A couple of posts today linked to other posts that led me to consider another issue that might need correcting. First, here’s something else from David Wunderlich’s piece:
There is a growing consensus in the NFL that sacks are a quarterback stat. Which is to say, they have more to do with how well a quarterback deals with pressure than about how well the line pass blocks.
That line of thinking is solid on the pro level, where the distance between the best and worst offensive lines is not tremendously far. It is probably not as true on the college level where there can be a wide chasm between good and bad lines. There also can be a wide chasm between how well quarterbacks with varying degrees of experience deal with pressure in college, so it may be hard to separate it all out.
But what about on the same team when there’s a quarterback change mid-season?
I ask, because I noticed on JT Daniels’ stat page at ESPN that he was sacked ten times in his four starts.
Sure, maybe you can give him something of a pass in the bowl game, because the o-line was reshuffled. But Georgia allowed twenty sacks in its ten games last year, so Daniels took half of those playing in two fewer games. Some of that no doubt can be chalked up to aggressive schemes by opposing defensive coordinators, but some of that has to rest on Daniels’ shoulders, too.
Interesting data set, and an even more interesting question to ponder:
I suspect that worked a lot better against teams not named Alabama last season, but still… how much does Lanning dial back to protect an inexperienced secondary?
I’m certainly no mechanics guru, but looking at this highlight tape from JT Daniels’ high school days, he sure seems to be throwing differently from the pocket than what we saw last season. Take a look:
For the most part, that awkward hop he was putting into a lot of his deep throws in 2020 only seems to appear there when he’s throwing on the run. Also, there are few examples of him underthrowing his receivers.
Has he picked up bad habits in the interim? Is it just a case of not being able to fully trust his knee yet? Both, maybe? Or, am I reading too much into this? What say y’all?
So — a question for y’all. While I don’t disagree with Chip Towers’ take here…
OUTLOOK: In Daniels’ four games under center last season, the Bulldogs saw scoring increase by 8.3 points per games, with improvements in total yards (plus-103.2 ypg) and passing yards (plus-101.5 ypg). More impressive was his explosive pass-play numbers. If calculated as completions of more than 20 yards, Daniels had 22 in four games, compared with the other quarterbacks’ 15 in six contests. … But overlooked during that run is the level of competition Georgia was facing. With the exception of the 9-1 Cincinnati Bearcats, who the Bulldogs narrowly bested in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (24-21), none of the other opponents logged a winning record in 2020. We didn’t get to see Daniels against Alabama, Auburn or Florida. It’s safe to say that the Clemson defense Daniels will face in the 2021 season opener will be the best he has faced at Georgia, and possibly since being in college. … That’s what makes this spring especially important for Daniels. It represents 15 of what will be a total of about 40 11-on-11 practice opportunities between now and that trip to Charlotte on Sept. 4 to play Clemson. Mechanics, timing with receivers and mastery of Monken’s offense all must be sharpened in that span…
… I am curious about the language in his header (or, more likely, his editor’s header), which is “Will Georgia offense be transformed under QB JT Daniels?”
Is transformation what we’re really looking for in 2021, or is it simply a case of refining what we saw from Georgia’s offense under Daniels’ four starts? Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but at this point, to me at least, Monken’s already reinvented the wheel, so to speak. I just need to see what Towers mentions in his last sentence come to fruition this offseason. What about you?
I dunno, maybe this is too inside ball for some, but I did find one interesting tidbit from Dabo’s presser yesterday.
Yeah, interesting, like I said. If Ross is back to full health, I would assume that’s going to put some stress on a different area of the secondary than the corner positions in Georgia’s opener. For example, if Brini builds on his solid performance in the bowl game at the Star position, does he have the chops to cover someone with Ross’ skill set?
If there’s a reason to be cautious about JT Daniels’ future in red and black, it’s been his propensity to turn the ball over. In his freshman season at USC, his only full season, he threw ten interceptions in 363 pass attempts. That ratio was better in his four games last year — 2 picks in 119 attempts — but he also got away with a few bad throws, like this one that could have cost Georgia the Peach Bowl.
We saw him underthrow his receivers pretty much in every game. Young attributes some that — fairly, I think — to a lack of time for Daniels to get familiar with his receivers. But surely some of that is simply the result of the risk inherent in having a gunslinger mentality.
To put it another way, there’s plenty for Daniels and Monken to work on this offseason.
Believe it or not, there are times when I really have no desire to be snarky. Like when I came across this Mike Griffith interview with former Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker concerning Georgia’s secondary in 2021. I mean, Tucker’s coached with Kirby, knows how his scheme works and has some familiarity with personnel here. So I dove in with the best of intentions.
Instead, what I get is an eye-rolling master class in coachspeak. A few samples of what is supposed to pass for deep insight:
- “The game has changed with the RPOs and spreads,” said Tucker, who was Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2016-2018. “What it does, is it puts a lot of pressure on your defensive backs.”
- “Whether they are corners or safeties, they have to be able to cover one on one,” Tucker said. “You can’t put those linebackers in run-pass conflict. Those guys have to read to the run, and if they decide to throw, you are basically one on one.
- “So it puts a premium on having versatile defensive backs that can cover man to man in the slot inside, and also do a great job in run protection, perimeter runs and on bubbles (routes) and jailbreak screens.”“Those (Stars) are valuable, playing nickel with five defensive backs, dime with six defensive backs, that’s normal nowadays,” Tucker said. “You need to be two or three deep at the star position or at the dime position.”
- And, my favorite: “It puts a lot of onus on those guys back there to understand there’s no such thing as a cover corner anymore, you need a football player…”
Mel’s got a graduate degree in banal. Either that, or there are a bunch more people commenting here and at message board who are capable of being successful defensive coordinators than I thought.
From The Athletic’s look at Florida’s defense ($$):
If you tried patching all the holes in Florida’s defense last season, the spackle aisle at Lowe’s might need to be restocked.
The damage inflicted, and self-inflicted, gave Todd Grantham’s unit the appearance of mayhem and disorganization, surrendering 30.8 points per game, which represented 1) the worst in program history; 2) nearly double what the 2019 defense allowed; and 3) cause to harangue one of college football’s highest-paid coordinators.
Grantham’s 30-year résumé provides the cachet to survive a terrible season, even one in which the Gators slipped into the bottom half of the FBS in third-down percentage (72nd), yards allowed per play (85th), yards per pass attempt (88th) and pass-efficiency defense (96th). Now comes the offseason retooling to make sure there isn’t a repeat.
Coach Dan Mullen and Grantham, having evaluated the pre-snap chaos that led to misalignments, are revisiting communication methods.
“Do we get the calls in in time? Do we get the calls made to the defense on the field in time?” Mullen said this week. “If the guys make the call, then do we make the formational adjustment in time when you’re seeing no-huddle. Part of it is a little sense of urgency issue.
Dude, poor communication is Grantham’s 30-year résumé.
If I had a dollar for every time a Grantham-coached player looked befuddled before the snap, I’d be a wealthy man. In other words, Dan, good luck getting that fixed this offseason. Maybe Towel Boy can offer a few choice suggestions.
One more thing — in preparation for that last post, I went back and watched the first half of the Alabama-Georgia game (otherwise known as The Only Half You Need To Watch). Know what I saw? This.
Overall, while the “look” of offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s offense was not drastically different from a personnel and formation perspective compared to James Coley’s 2019 offense—but the passing game design was. The layups created for the quarterbacks in Monken’s play designs were numerous.
From the beginning of the season to the end, receivers, backs and tight ends were consistently open. Some of those layups were hit, and hit for big plays, but often there were plays to be made that just weren’t. A full offseason should help produce an efficient and consistent big-play offense.
If you watch the play that follows in the linked piece – a successful completion to Burton — there are three receivers who come open as it develops. That was not some result unique to that play. There were indeed open players all over the field in that first half. (You might remember Burton’s touchdown catch on third down that was preceded by Bennett overthrowing receivers open in the back of the end zone on the two previous plays.) Between missed throws and missed open looks, the Dawgs left a lot of yardage on the table.
Consistent execution simply wasn’t there. Gawd bless Stetson, but there’s a reason he wasn’t picked in the preseason to be named Georgia’s starter.
I’m not going to get into a discussion of how cutting edge Monken’s offensive scheme is, because I don’t care. What I do care about is that he very obviously knows how to draw up plays and design passing routes to get receivers open on a consistent basis. And you know what? With a skilled quarterback, that ought to be enough to do the trick.
Honestly, I didn’t see this hot take coming.
If you’re minimizing the scheme transition from Coley to Monken, you may not be as insightful as you think you are.