Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

Georgia’s offensive scheme: a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

Seth Emerson hits on what’s puzzled me about Jim Chaney all season long:

[Georgia] has great runners in Chubb and Michel, but it doesn’t have the line, and it doesn’t have a quarterback comfortable enough running that system. I keep coming back to the Tennessee game, which Georgia needed to win to stay in the division race, and when – to quote myself in the Second Glance – “Jim Chaney finally adapted, scheming around the offensive line problems. He ran outside a lot, was creative, and used a lot of runs out of the shot-gun, which Eason is more comfortable running at this point.”

Since then, it’s been basically back to the usual. And while it worked against South Carolina, it didn’t the next two weeks. Why is that? Are Smart and/or Chaney committed to a certain style, and they’re hammering it into Eason and the team, assuming after the Tennessee loss that the division hopes were over, thus sacrificing the present for the future? That seems unlikely, but it’s hard to come up with another explanation, other than they (for some reason) think this is the best gameplan.

Occam’s Razor would seem to suggest such, given that Chaney, while no offensive genius, has shown at prior stops that he can be a competent college coordinator.

The offensive line is sub-par, but there’s enough talent on offense to scheme around that shortcoming, as major as it is, at least against defenses that aren’t top-flight.  What’s troublesome are the games where it appears the staff doesn’t even try to do so.

109 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“… if it will work he will run it.”

Sigh.  Me want that kind of attitude.

15 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Offensive coordinator discovers other coaches coach

There are times when Smart’s policy, learned at Saban’s knee, of not letting the coaching staff meet with the press during the season is frustrating.  Then there are occasions when you sit back and think it’s not such a bad idea.

It’s also safe the credit the Gamecocks for looking differently than they previously had on film, Vols offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said.

“South Carolina was trying to take away the long ball,” DeBord told members of the Knoxville Quarterback Club at Calhoun’s on the River on Monday. “They didn’t want to give up big plays and they didn’t. The other thing is what we see every week, and it’s been interesting, but what we’re seeing on film throughout the week, teams are changing it up. What you practice against is not always what you see in the game. That’s having to adjust with our players and things like that.”

Damn, son.  I don’t think I would’ve said that.

6 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

The problem with Georgia’s running game…

… has nothing to do with Nick Chubb and any perceived “he’s not his old self” bullshit.

For starters, the rushing performance against Florida was historically inept.

Particularly disconcerting was the Bulldogs’ inability to run against the Gators. The Bulldogs had just 21 yards rushing on 19 carries. CBS Sports said it was Georgia’s worst against the Gators since 1960. UGA’s sports communications staff is still researching but that’s at least worst than the Bulldogs ever did on the ground in the Mark Richt era.

As a general rule of thumb, when your sports communications staff is still researching how crappy something was, Athens, you’ve got a problem.  But it doesn’t take much thought to conclude that even a Nick Chubb at 50% is better than at least a few of Georgia’s running backs over the past half century.

If you’d like a little hint about what roots of that problem might be, here are a few enlightening moments.

It’s not totally fair to say guards in the plural there, because Gaillard moved his man out of the way to open a hole for Chubb.  Unfortunately, Wynn didn’t maintain leverage and as a result his man was able to blow the play up.

This time, it’s the center and right side of the line that whiff… also, notice how Blazevich gets driven back three yards by the left end, which forces Michel inside.

Jim Brown couldn’t get back to the line of scrimmage with that kind of blocking.

Said junior guard Isaiah Wynn: “We just have to all get in the right page. It’s kind of frustrating but, at the same time, you can’t let it get to you because you tend to mess up even more. So we are just working on fixing it and getting better. Some of it is just technique-wise. The effort is all there.”

He’s right about technique.  It’s poor enough to make you wonder what Pittman is doing with these guys.

It’s not just the running game being affected, of course.  Take a look at the pass blocking on what turned out to be Georgia’s longest play from scrimmage Saturday.

