Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Is there more to life than blocking?

Seth Emerson mentions something that might help Terry Godwin see the field more this season.

For one thing, Godwin is standing out for reasons other than pass catching this spring. In the past, his slight frame and blocking abilities kept him off the field in many situations. But after the scrimmage this past Saturday, Smart recalled Godwin blocking well on a bubble screen.

The better a receiver is at blocking, the more he will be on the field. Malcolm Mitchell, for instance, was the team’s best blocking receiver in 2015, when he was also the team’s leading receiver, ahead of Godwin.

That sounds great, until you remember that Georgia’s leading receiver last season was that powerhouse blocker Isaiah McKenzie.

The point here isn’t that blocking doesn’t matter.  Quite the contrary when you’re a run-first offense that needs downfield blocking to help its talented backs gain extra yardage.  It’s that blocking isn’t the be-all and end-all to successful receiving… or at least it shouldn’t be.

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“The Bulldogs have the players to create mismatches.”

I know it’s Tom Luginbill, but roll with this scenario for a second.

“Let’s just say you’ve got ‘12’ personnel with Isaac Nauta at tight end, but now you’ve got Nick Chubb and Sony Michel on the field at the same time,” Luginbill explained to Saturday Down South. “Let’s say it’s 3rd-and-4 and Georgia lines up in split backs out of the shotgun, and they motion Sony Michel out of the backfield.

“If you look at it from that perspective, now what you’re doing is you’re creating what could potentially be a mismatch in the passing game with a back on a linebacker or a safety, which is an advantage for Georgia. Yet, you still have your guy who can push the pile and get you 4 yards in the run game, and your tight ends on the field who can help in the run game or be involved in the passing game.”

All I can say is more of this, please.

Yes, it all starts with having a functioning offensive line and a quarterback who’s more comfortable in the offense, but, damn, with a little creativity, I really do think this offense has the talent to go places this season.

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The red zone is the dead zone.

Seth Emerson returns to a subject we’ve harped on plenty here since the end of the last regular season, Georgia’s ineffective play on both sides of the ball when it’s inside the 20-yard line.

… The 20 yards beyond the end zone were calamitous for Georgia in general last year.

On defense, it was probably what kept a good unit from being great: Georgia ranked 114th nationally, and second-worst in the SEC, in red zone defense. It allowed opponents to score 90.7 percent of the time it got inside the 20, and to score touchdowns 74.4 percent of the time.

That was a major step backwards from 2015, when Georgia ranked third-best nationally in red zone defense. Opponents only scored 67.6 percent of the time inside the 20, and the touchdown rate was 50 percent.

“We work on that a little bit more, so we can perfect that, have a little better percentage next season,” Baker said.

On offense, Georgia’s red zone problem last year was just another problem area: The Bulldogs scored at least three points on 84.4 percent of trips there, which ranked 64th nationally. But it only managed a touchdown 55.6 percent of the time, which ranked 100th nationally.

If there’s a difference in the two, it’s that I would say the offensive red zone woes were more an extension of the general inefficiency we saw last season, whereas the defense played well outside of that area.  Or, as Emerson puts it,

The offensive problems are easier to diagnose, because they’re symptomatic of what went wrong in general. Problems with blocking, by the line and on the perimeter. Play-calling that was too predictable at times. A freshman quarterback slowed down the offense, stalling momentum when drives got closer to the end zone….

Smart is correct about the team being “horrible” in the red zone offensively. But it was only part of the problem: Georgia had 45 red-zone offensive trips last year, but that only ranked 79th nationally. The Bulldogs got touchdowns on 25 of those trips. If they had penetrated the end zone 10 more times, then the 35 touchdowns still only would have ranked 39th nationally. Good, but not great.

The defense, on the other hand, can almost single-handedly point at red zone problems. Georgia’s opponents only had 43 such trips, tied for 37th nationally, but the success rate (39 times getting at least a field goal, and 32 touchdowns) is startling.

So, you can argue that if the staff can address the offense’s general problems, that should lead to more red zone success.  On defense, though, it’s a little trickier.  Davin Bellamy thinks “it’s all about attitude”.  He’s referring to himself and his teammates there, but as I once speculated, I wonder if it’s more about coaching priorities.  If I’m right, there’s a lot of factors in play that would have to be addressed.

I joke about the Auburn game that the key to keeping Auburn from scoring regularly from the red zone was to keep Malzahn’s offense out of the red zone, but that’s actually how things played out in Georgia’s most impressive defensive effort of the year.

The trick to that, though, isn’t simple or one-sided.  You have to think turnover margin and field position play major roles in aiding a defense in keeping opponents from crossing its twenty.  So does stopping teams on third downs, though.  All of which has been a mixed bag for Georgia over the past few seasons.

All I’m saying here is, if indeed this is something that matters to Smart — and his track record at Alabama would indicate that it does — there’s a lot of work across the board left to be done.

Starting this spring.

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Wrinkles on top of wrinkles

In light of Friday’s quickie post about tight end teasing, this Ian Boyd piece on the role of tight ends in the evolution of what he calls college’s pro-style spread is definitely worth a read.

It would be nice to hit a spot where Georgia’s offense can use twin-tight end sets not to provide extra grunt on runs up the middle against a stacked defense but as a legitimate threat in the passing game.  There’s no reason Chaney shouldn’t be able to deploy Blazevich and Nauta the way Michigan used Jake Butt.  Well, except for the o-line needing to step up its blocking game…

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Today, in lather, rinse, repeat

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a header like this

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Today, in misery loves company

I have to admit I’m getting a certain amount of satisfaction out of the buyer’s remorse I’m seeing in certain quarters after Todd Grantham’s departure from Louisville.  I mean, who could have ever guessed this?

University of Louisville senior starting linebacker Stacy Thomas said that the terminology related of new coordinator Peter Sirmon’s defense are such that the Cardinals are getting play calls in faster than the defense did last season.

“The play-calling, the vocabulary is brought down so we can get the plays quicker,” Thomas said after Wednesday’s spring practice. “That’s a good thing from last year about it.

“,,, We had a couple games where they would run hurry-up (offenses) and then we would have trouble getting the call and then echoing it to everybody else, so that was an issue last year. But it doesn’t seem to be an issue right now.”

Well, besides anybody who watched Grantham fail to get an eleventh defender on the field in time to stop a Chubb touchdown run in the Belk Bowl (see the 2:18 mark in the clip below for that), that is.

If the Dawgs don’t run some hurry-up against Mississippi State this year, Jim Chaney will be guilty of some serious coaching malpractice.

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Kick the damned ball in the end zone.

After years of putting up with Fabris’ directional kickoff bullshit, up-and-down coverage teams and the frustration of watching what seems like most of America fielding kickers who can put kickoffs in the end zone more often than not, I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to hear a Georgia head coach admit the obvious.

“It’s like an 80 percent chance if you start inside the 20, you do not score,” Smart said. “So 80 percent of offenses cannot function 80 yards downfield. So you’ve got touchbacks like Auburn’s guy (Daniel Carlson at 79.2 percent) has every time or you pin them inside the 20, there’s an 80 percent chance they’re not getting points. We weren’t behind that 20-yard line, we weren’t behind that fence very often last year. And some of that had to do with the coverage too, not just kickers.”

Yeah, I know touchbacks come out to the 25, but you get what Kirby is saying there.  Besides, one thing’s for sure.  Nobody’s ever run back a touchback for six points.

I don’t care who kicks off, just that the results are an improvement on 2016.

Georgia ranked 65th nationally in touchback percentage at 35.82 percent, according to CFBstats.com. Blankenship, who made 14 of 18 field goals, had touchbacks on 38.2 percent of kickoffs. Marvin had touchbacks on 49.3 percent of his kickoffs last year.

Wofford averaged giving up 22.2 yards per kickoff return while Georgia allowed 23.8.

May the best kicker win.

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