Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

When you’ve lost Phil Steele…

You guys know I’ve read Steele’s College Football Preview for years.  He’s typically optimistic about Georgia’s chances, and even in down years is rarely downright negative.  He’s not a harsh observer, in other words.

For some reason, the 2017 edition comes off a little differently, tone-wise.  Take, for example, what he writes about the offensive line:

The Bulldogs have gone against the grain of my experience rankings each of the last 6 years with 4 veteran units having weaker numbers and the 2 inexperienced units improving… They lose 120 career starts and only return 45 but given the history of the position, the unit may post improved numbers.  [Emphasis added.]

For Steele, that’s scathing sarcasm.  Maybe he’s getting tired of the Dawgs defying his analysis.

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Friday morning buffet

Indulge yourself.

  • Kirby Smart is “hoping and praying” the two players from the 2017 signing class not yet on campus are able to enroll.
  • There are how many new coordinators in the SEC this season?
  • Penn State and its former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (now at Tennessee) are suing each other.  Play nice, fellas.
  • Here’s a list of the ten teams that Phil Steele says will enjoy the biggest drop in schedule strength from 2016 to 2017.  (I’m not sure I’d argue Ole Miss is getting that big a drop from last year’s Georgia team to this year’s Kentucky team, though.)
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat, offensively speaking.
  • Jeez, I hate this question.
  • Dawg fans, if you’re looking for some nice UGA-themed photo work, take a peek here.

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Steele’s 2017 Experience Chart

Bringing it all together — returning offensive line starts, offensive yards returning, defensive tackles returning and the number of players on the two-deep coming back — Phil Steele charts every D-1 school:

I conclude the series by combining the five factors into my final ranking. I then devised a formula that factors all 5 into the total points equation and then turned the point total into a number from 100 to 0. A (100) would be a team with 25 seniors (NCAA scholarship limit) in the two deep and every yard and tackle returning and 120+ career starts on the offensive line. A (0) would be a team with no experience and 0 seniors in the two deep.

Georgia comes out 12th nationally and second in the SEC, behind Auburn.

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Steele, Georgia and returns

Agree with his premise or not, you’re aware that Phil Steele puts a fair amount on emphasis on returning experience and production in his college football projections.  He’s posted data on three specific areas, listed here, along with Georgia’s ranking:

I don’t there’s much of a surprise in any of that.  Other than the o-line, here’s a lot of production returning.  Whether that amounts to more than a hill of beans is dependent on — guess what? — the offensive line establishing itself at least as a competent unit and just as a general principal, some coaching up.  It’s the second year for the staff, so that’s not an unreasonable expectation… which isn’t the same thing as a guarantee.

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Phil Steele on Georgia 2017: once burned, twice shy

22nd nationally, second in the SEC East.

“I actually picked Georgia second in the East this year,” Steele said. “I think they may be the preseason favorite to win the East when the SEC media votes, but I went with the Florida Gators No. 1 (in the East). I have the Gators No. 9.”

When it comes to the offensive line, I believe the technical term for this is “damning with faint praise”:

Steele feels that even though the Bulldogs’ offensive line has to replace three starters with a fourth switching positions from guard to center, the unit should show marked improvement in 2017.

“They underperformed my expectations last year,” Steele said. “I thought coming into last season, with 98 career starts coming back, they would have an outstanding offensive line. But they did not produce that way last year.

“They lose a couple guys off the line, but I am sort of looking at the fact that they almost have to be improved. They lose 120 career starts and only have 46 coming back. I have them rated my No. 48 offensive line in the country. That is not great – that is not one of my top 25 offensive lines, but I do think that they will have a little bit more potential. Generally, when you see an offensive line underperform like that one year, they come back the next year and play a little bit better.”

No where to go but up, bitchez!

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An early look at the new direction

Phil Steele’s 2017 mag is available on iTunes, if you’re so inclined (I wait for the old school mag, myself).  Patrick Garbin has a rundown on Steele’s unit rankings for Georgia.

That is about as reserved as I’ve seen Steele project Georgia in the preseason, which is probably why I don’t have much of an objection to those rankings.  Given the quality of the last two recruiting classes, it’s a lot more important to see where the rankings wind up, rather than where they started, anyway.

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Maybe the SEC East will be a little tougher than I thought.

Phil Steele does a pretty good job predicting what the first AP Top 10 of the season will look like.

As mentioned on Monday, my predicted AP Top 10 was a perfect 10-for-10 in 2016! The EIGHT year totals are very strong. When I predict the AP Top 10 in February/March (about a HALF YEAR ahead of the actual AP poll), I have now hit on 76 of 80 teams. That means hitting all 10 teams in four of the eight years and missing by just one team in the other four years. Once again, predicting the top ten teams in the AP poll 5-6 MONTHS in advance, the record is now 76 out of 80 or 95%!

Now, obviously, that first AP Top 10 is no guaranteed predictor of success for the rest of the season, but it’s at least a decent indication of the nation’s better teams… which is why Steele’s projection for 2017 is making me pause a bit in considering how the SEC East might play out this season.

Here is my 2017 Projected AP Top 10.

1.  Alabama
2.  Ohio State
3.  Florida State
4.  USC
5.  Oklahoma
6.  Clemson
7.  Penn State
8.  Washington
9.  Wisconsin
10. Florida

[Emphasis added.]

I look at Florida and see a team that’s got a fair number of significant questions:  a rebuild job coming on defense (including a new coordinator), uncertainty at quarterback and a slide in recruiting over the past couple of seasons.  I don’t think the Gators are going to be a bad team by any means — after the past two years, you can’t help but have a solid measure of respect for McElwain — but top ten in the country and second best in the SEC is a little more than I was expecting.

Is it just me, or does that surprise you, too?  And if it’s a legit impression, what, if anything does that do for your assessment of Georgia’s chances in the East in 2017?

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