Category Archives: Georgia Football

Wednesday morning buffet

Eat, eat…

  • “The top ten most talented teams in the country last year were Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, Florida State, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Texas, and Michigan.”
  • You know the old joke about someone being so incompetent he could screw up a one-car funeral?  That would be Rutgers’ AD.
  • According to his dad, Pennsylvania’s D’Andre Swift was really impressed by the G-Day crowd:  “To be able to walk into the stadium and be a part of it and walk down and watch the guys coming through the ‘DawgWalk’ and see all the tradition that Georgia has was just remarkable. I’ve never seen how a town shuts down for a game. That city is a college football town, and everybody embraces that tradition and the football program fully. That, to me, was just remarkable about Georgia in every way.”  If you were there, take a bow.
  • The ACC is already trying to figure out what to do if Clemson, FSU and Louisville all wind up 11-1.
  • Good point in this post — if Missouri is an improved team in the SEC East, don’t forget that Florida and Tennessee both have yet to play the Tigers.
  • Hugh Freeze notes one difference between Kirby Smart’s defenses at Alabama and Georgia:  “He’s playing a lot more odd front. I’m sure he’s adjusting to what he thinks is best for his team. It’s been different from what we expect from them, but the results are well for him.”
  • Cool game management, Clay Helton.  You’re lucky Stanford didn’t have a two-point trick play up its sleeve.

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Filed under ACC Football, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

One last stat-driven thought about the Nicholls game

As someone pointed out yesterday, Georgia’s in a bit of a free fall when it comes to advanced stats, having fallen, for example, from 12th in Bill Connelly’s preseason S&P+ projections to 27th in those through Week 3.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see why.  The percentile performances in Georgia’s first three games are as follows:

  • North Carolina:  88%
  • Nicholls:  1%
  • Missouri:  57%

No, 1% isn’t good there.  It’s also almost impossible to find any other teams posting that kind of result.  A look at the bottom ten teams here found a 0% in Buffalo’s loss to Albany, but otherwise, nothing even close.  Looking at some other embarrassing results, Mississippi State’s loss to South Alabama rated at 13% and Washington State’s loss to Eastern Washington still managed to garner a 7%.

So, me calling Georgia’s effort against Nicholls a D-minus was generous.  1% is amazingly bad.  But Georgia still managed to win, which may be even more amazing.

But that’s not really the point here.  Play that poorly in one-third of your schedule and that’s bound to bring your numbers down big time.  Play respectably going forward and you’ll see a recovery in the advanced stats numbers.

Along those lines, note that Bill still projects the Dawgs to have a 30% chance of winning nine games and a 24% chance of winning ten.  In other words, things haven’t really changed that much.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

The 2016 version of Beamer Ball is really special.

I forgot to mention it in my Observations post, but this really was the cherry on top of the special teams sundae against Missouri:

The punt coverage team for the Bulldogs has been both embarrassing and at times very painful.

In each of the three games this season, a Bulldog defender has received a 15-yard penalty for illegally hitting the opposing team’s punt return man.

“It’s kind of an outlier,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had three of those in three games.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Hey, how come none of you guys who routinely advised Richt to spike the ball in the 2012 SECCG so he could remind the receivers not to catch any pass which wasn’t delivered into the end zone haven’t given Kirby a helpful suggestion about telling the gunners on his punt coverage team not to… well, you know?

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Overreacting pundit accuses fans of overreacting. Film at 11.

Georgia and Georgia Tech are both 3-0.  If you’re Jeff Schultz, that can only mean one thing:  Dawg fans have begun making too much of a big deal about their team.

It’s building in Athens because, well, it always builds in Athens after a win. Jacob Eason makes a big throw to win an SEC game on the road and suddenly the overwhelming thought among Georgia fans is, “If he can do that at Missouri, he can do it at Ole Miss. And he can do it against Tennessee. And Florida! And New England!”

The door is open on North Ave but there’s a little more caution among that fan base because, well, duh. But Georgia Tech is 3-0 and the offense was impressive against Vanderbilt, and even though Vanderbilt isn’t nearly Clemson, even if half of the Clemson players had their arms and legs duct-taped together, the Paul Johnson-Dabo Swinney history tilts in Tech’s favor and there’s just enough there to make you think, “Hmmm.”

This week won’t define the season for either Georgia or Georgia Tech. But it will tell us a lot about the potential of each program this season in their respective conference races.

And, yes, it’s debatable which program is sitting in a better position today (as Bulldogs fans read that sentence and spontaneously combust).

Anything’s debatable, Jeff… well, maybe not the quality of Tech’s recruiting.  But I digress.

The man should really spend some time reading the comments section here at GTP.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

‘Bruh, you were this close’.

As of this moment, Georgia is next to last in the conference in sacks.  That’s not where Smart and Tucker want the defense to be, but just as we discounted Georgia’s performance last season in passing defense due to the offenses it faced, it’s worth conceding that the Dawgs have faced at least a couple of teams that feature quick strike passing attacks.

Chuks Amaechi says that’s been frustrating for Georgia’s pass rushers.

How do you guys compete with each other as a group?

“It’s about the team. We’re trying to get wins. We’re not worried about stats. As a position group, I know a couple times [Davin Bellamy] was close to getting a couple sacks. I know when he gets mad he’ll sit there and not look at anybody. He can see me out of the corner of his eye and he would chuckle and then go back to being mad. I would say ‘Bruh, you were this close’ and he would say ‘I know! Leave me alone.” I would tell him I was just trying to get him ready for the next series.”

On Missouri getting the ball out so quickly:

“It’s very frustrating. That was all Bell talked about yesterday, ‘Every play was one one thousand, two one thousand, throw.’ It was very frustrating when you don’t have time to get there. Teams that throw like that have linemen who like to cut [block] too.”

Mizzou’s o-line did its fair share of that Saturday night.  Cut blocking — it’s not just for the triple option.

The impressive thing to consider is that, despite the poor showing in sacks, Georgia’s defense leads the conference in takeaways.  Imagine what they could do if they could get the quarterback on the ground more often.

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Kickers. You can’t live with ’em and you can’t live without ’em.

Poor ol’ Kirby.

Rodrigo Blankenship wasn’t a typical walk-on kicker. He made the U.S. Army All-American game. One outlet ranked him as the nation’s seventh-best prospect in the 2015 class. He passed on scholarships to smaller schools, including Colorado State, in order to walk on at Georgia, which hoped Blankenship could sit a year, win the place-kicker job, and go on scholarship.

Three games into the season, Blankenship has yet to try a field goal or an extra point. He lost out to another walk-on, William Ham, who is struggling immensely, going 2-for-5.

“They’ve got competition between each other, and that will continue,” head coach Kirby Smart said Monday, somewhat wearily.

Now there’s a shocker.

This past signing day, Smart said that “in my history, I found that you can find more quality kickers through the walk-on route than you can quality punters.” That’s why they signed Marshall Long, who had committed to Virginia Tech, where Shane Beamer was before coming to Georgia as special-teams coordinator.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean a policy against signing kickers to scholarships, as Smart clarified this week. The reason they didn’t sign any this year was that “when I got here this year every good kicker that I knew from recruiting was going to sign somewhere.” (Or, since Long had been committed to another school, Smart and Beamer just weren’t able to also flip a place-kicker.)

“We’re going to always go in and recruit kickers. It’s a matter of whether we’re going to commit a scholarship to it or not,” Smart said. “That is not a policy by any means. I firmly believe that you’ve got to have a great kicker.”

Except this year.

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Observations from the bar stool, Georgia-Missouri edition

One thing you can say about this series is that it lacks any form of consistency, other than Georgia winning (four out of five, now).  Last year was a defensive struggle only Tommy Tuberville could have loved, the year before was a turnover-fueled blow out, et cetera, et cetera.

Anyway, three games into 2016 and we’re starting to see a pattern emerge of a team that finds itself behind in the second half and manages to pull itself together to win in the end.  It’s thrilling, but it’s also a dangerous way to go about your business.  It also has meant that Smart hasn’t had much of an opportunity to get his younger, greener players some meaningful game experience, which kinda sounds like something we used to say about Richt.

Still, in the end, Georgia is 3-0, and at this early juncture, that matters more than anything else.  On to the bullet points.

  • You have to start with Jacob Eason.  In a game where the defense did exactly what everyone would advise you do against Georgia’s offense — gear up to stop Nick Chubb and make Eason beat you — the true freshman quarterback did just that.  (I don’t know if we appreciate yet how big a deal that should turn out to be.)  Eason made some freshman mistakes, sure;  to cite the most egregious example, the interception was the result of staring down the receiver and not seeing the defender step into the passing lane.  He was surprisingly wobbly and short with his deep throws.  He had a couple of bad reads.  But he did a ton right.  His intermediate passing was crisp.  He was patient on his touchdown throw to Payne.  And on the biggest play of the night, he read the defense perfectly and made a clutch throw to McKenzie.  Had his receivers held on to a few more passes, he final stats would have bordered on the remarkable.  Oh, yeah, he had almost sixty pass attempts in a game (55 throws and four sacks), which is more than any of Richt’s quarterbacks attempted.  Not too shabby, kid.
  • If Eason is Topic 1A, then Isaiah McKenzie is a close 1B.  That was the game of his career, and when you consider some of the big returns he’s had for Georgia in the past, that’s a pretty nice compliment.  He caught big passes, including the game winner, he had a couple of nice runs and he turned in a couple of decent punt returns, as well.  His hands and route running have improved significantly.  He’s always been a nightmare to cover in the slot.  It’s just that now he’s making defenses pay for that.
  • Unfortunately, the next item on the agenda has to be the offensive line.  It’s not a good story.  The line play was inconsistent at best, the worst offenders being Catalina and Kublanow.  Catalina was up against a stud in Harris, true, but it was the same story I saw against Carolina —  he simply isn’t capable of handling speed rushes.  If that were all, they could scheme their way around some of that.  In fact, they did use the tight ends, the guard and even Chubb (!) to help out.  The more troubling thing I saw was that Catalina disappeared as a run blocker throughout much of the third and fourth quarters, although he did rally on Georgia’s final scoring drive.  Maybe it’s just a case of a kid from the Northeast having to adjust to the heat and humidity, I don’t know.  As for Kublanow, he got pushed back regularly by the center of the Mizzou d-line, but did have his moments, especially when he had the chance to pull out.  As for the rest of the line, nobody really appeared to shine consistently throughout, although having to block eight and nine in the box certainly didn’t help.  No way around it, it’s an area of concern.
  • Chubb had a frustrating night.  And with the line blocking and Missouri’s defensive strategy, why not?  The good news is that he stands as the most likely beneficiary of Eason’s improvement.  The interesting thing is how much Chaney called on Chubb to pass protect; Chubb did pretty well with it, too.
  • Michel had a nice night.  I think he’s bound to explode once he’s fully back from his injury.
  • Where was Herrien?
  • Christian Payne, bad ass pass catcher.
  • The receiving corps was a mixed bag.  McKenzie had a huge night.  Godwin keeps being Godwin and you can’t help but notice he was out there for more snaps than in the previous two games; he may not be anything special as a blocker, but he’s too productive a receiver to hold that against him.  Chigbu is the yang to Godwin’s yin.  He’s a good blocker, but if you’re the possession receiver, the possession part’s kind of important.  They really need for a third wideout to step up.
  • The tight ends contributed all game with good blocking and some key catches.  I don’t know why they don’t throw more to Blazevich, though.
  • On defense, the d-line deserves a little credit.  Mizzou didn’t have 100 yards rushing on the night.  Thompson continues his excellent play.  Marshall again showed what a huge late pickup he was in this recruiting class.  Yes, the pass rush was pretty barren in the first half, but some of that was due to the quick pass plays Missouri had Lock spin.
  • The outside linebackers were similarly hit and miss.  Carter seems oh so close to being an impact player, but not quite.  He was in the backfield a lot.  D’Andre Walker seems like he’s on the verge of becoming a dominant player; he needs to see the field more.
  • It may not have been noticeable, but the ILBs did a good job with pass coverage in the middle of the field.  If you think about it, Missouri did almost no damage in that area, something that’s notably different from years past.
  • Weird game from the secondary, which got toasted quite a bit in the first half, but settled down nicely in the second.  Briscoe was the cover boy in that department, as he got picked on frequently early on, but wound up with some key turnovers to help.  Smith turned in another quiet game.  Sanders was inconsistent.  He had some brilliant moments, but he was a major contributor to that disastrous 79-yard TD reception.  But how about Quincy Mauger, who came off the bench and played his ass off!  That interception was about as well played as could be and couldn’t have come at a better time.  I’d say something nice about Parrish, except Missouri paid him the highest compliment possible by not throwing in his direction; in fact, I noticed on several occasions that the receiver he was guarding didn’t even bother to run a route, electing simply to keep him out of coverage altogether.
  • Do I really have to discuss the special teams?  If Kevin Butler is supposed to be the placekicker whisperer, they aren’t listening.  Tell me your heart wasn’t in your throat a little when Ham lined up to kick the winning extra point.  Neither guy can put a kickoff in the end zone consistently.  Fortunately, coverage on all but one kickoff was pretty good.  Long looks like he’s improving from week to week with his punting.  Blocking in the punt return game remains non-existent;  McKenzie earned every yard he made on his own.  Special teams should have cost them the game, but didn’t.  I wonder if I’ll be able to say that the rest of the season.
  • As far as coaching goes, Chaney deserves some credit for rummaging through the toolbox to find something that worked.  Let’s face it — power running teams don’t throw the ball 55 times in a game, not to mention that game being an SEC road game with a true freshman quarterback.  He got Chubb and Michel into a few sets together and made good use of them that way.  His offensive line isn’t consistent and that means he’s going to have to keep scrambling, but if Eason continues to develop, that’s going to make his job a lot easier.
  • Tucker did something you want to see a defensive coordinator do, which was to make some adjustments at the half.  Missouri’s offense was much less productive in the second half, and while some of that was due to the Tigers trying to run a little clock behind their running game, it was also due to his secondary stepping up with takeaways.
  • Smart deserves credit for two big things.  One, after last week’s debacle, it would have been easy to see this team collapse emotionally after Missouri roared out to an early lead, and again, after the Eason interception that lead to the Tigers’ last lead, a similar fold.  Instead, they held it together and walked out of Columbia with a win that was as satisfying as it was ugly.  The second thing was not bailing on Eason, even for a series.  I don’t know if that was the game plan going in, or if it were Kirby’s instincts that led him that way, but either way, it was a huge message to Eason as well as the team that they stuck with him after the interception and gave him the chance to win the game.  It’s decisions like that that lead to better days ahead.

Survive and advance has been the story so far in 2016.  There are some obvious and scary flaws with this team.  Some of those, honestly, I don’t see how there’s a fix for this season.  But you also got a glimpse of some other areas where the team has a high ceiling.  I’m still not backing away from my preseason prediction of nine wins.  But I can see the opportunity for one or two more if Smart can cannily balance the good against the bad.  We’ll quickly see about that this Saturday.

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