Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Steele’s 2019 preseason SEC teams

One last snapshot from the Preview, and then you’re on your own.  (Buy the mag, in other words.)  Here’s his four preseason conference teams.

Steele

That’s 116 players in total.  Here’s the breakdown by individual teams, with the first team numbers in parentheses:

  • Alabama 15 (10!)
  • LSU 13 (4)
  • Auburn 9 (2)
  • Georgia 9 (4)
  • Missouri 9 (2)
  • Florida 8 (1)
  • Ole Miss 8 (0)
  • South Carolina 8 (1)
  • Texas A&M 8 (2)
  • Arkansas 7 (0)
  • Kentucky 6 (1)
  • Mississippi State 6 (0)
  • Tennessee 5 (1)
  • Vanderbilt 5 (1)

And a few random observations:

  • You may not like seeing it, but this is yet another confirmation that Alabama is still on a completely different level of existence, talentwise, from the rest of the SEC.
  • Gee, maybe Tennessee isn’t quite back yet.
  • Everyone talks about Florida being the clear number two team in the East, but between its schedule and talent base, Mizzou could be the sneaky number two instead.
  • LSU matched Georgia with four picks on the first team and finished with thirteen players overall, four better than the Dawgs.  The Tigers aren’t Georgia’s problem this year, but, as always, they’ll be Florida’s.
  • Another reminder as South Carolina struggles its way to bowl eligibility:  the ‘Cocks aren’t a bad team; they’re a decent team with a bad schedule.
  • Auburn has a total of two offensive players on all four teams.  Gus has his work cut out for him, it seems.
  • You can pick a few bones here and there — four LSU offensive linemen seems a stretch to me, at least based on what I saw at their spring game — but this is one of the more conservative projections I’ve seen from Steele, who usually has more than a few real stretches on his lists.  I could be missing something, but he only projects  a single true freshman, LSU’s Stingley, into the entire 116.

Your thoughts?

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Steele on Georgia, 2019 edition

Okay, time to dig into my initial impressions on Phil Steele’s take on this year’s model of Georgia football.  I hinted at some of it yesterday — overall, it’s quite positive (third in his power ratings; fourth in his rankings once scheduling is factored in), but a little lackluster in comparison to Alabama and Clemson.

To illustrate, here’s how the three shape up in his unit position rankings:

QUARTERBACKS

  • Clemson 1st
  • Alabama 2nd
  • Georgia 9th

RUNNING BACKS

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 4th

RECEIVERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Clemson 2nd
  • Georgia 25th (and that’s counting Holloman)

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 6th

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 5th
  • Georgia 17th

LINEBACKERS

  • Alabama 1st
  • Georgia 6th
  • Clemson 14th

DEFENSIVE BACKS

  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 7th
  • Georgia 16th

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Alabama 18th
  • Georgia 20th
  • Clemson outside top 57

In areas where Georgia is best, the other two are generally close behind.  But there are significant gaps at several positions where the Dawgs lag behind the other two.

All of this, it should be said, is extremely relative.  Georgia is ranked in his top twenty-five at every unit position, which is nothing to sneer at.  In fact, it reinforces a point I made a while back when I was debating Allen Kenney and Ian Boyd about Lincoln Riley’s comment about Georgia, namely that Kirby’s built his team to excel by making sure that there are no true weak links.

This is nicely illustrated with Steele’s SEC unit comparison chart.

IMG_0346

The Dawgs may not be the best in the conference at everything, but they’re no worse than above-average in any category.  There is no other team on that chart, including Alabama, that can make the same claim.  (Don’t miss his coach rankings for Georgia and Florida, by the way.  But I digress.)

Coming from someone who watched Mark Richt fail to manage to field consistent units from year to year, that’s not damning with faint praise, either.  In fact, it’s hard to do.  Even Alabama during its current run has had seasons fall short because of poor special teams play.

The problem is that in the context of the 2019 season, Georgia’s high level of consistency may not be enough.  For one thing, it appears that Saban’s team can make the same claim, except at an even higher level.

None of this is etched in stone, of course.  But I don’t think it’s unfair to state at this point in the preseason that Georgia has some work to do in order to catch Alabama and Clemson by the time the postseason rolls around.

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Steelemas, 2019

The preview mag hits the newsstands today.  I’ll grab a copy on my way home, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at his strength of schedule rankings.

Screenshot_2019-06-25 Twitter

That is three SEC teams in the top four, six in the top ten and nine in the top twenty.  At 51, Kentucky has the softest ranking.  Alabama clocks in at a towering 44th, but we all know Saban could use the help.  (To be fair, ‘Bama hasn’t played ‘Bama.)

Tough neighborhood.

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So much winning

Welcome to Phil Steele’s stat of the day.

Before some of you start, three of those Georgia home losses came in 2016.

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Steele’s SEC bowl projections

Still waiting on the preview mag, but stuff is already dribbling out like this:

Tennessee becoming bowl eligible is a bit of a bummer, but Florida in Memphis for the holidays?  Man, Dan Mullen’s genius rep would take a hit over that one.

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Steele previews Steele’s Preview

The mag isn’t in the stores quite yet, but Phil Steele is already out there on the promo trail.  If you’re a Georgia fan, sounds like he’s calling for more of the same.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs will crash the party as the SEC second invitee.

“SEC Country is OK with it, but the rest of the country is like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ but I’m picking two SEC teams this year. When you look at Georgia, they are loaded both offensively and defensively. They’re a better team than they were last year. And last year, they gave Alabama everything they wanted in the SEC Championship Game.

“I think you have an undefeated Georgia and an undefeated Alabama battling for the SEC title game. I still think the loser makes the playoffs.”

Steele picks ‘Bama to avenge last year’s defeat to Clemson in the national title game.  Sigh.

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Phil Steele and average performance

Phil Steele looks at every team in the country — because that’s what Steele does — and measures its offensive and defensive performance in the context of where it sits in the opponent’s season.

A couple years ago during the season I was wondering how certain offensive and defensive performances that a team had vs a particular opponent stacked up on how the other opponents fared against that team. Not every performance as far as yards gained and given up is created equal due to the quality of opponent played. So to the right of the net yards and points columns, you will see an offensive vs foe and defensive vs foe numbers. The first # is what that performance ranked compared to every other team their opponent allowed throughout the year (#1 being the best, with #12 being the worst since most teams play 12 games) while the second column contains the number of yards positive or negative against their opponent’s average.

I have broke down the offensive and defensive averages and in today’s blog I took all those averages (both offense and defense) and combined them to come up with the most impressive teams in the country compared to how they fared against their opponent. Here is a ranking of all 130 teams and how they did. This list does take out Garbage yards that may occur during overtime and/or blowout wins/losses.

As far as it goes, then, that’s a relatively neutral method of analysis, relative because not all schedules are equal.  Dominating a lineup of MAC opponents isn’t the same as doing so in the ACC or Pac-12.

Still, it makes for an interesting top twenty in certain ways.

Screenshot_2019-02-22 College Football Offensive and Defensive YPG vs Opponents avg thru the National Championship – Phil S[...]

More confirmation, as if we needed any, that Clemson and Alabama were the two best teams last season.  Georgia’s fourth is no real surprise, either.  Nor is Oklahoma’s defense, or Ohio State’s, to a lesser extent.

That Mississippi State defense, though… I knew it was good, but not that dominant.

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