Category Archives: Georgia Football

Full speed ahead in Charlotte

North Carolina Governor Cooper just opened the doors for Georgia’s first game of the season.

Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared an update on the state’s COVID-19 progress. Throughout the pandemic, state officials have taken a data-driven approach and have been guided by the science in making decisions. Following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, the state will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. These changes are now in effect as of 1:30 PM today.

I’m happy, but not as happy as the two schools’ athletic directors, who just saw the gate receipts skyrocket.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Death of a game manager

Here’s a fantastic piece from Bill Connelly ($$) that illustrates how the role of the quarterback on college football’s championship teams has evolved from this…

In the nearly four decades from 1965, when one-platoon football officially ceased to exist, to 2003, when Mauck helped Saban to his first title, only four quarterbacks both won a national title for their team and became a first-round draft pick, and it’s four only if you count the supplemental draft. Two-time Nebraska champ Jerry Tagge went 11th in the 1972 draft; Penn State’s Todd Blackledge went seventh in 1983; and the first two title-winning QBs at Miami, Bernie Kosar and Steve Walsh, went first in the 1985 and 1989 supplemental drafts.

… to the point when Mr. Impose Your Will has had to bend to the changing times.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, Saban’s longtime former defensive coordinator, had hired former Oklahoma State and NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken as his OC before the 2020 season. It was an acknowledgment of the changing times and Smart’s attempt to land his own Joe Brady (the wunderkind who merged the RPO and pro-style worlds to great effect with LSU in 2019) or Steve Sarkisian (the coaching veteran who did the same, and then some, for Alabama in 2020), but we didn’t necessarily see the Monken offense in full effect last fall due to quarterback issues.

Incumbent Jake Fromm left early for the pros; presumptive starter Jamie Newman opted out; blue-chip transfer JT Daniels was recovering from a knee injury; and redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis simply wasn’t ready. That left former walk-on Stetson Bennett to carry the reins, and he managed games well enough — with help from a strong run game and, per SP+, the best defense in the country — to lead the Dawgs to wins over Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky. But they were outscored by a combined 85-52 against Alabama (No. 1 in offensive SP+) and Florida (No. 4).

With Georgia’s title hopes kaput and Daniels healthy and ready, Smart made a QB change. Daniels completed 67% of his passes and threw for more than 300 yards per game in the last four games of the season; Georgia’s scoring average increased by more than eight points per game; and the Dawgs won out to finish 8-2.

Perhaps more importantly than Daniels throwing well is that he was asked to throw a lot. He averaged 30 passes per game and hit 38 twice; in three years as Georgia’s starter, Fromm threw more than 30 passes just six times, and all six were in losses. Passing as a last resort is the modus operandi of a team that wants a game manager behind center, but Smart and Monken let Daniels cook. And while he wasn’t Jones or Burrow, he was close enough that it’s fair to wonder what he and Georgia might be capable of now that the rust has been knocked off.

If you’ve got a subscription (damn you, ESPN), read the whole thing.

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

If it’s good enough for Foley Field…

… hopefully, it’ll be good enough for Sanford Stadium in four months.

When Georgia’s baseball team entertains Ole Miss next week for its final regular-season series, the Bulldogs will be able to play in front of a packed house at Foley Field.

“We have been steadily preparing for 100 percent capacity at sporting events for next year and after seeing how some professional teams in our area have handled expanded attendance successfully, we believe this is the perfect opportunity to increase to full operations,” said athletic director Josh Brooks. “This is one positive step to bringing Bulldog Nation back to campus to celebrate and support our teams.”

Gates will open one hour before each game. Attendance, which had been capped at 664, will now return to 3,200.

The Southeastern Conference event protocols will remain in place. Spectators will still be required to wear masks or face coverings when entering and moving about the facility.

Maybe they’ll even let us start using chairs for tailgating again.  Be still, my heart.

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:

At least we know there’s one football venue that will be packed with red and black this season.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Your Daily Gator has a question.

Shot.

Chaser.

Beyond that, the real reason to be high on what Daniels brings to the offense is how Georgia’s offense performed as a whole once he became the starter.

In Daniels’ three SEC starts, the Bulldogs scored on 19 of their 31 offensive drives. The offense became much more explosive, hitting 30 plays of 20-plus yards in the final four games (7.5 per game, second-most in the SEC behind Ole Miss during that stretch) after producing 23 over their first six games (3.8 per game) without him. Even their rushing output improved with Daniels on the field, going from 4.1 yards per carry before he took over to 5.35 yards per carry over the last four games.

Sure, small sample size, not the stoutest opposition, and all that.  To which I’ll counter with nineteen months of rust to shake off during a pandemic season in which he and his offensive coordinator were forced to learn on the fly.  All in all, I’ll take that, happily.  Stratospherically, even.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Mo’ money to burn

Nothing says prudent management like spending sixty thousand dollars on a search firm to conduct the hiring of the only real candidate for the job.

The University of Georgia needed just 36 days between the announcement on the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend that Greg McGarity was retiring as the school’s athletic director to the job being offered and accepted by his top deputy, Josh Brooks, on Jan. 5.

The school completed the quick search with the help of Collegiate Sports Associates.

UGA paid the Raleigh, N.C., search firm $60,378.50, according to information obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald in an open records request on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the one page invoice billed to the UGA Athletic Association, Collegiate Sports Associates was paid $60,000 for executive search services for the athletic director opening, $92 for social media background checks on Dec. 31 and $286.50 for formal background checks on candidates.

No doubt that $286.50 was worth every fucking penny.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

TFW you’re a football school

In case you missed it last night — and who could blame you, really? — that’s the reaction of Georgia’s men’s basketball head coach to the news that the ninth (!) player from last season’s roster elected to depart Athens via the transfer portal.  That’s just a hair short of 70% of the roster turning over, if your math skills are a little weak.  Or, to put it another way, if a similar percentage of football players decided to head for the hills, Kirby Smart would be down 59 guys.

Sounds pretty hairy, amirite?  Well, not to Josh Brooks.

“We’ve taken some hits in our basketball program, and so have others,” Brooks said. “We’ve got a coach who has got a history of developing players who have moved on to the NBA, we know his lineage, we have to take advantage of that.”

Cool, cool, cool, Josh.  Wonder why nobody thought of that before, as Georgia slugged its way in Crean’s three years to an overall 41–49 (.456) record and an even more scintillating 14–40 (.259) conference mark.

My point here isn’t to rag on Brooks, who’s stuck in the unfortunate position of having to make do with a crappy situation he inherited.  In fact, I’m not sure I’d do anything different at this point.  There isn’t a coach in America who could step in tomorrow if Crean were gone and fashion a winning team out of the roster wreckage.  If that’s the case, one might as well sit back, wait a year or so for Crean’s buyout to decrease significantly, can him then and hire someone new for a lot less money who, if we’re honest, probably couldn’t do a lot worse.  That’s a pretty good savings, all told.

My point isn’t even to whine about the state of the basketball program (although feel free to do so in the comments, if you’re inclined).  What I would like you to think about is the comparison between where Butts-Mehre currently finds itself with Crean and where it was in the last two years of Mark Richt’s time in Athens.  In 2014-5, Richt went a combined 19-6 overall and 11-5 in the SEC, played in the postseason and had his 2014 team ranked in the top ten at season’s end.  If Crean had shown similar success, they’d be throwing ticker tape parades for him; for his work, Richt was unceremoniously shown the door.  And paid a $4 million buyout.

Therein lies the rub, my friends.  The boosters love only one sport in Athens, and by “love”, I mean “willing to open the checkbook”.  If anyone flush gave a rat’s ass about basketball the way they do about football, I doubt Josh Brooks would sound so sanguine about Crean’s future prospects for the red and black.  (Crean would probably sound less arrogant, too, for that matter.)  But that’s where we are, which is pretty much where we’ve always been.

So, just remember the next time you hear a Georgia athletic director say something like this

“Before you can truly evaluate any coach, you have to evaluate yourself internally as an administration, and make sure we’re doing everything in our power to help them be successful,” Brooks said. “A lot of times we want to point the fingers at others, but I want to tell everyone that it all starts here in the administration.

“I’ve talked about wanting to win a championship in every sport that we sponsor, 21 sports, so it all starts with, are we doing everything we can to give them a chance to be successful with their conference peers and national peers.”

… that we get the athletic directors the boosters think we deserve.  That works as long as you share the same priorities.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Money to burn

Chalk up another win for Greg McGarity’s version of the art of the deal:

The University of Georgia’s royalty reports showed 40% of last season’s multimedia rights earnings leaving the campus. The SEC school’s MMR is handled as part of a joint venture by both Learfield IMG and JMI Sports. Although $18.9 million came in during 2019-20, the school’s share was limited to its $11.5 million guarantee. The 10-year agreement, which runs through 2026, allows the school to receive either its guaranteed rights fee or 60% of the gross collected cash—whichever is greater.

Is that a lot?  Asking for a friend.

I guess it is.

Tasked with putting lipstick on this particular pig is Claude Felton, who certainly deserves better.

“While there are some nuances that are not obvious in the document, the numbers you have are correct,” said Claude Felton, UGA’s senior associate athletic director, when asked whether the royalty report indicated the school was making less money than it could. “We are pleased with the partnership we have.”

Nuances.  I take it that means “hey, it’s a deal we’re stuck with for the next five years, so we’re making the best we can out of it.  Thanks, Greg.”

In my next life, I wanna grow up to be an SEC athletic director.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Mr. Smith comes to Athens.

Tykee Smith has finished his spring semester at West Virginia and is locked and loaded for the next stage of his college football career.

“I’m real excited to get down there; I kind of can’t wait,” Smith said. “I’m ready to get down there and get situated and get everything figured out.”

“Coach Addae being there played a big role in my decision, obviously,” said Smith, who also considered Penn State and several other major programs as destinations. “But then it was more about the opportunity I was walking into. There was a need at Georgia, and I felt like I could help them fulfill it at that position. Basically, it was just a business decision for me.”

Gotta love those bidness decisions.

“But now I’m just looking forward to playing for Georgia, playing on a big stage, playing in big games.”

So are we all.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Georgia, behind the 8-ball

Between Clay Travis’ laughably bad record as a gambling tout (there was a blog that used to run a weekly feature betting exactly opposite from Clay’s picks and won season after season) and a business model built on the basis of insulting its readers’ intelligence, I have little use for Outkick the Coverage, but this take on Kirby Smart’s approach to the transfer portal is so insane I have to share it with y’all.

It’s always frustrating to lose a player to another school, and the University of Georgia has certainly been taking it on the chin as of late.

The latest setback is former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o, who had his eyes peeled on going to Georgia for quite some time. However, To’o To’o has since decided to go another route, and he will spend his Saturdays for the next few years playing for Alabama, not the Bulldogs.

Losing To’o To’o is a big hit for Georgia, a program that simply has to get more with the times and figure out why young men around the country are using the transfer portal to go to other schools.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says that he still believes that players, in some regard, should come to you – that you shouldn’t have to go out and work to get players to come to the school.

“I would rather not use the portal because schools like Cincinnati and Georgia shouldn’t have to. You should be able to go out and recruit the right kind of guys,” Smart said.

It’s a very conservative approach by Smart and his staff, but one that is simply failing right now. Georgia just isn’t getting the players through the transfer portal that they need.

You know, except for little things like Georgia’s starting quarterback and Tykee Smith, that’s a perfect point you make there, bub.

By the way, To’o To’o is a solid player.  He’s also one that Georgia didn’t have real interest in because he doesn’t fit with the scheme Smart and Lanning run in this day and age.

… Meanwhile, offenses are dominated by run-pass option schemes and mobile QBs, making the blue-collar, inside-the-box linebacker something of an anachronism. Faster, smaller guys have largely supplanted bruisers.

“It’s a different world,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “You’ve got to have guys that can cover. Everybody now is looking for a little different [type of] guy.”

What’s fashionable at linebacker in 2021 is the hybrid player — a guy who can rush off the edge, hold up against the run and cover a slot receiver downfield, all with equal precision. Defensive coaches are looking for the speed of a Corvette and the utility of a Jeep.

To’o To’o showed at Tennessee that he’s an excellent run stuffer, but not so great in pass coverage.  Georgia’s been there, done that with other inside linebackers.  Making him the poster boy for Georgia’s transfer strategy is bizarre, to say the least.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Transfers Are For Coaches.

No, not him.

Anybody care to guess whom PFF says is Georgia’s top rated returning player?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!