Category Archives: Strategery And Mechanics

“I don’t care which one they throw it to, the other two gotta block.”

This clip popped up on Twitter yesterday.  You ought to listen to it, because it’s a two-minute distillation of what Kirby Smart wants on offense.

Bottom line, there’d better be a lot of shit knocking going on out there, or somebody ain’t gonna play.

As a bonus, this was my favorite response:

Gators and Dawgs, drilling together…

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Friday morning buffet

Indulge yourself.

  • Kirby Smart is “hoping and praying” the two players from the 2017 signing class not yet on campus are able to enroll.
  • There are how many new coordinators in the SEC this season?
  • Penn State and its former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (now at Tennessee) are suing each other.  Play nice, fellas.
  • Here’s a list of the ten teams that Phil Steele says will enjoy the biggest drop in schedule strength from 2016 to 2017.  (I’m not sure I’d argue Ole Miss is getting that big a drop from last year’s Georgia team to this year’s Kentucky team, though.)
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat, offensively speaking.
  • Jeez, I hate this question.
  • Dawg fans, if you’re looking for some nice UGA-themed photo work, take a peek here.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, See You In Court, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

All things being unequal…

Ian Boyd makes a very good point about the roots of the difference between college “pro-style” offense and NFL “pro-style” offense when he writes,

The differences between college and NFL offenses…

It’s not centered around whether to line up in the shotgun or whether to use “spread sets.” Those questions have been answered definitively at this point. The most effective offenses in football today heavily utilize the shotgun alignment and spread the field more often than not.

The big differences between the two offenses now result from the following three factors. The first is the depth and diversity of college football programs, who come in all shapes, sizes, and regions. You see far greater diversity in strategy and tactics from college programs than the NFL because inequality defines so much of the game.

The next factor is that without a salary cap or other inequality prevention measures, then it becomes possible for the more resource-rich programs to gear their strategy around imposing their will on opponents in the run game. The most rare resources in college football are the big guys that have the rare blend of sheer size and athleticism to dominate the trenches. Quarterbacks and receivers can be harder to identify out of college, are easier to develop after they arrive on campus, and are simply much more common. Particularly in the spread era which increases the impact they can have on the game while decreasing the challenge of playing the positions.

In the NFL under the salary cap it’s very, very difficult to have enough of an advantage in the trenches to impose your will in the run game every week. But because the passing game is simply harder to stop, even for the top defenses, everyone is looking to build their strategies around that dimension of their offense.

Parity is a beyotch.

I’ve always been a big fan of contrarian thinking when it comes to offensive strategy.  If you can lard up enough of an advantage on the talent front to play pro-style on the college level, you’re going to have a talent advantage over most of your opponents, but on top of that, you’re going to play defenses that, for the most part, aren’t structured to handle the kind of attack you’ll throw at them.  That’s a tough combination for almost any college program to handle.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

In search of fullbacks

It used to be the way people threw the word “spread” around, applying it conceptually to things that maybe weren’t appropriate, drove me a little crazy.  Now I wonder if we’re hitting a time when the same thing goes for “pro-style”.

What does “pro-style” mean these days? Check out these numbers.

Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz recently tweeted some formation numbers. The use of 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE) increased to 60.4 percent of all plays in the NFL this season, and it was the most common personnel grouping for all 32 teams.

Schatz added that the second-most common packages for any team included the Jets 10 personnel (33 percent), the Colts 12 personnel (31 percent) and the Eagles and Panthers 12 personnel (27 percent).

If you wanted any more proof the fullback is dead, there you go. The next time you hear college coaches talking about styles that translate to the NFL, keep these numbers in mind.

If all “pro-style” means these days is deploying a fullback, then I guess that makes sense.  Since it doesn’t…

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The Process and the secondary

In this post about Georgia’s pass defense, William McFadden makes a point I hadn’t really considered.

Like nearly every defensive scheme, Georgia uses a mix of man and zone coverage. At Alabama, Smart often employed pattern-match coverages that relied on defensive players reading their opposing receivers and switching from zone or man coverage based on the route being run.

This is an advanced scheme, and the Bulldogs appeared to run more traditional coverages in 2016 but that could change this fall…

It’s easy to assume that since Pruitt and Smart are both products of the Saban coaching system, their approaches on defense are nearly identical.  (Indeed, part of me wonders if subconsciously Smart and Tucker went into last season assuming there would be more of a carryover from that than there turned out to be in certain areas, like red zone defense.)

If, however, Smart’s intention is to run a more complicated coverage scheme than did Pruitt, it’s not unreasonable to expect growing pains.  Will this be an area where the second-year effect has a noticeable impact?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“Getting down in a [three-point] stance isn’t natural.”

So what makes for a seemingly can’t miss, second pick in the NFL draft offensive tackle’s failure to stick with the team that drafted him only three years ago?  How about playing for Gus Malzahn?

… It’s been sort of mystifying; he’s a top-tier athlete, a guy that consistently bullied defensive linemen in the run game in college, and yet he can’t seem to beat anyone at the pro level. What happened?

He was essentially playing a different game at Auburn. The Tigers’ offense was a spread-out, space-based option system, a modern derivative of the Wing-T, and it required completely different things of Robinson than what the Rams’ old-school, I-formation-style scheme would. Robinson, like many college linemen transitioning to the NFL of late, had little experience with the types of blocks he needed to be able to execute at the next level. In former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz’s informative piece on SB Nation breaking down the difficulties of transitioning to the professional game, he notes that “Robinson played in [a college offense] that barely resembled anything that exists in the NFL. I could hardly find any clips to make comparisons [for what he’s done with the Rams].”  [Emphasis added.]

The lack of overlap in technique from the college game to the pros is becoming an increasingly common issue for scouts and evaluators, making a position that’s traditionally been considered a relatively safe bet much trickier to hit on in the draft. “Sometimes you go through 80 plays [on a college tape] and only eight of them are truly gradable, where they’re at the point of contact and they’re actually doing something you’re going to ask them to do,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said at the combine in February.

“A lot of the [spread offense] offensive linemen, they’re not necessarily asked to run off the ball, and [set] a guy up, and try to move [a big defensive end] three yards down the field,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in 2016. “They’re kind of asked to just ‘zone and occupy,’ and let the backs cut off the blocks. So you really have to dig through those plays where you can really see him unroll his hips, and dig his cleats in, and really get moving.”

It appears it’s not just the Nick Marshalls of the world who have trouble transitioning from Auburn’s offense to the pros.  I hope Kirby and Sam Pittman are printing off copies of this article to pass around to as many high school lineman recruits as they possibly can.

(h/t)

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Strategery And Mechanics

“Red zone defense can be one of many things and, hoo, we’re we bad.”

Understatement, Mr. Smart.

“We tried to target that this year. We really emphasized going back to basics.”

Georgia ranked tied for 113th nationally last year in red zone defense, with opponents scoring 90.7 percent of trips from the 20-yard line and in, second worst in the SEC.

“The sad thing is I’ve been a part of defenses that called all the same defenses and were top five in the country,” Smart said.

From 2009-2013 with Smart as defensive coordinator, Alabama ranked second, fourth, first, fourth and fourth in red zone defense before slipping to 72nd in 2014 and 62nd in 2015.

Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was on staff for that last year in Tuscaloosa as defensive backs coach.

“It’s really more about executing what you call not necessarily changing what you call,” Smart said. “You might need to have a new twist in there or a new wrinkle.”

Georgia ranked third in the nation in red zone defense in 2015 and 29th in 2014 under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

“That’s definitely been a focus this spring,” inside linebacker Natrez Patrick said. “When it’s down there, it’s basically mano a mano. Your playbook shortens. There’s only a few plays you can run. You’re not tricking nobody. You’ve just got to win.”

Easier said than done, apparently.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad there’s a big focus on this in the offseason.  Given the enormity of the drop off that occurred in one season from Pruitt to Tucker, it’s obviously necessary.  But I have this nagging feeling, no doubt a hangover from the Richt era, that they’ll work hard enough on this problem to make a major fix, only to let something else slide.  For once, can we have nice things with no strings attached?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics