Monday, September 26, 2016

Stop trying to come to a conclusion on Kirby after 4 games!

As a Georgia fan, I get that you were hoping to see some noticeable turnaround in the way we performed in big games under the new staff. I was hoping, too. But, that's all it was; hope. 

There's a lot of areas where people are laying blame for Saturday's debacle. Depending on who you are and what "camp" you're in, they primarily focus on talent (or lack thereof), poor recruiting which led to the lack of talent, the current staff to play the right players and call the right plays, etc. There are other areas of concern as well, but this post isn't about that.

The main point to concern yourselves with is that, if you felt the program under the previous regime was inherently flawed, as the administration and boosters did, then you have to allow for more than 4 games to untangle all the knots and start to rebuild. 

You may not want to, but you have to.

"Tom Herman was able to do it!!" That's the primary response to the aforementioned suggestion. 

He's done a phenomenal job to this point, but that situation is an exception, and there is also a lot more than just looking at the end results when going into a job. Also, if we're throwing out single examples, I submit to you Gus Malzahn. After making a huge splash going 12-2 and losing in the BCSNCG, the Tigers are a combined 17-13. So, an instant turnaround means as much as the opinion of you or me when it comes to predicting medium and long-term success (though, it seems Malzahn earned a stay of execution after narrowly beating LSU). 

People are making fun of "The Process" already. But, you have to let Kirby and staff do what they believe will be the best for Georgia in the medium and long term. While I in no way believe they're not trying to win now, I do believe they're trying to win in a way that will lay the foundation for the future. Altering your process now, in year 1, to win an extra game or two with smoke and mirrors would not be the right choice. 

Being that this is the case, there's no reason to try to draw a conclusion that Kirby Smart is somehow in over his head, too stubborn, too stupid, Chaney doesn't know how to call plays, Mel Tucker is lousy, etc. 

Hopefully, we'll see some incremental improvement this year, significant improvement next year, and true competition for an SECC or beyond in year three. And, who knows, if some things break our way, maybe we'll those things sooner.




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nicholls game was awful, but it doesn't matter!

Most folks are ready to wash the bad taste of the Nicholls game out of their mouths. We'll obviously get to do that Saturday night, and it will either be replaced by a minty-fresh win over Missouri, or more of what we've had this week.

Having read all kinds of comments and opinions being offered up this week, though, it amazes me the number of people who have already decided that the Dawgs don't have any talent (or, very little), Kirby Smart is a stubborn fool, Jim Chaney has no idea what he's doing, etc.

Look, this is a young team with a new coaching staff. There are going to be ups and downs. What will ultimately decide how this season goes is two-fold: How quickly will the team and staff reach a level of consistency (preferably a "good" consistency), and until then, which weeks will the peaks and valleys occur, and how high and low will they be?

To the first point, that's anybody's guess. They may permanently gel (more or less) beginning this Saturday, it may take several more weeks, or they may not find any true cohesiveness until next year. It cannot be accurately predicted by anyone given the newness of player and staff personnel. Don't bother trying, lest you be an arrogant blowhard.

To the second point, since we don't exactly know which team will show up and what kind of improvement to expect, don't base your season outcome upon either of the first two games. As I've said before, if Nicholls was week one and UNC was week two, the talk would be all about how much Georgia improved. That didn't happen, but it doesn't change the fact that were relatively good against UNC and unequivocally bad against Nicholls. If anything, that inconsistency and apogee of good and bad is the quintessential earmark of a young team and new coaching staff. They've both got to get traction, and there's no way to predict when that will happen, or what they team may look like when things settle in and take hold.

There may be a talent issue, but I promise you, teams far less talented than Georgia will blow the doors off of Nicholls this year. There may be a coaching issue, but teams with far inferior coaches will blow the doors off of Nicholls this year.

It...is...too...early...to...tell.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Don't be one of the moron keyboard jockeys on the pay forum sites and calm down

There is no sugar-coating it. Georgia stunk on Saturday. There will be no excuses here. Realistically, Georgia should have been able to score 30 pts even if Nicholls knew what was coming.

Having said that, I'm going to give you a simple scenario and not-so-humbly suggest that you relax.

Suppose Georgia had opened with this game two weeks ago, and beat UNC yesterday?

I'm well aware of the "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts..." saying, but the point is all the comments of "we have no talent on O-line" and "Chaney is being too predictable" and all the other summarily dismissive opinions I've read over the last 18 hours are no more valid either way.

Before yesterday, "nobody in  the East was better than Georgia," and today, "Georgia will be lucky to win 3 SEC games."

There are a few things I feel pretty confident in saying.

