Category Archives: SEC Football

Living in the land of it just means more.

This is beyond classic.

Again, all I can say is thanks, football gods.  I already know I owe you one.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, SEC Football

“Both of these teams have their flaws and both teams play hard.”

Georgia and LSU played three common opponents down the stretch — Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M.  Secstatcat breaks down the stats from those three games.  It’s not as pretty as we’d like, to put it mildly.

Looking at the defenses first, LSU’s mostly outperformed Georgia’s in these three games. But the Dawgs have the edge in perhaps the two most important stats – albeit barely. UGA allowed a lower TD Rate and surrendered less explosive plays. Again, explosive plays consist of runs of 10+ yards and passes of 20+. Scoring and preventing points, winning the turnover battle, and outperforming your opponent in explosive plays are the big three areas that often determine the outcome of ballgames. Despite the fact LSU was better down-to-down, generating Havoc plays, and forcing three-and-outs, Georgia had the preferable numbers against those three opponents. Still when everything is taken into account, it’s hard not to give LSU the hat tip. Though UGA was better at curbing scoring and big plays than the Tigers, their edges are slim.

Offensively, it’s no contest. LSU was far an away the better offensive team against Florida, Auburn, and TAMU. Both Throwing and Rushing, the Bayou Bengals outdid the Bulldogs down-to-down, were more potent scoring, had less negative plays, a drastically smaller Three-and-Out Rate, and were considerably more explosive. Even though the Havoc Rates were similar, LSU still had a better clip than UGA’s. Remember, all three of these defenses finished within the conference’s top 6 units against SEC offenses. Georgia was clearly affectedly negatively and LSU appeared to not bat an eye.

Will this play out based on conventional wisdom presented or will the old adage come to fruition? Offenses win games, but defenses win championships.

He makes a good point in his conclusion about turnovers — the way this game turns into a rout is if the Dawgs go minus-2 in turnover margin.  Jake needs to keep that interception streak intact, big time.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Christmas comes early.

Honestly, I don’t know what I did to deserve something this good.

Talk about your match made in heaven:  the fake dog peeing football program is hiring what amounts to a fake dog peeing coach.  Junior’s yet to win anything bigger than a CUSA title in his head coaching career, but he’s guaranteed to draw attention wherever he goes.  And Ole Miss is perfect for him — there’s a 99% chance he’ll never win the division, but on the odd chance he ever does, he’ll be out of Oxford like a shot.  You’d think those people would learn something from the Tuberville experience, but this is all about trolling.

And on that level, it’s close to perfect.  The Laner can bring his little brother back to Ole Miss just as he’s coming off that pesky two-year show cause order he’s under.  The most all in thing Kiffin can do, though, would be to try to hire Art Briles.  (Don’t shake your head; he hired Kendall at FAU.)  Greg Sankey’s already got a mild case of heartburn this morning.  Might as well see if you can give him something bigger, Junior.

In the meantime, it’s gonna be a fun offseason.  Ole Miss, we who are about to snark salute thee.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, SEC Football

Q&A-ing with the (not so much) enemy

This is one helluva stat.

This, remarkably, will be the tenth consecutive meeting between the teams in which both are ranked. The lowest Georgia has ever been ranked coming into a game against LSU is #18. #13 for LSU.

And, yet, there’s surprisingly little rancor between the two fan bases.  As Poseur writes, “Even then, it’s hard to find an LSU fan nursing a grudge against Georgia or vice versa.”  (It  helps that both sides share passionate dislikes of Auburn and Florida.)  Hell, I was rooting for the Tigers to beat ‘Bama and if they wind up as SEC champs, I’ll certainly be hoping they spoil Dabo’s mood.

Anyway, as we’ve done in the past, GTP and And The Valley Shook! have swapped Q&As in anticipation of tomorrow’s meeting.  I did two of ’em over there, one straight and one tongue and cheeky.  Here’s what ATVS’ Zach Junda had to say in response to my curiosity:

1.       I can’t even begin to tell you how jealous I am of the LSU offense’s prowess this season.  How in the world did Orgeron become convinced to ditch the Tigers’ traditional approach and bring in Brady to rework everything (especially considering how poorly the Canada experiment went)?

I know right! We can’t believe it either. Orgeron deserves all the credit in the world. He hired Canada, saw it wasn’t working and pulled the plug immediately. He saw that the Ensminger offense wasn’t good enough to beat Alabama and went out and gambled on a 30-year old wunderkind. O said in the press conference when he was officially named coach at LSU he was going to run a spread offense and hire the best minds in the game. It took some time and some experimenting but he kept his word.

2.       If I could only bring one thing to an LSU tailgate that would be guaranteed to impress everyone, what would it be?

I’d say bring something that would unite Georgia and LSU. And what do the those two fan bases hate? The Florida Gators. Who have those teams both beaten this year? The Florida Gators. The solution would be bring some fried alligator, it makes for a wonderful appetizer and olive branch.

3.       Is it just me, or does Grant Delpit’s game seem a little off this season?  How banged up is he now?

It’s not just you. He’s a Thorpe Award finalist which is surprising, frankly. Maybe it’s a makeup for the Thorpe award he should’ve won last season. Anyway, there’s a few reasons why Delpit hasn’t looked like the Delpit we saw in 2018. John Battle graduating means he’s had to play more of a centerfielder role and get the other DBs lined up. He’s best suited as an in the box, attacking safety. Battle gave him that freedom; losing that changed his game. Then there was the ankle sprain he suffered late against Auburn. It was most noticeable against Ole Miss. I lost count of the number of times John Rhys Plumlee blew past him. He was basically playing on one leg that night and it showed.

But things have started to turn in his favor in recent weeks. He took the week off against Arkansas and looked healthy against Texas A&M. And the emergence of true freshman safety Maurice Hampton Jr. has really helped out the secondary as a whole and Delpit specifically. Hampton is a two-sport star and will be playing baseball for the Tigers come spring. He’ll man the outfield so on the gridiron he’s literally playing center field. That LSU has a second coming of John Battle has allowed Delpit to look like…well, Delpit.

4.       Honestly, this is a balanced looking LSU defense to me – 4th in the conference in defensive yards per rush and 5th in defensive passer rating.  If you had to point to the area of greatest concern, considering what Georgia prefers to do on offense, what would that be?

I’m concerned Georgia is going to lean into the strength that is their offensive line and try and wear down LSU with its running game. Texas had 121 yards on the ground; Vanderbilt got 145; Florida, Miss State, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas all eclipsed 100 yards. This is a run defense that can be had. And remember, Georgia was having its way with LSU in Baton Rouge before inexplicably abandoning the running game early. The question will be, can the LSU offense get out to a big enough lead that Georgia has to abandon the run.

5.       Tell the truth – would beating the Dawgs this Saturday mean as much as beating Alabama did?

No, absolutely not. For one, I think it helps that LSU not only beat Georgia just last season, but they beat them pretty soundly. And for another…I mean those guys have just been making the entire state miserable for about a decade. Alabama spoiled what would have been the greatest season in school history in 2011, kept LSU from possibly winning a second straight championship in 2012, ruined Leonard Fournette’s Heisman hopes in 2015 and shut out the Tigers in consecutive home games in 2017 and 19. That win was a long time coming and in a way, nearly washed away all the bitter disappointments suffered for eight long years.

6.       One statistical area where I’m a little surprised is in sacks allowed, as LSU’s offensive line has given up three times as many sacks as has Georgia’s.  Where’s the vulnerability, since Burrow poses something of a run threat?

So the offensive line play has been up and down, with probably more ups than downs but the downs have been real stinkers. In the opener against Georgia Southern, LSU could only average 3.7 yards a carry against a Sun Belt team. Against Texas it was 3.5. Burrow also got sacked five times against Alabama. But the good performances have been really, really good. Burrow wasn’t sacked once against Florida, I don’t think the Gators even registered a pressure. And against Arkansas, Clyde Edwards-Helaire got 181 yards on SIX rushes. So the quality of the line depends on who LSU’s got up front. In the games that the line has been strong were the ones where left tackle Saahdiq Charles wasn’t withheld for a “coach’s decision.” With Charles hopefully back for the year, it lets Adrian Magee slide back into his natural left guard position. Add in Austin Deculus getting healthy again and manning the right tackle spot we should see the best yet of the offensive line.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Well, if you’re looking for a stat to hang your hat on…

This one ain’t half bad.

And here’s the thing — Georgia has to play great defense because of the way its offense is built.  And vice versa.

“You’ve got to play good football to win, period,” Smart said. “I don’t know that the adage ‘defense wins championships’ stands up as much as it used to. When you saw scores from the ’60s and the ’70s and the ’80s, it was indicative of defense compared to now. Now, it’s like, ‘I got to play pretty good defense and I got to score a lot of points. I can’t play horrific defense. I can’t play bad defense, but I might not have to be perfect,’ is the way a lot of teams have had success. They probably take more chances and risk and they just score tons of points.

“An explosive offense allows you to play a certain way on defense too, because you know that you’re going to score a certain amount of points. Sometimes that changes things. But you go over the history of the last 10 years, there’s still been some really good defenses that have won national championships. The Alabama ones, the Clemson ones. A lot of them get overshadowed by really good offenses, but there’s been some good defenses winning.”

“Right now, it’s hard to argue with the success that Kirby’s had,” said former Bulldogs quarterback Eric Zeier, who works as an analyst on the school’s radio network. “I think what would dictate change would be how we perform in a game like the one we have coming up on Saturday. I will say this: The style of offense you play can dictate how you look and how you feel on the defensive side of the ball, as well. At Georgia, you’re practicing against big and physical teams constantly. When you start to spread it out and open things up, that’s what you see every day. It’s a little bit different mentality, and I think it affects how your team functions and what its identity is.”

Call it an impose your will question, if you like, but tomorrow’s game comes down to which team can take the other out of its comfort zone.  Can Georgia’s offense chase Joe Burrow and Company if the Dawg defense can’t slow them down?  Can LSU’s offense prevail in a real slugfest if both of Georgia’s lines control the action?  Stay tuned.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Nice legacy you got there.

How ’bout these apples?

That has the makings of a pretty good trivia question.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Biting the bullet: reviewing my 2019 SEC preseason predictions

Once again, it’s accountability time.

I made my preseason picks bed and now I have to lie in it.

As always, schools are listed in the same order as they were in my preseason post, with this season’s won-loss totals.

[Ed. note:  Please read that last sentence again, carefully, before you blast me in the comments for not agreeing with the order of presentation.  You’ll save us both a lot of time.  Thanks!]

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  The most lather, rinse, repeat program in college football.  As I said in last year’s preview, if Alabama isn’t in the national title hunt when the Tide plays in the SECCG, it’ll be a complete shock.  A regular season loss would be a mild upset.
  • How I did:  Hi, there, complete shock.  Didn’t see you coming.
  • Final grade:  C-

LSU (12-0, 8-0)

  • What I said:  There’s an awful lot riding on the supposed change in offensive philosophy this season.  Color me unconvinced.  LSU is too talented to have a mediocre season, but the schedule and Orgeron have me thinking the Tigers are on their way to nine regular season wins in ‘nineteen.
  • How I did:  Um… I’m convinced now.
  • Final grade:  D+

TEXAS A&M (7-5, 4-4)

  • What I said:  Yeah, I think Jimbo can coach when he’s motivated.  But between that schedule, the wholesale losses on the defensive front and Trayveon Williams’ departure, the won-loss record will take a step back in 2019.  Seven wins is pushing it a little, but I think TAMU gets there.
  • How I did:  Nailed it.
  • Final grade:  A

MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Mullen left Moorhead a stacked roster and that showed on defense.  But Fitzgerald was a poor fit for what Moorhead wanted to do offensively, and that showed, too.  This year’s roster looks more pedestrian, but presumably Moorhead will get more out of his offense.  The schedule is certainly manageable, so I can see an eight-win season coming.
  • How I did:  The defense slid as expected, but the offense never picked up the slack.
  • Final grade:  C-

AUBURN (9-3, 5-3)

  • What I said:  It’s one of those patented Auburn years — you know, when nobody’s expecting great things from the Tigers, so they outperform expectations.  That being said, for all their obvious strengths (and that defense is gonna be a real good one), they play six preseason top twelve teams and Gus is counting on a true freshman quarterback to run his offense.  I’ll say nine wins, maybe even ten if Gus finds his lucky rabbit’s foot again.
  • How I did:  Didn’t miss anything.
  • Final grade: A+

OLE MISS (4-8, 2-6)

  • What I said:  Hard to see this season being anything other than a long, hard slog.  The roster has been significantly weakened by sanctions and Ole Miss is making a radical change in scheme on offense.  The schedule isn’t awful, but I have a tough time coming up with more than four wins.
  • How I did:  While the offense was entertaining at times, 2019 played out pretty much as expected.  Just ask Matt Luke.
  • Final grade:  A

ARKANSAS (2-10, 0-8)

  • What I said:  This is year two of a massive rebuild project.  I think the Hogs will win three games this season, but only because the schedule is so soft.
  • How I did:  The record remained the same as it was the year before, but you could make an argument that Arkansas regressed.  Ugly season.
  • Final grade:  B

 

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  There’s a high ceiling on Georgia’s season because of the talent level.  The big question is whether Smart has the program ready to take the next big step, which is beating Alabama.  In the meantime, history and a formidable schedule suggest one regular season loss for the Dawgs.
  • How I did:  The journey may have been a little unanticipated, but the destination wound up in the same place.
  • Final grade:  A

KENTUCKY (7-5, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Stoops is a good coach, period, but no program like Kentucky survives the loss of its two best players unscathed.  Still, that schedule will somewhat ameliorate the drop.  Call it an eight-win regular season for the ‘Cats.
  • How I did:  No way to anticipate the quarterback injury situation, but Stoops did a good job with what he had.
  • Final grade:  B-

FLORIDA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  Mullen, to his credit, stabilized the program last season.  Like it or not, he’s a solid coach.  2019 looks like it’ll be dependent on team health in two key areas.  The ceiling appears to be a ten-win regular season; the floor, if injury luck and turnover margin go south, bowl eligibility.  I’ll sort of split the baby and say nine wins, for now.
  • How I did:  Mullen reached the ceiling, even with his second-string quarterback.
  • Final grade:  A-

MISSOURI (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Odom is another good coach who deserves more credit than he gets.  The schedule is favorable, to say the least, and I could see Mizzou rolling into Athens with a 7-1 record.  Plus, there’s more talent on this team than you might think.  That being said, you never know how a team reacts to postseason ineligibility.  Right now, I feel comfortable with a nine-win prediction.
  • How I did:  Between the quarterback situation and the way the NCAA jerked Mizzou around on sanctions, the season wound up falling off the table.  I recognized the possibility of the latter, but still…
  • Final grade:  C

SOUTH CAROLINA (4-8, 3-5)

  • What I said:  Muschamp has repaired the dumpster fire of a roster Spurrier left him with.  On offense, the big fix has to be getting Bentley to turn the ball over less; you’d have to think with his experience, that’s not an insurmountable task.  As you might expect with a Muschamp-coached team, the ‘Cocks have some good pieces on defense.  Man, oh, man, that schedule, though.  It’ll be a yeoman’s task to win eight games.  I’m thinking seven wins, and that would be a good year for SC.
  • How I did:  Boom went bust.
  • Final grade:  D-

VANDERBILT (3-9, 1-7)

  • What I said:  Vaughn is the most under the radar player in the conference.  Vandy has some nice pieces at wide receiver and tight end, but who’s going to step up at quarterback?  Overall, it looks like another typical Vanderbilt season coming up — five wins, maybe six if the ‘Dores can extend the winning streak against the Vols.
  • How I did:  There’s really no excuse for how bad Vandy’s offense was this season.  I’m a little surprised Mason kept his job.
  • Final grade:  D-

TENNESSEE (7-5, 5-3)

  • What I said:    UT will improve its won-loss record again, but when you’re in a conference where everything starts with line play, and your lines are the weakest part of your team, there’s only so far you can go.  The Vols will go bowling, but that’s about all.
  • How I did:  It’s not that I underestimated the Vols so much as I underestimated how weak much of the SEC East turned out to be.
  • Final grade:  A-

There you have it.  How do you think I did?

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Filed under SEC Football