Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Rashomon in red and black: autopsy of an incompletion

I thought this, which I found via the Dawgs247 message board, might make for an interesting discussion about what ails Georgia’s passing game:

Here are the four individual shots:

Screenshot_2019-12-11 Seth Galina on Twitter Fromm with another horror show against LSU Below 50% completion rate again (2 [...]

Screenshot_2019-12-11 Seth Galina on Twitter Fromm with another horror show against LSU Below 50% completion rate again (2 [...]

Screenshot_2019-12-11 Seth Galina on Twitter Fromm with another horror show against LSU Below 50% completion rate again (2 [...](1)

Screenshot_2019-12-11 Seth Galina on Twitter Fromm with another horror show against LSU Below 50% completion rate again (2 [...](1)

His point that Fromm should have gone through his progressions is a valid one, but there’s a lot more going on there than that.

First of all, the play design is simplistic.  All the receivers are running one-on-one matchups with defenders; there’s nothing in the design itself that would help open up a receiver in the pattern.

Second, Jackson, the intended receiver, doesn’t run the route crisply, something that’s plagued the receiving corps all season.

Third, the throw isn’t a particularly good one, although I’m not sure how much of that is on Fromm and how much of that is on the route.

You know what’s not a problem on that play?  The pass protection.  Watch it run:

There’s a four-man rush, and it’s picked up, giving Fromm a nice pocket to throw from.  More importantly, he had time to reset and find Blaylock on the dig route over the middle.  (If he felt rushed, he also had Herrien open in the flat early.)

And that’s one of the little differences from the game.  Burrow trusted everything — himself, his protection, his receivers and the playcalling.  Fromm didn’t look like he trusted anything on that play.

Before you go there, that’s not a manball problem, but, clearly, there’s a lot to fix there.  What do y’all think?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Shade, sooey!

Man, Sam Pittman came out with a hot take at his presser yesterday.

Sounds like somebody’s not fully committed to will imposition.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Adapt or die

To make the point I raised in my Lambs post earlier more starkly, check this out:

When Lincoln Riley coaches the lowest scoring team in the CFP, the world as we knew it has changed, and for good.  Time for Athens, Georgia to catch up.

I don’t care how he does it — if Kirby can pound his way to 40+ ppg, I’m totally fine with that — but he’s going to have to ditch the “offense’s role is to support the defense” manball approach he’s embraced if he wants to get to the next level.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

We are poor little lambs who have lost our way.

Kirby Smart, pre-37-10:

LSU and Alabama, likewise, are playing to the strength of their talents, Smart explained.

“We’re not built like those two teams, we’re built very differently, and that’s not always by nature,” Smart said. “It wasn’t like all of a sudden Alabama decided they were going to throw the ball all the time. They got a stellar group of wideouts in one gathering. It’s like they all came in at once and became really good players.

“Same thing at LSU. I mean LSU, they’ve had good wideouts over the years. But they have a really stellar group at the same time, along with a transfer quarterback who has been impactful. So I don’t know that philosophically both those guys made huge changes, as much as they inherited two quarterbacks who are unique, who can do special things, and they’ve got some special players around them.”

Kirby Smart, post-37-10:

Q. Kirby, what’s the biggest thing about LSU’s offense that just kind of took the SEC by storm this year? Is it the quarterback, the play calling, the running back, combination of all of it? What can you put your finger on?
KIRBY SMART: That’s a great question. First of all, I’ve been in this league for a long time, and I don’t know that I’ve seen the combination of things they’ve got. They’ve got an elite quarterback that’s a really good athlete. They have a back that is a matchup guy. He can match up on anybody and go in. They’ve got really good wideouts, and they’ve got an experienced offensive line. So they go tempo, but they don’t go tempo to just run the ball, they go tempo and take shots. They never change personnel. It’s like 28 consecutive snaps with the same people on the field. So it does not allow you to substitute in the pattern that you want to.

So there’s a combination of a lot of things, and it is scheme oriented, [Emphasis added} but it’s a lot more than scheme. They have plays that they’ve run all year, that we’ve run all year. Our plays haven’t looked like their plays because a lot of times we might not have the same guys doing those plays.

They’ve got a great group of wideouts combined with an extremely athletic quarterback, and it hit at the right time. I’ve got a lot of respect for what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. They’re hard to defend.

He really wants to sell what happened yesterday as a personnel issue, which is a somewhat remarkable admission from a guy who’s coaching reputation is built on a recruit first approach.

Now, I’m not totally unsympathetic to his point.  Georgia was short-handed on offense yesterday and I’ll concede it’s well within the realm of probability that may have contributed to the scope of the loss.  But it’s awfully simplistic to boil everything down to this:

I’m not a coaching savant like Smart, nor does anyone pay me $7 million a year to figure things like that out.  But what I keep coming back to is Coley’s comment in the preseason that success in being an offensive coordinator is remembering that it’s about “players, not plays”.  Does anybody really believe that Georgia’s offensive game plan is similar to LSU’s in that regard?

If you want some idea of how scheme matters, take a look at this chart Andy Staples ($$) put together:

staples_qb_comp_12.07

QB No. 1 is Jake Fromm, this season.  QB No. 2 is Joe Burrow, last season.  You tell me what’s changed between them.

Let’s face it — Georgia’s 2019 offensive philosophy is about Kirby Smart, not players.  How else do you explain the reluctance to employ tempo?  The SECCG was no exception to what we’ve seen in every other game this year.  When the offense goes up-tempo, it works.  Fromm relaxes.  The team gets in a rhythm.  The ball moves downfield.  (And, inevitably, it seems, a defender suffers an injury.)  Despite that, Coley simply won’t stick with it for any long period of time.

Why?  Because Georgia is addicted to substituting.  It’s in Smart’s DNA.  Read the first paragraph from that presser quote of his again.  LSU ran 28 straight plays in 11 formation yesterday.  Certainly that frustrated Smart the defensive whiz who loves matching players to situations, but it’s also an alien concept to him on offense, because it’s ingrained in his approach that mixing and matching personnel and sets is the way to go, even if his quarterback’s performance suffers.

And it clearly has.  Fromm finishes 2019 failing to complete 50% of his pass attempts in five straight games.  Think about that for a minute.  Not only is that a remarkable regression on the part of a junior quarterback who is the national leader in consecutive starts, but it’s a stat that’s virtually unheard of for a current top five team.  Even if, arguing for a moment that the South Carolina loss never happened, Georgia had made the CFP field, there’s no way it would have held up in a group with elite quarterbacks at the three undefeated teams that are the top seeds.  Nobody competent plays offensive football like that anymore.

Kirby clearly wants to point fingers at his receiving corps.

“The first two years, Jake’s numbers were better, so the indicator of that was four wide receivers were on our sideline that were drafted that are playing in the NFL,” Smart said. “And the loss of those wideouts, the vertical threat, has probably hurt our team. That’s my responsibility, right, to replace them. That’s my responsibility to replace them in recruiting, and we probably haven’t done a good enough job of that.”

Too simple.  It’s not just a matter of replacing departures with recruits.  Hell, Pickens and Blaylock aren’t perfect, but as true freshmen they’ve certainly been bigger contributors this season than several returning players.  The problem this season hasn’t just been talent; it’s been player development just as much, if not more.  We’ve already discussed shortcomings like route running, technique and downfield blocking out the wazoo.  By game thirteen, there’s simply no excuse for players like Landers and Simmons to have shown little to no improvement over the course of a season.

There really isn’t.  Look on the other side of the ball, where we saw true freshmen and other newcomers making a meaningful impact against a dominant offense.  Player development has been a strong suit for Smart’s defense.

The reason I suspect it’s not so much the case for Georgia’s offense is because of the subservient role it’s expected to play to the defense.  For Smart, the first responsibility of the offense is to wear the other team’s defense down over four quarters and control the clock, making the defense’s job easier.  When that doesn’t happen, it leads to close games against teams with inferior offenses and 37-10 losses to teams with dominant ones.  (And, I might add, after a season of judgment about receivers’ ability to block as a measure of game time, complaints from the head coach about a lack of explosiveness.)