First, yesterday's will prove to be the single worst game Georgia plays this year. (God, let's hope so)

Second, as bad as the O-line looked, it is and will be far better as the season goes on. I'm not saying there are 4 future NFL players of the starting 5, but I do believe they were just out of sync with each other, and unsure of what they were doing. This can happen when you institute an entirely new coaching philosophy from the ground up. Put another way, I have to believe we have more O-Line talent than most/all of the teams Nicholls will play this year (along with obviously better running backs), and I am pretty sure most of those other teams will have their way with Nicholls on the ground. You're going to see a much improved line next week and going forward.

Third, I did see Georgia start to wake up in the second half. Unfortunately, the energy and enthusiasm were derailed by two costly turnovers. This is not an excuse. Had Georgia been playing better, these turnovers wouldn't have happened, and/or they wouldn't have mattered all that much. The simple fact is that, on a day when the Dawgs were not playing well to begin with, the interception and the muffed punt were nearly killers.

Lastly, while I don't think Georgia was being "vanilla" as a strategical plan to keep other teams from seeing our full complement of plays, I do know that the Bulldogs will introduce more unique and complex plays going forward. How? They have to.

Bottom line is that yesterday was indicative of a team that has a new coaching staff and philosophy, a true freshman QB, and some depth and talent issues at a few positions (that may yet be overcome).

However, you're a moron keyboard jockey if you are making iron-clad declarations about any aspect of the team or staff based upon yesterday's game. It's far too early to tell. Again, these same moron keyboard jockeys would have made the same idiotic statements if Georgia started out against Nicholls in week 1 just like this. If they were right, we would have lost to UNC 52-10.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Kirby's Quest for Depth is About More Than Having Capable Backups

There's no doubt that solid depth is necessary to avoid a big drop off in performance as games and the season wear on. You've got to account for fatigue and injuries, and without quality depth, it's impossible to sustain high-level play. Ole Miss was a prime example of this on Monday, as the Rebels lost a couple of key starters and really wore down, leading to an absolute throttling at the hands of FSU in the second half.

So, building good depth at every position is key in that regard, However, Kirby and the staff have, in my opinion, a paramount reason for building up the roster. Capable and quality depth encourages top effort through competition.

At this point, most avid Dawg fans are aware of the debacle that was the 2013 recruiting class. They are further aware that, from time to time, Georgia would essentially whiff on top-flight talent at various positions for a year or two, causing gaping holes in depth. This was no more apparent than at the OL, WR, and QB positions.

What ultimately happens is that a player will settle into a starting role because there's nobody there to push him, save a walk-on or low-end 3-star or 2-star recruit. This is not to call anyone out or suggest that they're not giving good effort, but it's often human nature to just give "enough" effort.

If a 5-star recruit has no quality depth behind him, then giving 80% is going to trump a walk-on's 100% just about every time. With depth at a position, now you have two 4-star guys giving a 100%, which will beat out a 5-star's 80%. At that point, you're either going to get 95-100% out of the 5-star, or you'll be better off with the 4-star, with that 5-star backing him up. Whichever the case, you're now in much better shape. Never mind being able to account for injuries or "busts" in recruiting.

Obviously, nobody compares to Alabama right now in terms of depth across the board. The Tide have a 2, or even 3-deep roster of former 4 and 5-star recruits who would be starting almost everywhere else. They also are able to become more seasoned, bigger, stronger, faster, etc. while they wait their turn, instead of being forced into action based upon talent and upside alone.

The bottom line is this: You better dedicate yourself fully to becoming better at every facet of your position, because now there's someone just as talented as you ready to take your spot if you don't.

Monday, October 19, 2015

IF you think Richt should go...

There is only one valid reason. That reason would be the "buck stops here" idea.

Look, if your contention is that his performance in recent years has not been up to snuff, and further, you don't feel Richt is capable of getting it back up to snuff, then hey, he's ultimately responsible for his football team. I can see that mentality.

However, there are some real loons out there with some of the most idiotic arguments (I use that word in the loosest way).

Some people contend he is not competitive enough.

After the narrow victory over Mizzou, Richt stated that he told Marshall Morgan he loved him no matter what (i.e, whether he made the winning kick or not). I've actually heard/seen some people make the comment that such an attitude might be part of the problem. Seriously?

Another group of silly suppositions is that Richt should not be "happy" that Georgia beat Missouri. This is such a stupid notion, and yet Richt knew he had to preface his being happy by asking rhetorically, "Am I allowed to be happy?" before stating such. Come on, folks. He's happy Georgia won the dang game. I assure you he's not happy that the offense failed to score a touchdown. Moreover, I promise you that what he says publicly has been and continues to be a far cry from what is said behind closed doors and on the practice field.

The list goes on and on from people who are so uneducated...well, let's call them what they are....dumbasses. There are people who are such dumbasses that they will throw any flavor of the month reason why Richt is apparently a horrible football coach.

