Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Not your father’s (or Jim Chaney’s) Georgia offense

There’s definitely a trend here.

It’s not as if Georgia ran out of quality running backs after Chubb and Michel.  The running game is slowly losing its outsized degree of emphasis (and note that accelerated under Coley).

Where do you think that percentage lands in 2021?  (For comparison’s sake, note that last season Alabama ran on 52.8% of its plays, but its rushing yards were only 33.8% of its total yardage.)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“I think it’s going to open up a lot more.”

Aaron Murray, on what’s in store for Georgia’s offense this season:

“I think they’ll be open to more concepts and less mirror routes. Even if both guys on the outside run the same route, maybe the guy over the middle runs a deep dig,” Murray said. “I think you’ll see that, but you’ll also see a lot more full-field reads from JT, which really puts a lot of stress on defenses, and I think he’s able to handle that. It’s going to be a lot more open, a lot more gun, a lot more 11 personnel.”

More 11 personnel?  I guess that may be so, if you call Arik Gilbert a wide receiver…

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“… it is hard for a human being to stop Darnell, let alone a cornerback.”

JT Daniels talks about what year two brings for the Georgia offense.

“Yes, your offense did not get as much and it takes the offense more practice than it takes a defense. It affected everybody that played football last year. Obviously, it was a pandemic here.

“In terms of this year, you have a full spring. So everybody that played against Cincinnati coming back. A lot of guys that played the whole year. You just have a lot of consistent development from a lot of really good players. You just get more defined. You do simple better. Small things are not small things anymore. They’re done. They’re just details. Just a lot of things that contribute that you don’t realize contribute to a successful offense are a lot further along than they were last year.”

Every time Daniels talks about keeping the offense simple, an angel gets its wings.

Or Todd Monken smiles.  Same thing.

“It is his system,” Daniels said. “I think it benefits quarterbacks that can go to the line and change the play, can enhance the play. You have packages where do you go the line, the quarterback calls it based on certain looks and that’s all installed. If you have a quarterback that can handle it, that plays into his strengths as a coordinator. He will say it to you he will say that to anybody. That is how he wants his football to be played. He wants the quarterback to be in control of the final say.

“Because no matter what he does and this is what he says, he can never call a perfect game. Nobody can. You call the play before the defense is out there. I think his system just benefits my strengths more than the system is built around me.”

I know he’d never say it, because it’s not good form to slag your kids, but watching Stetson regularly fail to pick up the receiver who was invariably open had to drive Monken nuts last year.  Having a big arm is great, but being able to find and hit the open guy is bigger.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Minty fresh: the evolution of Kirby Smart’s defense

I’ve touched on this subject here and there, but if you’re looking for an excellent, comprehensive take on Smart’s defensive scheme and how it’s changed over the years, Graham’s post is a must read.

If you want the tl;dr version it’s simple.  Blame the spread.

Smart mentions that the coaches get weight reports on their players two times a week. In the summer of 2018, Jordan Davis went from 347 pounds to 320 in about two-and-a-half months. “Heavy guys don’t play for us. We need guys that can line up, play fast, be active, and run in space.”

Smart mentions the 2014 CFP Semifinal between Ohio State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide started three lineman over 300 pounds in that game. After OSU put up 42 points on Alabama, Smart went and met with his counterpart in that game, Tom Herman. The Buckeyes didn’t even try to block Alabama inside. They ran the ball sideline to sideline in an effort to wear out the bigger Alabama defenders and negate OSU’s size advantage. All of those body blows eventually resulted in a knock out punch when OSU running back Ezekiel Elliott busted through the line for an 85-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach. The big Alabama lineman were too tired by that point in the fourth quarter to keep contain.

Smart’s defense to that point had been based on the opponent’s personnel. If an opposing coordinator felt they had more of an advantage against Alabama’s four-man front than their three-man front they could just stay in certain personnel packages. Smart saw that as a problem.

In his three-man fronts, Smart needed bigger linebackers because they would have to take on the guards on every play. In the SEC, guards are often 300 pounds or more. The problem? Those big linebackers also had to go cover in space. Smart puts it bluntly. “You’re not gonna cover Alvin Kamara with a 250 pound linebacker.”

The spread was stressing Smart’s defenses. The solution the? Georgia’s MINT front.

For the most part, that has served him well.  But not perfectly well, as last season’s games against Alabama and Florida demonstrated.  The latest stress test comes from teams that can deploy four and five legitimate receiving options on any given play.

By now, Georgia has adapted its defense plenty, and I’m sure we will see further tweaks after a full offseason and the addition of Will Muschamp to the staff. The high powered passing attacks has created the need for more packages that deploy five and six defensive backs, but the Mint Front is still a huge part of UGA’s base defense.

Last season, Georgia missed having a Roquan Smith-type middle linebacker who was versatile enough to contribute in pass coverage.  (Remember Monty Rice trying to stay with Jalen Waddle on that completion down the middle?  Or Florida’s repeated success with the wheel route?)  That’s why, regardless of who was staying or going, Smart was focused on bringing in some portal talent to shore up depth in the defensive backfield, because he recognized that he needed more contributors in pass coverage.

That’s also why, despite all the talk about Jordan Davis, Adam Anderson or other returning players on defense, the player on that side of the ball who will likely be Georgia’s key is Tykee Smith.

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Wednesday morning buffet

SEC Media Days are always good for a few tasty menu items.

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UPDATE:  This goes out to those of you who have missed the point behind Saban’s comment about Bryce Young.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Another take on JT Daniels

I missed this when it came out a month or so ago, but here’s the good and bad on Georgia’s quarterback from Pro Football Network:

The Georgia QB has an NFL-caliber arm. He routinely makes accurate intermediate and short-area passes. Furthermore, he demonstrates anticipation on these passes, putting his receiver in a position to make extra yardage after the catch. In his short career as the Georgia QB, Daniels has shown the ability to drive the ball to the deep third in Todd Monken’s vertical offense. Additionally, he can put enough zip on the ball to throw across his body.

Although he won’t earn any dual-threat monikers, Daniels has impressive athleticism as far as pocket maneuverability. He is light on his feet and can change direction quickly, making him elusive within the pocket. When the Georgia QB does get hit, which we’ll get to shortly, Daniels displays exceptional competitive toughness. He can rebound from a significant impact, gather himself, and stand firm in the pocket the next play.

Areas for improvement

Having praised Daniels’ ability to maneuver in the pocket, let’s start with pocket presence as an area for improvement on his scouting report. Although he has some elusiveness in the pocket, he also takes too many sacks. Daniels needs to work on getting the ball away quicker in dangerous situations.

Standing at 6’3″, Daniels has decent size to play the position in the NFL. However, there were a large number of batted passes during the games studied. He needs to ensure that he consistently clears the line of scrimmage cleanly with his passes to elevate his NFL Draft stock.

Despite having the requisite arm strength to drive the ball to the deep third, there is room for improvement. The Georgia QB’s deep shots can hang in the air, requiring the receiver to slow down in his route rather than hitting him in stride. There are also some deep ball accuracy issues that Daniels will need to clean up in the upcoming college football season.

I don’t there’s anything there that’s particularly unfair.  It’s hard to know exactly what Daniels’ limitations are, based on the small sample size, the rust from the injury and playing in a new scheme with a limited amount of practice time.  I do think it’s likely he shows improvement on the deep ball as he learns to trust his rehabbed knee, but his propensity for taking sacks is troubling, as it’s something that’s plagued him throughout his college career.  Can Monken coach him out of that?

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Offseason to do list

Two stats that correlate to personal observation:

With regard to the first issue, I attribute at least some of those problems to the scheme change (with a greater emphasis on downfield throws) and the lack of time to implement it fully in practice, but, still, it’s kind of strange to see a Kirby Smart offense with that kind of shortcoming.

With regard to the second… well, let’s just say I’d like to see what that stat would look like if you took Kenny McIntosh out of the calculations.  In any event, it’s an area where JT needs better support this season.

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Thursday morning buffet

Sample the wares, peeps.

  • Graham is reporting that College Gameday will head to Charlotte for Georgia’s opener.  Really, it would have been a surprise had it been announced it was going elsewhere.
  • I’m old enough to remember when UCF said they’d play a 2-for-1 with Florida over their dead body.
  • The best play in football is(h/t Josh)
  • Brent Venables is making serious bank.
  • Georgia is sending two players to next week’s SEC Media Days, JT Daniels and Jordan Davis.  What’s the over/under on the number of times Daniels gets asked why he didn’t start sooner last season?
  • Is it now or never for Georgia?”  Narrative, if you’ve lost Mr. Conventional Wisdom…
  • Take this for what it’s worth, a post from someone attending a luncheon yesterday at which Coach Smart spoke about the team.
  • Geoff Collins, the college football director of player personnel pioneer.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness, Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Strategery And Mechanics

Keep Calm and Carry On, Monken.

Yesterday, Josh responded to a post and comments here with a very interesting Twitter thread.  (He hinted at it in a comment here yesterday.)

Here’s the money part:

As insane as those numbers in his chart are — and for Georgia, those are pretty damned insane — remember (1) there’s two-thirds of a season’s worth of erratic QB play baked into them and (2) Monken didn’t get a spring practice to install his offense.  Neither of those are part of the 2021 story.

Maybe we should just chill the fuck out about Georgia’s offense for a while and wait to see if consistency pays off.

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Run the damned ball, Monken?

Came across this chart that ranked D-1 teams by their passing plays percentage last season.  At 46.37%, Georgia finished 67th.  Now, before you say, “hell, with the quarterback play they had in the first eight games, I’da run it, too”, note that the percentage was even lower over the last three games (43.90%).  And that was with them throwing a ton in the bowl game, which ought to give you an idea of how dominant the run game was against South Carolina and Missouri.

Anyway, when the dust settled, Monken only raised the overall percentage a tick from what it was under Foley Coley in 2019 (45.70%), albeit it with better overall results.  Which leads to today’s question:  where do you expect Georgia’s passing plays percentage to be at the end of the 2021 season?

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