Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

You can’t keep a good offensive coordinator down.

Graham’s breakdown of the first explosive play of the national championship game is terrific.

Remember, before this play, Georgia’s first two series went three and out, gaining a total of one yard.  Georgia had just picked up its first first down of the game immediately before Monken called this.  The o-line had been shaky, especially trying to handle Will Anderson, and because of that, Bennett seemed a bit gun shy.

On top of that, Pickens, the team’s best receiver, is still limited as he recovered from his injury.  (As Graham mentioned, he was only on the field for a total of 18 plays.)  And yet, look at what Monken dialed up — he got the Bama secondary just confused enough with all the eye candy to free up Pickens on the outside and also caused Anderson to hesitate just enough to give Bennett enough time to make a great throw downfield.  It’s a brilliant play design and his charges executed it perfectly.  It changed the tone of the game for the rest of the night.

I had hoped this was the kind of stuff we’d get from Monken when Kirby brought him on board.

38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Today’s edition of Dawg porn…

… is brought to you via David Ubben ($$), who asks a simple question:  “Why has no one ever thought to build an entire offense out of athletic tight ends who are almost impossible to cover and even harder to tackle?”

Like this, you mean?

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is going to be able to do a lot of creative things with that trio this fall. Good luck to opposing defenses, nearly all of whom will lack a single player who matches up well with any of the three tight ends.

Not sure luck’s gonna have much to do with that.

18 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Pass pro, 2022 edition

I wouldn’t say I’m at the point of losing sleep over it, but, if pressed, I will admit to a concern I have about Georgia’s offense this season.  It’s an area that’s lost a lot of experience, as this tweet indicates.

Okay, those aren’t particularly big numbers either way, so what’s the big deal?  Let Rollins explain.

Why examine something that is an extremely small percentage of plays, especially for Georgia? Because one of the biggest plays in school history (above) doesn’t happen without James Cook’s pass protection. Cook picked up Bama’s Christian Harris and allowed Stetson Bennett the extra second or two to hit the free play shot/go-ahead touchdown to Adonai Mitchell.

The above play was actually something Bulldog backs were rarely asked to do. In total, the running backs only had 67 total pass blocking reps last season, good for the fourth-fewest in the Power 5 despite the additional games. Only Florida left their backs in to pass protect fewer times in the SEC.

It’s not something the Bulldogs did particularly well either. The team’s running back pass block grade was 36.6, seventh-best in the SEC and just 41st in the Power 5.

It doesn’t matter until it does, in other words.  No doubt Monken will scheme around this deficiency — and when Kenny McIntosh is your best returning back in pass pro, a deficiency is what it is — until more experience brings more consistency.  And he’ll do a good job in that regard, but still, good ain’t the same as perfect.

Like I said, I’m not losing any sleep over it, but when you like to take deep shots the way Georgia does, it’s something to consider.

19 Comments

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

“Five guys in the closet”

Man, I love hearing Dan Lanning talk about how prepared his defense was for the national championship game.

Of course, none of that would have mattered if Metchie and Williams weren’t injured, amirite?

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

All I want for Christmas is a 14 formation in the red zone.

Seth Emerson brings the schwing! today ($$).  I guarantee you won’t be able to finish his piece about the transformative potential of Georgia’s tight end-oriented offense without needing a cigarette or a cold shower.  Or both, maybe.

There’s talent…

How loaded is Georgia’s tight end from? There have been 11 tight ends over the past three years ranked among the top 150 overall recruits in their respective class, per the 247Sports Composite. Three of them now play for Georgia: Gilbert (fifth overall) in 2020, Bowers (105th in 2021) and Delp (105th in 2022). And that doesn’t include Washington, who was listed as an athlete in the 2020 class, where he was the No. 23 overall prospect.

There’s also the mad scientist/evil genius ready to deploy the talent.

There’s also a reason Todd Monken, the offensive coordinator who also has a new deal coming, is known for dynamic thinking. It was a little over a year ago, when someone asked him about getting Washington more involved, that he offered a hint of what was to come: “You’re hopeful we have enough skill players that they have to defend the whole field, and all the players on the field are capable of making plays, which is a sign of a really good offense. The best offenses have that in terms of weapons, tight ends, wideouts and running backs, which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of mismatches and make them defend the field.”

Monken’s offense has already been making liberal use of the tight ends: The Bulldogs had at least two tight ends on the field 51.7% of the time last season, the highest rate in the SEC and eighth-highest nationally. Of those plays — 492 in all — 85 of them were with three tight ends on the field, which was also the most in the SEC, and fifth-most in the nation.

It can’t be that hard to lead the country in four tight ends on the field, can it?  I mean, in for a penny, in for a pound, and all that.

Seriously, after all the shit talking we’ve heard from rival fan bases about how stodgy and unimaginative Georgia’s offense has been under Smart (not without some justification, admittedly), it’s gonna be a real treat to hear your Daily Gator whine about how difficult it is to defend Manball 2.0 this season.

29 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Fantasizing after G-Day

Barrett Sallee wrote that “Georgia might have the best tight end room in college football history”.  After watching Gilbert and Delp in the spring game, I’m not sure there’s any hyperbole to that observation.

So, I’ve got two questions:

  1. If you’re Todd Monken, why wouldn’t you run four-tight end sets in the red zone?
  2. If you’ve got two unicorn tight ends in Bowers and Gilbert, do you really need a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback?

30 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“It’s not about the sack.”

This is a really good breakdown from Coach Schumann about Georgia’s approach on third-down defense.

I don’t care if you’re in a three-man front or a four-man front; the key to a successful third-down defense is getting pressure with a four-man rush.  It’s just that there are plenty of ways to skin that particular cat.

15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Monken moments

I mentioned in a post last week that I might need to write something about my favorite play calls over the last two seasons.  After much thought, it’s down to three for me.

The first:

Yeah, I know the outcome sucked, but this play was genuinely thrilling to watch unfold.  I was sitting on the other 20-yard line on the side of the field that Zamir ran towards, so I had a great angle — great enough that even a tyro like myself could tell Georgia was going to break a big play just based on the formation and how the Gators lined up on defense.

That this happened during the pandemic season, with limited preparation and a jumbled quarterback situation, told me all I need to know about Monken’s capabilities.  And, I imagine, told a few defensive coordinators the same thing.

Second:

Everybody pointed to the next touchdown, the McIntosh pass, as proof that Georgia threw that “look out for Michigan’s trick plays on offense” warning right back in the Wolverines’ faces, but the trickeration actually started here.  The Dawgs came out of a sugar huddle and lined up with Bowers in a tackle-eligible formation without giving UM’s defense enough time to sort things out.  (Watch the safety, in particular.)  The play fake just made things worse.

I hope Monken smiled a little watching that unfold.

Third:

Gawd, this play!  Again, I was lucky enough to watch this unfold in front of me.  I’ve seen the broadcast several times (okay, maybe more than several) and it really doesn’t do justice to how badly fooled the Tide’s defense was on that play.  It was the culmination of a run-heavy drive (only one pass attempt before, the throw to Pickens that drew a PI call), and came on a short yardage call — again, hurry up to catch the defense not completely ready.

What it was not, though, was the same play as the above Michigan touchdown.  Bowers isn’t lined up as a tackle and the play was more of an RPO than a pure play fake.  It worked just as well, though.

What’s really great about the play was how smartly Monken anticipated the Alabama defensive call.  The blitz left an ILB in To’o To’o who wasn’t great in pass coverage in the first place and was dead meat as soon as he took one step in towards the line of scrimmage anticipating a run.  Just fantastic.

Anyway, those are my three.  What are yours?

47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Rolling the analytic dice

Bill Connelly ($$) has an exhaustive piece up about how analytics are seeping into college football playcalling.  Check out this chart for one example of that:

It’s slow, but it’s coming.

College football’s most visible believer is Lane Kiffin, whose first real exposure to the strategy came at Alabama, believe it or not.

He quickly concluded that if or when he got another head-coaching opportunity, he would commit to innovation in two ways. First, he would combine a lot of pro-style concepts and present-day bells and whistles (motion, et al) with what he called “Baylor tempo,” reminiscent of the 85-plays-per-game Baylor offenses of the early 2010s. Second, he would go all-in on the math. He would quickly become CAI’s most vocal client.

After winning two Conference USA titles in three years at FAU, Kiffin earned a trip back to the SEC as head coach at Ole Miss, and he has remained committed to those initial tenets. Over the past two seasons, his Rebels have averaged more snaps (78.9) and more fourth-down conversion attempts per game (3.6) than anyone else in the FBS. Sometimes it works beautifully, as when Ole Miss went 4-for-4 on fourth downs against eventual national champion Alabama and had the Tide on the ropes deep into the fourth quarter. Other times, it fails for all to see, as when the Rebels went a Chargers-esque 2-for-5 against Bama in 2021, failed on the first two drives of the game and got blown out.

I sort of liken this to how spread offenses started out as a way for programs with less resources to level the playing field against the bigger boys, only to find it become a dominant strategy across the board.  We’ll see if analytics follows a similar course.

7 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

There’s massive, and then there’s massive.

Chip Towers looks at how Georgia’s offensive line has trended, with the Dawgs now on their third o-line coach in four (!) years:

… Searels also has had to adjust his teachings to the wants of the head coach and offensive coordinator. Generally, he’s known for preferring that his charges be a little trimmer and well-conditioned. That runs congruent with Luke but contrasts with Pittman, who wanted his linemen as big and burly as he could get them.

… Georgia’s average offensive line size actually has trended downward since the departure of Pittman, when it was 6-5, 332 pounds, to last year’s 6-4, 314 under Luke. A big question under Searels is which way he might want to go, faster and sleeker or bigger and bulkier.

Given his first sentence, I’m not sure that’s totally Searels’ call.  Also, let’s not forget how much room is being taken up by some of the bodies stocked in the cupboard.

The presence of individuals such as Amarius Mims (6-foot-7, 330 pounds, So.), Devin Willock (6-7, 335, R-So.) and Micah Morris (6-6, 330, R-Fr.) lend a whole new meaning to the phrase “point of critical mass.”

My main observation, going back to last year’s G-Day game, is that Georgia wants offensive lineman who can pull, and by “Georgia”, I kinda mean “Monken”.  I suspect that means if they have to swap a little size for more mobility, that’s a trade they’re willing to make.  What that means in terms of how the o-line fills out… well, that’ll be something to watch, eh?

16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics