Nick Saban’s energy crisis

When it comes to football, nobody is more obsessed with sweating the small stuff than Alabama’s head coach.  So, I’m fascinated with the attention he’s paid to Junior’s decision to speed up the Tide’s offense last season and the rather broad hints Saban’s making that some of that may have played into the defense’s collapse at the end of the year.

“If we’re going to be a no-huddle team like we were last year, I think we have to manage the season better with our team,” Saban said, “because I think at the end of the season last year, we ran out of gas a little bit.”

Now understand, while the pace may have been breakneck by Saban’s standards, it was middle of the pack by FBS ones – Alabama ranked 72nd nationally last season in plays run per game.  But that’s enough for Saban to draw his own conclusions.

“Which is like a couple, three more games,” Saban said. “And our players showed it. So we’re going to have to do a better job of keeping our team where they need to be so that we can finish strong.”

What’s really interesting about this, when you parse his remarks, is that he’s more concerned about muddying his team’s identity than the energy level.  Read this and see what you think:

“It’s interesting that we set records last year on offense, passing, our total offense, points,” Saban said. “I’m talking about records all time. But yet, there was something that we lost in doing that. Before we would just line up and physically dominate the line of scrimmage and the other team knew what we were going to do. It really wasn’t a secret but they couldn’t stop us.

“So, even though we had much more balance, much more diversity, I think we lost a little bit of that. And I think it’s important that we sort of gain that back so that we are a physical, relentless, competitive-type team that nobody wants to play. But we play with that kind of toughness because that’s been the trademark. That’s help us have the sort of success that we’ve had. So I’m a little apprehensive about giving up that quality and not having that identity as a team, especially in a league that is sort of built on those kind of intangibles.”

The irony here, at least for me, is you can make a valid argument Georgia’s 2014 offense had the identity that Saban believes last year’s Alabama’s squad lacked.  Despite running more than five fewer plays per game than did ‘Bama, Georgia managed the best average yards per offensive play in the conference, and led the conference in scoring.  Even though it played one less game, Georgia outrushed Alabama by about 450 total yards, and almost by a yard per carry.

The big question now is what Saban does to counter what he perceives as the flaws in Alabama’s game last season.  Does he instruct Kiffin to rein it in?  Does he stick with Alabama’s version of the no-huddle and try to adapt better on defense?  You know he’s going to chew on it until he comes up with something.

In any event, it could be a story line to keep an eye on in the weeks leading up to October 3rd.

42 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

Going Big

Interesting report in the Omaha World-Herald that claims back in 2010, when Texas was jerking the Big 12 around with its (then) Pac-10 flirtation, five teams from that conference (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Kansas and Iowa State) approached the Big Ten as a group about coming on board.

The stumbling block?  I’m sure you can guess it had something to do with money.

The feedback from Big Ten school officials was positive, both sources said. The sticking point was devising a revenue-sharing plan to satisfy all. It would have taken at least three to four years for that many incoming schools to hit the financial payoffs sought for moving.

Considering the level of anti-Texas motivation on one side and Delany’s ego on the other, you have to figure it must have been a lot of jack.

Just another reason to wonder what the long-term health of the Big 12 is going to be.

3 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football

Georgia-Tennessee: have we got your attention yet?

Field Street Forum links to a Vol site’s analysis of this year’s matchup.  Here’s the conclusion:

Georgia’s won five straight in this one, but ever since the 41-14 waxing in 2010, every game in this series since has been decided by one score, with a couple games coming down to the very final seconds.

The Bulldogs clearly have the upper hand right now, but aren’t at the point of owning this series yet.

I don’t know what the author’s definition of ownage may be, but five in a row is pretty damned dominant, regardless of point spread.

And with regard to that, even there, you can find a little back story.  Yes, every one of the last four games came down to a one-score margin.

  • 2014:  35-32
  • 2013:  34-31
  • 2012:  51-44
  • 2011:  20-12  (Note:  UT scored with 2:45 left on the clock in the fourth quarter.)

But you know what else every one of those four games sported?  A big (at least two scores) Georgia lead.

  • 2014:  21-10
  • 2013:  17-3
  • 2012:  27-10
  • 2011:  20-6

This team has recently had a bad habit of relaxing against Tennessee.  Maybe it’s time to take the Vols seriously for a full sixty minutes.  Try hanging on to that big lead, guys, or stay focused by struggling for the game’s entirety.

59 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

Point spreads and power ratings

Chase Stuart goes through a little exercise each preseason that I find useful in terms of evaluating opening betting lines.  He takes the Golden Nugget point spreads and runs them though his Simple Rating System (SRS) to rank the teams by the results.

The 2015 preseason SRS rankings are here.  And you can see Vegas ain’t buying the “SEC is dead” talk.  Five of the top ten teams, seven of the top fourteen, eight of the top eighteen and ten of the top twenty five are from the SEC.

There are seventy teams that had enough lines published to make the rankings.  Georgia plays nine of those, five being in the top twenty.

Don’t read too much into this.  As he notes, “The methodology may be somewhat complicated, but all these ratings are intended to do is quantify public perception.”  It matters as much as you think the Golden Nugget knows what it’s doing.

Besides, it’s still July.

2 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

Like the sun rising in the east…

Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s got the SEC’s back.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

“… Everybody has certain things they’re better at than others.”

Remember back in the day when a constant line of criticism about the way Mark Richt ran his program was that he was handling both head coach and offensive coordinator duties?  “Too much on his plate,” the grumbling went.  “Almost no other school does it,” the wise heads allowed.

Welp, would you believe at present there are thirty-two FBS head coaches who also handle coordinator duties?  Morons. Don’t they know any better?

14 Comments

Filed under College Football

“Who doesn’t want more money?”

Count me in the “if it walks like a duck…” school of thought camp.  So when I hear folks talk like this

“Any little money will be nice,” said Georgia senior offensive tackle Kolton Houston. “There are spots throughout my college career that you definitely have to be like, ‘Do I go put gas money in my car or do I go eat dinner somewhere?’ That’s definitely going to make things a lot easier.”

… or this…

Bulldogs outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said he’s “happy” to get his stipend.

“I’m hoping it’s a decent amount so I can get some new clothes instead of waiting for the holidays and waiting for mom and dad to get me some new outfits,” he said.

… or this…

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema thinks his staff needs to keep an eye out on of how players handle their money.

“You give a young man 18, 19, 20, 21 with a little bit of pocket change, with a lot of money to make bad decisions, things can go sideways in a New York minute,” he said. “So you got a kid that’s never had $1,000 in his pocket, and all of a sudden he’s got $2,000, that’s dangerous. That leads to dumb decisions. I think we have to monitor that as coaches and be aware of that.”

… or this

“As a freshman, if you start saving, you can have a large sum of money saved,” Theus said. “Some guys like to spend their money. Some guys have the things they like, watches or whatever it may be. They might to choose to spend it on that. But coach Richt is going to educate the guys and try to make them realize this is money they can save.”

… as far as I’m concerned, they can skip the euphemisms.  Student-athletes are getting paid, period.  And plenty of schools are falling all over themselves to pay the kids as much as they can.

Surprisingly, the world as we know it isn’t ending.  We haven’t heard so much as a peep lately out of Jim Delany about his plans to take the Big Ten to Division III.

So as amateurism is getting nibbled around the edges to death, how many of you are giving up on college football now?

31 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA