“Other places were so loud during the game you couldn’t even hear yourself think.”

An interesting dialogue popped up in places like Twitter this week:  how great is the Sanford Stadium experience for players?  Here’s what one former player had to say about that:

“I love ‘Dawg Nation and everything about them,” Rankin said. “But when it comes to getting hype in the stand, it isn’t much compared to other schools. Not even close. It could be third-and-long at the beginning of the game and the fans are going crazy, but it’s not consistent throughout like other schools.

Some of the criticism I saw was directed towards the music selection.

“UGA has been long overdue for new music in Sanford,” Rankin said. “Their Pandora station must be stuck on shuffle between the ’70s and ’80s music.”

And some was directed towards placement of the student section.

Believe it or not, I have some sympathy towards Greg McGarity here.  He’s got a variety of interests to accommodate with regard to gameday atmosphere:  students have their priorities, while alumni who pay the bills have theirs.  Fashioning a one-size-fits all solution is likely impossible.  (Especially when it comes to seating.)

Butts-Mehre isn’t totally blameless, though.  The administration, starting with Michael Adams, has steadily done what it could to suck the life out of game day, starting from the moment fans show up in Athens.  As for the music, that’s something I’ve bitched about before.  Rather than point fingers at particular eras, as Rankin has, I’d simply argue that there’s a lack of creativity in fashioning a stadium mix for the purpose of energizing fans throughout the game.  A lot of what is played has become tired simply due to repetition.

For those of you who attend games in Athens, how big a deal is this to you?  Are things too formulaic, sapping some of the energy from the crowd that the team could feed from?  If so, what suggestions would you offer to make an improvement in that?

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Getting down and bouncing back

Here’s a quote from a former player answering a question about comparing the 2012 South Carolina blowout with what happened Saturday:

“But the thing for us is that we didn’t really care if we got down 14 points because we knew that we could score that in two minutes,” one of the three on the 2012 team said. “We can’t do that right now. The combination of Aaron Murray and Mike Bobo was pretty lethal. They couldn’t do that (Saturday). They couldn’t play their game the other day. This is a young, physical team. They can’t score quick necessarily. We could. This team will grind you up and spit you out. Next thing you know you are getting killed. That didn’t happen Saturday.”

That is perceptive.  I remember thinking to myself at the start of the fourth quarter last Saturday that in 2013 Georgia was down 20 points to Auburn at the same point, only to come roaring back to take the lead with about two minutes left in the game and then reminded myself this year’s offense isn’t built the way that one was.  That explosiveness may have been largely out of necessity because of how porous the defense was that season, but also because Murray and Bobo aren’t Fromm and Chaney.

And the thing is, until last weekend, they haven’t needed to be as dynamic as their 2012-13 counterparts.  Grinding and spitting has worked just fine all season.  But Fromm, while precocious, isn’t at a point where he can lift the team up and carry it on his shoulders for a quarter (which is not the same as saying he’ll never get there — he will) and Chaney has to call plays based on the quarterback he has, not the one he might wish he had.

The point is, this offense, while effective for the most part, isn’t a finished product.  If the running game gets jammed, there can’t be a slide by the defense or on special teams because the passing game isn’t capable of taking up the slack and creating the kind of momentum the team can rally around in a comeback.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we watched happen at Auburn.  The trick going forward is to avoid those situations until the passing game catches up.

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Sauce for the goose

I notice that some of you have posted comments giving Smart something of a pass for the team’s poor effort against Auburn in the sense that it didn’t seem like the same old, same old kind of face plant we used to see with Richt.

In response, all I can say is that I bet if I posted a quote like this three years ago,

The D-line troubles are harder to explain. This is a deep and talented unit, and it was just pushed around. Auburn also isn’t on paper the best offensive line Georgia has faced. (That would be Notre Dame.) Talking to Georgia defensive linemen this week, including John Atkins and David Marshall, they attribute the problems to lack of focus, manifesting itself in not having gap control.  [Emphasis added.]

… I suspect some of you same folks would have gone ballistic over it.

