Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Okay, it’s not QBR, but…

Thought the passer ratings from Saturday night were interesting.

  • Jacob Eason:  185.87
  • Greyson Lambert:  119.20
  • Mitch Trubisky:  92.76

Georgia averaged 9.3 yards per pass attempt; Trubisky averaged 3.9 yppa.  Given that the Heels averaged more than 8 yards per rush, giving Hood and Logan a combined 16 carries while letting Trubisky throw the ball 40 times was coaching malpractice.

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

The next big thing…

… sounds like something Bobo ran his last few seasons in Athens.

Coaches are human, and like all humans they get intrigued by what’s next, the evolution of technology, of thought, or in this case their sport. And after a decade of college teams embracing the spread and spread-option, coaches are thinking about what they can do with more runners in the backfield and tight ends on the line — commonly known as a “pro set.”

One of the draws of this approach, according to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, is that it renders problematic a trend in recruiting specialized defensive players tailored to stopping the spread such as nickelbacks, pass-rushers and those who slide from defensive back to linebacker.

“If you start to utilize more two-tight end sets, that could be problematic for defenses,” he said.

But the pro sets seen on Saturdays will include a proven college ingredient: faster pace.

Genius, I tells ‘ya.

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Has the spread stopped spreading?

Paul Myerberg has a story in USA Today that suggests college football defenses are starting to catch up with the offenses.

Yet as teams prepare for September, defenses across college football have taken steps toward closing the gap.

Repetition, increased familiarity, tweaked personnel packages and increased communication have helped to turn back time — offenses still rule, but more so than at any point in the last decade, defenses can hold their heads high.

“Defense has adjusted,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “Defense has caught up to the lightning no-huddle, the fast-break no-huddle.”

The most interesting point of view in his article comes from Rich Rodriguez, maybe the guy more than anyone else responsible for putting a lot of the swing towards offense in motion.

For defenses in this era, it’s not about winning the war; the opposition is always going to score points, often in bunches, and rare is the defense that can singlehandedly carry a team to a successful season. It’s about winning individual battles — on third down, for example, or in the red zone.

And no development has played a greater factor in a subtle defensive revival than the proliferation of spread offenses themselves. Ten years ago, a defense might face one or two early adopters of the style during the course of a single season. Now, teams will face an up-tempo opponent more often than not, and in many cases spend an entire year defending the system during practice.

“The more teams that do that, the more defense is going to study it. The more defense studies it, the more variety of schemes you get,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said.

“What we see now how teams are defending us now are much different than what they were defending 15, 20 years ago just because they see it all the time.”

It’s even affected his recruiting.

This has also led some programs to alter the way they recruit. In the past, Rodriguez would split his team’s 85 scholarships evenly between offense and defense. Recently, however, “it’s been flipping the other way,” he said: Arizona may have as many as 50 scholarships devoted to defense, compared to 30 on offense.

Nobody thinks college football is going to return to the grind it out times of 2006, but it was always a bit of an overreaction to pretend the sport was being irretrievably changed by the onslaught of the HUNH and the spread.  Hell, let’s not forget that Mark Richt was playing around with that stuff during his FSU days.

One thing Myerberg doesn’t touch on that I’m curious about is what effect the next wave of technology is going to have on the chess match between offenses and defenses.  If communication is one of the things that’s allowed defensive coaches to narrow the gap, what happens when they’re allowed to use computer tablets on the sideline for immediate analysis and when direct miking of players’ helmets becomes a reality?

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Is the opener Nick Chubb’s game to lose?

If you want to do a little pondering about Georgia’s opener, Ian Boyd has a nice piece up you might want to read about two key matchups.  In his mind, they are:

  1. How will Trubisky fare against a Nick Saban-style defense?
  2. Can Chubb break Gene Chizik’s defense?

On point one, it’s hard to judge.  By most accounts I’ve read, Trubisky has an excellent arm and good grasp of Fedora’s offense, but isn’t a runner.  So I can’t say how much he’ll be able to sell being a true run threat.  The video clips Boyd includes show Trubisky operating in blow out situations against second-string defenses — hey, that’s the life of the backup quarterback, right? — so it’s difficult to translate those performances over to what we might expect against a defense that Boyd characterizes as one that “will be more talented than any non-Clemson unit the Tar Heels faced last year, and it’ll also be harder to read and attack…”

But if I’m Fedora, knowing what I know from watching Smart’s defenses struggling to cope with handling Auburn’s running QBs and Deshaun Watson, I’ve gotta try at least.

On the flip side, if I’m Kirby Smart, I’m gonna try to mask the state of Chubb’s health as long as I can, and if he’s healthy, let the big dog eat on a run defense that left a lot to be desired last season.

In the former Auburn coach’s first year as the defensive coordinator, North Carolina didn’t do well. The Heels finished 67th in the nation in Defensive S&P+ and concluded the year with an embarrassing performance against Baylor in a bowl game, when they yielded 645 rushing yards.

If reading between the lines you assume that the play of both of Georgia’s fronts will have a big impact on the game’s outcome, you and I are on the same page… not that that’s a really deep insight.  But the funny thing is that you read Boyd’s post and realize afterwards that he only mentions Georgia’s quarterback situation in passing.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Kirby Smart’s chicken soup for the Bulldog soul

Damn, do I love hearing this.

“The biggest goal coming into camp was to improve third-down play defensively and offensively. A big part of that offensively is the vertical passing game so we’ve tried to focus on that with drills and situations in practices and scrimmages,” Smart said.

Amen, brother.  I like this kind of talk, too.

“To be honest, I’ve seen Terry up and down,” Smart said after Tuesday’s practice, when asked assess Godwin’s camp. “I know the athlete that Terry is, I know the athlete that Terry can be. But Terry needs to get a little more consistency. And I tell him that every day.”

“He has to block with the same vigor that he runs a route with,” Smart said.

Now, Emerson’s right when he goes on to observe that Godwin’s size likely precludes him from being a dominant blocker, but he’s also right to point out that Malcolm Mitchell, also not a large receiver, was Georgia’s best blocking receiver last year.

Frankly, I thought the decline in downfield blocking from the receiving corps was an under-acknowledged deficiency last season that contributed to the offensive constipation we saw frequently.  Losing Bennett and Conley hurt a lot in that department.  Fix that to any extent, and you likely have a big impact on Georgia’s third-down efficiency.  As a bonus, you also free up the tight ends to have more involvement in the receiving game.

Let’s hope Kirby can translate talk into action.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Jim Chaney is my new coaching hero.

If there’s one coaching philosophy I appreciate more than “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, it’s “keep it simple, stupid”.  And this may be the best distillation of KISS I’ve ever seen.

“I tell the kids all the time, at quarterback, your job is one job: You’ve got to get the ball and deliver it to the playmakers, either hand it to them or throw it to them,” Chaney said. “That’s it. Don’t overthink this thing. Don’t think you have got to do something outside of the system or you’ve got to do all that craziness. Just do your job and do it the best you can daily.”

Hell, after you read that, you can start to believe that going with Lambert or Ramsey might actually work.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Monday morning buffet

More for the chafing dishes…

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, College Football, Georgia Football, Political Wankery, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics