Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

The new law of coverage?

Ian Boyd has an interesting post up about pass coverage in this new era of offense.  It boils down to one rule for him:

You have to have three good coverage players on the field to survive against the better passing teams.

Now I would come back and argue that there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat, but Boyd has an answer for some of that, too.

In the modern era teams can often get by while just having solid players along the DL but there’s no escaping your doom if you don’t have some good players in the defensive backfield. An opponent will get their good receivers and passing game fixed on your poor DB play, run the ball well enough to keep you from diverting resources, and shred you.

Try to blitz them and you can just exacerbate the issue by short-manning the coverage against quick game staples that QBs can execute in their sleep. Unless you have players that can hold up long enough to take away the quick throws and buy an extra second for the blitzers, yes the rule of three makes for a better blitzing team.

Most opponents don’t stack their two best receivers on the outside, 2014 West Virginia excepted, but will often put their 2nd best or even best receiver in the slot where they can counter-balance the outside receiver and help a team execute a quick passing game to march down the field.

How many college defenses these days can put three good secondary coverage guys out there?  (And if you’re Georgia, how many great in state defensive backs are there in a recruiting class?)

It would be nice to have them, but I think a top flight defensive coordinator gets paid the big bucks to figure out ways to hamstring a passing attack even when he doesn’t have the numbers.  Or he has to manufacture the numbers.

When a team can match up with the offense’s top three receivers with solid to good coverage players, it really complicates things and can send a collegiate QB to a dark place, mentally. Some teams will do this with tight pattern-matching, most all are trying to do it by recruiting and developing as many good coverage players as possible, and perhaps more will try to match cross-trained receiving studs with cross-trained secondaries and “Ace” DBs.

Kinda sounds like what Pruitt’s up to.

In the end, it all comes back to something we’ve heard every DC at Georgia say.  You’ve got to confuse the quarterback just enough.

That’s where Boyd winds up, too.

At the end of the day, defenses that want to survive in the modern game will have to get back on the offensive and attack the quarterback’s ability to quickly deliver the ball to open targets by either observing the rule of three or finding another cheat.

Ain’t no cheat like a monster pass rush.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Tuesday morning buffet

A little snow, a little buffet…


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Big Ten Football, Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, Georgia Football, Georgia Southern Football, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“Let’s just enforce the rule that’s in place.”

If you’re a Georgia fan, perhaps it’s worth considering the Law of Unintended Consequences as it may apply to the proposed rule change about linemen blocking downfield.

Freeze said shifting the rule from three yards to one would severely limit play-action passing. “If you’re selling the run like you’re supposed to on the front side, that center’s got to come out hard with a low hat,” Freeze said. “If that defensive linemen goes away from him [the center’s] momentum is going to carry him past one yard.”

I don’t know about you, but if the effect of the rule does in fact restrict play-action, that strikes me as a big problem for what is Mark Richt’s bread and butter offensive play.

What may an even bigger problem is how slapdash these major changes seem to be presented to the coaches.

Freeze would also like to throw a flag of his own on the process for changing the rules. Coaches were blindsided by the 10-second rule proposal last year, and were blindsided by this proposal this year. Freeze said a survey conducted while most coaches are heavily involved in the home stretch of recruiting isn’t going to get the most thorough response. “Half of us don’t even see the survey,” Freeze said.

“I never saw a survey,” said Arizona’s Rodriguez, who noted that this proposal has no impact on player safety and doesn’t need to be implemented so quickly.

Judging from the vote tally, they have a point.

In a text message, Calhoun noted that in a survey of FBS coaches conducted last month, only two issues received a majority of support. He said “around 80 percent” of coaches were in favor of expanding instant replay review on onside kicks — and 57% approved of altering the rule on linemen downfield.

Rogers Redding, the NCAA’s coordinator of football officiating and the secretary-rules editor for the football rules committee, said 42% opposed and 1% had no opinion. Sixty-five coaches responded (approximately one-half of the FBS coaches; the actual numbers were 37, 27 and 1).

I love how Calhoun inflates the impact of the vote.  The reality is that his 57% is much less than that, as only a little over half the coaches responded in the survey.  That’s hardly a mandate.

There are a couple of things I’d be interested in learning here.  One, unlike last year when Saban and Bielema stepped up to own the 10-second substitution rule change proposal, we haven’t heard any coach say this year’s change is his baby.  All we’ve heard is that Redding wants the change to make it easier for officials to do their jobs.  If that’s all there is, that strikes me as weak sauce to rush to make what could be a dramatic change and bolsters the case coaches like Freeze and Swinney are making that officials should be instructed to enforce the current rule properly.

As Staples puts it,

But the hurry-up coaches make a valid point. What happens if the rule changes and the officials decide to call it by the letter of the law? Then play-action passes do change dramatically. The game would start to look more like the NFL, which has creativity-stifling rules that make it less fun to watch than the college game. So, why not try a season of simply enforcing the existing rule, and, if the problem persists, make a change? Freeze believes flags for linemen drifting past three yards would cut down on the problem, just as ejections for targeting helped cut down on head shots. “We put a point of emphasis on targeting, and you’ve seen it drastically go down,” Freeze said. “All the coaches started coaching it better.”