Look, notwithstanding last week, Georgia’s had a great season and Smart’s done a lot of good to great things so far.  However, for the number one ranked team in the country to face one of its heated rivals and essentially not show up prepared to play — if you watched the game, you don’t really need to hear from the players about lack of focus to know it was true — well, that’s bad coaching, plain and simple.  There’s no point in splitting hairs.  Crap is crap.

Best thing to do is move on and hope there’s not a repeat.

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Money for nothing

Jeebus.  Jeff Long, Arkansas’ former athletic director who’s got the school on the hook for something like a $15 million buyout for a football coach whose won-loss record is significantly underwater, has himself got a $4.625 million buyout.  $4.625 million!

I’m in the wrong profession.

Keep in mind, too, that there’s a decent chance the folks who ousted Long after giving him that deal will dump Bert and look for a replacement without hiring a new AD first.  Christ, every agent in America’s got to be lining up for some of that sweet action.  As the old joke goes, I’d call them morons, except that would be an insult to morons everywhere.

Too bad there’s no money for student-athletes’ compensation, although we should consider that Jeff Long’s name doesn’t appear on the back of a jersey.

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“This is not normal for a cornerback.”

I don’t mean this in a snarky way, but I am curious.  When I see a stat like this…

… I can’t help but wonder whom Kirby is referring to when he says the defense has had tackling problems all season.  I presume Roquan and Reed aren’t in the mix there, so who needs to up his tackling game?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

I finally worked up the nerve…

… to look at what the advanced stats gurus had to show for the Georgia-Auburn debacle.  Kinda wished I hadn’t, though.

As a reminder, Georgia’s showed out well in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ evaluations, with six of their first nine games registering 90% or better in percentile performance.

Auburn graded out at 15%. Yecch.

For perspective, that’s lower than any Georgia game grade from last year, except Ole Miss.  Yep, even Nicholls wound up better.  In case you’re looking for more perspective, Ohio State’s drubbing at the hands of Iowa scored a 19% mark.  Notre Dame’s beat down at the hands of Miami merited a 12%, so there’s that, at least.

Pretty epic, in other words.

Brian Fremeau notes that the blame can be evenly spread.

Georgia’s 40-17 defeat on the road against Auburn was the Bulldogs’ first game this season in which its defense had negative splits (-6.9 points in expected scoring), having led the nation in defensive efficiency coming into the game. For good measure, Georgia’s offense had its worst performance as well (-10.8 points) and the Bulldogs’ special teams missed a field goal and fumbled a punt, coughing up a negative game splits total (-7.1 points) in the third phase of the game.

Hey, at least they lost as a team.

With that, I think I’m done dumpster diving into that game’s results.

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First thoughts on Kentucky

Dial up this clip to around the 26:30 mark to listen to what Gary Danielson has to say about Kirby’s mindset going into Saturday’s game.

I tend to agree that it boils down to what lessons Kirby’s taken from the Auburn loss.  Overall, does he chalk it up as a one-off and stick with what’s worked in the first nine games of the season — solid run game, tough defense and competent special teams play — or does he decide to throw all that out and rework his offensive philosophy?

I lean towards the former, for three reasons:  his tendency towards being conservative; the opportunity to reinforce the most important message the team needs to hear after Auburn, which is better execution (particularly on the lines); and the reality that Kentucky isn’t as good a team as Auburn.

That last reason cuts both ways, though.  The ‘Cats do a respectable job against the run.  Currently, they’re giving up 3.77 yards per rush, which is 35th nationally.  They’re not so hot defending the pass, though.  UK’s defensive passer rating is 139.50, which is only 98th.  (As you might expect, it’s even worse in conference play.)  That might suggest this game presents an opportunity to rebuild the confidence of Fromm and the offensive line by opening up the passing game, at least until Georgia establishes control.  But what do I know?

One last early point goes back to the second reason I noted.  I have no clue if this is just a matter of message sending, or if the staff is genuinely searching for other options to reboot the o-line’s performance, but either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on Ben Cleveland getting reps with the first team line, if only to see if Kirby is sending a message about complacency… as well as if the message is being received.

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