And that’s what Kirby’s real responsibility is now.  Kick ass results on the recruiting trail are nice, but where the rubber meets the road is figuring out how to turn that into a means of keeping up with the Alabamas, Clemsons, LSUs and Ohio States of the world.

There’s more than one way to skin the proverbial cat of protecting a defense.  Endless read option calls when the quarterback never keeps the ball isn’t one of them, at least not anymore.  It’s up to Smart to figure out a different and successful path forward from that.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Elect or defer?

Brooks Tilley says that one of the keys to a Georgia win today would be for Georgia to take the ball to start the game if it wins the toss.

Limit LSU to 10 possessions– this starts with taking the ball to start the game in hopes that you minimize first half possessions.

I’m gonna have to respectfully disagree on that one.  If I have my druthers, I want my best unit on the field to start.  Georgia hasn’t allowed an opponent to score on its opening series all season (Auburn came the closest, with a missed FG) and I’d rather take my chances with that.

Also, one less possession in the first half means one more possession in the second with George Pickens.

Defer, Kirby.

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The antidote to OMG!!1!

Matt Hinton, in his excellent SECCG preview, reminds of something about last year’s UGA-Alabama face off:

Like LSU this year, Alabama last year arrived in Atlanta unbeaten and essentially unchallenged, with a transformative offense whose combination of raw talent and downfield audacity had seemingly hacked the system. Instead of a coronation, though, the Tide were forced to eke out an ugly win that left their star QB hobbled and the rest of the team looking vulnerable for the first time, foreshadowing their exposure vs. Clemson in the national title game. Even in a win, just how closely LSU resembles its usual, prolific self will have implications well beyond this weekend.

In other words, this isn’t Kirby Smart’s first rodeo.  As Matt notes there, enough of what he did to slow Alabama’s offense was on point that Clemson borrowed from it in the championship game.  He’s going to have some answers to that daunting LSU attack.

He’s got plenty of tools at his disposal for that, too.

The Bulldogs obviously have the athletes up front to penetrate and disrupt plays in the backfield, but the mentality is more akin to building a wall along the line of scrimmage: Occupying gaps, setting edges, shedding blocks, pursuing as a team, etc. The middle linebackers, Monty Rice and Tae Crowder, are the leading tacklers, but there are no real headliners and virtually no end to the number of bodies UGA is able to rotate in without suffering a significant drop off — 17 players have started at least 1 game this season and 22 have been credited with double-digit tackles.

More important, there are no apparent weak links. It’s as fundamentally sound a unit as any in the country, and if it can keep Burrow in predictable passing situations the deep well of edge-rushing talent could give him more problems in the pocket than the pedestrian sack numbers suggest. Outside ‘backers Azeez Ojulari, Malik Herring, Nolan Smith, Adam Anderson and Quay Walker are all former top-200 recruits who have been credited with at least 8 QB hurries apiece.

Can Georgia make it a line of scrimmage game?  If so, I like the Dawgs’ chances.

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Run, Georgia.

Gary Danielson, somewhat surprisingly, doesn’t think Jake Fromm is the key for Georgia’s offensive hopes tomorrow.

“There’s one player that has to have a good game for Georgia, and that’s D’Andre Swift,” Danielson said. “I don’t see how Georgia can stay in this game without the breakaway abilities of Swift. He’s the real deal. I think Swift is the key to the game. 

“Jake Fromm is going to show up fine. Their receivers are going to be what they are – they’re not game-breakers yet. D’Andre Swift has to be a difference-maker in this game.”

Josh describes what difference making has to look like.

On the other side of the ball, UGA’s offense tries to get back on track against a defense that can give up yards on the ground. In SEC games, LSU is allowing over five yards per carry. In addition to that. Using secstatcat.com, I was able to filter out their opponents inside runs and discovered that the Tigers are allowing over six yards per carry on these runs.

If you’ve read any of my posts of late, you know that these runs are UGA’s bread and butter, but have not been productive of late. But, on UGA’s 20 TD (against Power 5/non-GT) scoring drives, UGA ran the ball 2:1 with 75 of the 103 runs using inside zone or inside zone reads that averaged 4.9 YPA.

There it is, when the Dawgs run the ball in the middle with success they score.

So, don’t wince when they try that.  😉

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