Category Archives: Georgia Football

My world turned upside down.

If you’d have told me a couple of months ago that the hot take on Georgia would be downplaying the secondary and feeling upbeat about the offensive line, I would have scoffed.

And yet, that appears to be where Kirby Smart is now.

Kirby Smart, who so far isn’t all rainbows and unicorns when talking about his team, actually sounded kind of happy about the state of his offensive line, at least when he was asked about it at SEC media days.

“I feel much better now going into fall camp having watched what we had in spring and watched those guys improve under Coach (Sam) Pittman’s tutelage. And Tyler Catalina coming in as a transfer, we hope to give us some competition there for a starting job,” Smart said. “I think the toughest job is staying injury free and trying to find eight guys, nine guys to rotate in there.”

That being said, I’m not sure how far to take that beyond Smart’s obvious satisfaction with Pittman’s coaching chops (duh) and the added depth Catalina brings to the table (also, duh).  Or, as Emerson summarizes,

The question now is where everybody goes. Brandon Kublanow, the only senior returning starter, is also the only one who, barring something cataclysmic, will have a definite position: Center.

Every other spot could see some movement before the North Carolina game. The coaches have a set lineup they’ll come out with on the first day of preseason practice, but there will be a month, especially the first two scrimmages, to see if there should be tinkering.

“I’m sure some things will move,” Kublanow said. “That’s how it always is in fall camp, you’ve got guys shuffling everywhere.”

If there are plenty of moving parts on the o-line, my wish is the same as it is for the quarterbacks:  find a rotation and find it quickly, so the offense has as much time to settle in during August camp as possible.  The obvious big questions surround Catalina, both as to whether he’s good enough to crack the starting line up and, if so, which tackle position he takes.  If those get answered by the first scrimmage, I may begin to cautiously share in the optimism.  If not, I guess we hope Pittman’s a magician.

Speaking of Pittman, here’s a little something the guys at Bulldog Illustrated dug up:

Third, and probably his biggest decision, is what type of blocking scheme Pittman will use.  In a 2010 article written by Buck Sanders of Scout.com, Pittman (while OL Coach at North Carolina) provided an analysis of the three blocking schemes and when they are used:

Zone Blocking

“Zone blocking teams want to cover their linemen.  I mean, that the bottom line and that’s why you saw us go towards a huge zone scheme toward the latter part of the year, because we wanted to cover our linemen for movement.”

Gap Blocking

“Your gap teams are your smash mouth teams, but most teams that are zone teams are also a gap teams at times.”

Man Blocking

“When you start talking about man schemes, you better be really good.  A man scheme is when you put your linemen in a one-on-one block regardless of movement…Those (man blocking) schemes are effective when your guy is just better than the guy he is assigned to block.  You are betting you can physically whip your opponent.”

In the same article Pittman went on to say that, “You go into games with different runs based on the configuration of the defense, or based on who they have over there”.

I suppose that means we’ll know the line’s made it when they’re playing man schemes and whipping the other guys.  I doubt that will be in the opener, though.  Gotta crawl before you can walk.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

A different kind of envy and jealousy

You know what Paul Johnson’s dream job is?  Kirby Smart’s.

The new dynamic, of course, for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is that for the first time in his nine seasons with the Yellow Jackets, the Georgia coach on the other sideline will be Kirby Smart. Johnson isn’t sure what that could mean for the rivalry.

“I have no idea, we’ll see,” Johnson said. “I’ll have a better idea in a couple of years I guess. They’re always going to have good players. The place recruits itself. That’s not going to change for sure. It will be interesting to see how they do. It would be hard to say until we watch them play.”

“The place recruits itself.”  Could there be anything more Chantastic for the genius?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Name that caption, motley crew edition

An alert reader passed this on to me.

Of course, have at it in the comments, but I can’t help observing that the last part of Bauerle’s caption is noteworthy as to whom it doesn’t mention.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Name That Caption

“I’m worried about the 280-to-300-pound guys…”

If you’re looking for the silver lining in the dark cloud that is Georgia’s current defensive line situation, Smart’s got one for you:

“The good thing is we don’t play an LSU, Arkansas type that’s just going to break your neck, but we do have to play fast-tempo teams.”

On top of that, most of the offenses Georgia will face before season’s end don’t deploy particularly productive rushing attacks.

After the opener, the Bulldogs will face only one opponent — Tennessee on Oct. 1 — that ranked in the national top 40 in rushing offense last season before taking on Auburn and Georgia Tech in November.

Sure hope some of the true freshmen have developed by then, and maybe Jonathan Ledbetter, of whom Smart says “it’ll surprise everybody” when they find out how many games he’s suspended for, will be reinstated.  In the meantime, fingers crossed.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Kirby Smart’s uncharted territory

One thing over the past few decades Georgia hasn’t done particularly well is get great seasons out of true freshman quarterbacks.

Even so, starting a true freshman quarterback in the SEC is tough, given the nuances involved.

“If you look over the history of the league, it hasn’t happened very often – especially when you talk about the first game of the season,” head coach Kirby Smart said.

Only three times since 1990 has Georgia started a true freshman in 50 percent or more of its games during a football season – Eric Zeier (1991), Quincy Carter (1998) and Matthew Stafford (2006). David Greene and Aaron Murray both redshirted their first years on campus before starting four consecutive years.

Carter was the only quarterback of the three who earned the job going into his season-opener, although he was two years removed from high school and playing minor league baseball before heading to college.

Carter had success throwing the ball in his first season, totaling 2,489 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Zeier earned six starts to total 1,984 yards and 7 touchdowns. Stafford, who made seven starts in 2006, struggled the most out of the three as he amassed 1,749 yards, 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

And, boy, from the best start of the three did Carter’s Georgia career end well.

None of which is to say Kirby doesn’t know what’s at stake over the next month as he evaluates his options at the most important position on the field.  The quote above indicates that he’s well aware of what kind of chance he’d be taking if he decides on Jacob Eason as the starter against North Carolina.

The question Smart has to ask himself and answer, just as we all will, is whether Georgia’s staff has the chops to overcome history and justify taking that kind of risk by coaching Eason up sufficiently to, if not succeed wildly, at least avoid being a liability.  Keep in mind it’s a decision he’ll have to make based purely on his own instincts and professional judgment, because throughout his time at Alabama, that’s a call he never watched Nick Saban make.

Since Nick Saban joined the Alabama football program in the spring of 2007, he has never started a true freshman quarterback. Things such as “seniority” and “earn it” have always been mantras in Saban’s process. It’s not that Saban wouldn’t ever consider starting a true freshman quarterback, but the two things he values the most in his quarterbacks (playing smart and limiting turnovers) are difficult to grasp for a guy who was playing high school football months earlier.

For all the attention we’ve paid to Georgia’s quarterbacks, especially after Eason’s G-Day performance, this is the aspect of the choice we may not have fully contemplated.  It’s a big deal, perhaps as much a definer of Smart’s early career as anything he’ll take on, both for what it will say about his decision to hire Jim Chaney as well as his skill in program building through talent evaluation and development.

Keep in mind that when Richt took his leap with Matthew Stafford, it came in the wake of the program’s most successful run in a quarter century.  Smart, in contrast, is making that call cold, and while, sure, he starts off in a honeymoon phase with the fan base, if the quarterback choice blows up in his face, he’ll soon find out that the fan base’s experience over the past five years has made most of us far more willing to question whether the head coach knows what he’s doing than we used to.

There’s a lot at stake, and we’ll be watching.  No pressure, Coach.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Love the Chubb.

Derek Mason does.

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason, a former defensive coordinator at Stanford, knows plenty about dealing with elite running backs. I asked Mason what he thought made Chubb so good.

“Nick Chubb is really special,” Mason said. “His feet never stop. He always moves the line of scrimmage. He can anticipate contact and his ability to offset tacklers from angles is unbelievable. That’s an innate ability. His ability to see what’s happening in front him and react on a dime. Had he not gotten hurt (last year) there wasn’t anybody he wasn’t running through or making miss. Nick Chubb is the best running back in this conference that I’ve faced.”

One can only hope he continues to make Mason feel the same way after October 15th.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Where are you #93K folks when they need you?

That’s what Greg McGarity wants to know.

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Filed under Georgia Football