Second, I’d be very curious to hear what Mark Richt thinks about all this.  Will the rule change put a serious crimp in what Georgia does, or is this issue being overblown?  Does Richt have an opinion about how the rule is being currently enforced?  (For that matter, I’d like to know if he participated in the survey in the first place.)  Someone in the media, ask the man.  Inquiring minds want to know.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“I just want ‘em to enforce the rule they have.”

Hey, it’s Son of 10-Second Substitution Rule!

If it’s February, it must be time for a college football rules proposal — and the inevitable pushback.

Several prominent coaches are riled up about a proposal, passed last week by the NCAA Football Rules Committee, that would reduce the distance offensive linemen can be downfield on a pass play from 3 yards to 1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage. The proposal came about after the rise of so-called “pop” passes or “packaged” plays, in which a quarterback has the option to run or pass, but linemen block as though it’s a run.

Enter the usual suspects.

The amount of opposition to the current proposal isn’t clear. But coaches including Graham, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Baylor’s Art Briles told USA TODAY Sports they’re asking that the proposal be withdrawn. Instead, they’d like officials to make the current rule a “point of emphasis,” calling it tightly and throwing flags if linemen stray beyond the 3-yard boundary.

Malzahn, Freeze and several others have called Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the chair of the football rules committee, to express their opposition. They’re also making their view known in official comments to the rules committee during a two-week feedback period that began Thursday. If it isn’t tabled, the proposal is scheduled to be considered March 5 by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel.

“This is the second year in a row I’ll be involved in (pushing back against a proposal),” Freeze said.

All we’re missing to square the circle is Bert shedding crocodile tears about players’ health.

You know what’s funny – all these coaches acknowledging the refs have done a crappy job enforcing the rule, and we got stuck with this.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA


No, not Oliver Luck.  Turnover luck.

I spent a morning pulling TOM data on the last five years to see if there was a pattern or edge I could find that I could use for predicting future team win behavior. Here are the bullets I found that I will post on and feature in the 2015 digital preview magazines coming out soon.

  1. The greater the turnover margin, positive and negative, the more likely and greater the regular season win change in the forthcoming season

  2. Turnover margin is very random.  Few teams can sustain a high or lower level of annual TOM.

  3. Each team is ranked and patterned into predictive pools of trends.  Teams with high and low TOMs the previous season have very high likelihoods of regular season win total changes.

As for his second point, check out the chart in this post from Bartoo:

… It always makes me laugh when someone calling a game ‘predicts’ anything about the winner and the turnover battle.  We all know winning the turnover battle wins a lot of football games.  Each coaching staff emphasizes it and coaches the hell out of the turnover battle.  Offense and defense.

However, it is not so easy to predict.  The results over the last 5 years are all over the board.  There are a lot of teams with top coaching staffs at the top of the five year rankings, but it is difficult to have great results every year.

The teams in light green are the eight FBS teams that have had a positive TO margin each of the last five seasons.  The teams in light red, those are the eight that have had a negative TO margin each of the last five years.  The other 107 teams have had a mix of results.

The Oregon Ducks, the no. 1 ranked team in five year TO margin is the only team to have a double digit TO margin in four of the last five years.  Northern Illinois and Georgia are the only other teams to hit positive double digits three of the last five seasons.  [Emphasis added.]

You’ve only got eight teams out of 120 that have managed positive turnover margin in each of the last five seasons and eight that have done the same on the negative side.  That strikes me as evidence that there’s some degree of randomness in the system.

And Georgia would have joined that first group, but for the disaster that was 2013, with its green defense and Aaron Murray having to carry the offense on his shoulders much of the season.  Given what we’ve had to say about the coaching brain trust over the last five years, how much of that would you attribute to coaching and how much to statistical noise?


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

Friday morning buffet

Cold day, warm buffet.

  • Here’s a look at what Trent Thompson might bring to the table.  (By the way, can we stop with the “Ray Drew was a bust” crap?)
  • Bill Connelly drops his big ass spread sheet of 2014 receiving stats on us.  And, no, you won’t find any of Georgia’s guys lurking near the top of the list.
  • Regardless of where you think the truth may lie between Jameis Winston and the woman who claims he raped her, the idea of students gathering on FSU’s campus to celebrate Winston by calling her names ought to be a head shaker.
  • The Big Ten supports an early signing period, but with a caveat from a number of its head coaches that it should be accompanied by the implementation of early official visits.
  • Another tax front to open with collegiate athletic departments? (h/t Hogbody)
  • Turnover at South Carolina “… at least 36 percent of the Gamecocks scholarship roster will be first-year players. Including players who redshirted last season, 39 of the 85 players on the team will have never played a snap for South Carolina.”
  • The spread spreads – from high school.
  • “It’s a big deal to be the first to offer.”


Filed under 'Cock Envy, Big Ten Football, Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Wednesday morning buffet

A warm buffet for a cold morning.


Filed under ACC Football, Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Recruiting, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics, The Body Is A Temple