Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

About that secondary…

Josh and Graham are back with some tape and insights from G-Day.  Come for the transfer portal rumors and stay for the break downs.

Essentially, the latter will explain the former.  In other words, as you watch, remember that Georgia needs at least six contributors in the secondary to hold up against pass-happy offenses.  As of now, do you see six who qualify as such?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Don’t sleep on the transfer portal. Kirby Smart isn’t.

Yeah, I know G-Day is G-Day, so the passing explosion doesn’t mean so much in the vast scheme of things.  That being said, I didn’t see a shutdown corner emerge.  And I did see a fair number of receivers make plays.

Here are some sobering numbers about Georgia’s secondary.

Outside of Auburn, where Mike Bobo stubbornly calls plays, the SEC is a passing conference and the better defenses have better secondary depth.  We’ve already seen Georgia bring in one experienced defensive back in Tykee Smith.  There are more to come, I feel like.  Maybe Smart decides he can roll the dice on one freshman starting cornerback, but two?  Nah, no way.  And those numbers say the two-deep needs to be… well, deep.

What we saw on G-Day was a combination of green, talented DBs and experienced ones who’ve had the chance to be significant contributors before this season but, for whatever reason, never showed out.  All told, do you think after watching the tape that Smart and Lanning are standing pat with what they have rolling into the opener against Clemson?  I’m not feeling it.

Watch the portal.  Especially now that one-time transfers are free.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Mark Richt hasn’t lost control over Mike Bobo.

Dude’s gonna run the damned ball, thank you very much.

Artifact. Dinosaur. Relic.

Those terms are a bit strong when describing Mike Bobo, but Auburn’s new offensive coordinator and the former Georgia quarterback does steadfastly savor the old-school elements in his play-calling responsibilities.

“Somebody told me once that you’ve got to let them know you’re at the ballpark,” Bobo said. “Sometimes there is not a better way to do that than to get under center and run power, and that’s what we want to be. We want to have a physical run game, and I think you can be a lot more physical sometimes when you’re under center.”

Of course, if you had Bo Nix and a receiving corps having to move on from the losses of Anthony Schwartz, Eli Stove and Seth Williams, you’d probably run the damned ball, too.  But maybe not with as much nostalgia.

Bobo was effective calling the two-minute offense in Athens with the likes of Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray at quarterback, and his love of power football was understandable with a stretch of running backs that included Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, who rushed for 1,547 yards as a freshman during Bobo’s final season in 2014.

Call it Manball on the Plains.  Gary Danielson’s probably gonna have an enormous woody the first time he calls an Auburn game this season.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

G-Day, upon further review

So, I’ve watched the replay on YouTube and have to confess that, for once, my immediate observations pretty much tracked what I saw on the second go ’round.  (Must have been more sober than I realized.)

Anyway, what I want to share you can see in a couple of spots on this highlight clip.

My two biggest concerns to watch, as I mentioned last week, were the mechanics of Truss and Daniels (particularly on the long ball).

With regard to the former, dial up the clip to the 7:30 mark and watch Truss’ work on the Red team’s last scoring drive of the first half.  He blocks Nolan Smith out of the way on White’s run, he stones Smith on the pass completion to Mitchell, picks up Wyatt decently on a stunt, blocks Jalen Carter on the next pass and finishes off by keeping Adam Anderson in check on the TD throw.  That’s a pretty good gauntlet to test yourself against.  No, he was far from perfect the rest of the day, but he showed me enough there to think he’s got a chance to be the starter this fall if he keeps improving.

The moment I’m most excited about, though, comes at the 15:15 mark, and it’s for JT.  It’s the 59-yard bomb to Robertson for the Red team’s last score of the game.  What you should watch is Daniels’ footwork, which is vastly better than what he showed last season when he threw long; the reward for that was a throw that the receiver didn’t have to wait for to catch.  That’s real progress there.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Move the damn chains, Todd.

I do love this quote from Daniels after Saturday’s scrimmage.

Among the 28 completions by Daniels were 12 checkdowns to his stable of talented running backs.

“I love throwing the ball deep, and you see that a lot,” Daniels said, “but when you have James (Cook), Zamir (White), Kendall (Milton) and all the guys we have, I think checkdowns are the most underrated and underappreciated aspect of our offense. They’re easy to throw, and it’s very, very rare that the first guy tackles any of our running backs.

“In that two-minute drive against Cincinnati, we had a pass to George (Pickens) and then four or five checkdowns in a row. It’s really just taking what the defense gives you, and we trust our running backs to make people miss them.”

Every time a Georgia quarterback is trained to say take what the defense gives you, instead of balance, an offensive coordinator gets his wings.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“Be water.”

Once again it’s a shame if you don’t have a subscription to The Athletic, because Andy Staples’ piece this morning ($$) is a must read.  It’s an exploration of play calling on the first play of any drive.  The numbers say that throwing on the first play of a drive significantly increases a team’s chance of scoring.

In the past two seasons in the FBS, teams that gained at least the distance of an FBS average completion (8.7 yards) on the first play of a drive went on to score 40.9 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. But that still might be too a high a degree of difficulty for the three-things-can-happen-when-you-throw-and-two-of-them-are-bad crowd. So how about this? Teams that complete a pass of at least five yards on the first play of a drive went on to score 37.9 percent of the time. That’s a pretty attainable goal. Only four of 130 FBS teams last season averaged fewer than five yards per pass attempt (incompletions included).

And this really hammers it home. Teams that threw a pass on the opening play of a drive and did not gain yardage — either because of an incompletion or interception — went on to score touchdowns on 21 percent of those drives. Meanwhile, teams that gained five or fewer yards running the ball scored touchdowns on 22 percent of those drives.

And yet, only 28 teams threw on the first play of a drive more than 50 percent of the time during those two seasons.  You may be familiar with one of those that didn’t.

… First-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken threw on 39.5 percent of drive openers. Predecessor James Coley only threw on 32.7 percent despite having a much more experienced QB (Jake Fromm) in 2019. This made the Bulldogs more successful when they opened with a pass (13.2 yards per attempt in 2020 vs. 9.2 yards in 2019) and when they opened with a run (6.3 yards per rush in 2020 vs. 5.5 yards in 2019).

Ultimately, the point Staples strives to reach is that offensive coordinators don’t need to behave robotically and call a pass every time.  That’s what the Bruce Lee quote in my header is all about:  “In the context of offensive football, “Be water” means to take the yards the opponent is dedicating the fewest resources to defend.”

Dare I say it?  That’s pretty much the playcalling opposite of manball.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“Just like with the old option days … every decision you made, you were wrong.”

Dennis Dodd has a good piece (no, really!) about the challenges college football defensive coordinators face these days.

If you read the article, Steele comes off as an optimist.  My favorite quote, though, is this:

“Jimbo is a defensive coordinator’s dream,” said Bennett, now defensive coordinator at North Texas. “It’s like playing for a wishbone team. He believes in ball control, possession and protecting the defense.”

Manball, she lives!

Along those lines, you might also be interested in this SEC StatCat post about some SEC offensive trends and concepts that worked last season.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Why we cheat, by Kirby Smart

It’s not what you think.

You’ll enjoy watching these as much as I did.

No doubt some of you have suggestions for improvement for Kirbs.  LOL.  Have at it in the comments.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

“2021 Florida and the art of the transfer portal roster makeover”

This Ian Boyd post on what Dan Mullen schemed last season and where Florida is likely headed on both sides of the ball for 2021 is worth your time to read.

The tl;dr version is this:  “Between a few roster developments planning ahead and then some transfer portal infusions, the Gators are completely making over their roster for the 2021 season to go from being a finesse, spread passing team who struggled to stop the run to having a massive, gritty interior on both sides of the ball.”

To that end, Florida has added two 315-pound defensive tackles.  The Gators will have three offensive linemen weighing 340+ pounds.

Those of you who think that Jones’ weakness in the passing game will be his undoing need to consider where Mullen may be going this season with his offensive scheme.

While Mullen will undoubtedly work hard to get his quarterbacks at a higher level in the passing game this offseason and work out some of his typical tricks for the Gators’ new generation of wideouts, this team is clearly going to be much more power-run oriented than in recent seasons. I expect these two quarterbacks to end up combining for somewhere between 150-200 carries while the running backs get a similar amount of work. It’ll be a completely different approach than in 2020 with Mullen scheming up leverage for the run game to march down the field.

Such an approach though will not lead to as many points or as efficient of possessions as we saw from Florida in 2020 though when Trask was zipping the ball around the field 40 times per game. In 2021, a power running Florida team will need to play some defense.

And therein, of course, lies the rub.  But the main point here is, don’t expect the same old, same old from Florida this season.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Strategery And Mechanics

There are RPO plays, and then there are RPO plays.

Nick Saban expounds:

“To me, it’s easier to defend the RPO when a team runs a zone play than it is when they run – what I call a ‘hat’ play – which is a lead play, or power or counter.”

“Because now, the linebackers are taught to step up and jump over, or jump over because somebody pulled. But now, you pull the ball and throw an RPO and now you’ve really displaced ’em.”

“That’s the way we do it. I think you’ve got to change it up, and disguise it, it’s even the way we play our Fire Zone coverage. Then we’ve got a chance to stop the RPOs.”

Last season’s stats back that up.  (But check out who was better defending RPOs.)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics