I’ve reached the point with all these silly “will Georgia be motivated in its bowl game because losing to ‘Bama?” stories that I hope the first time Texas stops Georgia on third down, Smart immediately calls another fake punt.
Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics
Like pretty much everyone else watching the play unfold in real time, my reaction was your basic WTF?, Dawgs. (Part of the reason for that was that CBS went into the play just before the snap after a replay, so there wasn’t the opportunity to watch it unfold.)
However, after hearing both Kirby’s explanation for the call and Saban’s acknowledgement that, indeed, there was an uncovered player for Georgia at the start of the play, my feelings are more nuanced.
In fact, I’d say especially after reading this, I’m ready to back the initial decision to fake the punt.
Did the play look familiar? It should have; Georgia used it in the 2012 SECCG game against Alabama and it worked on 4th and 10 from midfield. Alabama played both plays in a defense “safe” formation. Smart referenced that on ESPN’s SportsCenter late Saturday night.
“We know their punt safe,” Smart said. “It is the same punt safe from the time I was there. We had a guy eligible that was not covered. Georgia six years ago in the SEC Championship ran it against Alabama to perfection. We snapped the ball late, they recognized it, and had that not happen, we had D’Andre Swift uncovered. But the linebacker picked him up late and we were not able to get it to him.”
That’s sort of amazing, if you think about it. ‘Bama gets burned on a formation and six years later hasn’t changed it, even against someone who coached there when it went down the first time.
Kirby wasn’t coy about his game plan, telling the sideline reporter before the opening kick that he knew Georgia had to keep mixing things up to have a chance to win. The momentum had shifted in Alabama’s favor and Smart thought being aggressive in that situation was the right move, especially because knowing Alabama’s tendencies in that situation made it a lower-risk decision.
So far, so good. Unfortunately, that “so far” is a killer. Execution killed the probability of success. Georgia took too long to get the play off and Alabama shifted its coverage so that there was a man on Swift. The play was doomed at that point.
The flaw, then, wasn’t the original call. It was not having a safeguard built in if Alabama caught on. Somebody should have known to call a timeout — there were still eight seconds left on the play clock when the ball was snapped to Fields — when the open receiver was covered.
It’s a damned shame. That would have been the stuff of legends had they pulled it off.
Interesting compliment from the folks at Roll ‘Bama Roll:
The Tide’s lighter defensive front that is now built to stop the spread had a hard time holding up against Georgia’s power running…
Alabama won’t run into any more ground and pound offenses like Georgia’s in the playoffs unless the Dawgs become the first two-loss team to be invited to the party. This should bode well for their chances moving forward.
That mirrors a stance I took years ago about the value of running a pro-style offensive scheme as defenses increasingly geared up to stop the spread. That was smack dab in the middle of the Richt era, but, if anything, it’s a stronger point now, simply because Smart is doing a much better job of recruiting to the paradigm, particularly as it relates to the offensive line, than Richt did.
As long as Kirby (and Pittman) can keep bringing in the studs, Georgia is going to remain a nightmare matchup for most defensive coordinators.
I’ve written a couple of times before about Kirby’s defensive philosophy/approach, here and here. I’m going to dive back in with what may be the most extensive analysis of that I’ve seen (h/t Ian Boyd).
When you talk about Kirby, the defensive guru, everything obviously starts with his coaching mentor, Nick Saban. But that’s just a beginning point; Smart isn’t a Saban clone, at least not completely.
My primary reason for studying Kirby Smart’s defense was in finding out how much he would keep from his near decade-long boss, and how much he would truly carve out on his own. Would he be simply Saban 2.0 – now with improved media relations? Or would he deliver a distinct defensive philosophy that was entirely his own? The answer, of course, is somewhat in between.
In many ways, defensive coaches are molded by the offenses they face. Saban, for example, spent a lifetime facing a litany of offensive schemes at both the collegiate and NFL levels, which in turn has led him to his near omnivorous approach to defense. There is almost no front, coverage, or blitz missing in Saban’s mental library, and he is thoroughly prepared to use them all if the situation demands it.
Smart’s defense, by contrast, appears more molded by the proliferation of the spread offense that coincides with his coaching career. His defense is more condensed, more streamlined, more focused. In short, Smart’s defense appears to have fewer individual play calls, but with more checks and adjustments built-in…
It’s an excellent, in depth piece that goes into tremendous detail with personnel, sets and adjustments. It took me over an hour to go through, so set aside a little time when you get the chance and read it all. It’s well worth it if you’re trying to understand what Georgia tries to do on defense, which, by the way, is nicely summed up at the end as…
In many ways, Smart does not see predictability simply as a mistake, but a symptom of an even greater sin: complacency.
Even after stuffing the Jackets’ option offense, Smart sounded happy to be past it again.
“I don’t love it, but it is what it is,” he said. “You get the cards you’re dealt and that’s the cards we’re dealt. If you don’t want to play against it then beat them every year and pretty soon you won’t have to.”
Washington’s defensive coordinator, on Mike Leach’s offense:
It’s the same melody with different lyrics.
I saw this picture and had to chuckle a little.
That is, until I thought… hmmm, there’s a team out there I follow having problems in short yardage goal line situations that has a loaded backfield, a quarterback who can run and throw and a beefy offensive line in front of them…
I’ve had stranger thoughts.
With my Internet access at work down for almost a week, I had a bunch of stuff parked that I couldn’t post, so it’s time to sweep out the ashes.
- You want to know something that would drive Nick Saban crazy? An opposing defense reading Alabama’s running play calls.
- Matt Hinton tells us that D’Andre Swift — and with him, the Georgia offense — is back, baby.
- Speaking of Swift, maybe we need to rename the Holyfield/Swift duo thunder and thunder.
- Bill Snyder has a reputation for being one of college football’s classier head coaches, but there’s always been an undercurrent of dickishness at Kansas State and it appears Snyder isn’t immune to that.
- Rodrigo Blankenship told Seth Emerson ($$) that the reason Georgia called the fake field goal against Auburn wasn’t to rub the Tigers’ collective face in it, but because the play had been designed for a certain look and it just so happened that’s when Auburn showed it.
- I keep saying it, but for all the brushing off we do, Georgia’s compiled a more than decent resume this season.
- “This is a roll of the dice, a push-all-your-chips-to-the-middle move, but this is Les Miles, the way he always has been and the way he’ll always be. He’s a gambler, and he just bet heavy on himself.”
- Cowboy tough, indeed.
- My, how things have changed: Ohio State is a home ‘dog to Michigan.
- You almost get the impression in certain quarters that there is a rooting interest in the CFP selection committee having to screw over a few teams/conferences.