As noted, that’s seven blocking four and Eason still had to run for his life.  Yes, the result was a big play to Godwin, but look at the opportunity Eason missed.

That’s not on Eason, who made as much out of the situation as he could.  He simply isn’t getting the time to read the field there.  Unfortunately, as the game progressed, his lack of confidence in the line play led him to bail out of the pocket when he didn’t always need to, as was the case on this wasted play.

Florida did an excellent job adjusting to the roll outs after getting burned by Eason on the Dawgs’ lone touchdown drive.  That’s a big reason Georgia’s offense ground to a halt in the second half.

If you’re a defensive coordinator preparing for this offense, there’s no way you can have any fear of being overly aggressive attacking the line of scrimmage.  The linemen don’t play consistently, and there’s often little help from the blocking tight ends or as I mentioned yesterday, Christian Payne.

A smarter man than I would think about scheming around the problem with more quick hitting runs and passes and also giving Eason a little more time in the shotgun, but that’s obviously not a place this staff wants to go.

Speaking of which, this is the first time I’ve heard Smart get into specifics about how the offensive game plan is being draw up and called during games.

As for scheme, Smart said he is involved with the offensive game plan sort of after the fact, but “knows every play that is called” during games. Essentially he leaves the the creation of the play script and play-calling to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the Bulldogs’ offensive staff. Receivers coach James Coley was also a coordinator at Miami and is heavily involved in the game plan, along with line coach Sam Pittman.

“I can’t get into specifics as far as the exact amount of time, but there’s not a play that’s called from an offensive standpoint that I’m not hearing,” Smart said. By the time the offense goes out there, the first thing I want to know is, ‘what are we starting with?’

“As far as game-planning this offensive staff is very intelligent. They’ve got a lot of experience. Two coordinators are on that side of the ball that have been there before. So I trust those guys and believe in those guys.”

There’s really not much else he can say at this point, I know.  But the line play is killing this team right now and unless the coaches decide they have to scheme around the shortcomings in blocking, this offense is going to continue to sputter the rest of the season.  With or without Nick Chubb.

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Okay, who hid the box of crayons?

In a season of imponderables, perhaps the biggest mystery is why the offense has performed so poorly.  Just a few stats:

There hasn’t been a decline in third down conversion rates, red zone conversion rates or explosive plays, but considering how anemic the 2015 offense was under Schottenheimer, that’s hardly progress.

While I get that there are certain structural flaws in the personnel at hand this year, it’s still hard to grasp why a team with the running backs and tight ends Georgia has at its disposal can have the low points it’s had in 2016.  And by now, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect to see some progress out of true freshman Jacob Eason.  To the contrary, a review of his game log passer ratings shows that his play has stalled.

I never expected Jim Chaney to be a genius when Smart announced his hire, but I saw enough in his background to think he would be at least more competent at his job than what we saw last season.  To say the least, that hasn’t materialized.

The question I have at this point is how much of that rests on Chaney’s shoulders and how much of that lies with Kirby Smart.  As Seth Emerson notes, some of the in-game playcalling after Georgia took its last lead of the game was beyond comprehension.

Instead, Georgia went run-run-pass – and punt – on its next two possessions. Florida took the lead back. The chance to really put the Gators behind the 8-ball at halftime was blown.

Chubb didn’t touch the ball between the 12:25 mark of the second quarter and the first play of the fourth quarter.

In the second half – a game that remained in striking distance – Georgia ran the ball just six times, while passing it 17 times.

Sure, some of that can be blamed on an offensive line that appeared unable to block its way out of a paper bag, but the lack of creativity in the playcalling from someone with years of experience in the college game is inexcusable.

Then you hear Smart talk and you wonder in what kind of box Chaney’s playbook has been placed.

Georgia was criticized by some for only running the ball 19 times. It went three-and-out in the first half at one point on three of four drives where Georgia went run-run-pass, run-run-pass, run-run-pass. On the other series in that stretch, Georgia began the drive by seeing Jacob Eason get sacked.

“What do we have to do to run the ball better?” Smart said. “We’ve got to give our offensive line a chance by what plays we design and call. Maybe that’s more perimeter runs. We tried that and we had a backer run through on a toss play. More direct runs where we can be more physical and downhill at them and we weren’t able to do that.”

Star running back Nick Chubb is averaging 4.85 yards per carry, down from 8.1 last season and 7.1 in 2014. Sony Michel’s average yards per carry is 4.74 from 5.3 last season and 6.4 in 2014.

“I think they get frustrated, I think it’s tough but I thought Nick and Sony were both very positive to the O-line in the huddle,” Smart said. “They know that’s their bread and butter. They know those guys have got to play better, play harder and we’ve got to help them by playing smarter.”

From an overall offensive philosophy, that boils down to nothing more than same old, same old.  Play better and the rest will take care of itself.  And maybe that’s true, at least when the day comes that Chaney has a dominant offensive line.  In the meantime, it sure ain’t pretty, regardless of who’s planning the trip.

135 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

About those running quarterbacks…

This is an interesting juxtaposition:

The first thing that stands out about the chart is the number of quarterbacks leading top-25 teams. Of the top six rushers, five are leading teams that reside in the top 10 of the AP Poll and seven of the top nine are on top-25 teams. The other relevant part of the list is the ranking by passing grade of all of the top runners. Only Louisville’s Lamar Jackson ranks as a top-30 passer among the top 10 runners in the nation and only Houston’s Greg Ward, Jr. joins him in the top 30 if expanding to the top 20 rushers in the nation. Yet those quarterbacks are still leading potent offenses based around their ability to run the ball, and in many cases, their passing stats look great due to the number of easy throws created within the system, even if the passing grade that accounts for timing, accuracy, and decision-making doesn’t match those stats.

The reason these offenses are prolific without having great passers is because college ball in the spread era is all about the numbers.

The running game comes down to simple mathematics. Once the ball is handed off, 11 players on defense are deployed to stop 10 players on offense, everyone has a gap to play, and in theory, there should be an extra man available to tackle the ball-carrier. The running quarterback has changed the math in defensive football as he essentially evens up the game and the threat to run the ball makes it 11-on-11, negating the defense’s advantage. Coaches have found creative ways to use this in their favor, having quarterbacks “option” off unblocked defenders, “blocking” them out of the play without actually using a blocker. This is old hat by now as offenses have taken this concept to new levels every season with new ways to option off different players, combining it with misdirection and motion, or adding in “run-pass options” which are running plays that have the ability to become a pass based on how one or two players react to the run action at the snap. Oh, and then coaches decided to add an up-tempo element to all of these concepts, essentially making defensive players react to all of these moving parts quicker and while fatigued.

When you add all of this up, it’s very difficult to play defense in college football today and because it’s so difficult, it no longer takes a precision passing game to move the ball down the field. Just having a quarterback that can challenge the defense as a runner creates open rushing lanes for running backs and wide-open passing lanes for quarterbacks as the defense simply tries to keep up with the multiple options presented on any given play.

That doesn’t mean you can’t play elite offense with a throwing quarterback.  It just means that you’ve got a bigger margin for error when a defense has to account for that extra runner.

15 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Who is this “defensive coordinator” you speak of?

Pretty amazing — an almost 1500-word piece on how Alabama changed its defense for the better after 2012 without a single mention of Kirby Smart.

It’s reassuring to know that the brain trust at Georgia saw through the public perception of “it’s Saban’s defense” to get the man they wanted.

To be fair, I doubt the truth on Smart’s role in fashioning the ‘Bama defense is anywhere near that absolute.  I also doubt that anyone at Butts-Mehre who had a hand in hiring Smart had the first clue about how to gauge that.

Blind faith is what makes religion run.  It’s not the best guiding principle for managing a football program, though.

89 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics