Category Archives: Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

“Kirby Smart could have them believing.”

I picked up my Steele’s 2016 College Football Preview Saturday night and spent much of yesterday with my nose buried in it. From 2012-5, Steele was pretty high on Georgia’s chances.  Not so much this season, though.  The Dawgs sit at 29th in his composite power rankings, although he ranks them 23rd after factoring in scheduling.

It’s pretty easy to sum up his qualms about the team.  Although there’s talent and coaching pedigree, Georgia is lacking in experience and Steele puts some emphasis on the learning curve Smart and his program have to track first.

Here are some bullet points to help you see the picture Steele paints:

  • All-American teams.  Steele picks four teams.  Georgia has two players, Nick Chubb and Greg Pyke, both third teamers.
  • All-SEC teams. Again, four teams of 29 each.  Georgia places a total of nine on them.  Pyke is the only first teamer, as Chubb makes second team.  Two newcomers, Eason and Catalina, make his fourth team.
  • Top individual units.  Georgia makes seven of his eight lists of the top 45-50 at each position group.  The whiff is at special teams, which is understandable.  Best showings are at running back (4th) and offensive line (7th).  Georgia barely makes the cut at two others, though — defensive line (45 out of 46) and quarterback (48 out of 50).  (To add insult to injury, Steele ranks Georgia Tech at 27th in quarterbacks.)
  • Conference unit rankings.  Georgia doesn’t place first in any category.

Put it all together and you’ve got a team that is “a legitimate contender in the SEC East”.  That’s a considerable notch down from labeling Alabama, LSU and Tennessee national title contenders.

But Steele also sees Georgia as one of his Surprise Teams, noting that the Ole Miss game may be the only one Georgia enters as an underdog this season.  He then goes on to say,

In the last 3 years Georgia has been favored in 36 of their 39 games but have a disappointing record of 28-11 in that span.  Sometimes a coaching change (Richt was there 15 years) can bring a different attitude and maybe take care of business in that favorites role.

There are a couple of statistical trouble spots he notes.

First, over the last 14 years, teams with three or more net close wins in a season have an almost 80% chance of having a weaker or the same win total the following season.  Georgia had a net of four close wins in 2015.

Second, over the last nine years, Steele found no school losing more than 34 or more starts from a team that finished with 10 or more wins improved its record the following season.

All in all, there’s enough uncertainty about Georgia’s 2016 chances to reinforce my ambiguity about the season.  I do think the schedule is weak enough for nine wins; it’s that tenth one that makes me feel at times like I’m reaching.  We’ll see soon enough.

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“The Bulldogs… are a legitimate contender in the SEC East.”

Steelemas doesn’t come until next week, but if you hie thee over to his website, you can read Phil Steele’s Georgia preview today.

He ranks the Dawgs 23rd, well ahead of Florida, but likely to be at least as far behind Tennessee.  He thinks the offense will improve from last season and the defense will hold its own, but notes that Georgia won four close games in 2015 and the coaching change as potential limitations.  Overall, as the header to this post indicates, he’s pretty lukewarm about Georgia’s chances.

As far as the individual units go, it’s a mixed bag, but he does point to some concern about the loss of so much productivity at linebacker and, of course, special teams.

There are always a few fun stats tossed in.  In this case, Georgia is riding a ten-game winning streak against Ole Miss, including five straight in Oxford.  (Kirby isn’t, though.)

It’s also worth checking his seven years of offensive and defensive stats.  Based on his yards per point metric, last season marked the most inefficient offense at Georgia since Stafford left, and by a pretty significant margin over 2014.  Defensive efficiency was a different story, as the team turned in its best effort there since 2012, with a lot less NFL draft picks.

Dig through it.  There’s plenty there, as you’d expect from Steele.

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Thursday morning buffet

The chafing dishes are tanned, rested and ready.

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Chubb is coming.

I keep telling ‘ya, the cherry on top of the Chubb hype sundae is inclusion on one of Phil Steele’s preseason All-SEC teams.  It’s almost a thing now.

Any thoughts on where Nick shows up?  I’m leaning third-team right now.

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Returning offensive line career starts

Phil Steele blogs every year about the number of career starts returning for D-1 offensive linemen.  This year’s post on that subject is out, so, without looking, guess where Georgia ranks nationally.

The answer is here.  Yeah, that surprised me, too, especially the conference ranking.

I will say, based on last year’s experience, the quality of coaching matters a shitload more than returning starts.  Which should be a good thing for the Dawgs…

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Some early Steele-y talk

Phil Steele’s 2016 magazine will hit the stands soon.  In the meantime, he’s doing plenty of promo work for it.  He did a little Atlanta sports talk and discussed Georgia’s prospects here.  A summary:

He sees UGA as a good team and doesn’t see a downfall and with a healthy returning starting line, they could be the team to beat in the SEC East. He likes the schedule and winning the East is one step from the CFB Playoffs. He thinks Eason needs to win the starting QB position and will win it in Athens.

Unfortunately, he really likes Tennessee’s chances to win more.

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What does Phil Steele know that we don’t?

How many Georgia fans do you figure share his optimistic take on the offensive line?

Let me just say that if turns out that Georgia indeed has one of college football’s ten best o-lines this season, I could get used to that.

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