Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

More defending the RPO talk

One persistent thought I had watching Clemson’s take down of Alabama in the last national title game was that Dabo and his staff had taken a fair amount of Georgia’s game plan from the SECCG and used it more successfully.

So naturally, I’m intrigued by this Ian Boyd piece that gives credit for Clemson’s work defending Alabama’s bread and butter RPO game… to Mississippi State.

For the vast majority of their season, Alabama faced defenses that focused on trying to stop the run. That led to lots of open RPOs and play-action opportunities for their speedy WR group and consequently four of them had at least 700 receiving yards and Devonta Smith nearly made five with 693.

Mississippi State did things differently. They surmised that they couldn’t survive allowing Tagovailoa to throw open slants, screens, and downfield shots to their WR corps and instead chose to take away the easy pass options and force Alabama to beat them by running the football.

I’m not trying to be one, but that’s what Georgia did in the SECCG.  And Georgia did a better job, at least judging by Tagovailoa’s passer rating.

  • Mississippi State:  138.46
  • Georgia:  92.30
  • Clemson:  145.24

It’s all the more interesting to me, based on what Boyd had to say about the national title game Georgia lost to ‘Bama.

This “glance” pass option against man coverage outside was a game changer that presented clear problems to the Dawgs.

Georgia clearly was ready for Tua’s RPO work in the rematch, even if that meant it was more vulnerable to the Tide’s rushing attack.  Kudos to the staff, although we already had a notion that Kirby’s been focused on stopping the RPO.

Now, if only the Dawgs could learn how to handle an in-game quarterback change.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Kirby Smart, on stopping the RPO

Good three-minute clip here that’s worth your time.  In fact, it’s good enough that Tom Luginbill’s presence didn’t irritate me.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

An adjustment in Baton Rouge

From Bruce Feldman’s piece today on Ed Orgeron ($$):

… Even in LSU’s biggest victory of the season, a 20-point trampling of No. 2 Georgia, the Tigers had problems slowing down the Dawgs’ ground game. Georgia opened its second series with runs of 12, 18 and 17 yards — two of those plays featuring the same type of blocking scheme Orgeron is showing on the screen in the combo drill.

“They’re shoving the ball right down our throats, running Inside Zone, combination block on the nose tackle,” Orgeron told The Athletic. “The way (Georgia tailback) Elijah Holyfield hit that hole you thought it was a friggin’ freight train. I watched Holyfield run over my safety (John Battle). That back is hitting that hole quick. That’s his play. I’m like, ‘Aw shit.’ We were playing shade. I told Dave (Aranda) go to zero.”

The adjustment was moving 330-pound nose tackle Ed Alexander from playing as a one-technique shaded over one of the shoulders of the center to head up on Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard, who Orgeron had said was the best center he’d studied on film in years. Georgia ran for 69 yards on that second series of the game. The Dawgs managed just 44 yards on 19 carries the rest of the day.

“We went to zero and we shut their ass down,” Orgeron said. “We played head-up and two-gapped Rougarou (Alexander), and those guys from Georgia said nobody’d ever done that to ’em.

I guess that’s why Chaney and Pittman didn’t adjust.  Sheesh.

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Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“We all know one another and we know what each other is going to do.”

I know coaches are generally reluctant to say they’ve changed jobs for the money, even when that’s apparent, so it’s no surprise to me that Jim Chaney doesn’t go there.  Instead, he drops this:

Chaney grew philosophical when asked about learning about his offensive personnel at Tennessee, ultimately indicating he may have more control of his offense there, than he did at Georgia.

“You understand, wherever job you go, there is no perfect coach and there is no perfect team,” Chaney said. “You try to get wherever you are at and try to understand the personalities of the players and their talent level.

“Also, the philosophy of the head football coach and the way he wants to do things,” he said. “It has been interesting for me to watch the existing offense for these first eight practices and seeing who we are. In my mind, I am trying to sort out what kind of offense I think we should play ….”

Sounds like Jeremy Pruitt isn’t requiring him to Impose His Will.  Wonder what Chaney will call the first time UT has a first-and-goal against Florida this year.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Makin’ havoc

So Kirby Smart said this:

Is that really a thing?

Recall Bill Connelly’s definition of havoc rateHavoc rate is calculated by tallying the total number of tackles for loss, passes defensed (interceptions and breakups), and forced fumbles and dividing it by total plays.

Bill also separately tracks havoc rate for the front seven and for the defensive backfield.  Here’s what all of that looked like for the top seventeen teams in defensive S&P+ last season.

Screenshot_2019-03-29 2018 NCAA S P+ RATINGS, DEFENSE Football Outsiders(1)

That’s a pretty good snapshot of Georgia’s 2018 defensive identity — great on limiting big plays, not so much on the havoc front, especially in the defensive backfield.  The Dawgs only intercepted eight passes last year, a number that was 95th nationally.  Coincidentally, 95th is also where the team finished in tackles for loss.

Clearly, when it comes to havoc rate, this was not a dynamic defense in 2018.  Kirby seems intent on changing that, so the question is, if there are schematic elements to increasing havoc, what are they and how much do they risk negatively impacting defending explosive plays?

I’m not sure how far this goes.  Alabama was far better than Georgia was last year when it came to front seven havoc, but ‘Bama had Quinnen Williams and Georgia… didn’t.  That’s why I think this may hint at a more significant development for enhancing havoc:

Coincidence that Smith and Johnson are getting early spring buzz?  I think not.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Have some havoc, please.

A couple of other quotes from Kirby’s presser yesterday deserve their own post, because, havoc.

On if they work on schematic or individual defensive plays…

“There’s definitely some schematic stuff. We have a base defense that we feel good about. Within that, we have pressures and we have a lot of things we didn’t use last year for whatever reason. We may not have thought they fit the opponent. We may not have thought the fit who we had on the back end to protect it. I think we’re going to be deeper and older and wiser on the back end, which allows for a little more complexity. Last year was s tough year. It was nothing to do with Coach (Mel) Tucker. It was tough. We had some young guys in the secondary, a lot of young guys. Where now, I feel like we have a group back there that is emerging with some personality. Divaad (Wilson) has grown a little confident. That bowl game worked wonders for him. He’s playing good. Mark Webb is where he understands things. J.R. Richard…there’s good competition at safety with Otis (Reese). We just have more competition, which I think allows us to create more havoc. Some of that is scheme where you go meet with five times that are in the top 20 creating tackles for loss and you say ‘How do you do it?’ You start learning that and you try to put some things in that they do. We’re trying to that, but to be honest with you, you’re running against a big ole wall of grown men up that, and that’s tough. That’s a good offensive line.”

I read that to say that the defense was limited last season by inexperience in the secondary, which, if you think about it, is a little strange to say given that Baker and Reed were starters at two spots.  Indeed, you can make the argument that there’s as much inexperience coming into this season, as Reed is the only projected starter with more than one season under his belt.  Which leads me to this observation about the defensive front:

We want some quickness and twitch. When we study all these ‘havoc rates,’ a lot of it is twitchy players…quick guys. It’s a catch 22 for us because if you have quick twitchy guys and you’re playing against our guys every day in practice, our offensive line, when you move and they move you, some times the displacement is huge because when you’ve got Salyer and Andrew (Thomas) and really good offensive linemen and you start moving sideways, they just whack you and move you. We’re not built to be an extremely violent quick, twitchy defense.

This is where I think the real issue lies.  What every defensive coach wants, whether it’s out of a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, is a defense that can put real pressure on a quarterback with no more than a four-man rush.  Georgia really didn’t provide much of that consistently in 2018.

Seth Emerson ($$) writes some of that is by design.

Some of it is scheme:  Georgia often asks its edge rushers to essentially sacrifice stats (mainly sacks) for the greater good of the defense. Outside linebackers can be employed to “mush rush,” a term for keeping contain on the outside rather than making a mad dash for the quarterback and risk exposing the outside.

Significantly, it’s a design that works.  For all of Kirby’s newfound interest in havoc, it’s worth repeating that Georgia’s defense was very, very good last season in not giving up big plays.  I doubt Smart’s willing to sacrifice that in the name of havoc.

I suspect what this all really means is that Georgia is going to be more creative with personnel than with scheme.  Kirby wasn’t talking up Smith and Johnson in that presser to make them (or us, for that matter) feel better about themselves.  It will be interesting to watch the defensive brain trust’s juggling act in that regard.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Wednesday morning buffet

A few nibbles here, a few nibbles there, and pretty soon you’ve got a full buffet.

  • Missouri has decided to celebrate its appeal of NCAA sanctions in a unique way.
  • Plaintiffs’ lawyers in Alston want to get paid.
  • Class is in with Mike Leach.
  • Lane Kiffin“You go to the national championship in what was it, the second year, and could have won the game a million times.”
  • Cocktail Party alert“On Tuesday night, the Jacksonville City Council voted 15-1 on Tuesday to approve an $18-million deal that sets the stage for the city to demolish the Landing…”
  • David Hale looks at how punters and kickers pass the time.
  • The secret to Georgia’s offensive line’s success?  Size and Sam Pittman.
  • Mose of the players who will appear in this game are two to four years old today.
  • Yeah, that Jeff Long is a fine athletic director.

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Filed under College Football, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football, Mike Leach. Yar!, See You In Court, Strategery And Mechanics, Stylin', The NCAA