of you who keep arguing about Georgia’s talent level and how much of a factor that is in fueling our current angst, I think you need to realize that even though the Dawgs are still running a pro-style offense, it’s not the same one that Richt directed last season.

Georgia has succeeded in the run game in the past without dominant offensive line play. The Bulldogs averaged 227 yards rushing over the last two seasons with an offensive line generally considered moderate in overall talent. But Mark Richt’s teams utilized a zone-blocking scheme that required less one-on-one matchups.

Head coach Kirby Smart’s employs more of a road-grading philosophy. He was asked if UGA’s offensive line deficiencies were something that can be schemed around.

“I think it’s hard to scheme around fundamentals of football,” Smart said. “I think blocking and tackling are the number one things that you have to be able to do in football. … We’ve got to be able to block really well. That’s important. That’s a key cog in order to be able to run the ball.”  [Emphasis added.]

They tried “scheming around”, with those three-tight end formations buttressing the offensive line.  The real issue is that the linemen they have to work with were recruited with a different blocking philosophy in mind.  Smart’s right — there’s only so much you can do until Pittman can sort things out.  Which, judging from what we’ve seen so far, may take some time.

219 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Aiming high

This is ambitious.

If Orgeron doesn’t earn the job, sources tell FootballScoop that LSU’s committee believes they can and should land a home run. “Their sights are on national championship caliber, proven head coaches,” a source with knowledge told FootballScoop this morning. During the initial, exploratory phase, we are told to expect LSU, through representatives, to gauge the interest of some of the top coaches in college football, including Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Jimbo Fisher and Tom Herman. Right or wrong, sources tell FootballScoop that LSU believes they will be able to attract a coach of that caliber.

Although the finances of LSU always seem to be changing, I have no reason to believe the powers that be at LSU will struggle to obtain whatever funding they need to attract the right coach. A source we spoke with this morning didn’t bat an eye when saying “Money will not be an issue here. Donors are ready to take care of a championship caliber coach appropriately.”

The state of Louisiana is going broke, but throwing tens of millions of dollars at a football coach doesn’t seem to be an issue.  Getting one of those names to come, though, may be a different story.

In a coaching search, prospective coaches want to know who their boss truly will be. There is no question that Tom Jurich is calling the shots at Louisville. No question that Gene Smith calls them at Ohio State. No question that Bill Moos does the same at Washington State. At LSU, there are a lot of folks who are involved. Yes, sources tell FootballScoop LSU has already arranged a “committee” to lead the process in this search. LSU leadership apparently doesn’t trust Joe Alleva to get on a plane, go have dinner with their target, evaluate him and make the offer / seal the deal as necessary.

Maybe they can use Greg McGarity’s search firm.

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Filed under SEC Football

The early tale of the tape isn’t pretty.

Jason Butt points out a few statistical shortcomings.

Georgia has given up 18 plays of 20 yards or more through its first four games of the season. Eight of those big plays came against Ole Miss, which included a 23-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram on the Rebels’ first play from scrimmage and a 41-yard rushing touchdown by Kelly in the third quarter.

Taking it a step further, nine of the aforementioned plays have been 30 yards or more. Four have been longer than 40 yards.

Through Georgia’s first four games a season ago, the Bulldogs only gave up nine plays of 20 yards or more. Of course the schedule was significantly lighter, with games against Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Southern to open the season.

The Bulldogs did begin to give up big plays last season in October as they surrendered 23 plays of 20 yards or more in games against Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida. But that stretch can be considered tougher than what it has gone through this year, with North Carolina, Nicholls State, Missouri and Ole Miss up first.

To put it more bluntly:  last season, Georgia finished tied for sixth nationally in opponents’ long plays from scrimmage; this year, the Dawgs are tied for seventy-sixth in that category.  Not a good trend, in other words, even taking scheduling into account.

Of course, that got me started wading through cfbstats.com.  Here are three more depressing rankings on the offensive side of the ball — depressing, but not necessarily surprising:

  • Sacks allowed:  14th in 2015; 109th in 2016
  • Passer rating:  57th in 2015; 107th in 2016
  • Offensive yards per play:  40th in 2015; 99th in 2016

It’s early, I know.  And we can hope Georgia is merely going through a transitional phase.  But while some of the decline can be chalked up to scheme changes on the o-line and in the secondary, as well as the growing pains being suffered with a true freshman starting quarterback, it’s also a little disturbing to hear a Process disciple acknowledging a third of the way into the season that there are issues with his team’s mechanics.

Kirby Smart offered a simple solution to Georgia’s big-play problems during the first third of the season.

Coming off a game in which Mississippi gashed the Bulldogs with big-yardage gains, Smart knows his defense to hold up better with Tennessee coming to town at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“Tackle better,” Smart said. “I mean, the offenses we play, they get explosive plays on everybody. It’s more about limiting those. Like you mentioned, how do I give up less? If we tackle better, and you take nine of the 15 missed tackles away, then you take away about seven big plays. I think that’s the most important thing.”

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“We all shook our heads—What the hell is he doing?”

Let me see if I’ve got this straight.  David Boren has apparently gone from being the driving force behind Big 12 expansion to now being considered a likely vote against conference expansion.  There’s only one step left for him to take after that, amirite?

The next time Boren speaks, a lot of his colleagues around the Big 12 would enjoy hearing exactly what the Sooners’ long-term intentions are. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Oklahoma and Texas—both in 2010 and 2011—were close to joining the Pac-10. Since Boren’s latest comments on expansion, there have been rumblings throughout the league as to whether Boren is the right public face considering he could be in the position of shopping Oklahoma around to other leagues in the near future.

There’s an increasing concern that Boren could end up as a so-called double-agent, speaking for the league but working for a school that ultimately desires to speak with other leagues. There’s also an increasing level of distrust around the league, especially since Oklahoma and Texas have no intention of extending their grant of right past 2025 anytime soon.
Yeah, this is a league with a bright future.  Luckily for all concerned, I’m sure Bob Bowlsby’s on the mother.

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Filed under Big 12 Football

Meet “the athletics director of Congress”.

Texas Republican Rep. Roger Williams has found another way to bring his love of sports to his work in Congress — this time teaming up with Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri A. Sewell to launch the College Football Caucus.

What, might you ask, is this caucus likely to be up to?  Nothing much, it turns out.

The caucus gives members a platform for talking smack.

“No longer are we talking about the economy, no longer are we talking about terrorism, no longer are we talking about social issues,” Williams said. “We’re talking about my team is going to beat your team and it brings smiles on people’s faces. And I think that kind of thing is needed.”

Before you mock, at least it’s keeping these members of Congress off the streets and out of trouble.  Now that I think about it, maybe they should meet more often than just once every three months.

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Filed under Political Wankery

Six degrees of Richt

The big firings this week have a common thread that Bill Connelly uncovered.

In this way, Miles has been done in by something that has been the doom of many successful coaches: coordinator hires.

Georgia’s Mark Richt lost successful offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, replaced him with Brian Schottenheimer, and was unemployed within the year.

Fifteen years earlier, Bobby Bowden picked his son Jeff to replace Richt. FSU had averaged 38.1 points per game and 10.9 wins per season with Richt’s offense. Those fell to 29.5 and 8.5, respectively.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly lost defensive coordinator Bob Diaco in 2014. The Irish had finished fourth, 17th, and fourth in Def. S&P+ in Diaco’s first three seasons; under new DC Brian VanGorder, Notre Dame finished 43rd in 2014 and 35th in 2015. It’s early, but the Irish are thus far 78th in 2016. VanGorder is out after a 1-3 2016 start.

In nine seasons as an NFL coordinator, Schottenheimer (once Cameron’s quarterbacks coach at San Diego) had only twice produced an offense that ranked better than 21st out of 32 in Offensive DVOA.

VanGorder was trickier to evaluate. In four years as Richt’s coordinator at Georgia (2001-04), his defenses never allowed more than 20 points per game, and in four years as DC of the Atlanta Falcons, his defenses improved each year. His lone Auburn defense wasn’t very good (56th in Def. S&P+ in 2012), but it was better than the one before it (62nd in 2011). Still, his acumen did not fit in South Bend.

There’s a Mark Richt has lost control joke in there somewhere, no?

By the way, Schottenheimer was once Cameron’s quarterbacks coach?  I guess I should have been paying more attention when he was hired.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Something else that’s going to be a big deal?

Jesus, Booch, give it a rest, man.

It’s natural to assume that Tennessee, and sophomore defensive tackle Shy Tuttle in particular, might have some extra motivation this week.

With No. 11 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) visiting No. 25 Georgia (3-1, 1-1) on Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., Tuttle and the Vols will get their first shot at the Bulldogs since he was injured last season on a low block from behind by Georgia center Brandon Kublanow.

Tuttle suffered a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments on the play, which sidelined him for the rest of his freshman season and resulted in a lengthy recovery that ultimately forced him to sit out the Vols’ season opener this year.

But Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Monday that Tuttle and his teammates won’t have revenge on their minds when they cross paths with Kublanow and the Bulldogs on Saturday.

“Again, it’s unfortunate that, that happened, but Shy has recovered from it,” Jones said during his weekly Monday press conference. “And you can’t focus on that. You have to focus on the task at hand and winning your one-on-one matchup and your preparation. I don’t even think he’s thinking about that, and neither are we.

“Again, it’s a new game. It’s a new season. It’s a new opportunity, so I don’t see that even entering in the thought process.”

The Vols clearly haven’t forgotten about the play, though. Jones referenced Kublanow’s hit on Tuttle earlier this month when he spoke to the Knoxville Quarterback Club, calling the block “unacceptable.”

I mean, if we’re gonna get into what’s unacceptable, let’s go through all of Georgia’s injuries in Knoxville during the last two visits, starting with Keith Marshall’s.

Your team’s favored and on a roll, Georgia’s reeling a bit and you want to gnaw over a football injury?  I guess it beats having to discuss other painful topics.

If you want my advice, though…

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