"Georgia doesn't know how to tackle!"

"Georgia's receivers don't know how to catch!"

"Georgia doesn't play with enough passion or anger, and that's a reflection of Richt!"

"Georgia is too undisciplined!"

I mean, I realize that there are a lot of people out there, and as such, there are going to be a lot of different, equally moronic opinions.

If you are getting a little angry with some of these statements, then it might be because you've made one or more of them yourself. If so, just take a deep breath and ask yourself some of the following questions.

"Do I really believe that Georgia's assistant coaches are teaching kids how to tackle or catch a football differently than all the other schools out there?"

"Do I really think that all the assistant coaches from all the different schools they've coached at come to Georgia and secretly think to themselves, 'Wow. Mark Richt doesn't seem to care if players don't perform. He doesn't seem to care if players are practicing hard, listening to instruction, and playing with heart?'"

"Do I really believe that Richt is unaware his team seems to have a real letdown game or two every season, which rears its head as either a blowout to a good team, or an inexplicable loss to a lesser team? Further, do I think that he hasn't taken multiple approaches to trying to limit or eliminate these?"

Let me be clear. This is not a rant to quash the "Richt must go" argument. While I won't state my opinion on that matter at this time, I'm not trying to suggest that that particular viewpoint is necessarily unfounded.

Rather, the point of this is to implore the dummies to shut up, and the passionately-misguided to re-examine some of the "reasons" Richt needs to go.

Again, the buck stops with Richt. He's the coach, and if things haven't been working out for whatever reasons, then it rests on him. That's why he makes the big bucks. Just stop making these completely unfounded claims about things of which you have absolutely no knowledge or insight.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Numbers that matter: Georgia w/ a decided edge over Alabama

OK, so we all know that statistics can be viewed, spun, etc. in any number of ways to make a point. As such, allow me to indulge myself with a couple that you maybe weren't as familiar with.

When you talk about SEC and national rankings of certain categories, the most common ones are scoring offense/defense, total offense/defense, and passing a rushing stats. That's all fine and good, and you'll likely hear how Georgia and Bama compare in these categories ad nauseum over the next few days.

With that said, the two numbers I'd like to focus on during our time here today, ladies and gentlemen, are offensive efficiency and red zone defense.

Let's start with offensive yards per play. It's a good indicator of how well an offense has its proverbial crap together, but also how adept it is at explosive plays. Generally speaking, if you have a high number in this category, you're not throwing an abundance of incomplete passes, you're not giving up a lot of sacks or TFL's, and you're not getting stuffed at the line too often.

Here, Georgia ranks 2nd in the nation (!) behind only Baylor. The Bears are light years ahead of everyone at 9.55 yards per play. The Dawgs are 2nd at 8.26, and Southern Cal rates 3rd as the only other team above 8 ypp.

Bama, conversely, comes in at a fairly pedestrian 63rd in the nation, averaging nearly 2.5 yards fewer per play than Georgia.

This is a significant difference, and demonstrates some of the struggles in consistency and big plays that Bama has encountered on the suddenly not-so-young season.

The second statistic I'd like to draw your attention to is red zone defense. Georgia ranks 9th in the nation, holding opponents to a 62.5% scoring rate. Alabama, on the other hand, allows opponents to score 81.8% of the time they get inside the 20 yard line. This is good for 65th in the country.

To be fair, this stat typically takes more than 4 games to flesh out, because 1 stop or one score will drastically change things given the small sample size, but it does go to show that the Dawgs are able to bow up when the chips are down. The Tide, on the other hand, are not just shutting people down the way they have in the past.

I'd be remiss if I didn't do a reality check. Alabama has played some tougher opponents to this point. Wisconsin is solid, and Ole Miss is above average (although we're beginning to see that they love hanging 75 on the paycheck teams, but struggle against SEC competition).

Again, the point is that Georgia is rolling out a very effective, efficient, and at times, explosive offense. The Crimson Tide have had trouble staying in rhythm. Georgia has stiffened when the opposition is driving, and the Tide have, well, meh.

There will be so much that can and will happen, so we can't know what these or any other stats will look like by Saturday night. They wouldn't bother playing the game if we did. But, if you're a Georgia fan, these two statistical areas should make you feel pretty good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It does NOT matter that the Dawgs haven't played "anybody" yet

Despite beating a South Carolina team coached by one of the game's best handily, Georgia found itself being leapfrogged by 1 or 2 teams in the most recent polls, depending on which one you look at.

Ole Miss, fresh off an impressive, albeit fortune-assisted victory at BD Stadium, was one of those teams.

Can you fault the pollsters? Not really. Tuscaloosa is a tough place to earn a victory, and the Crimson Tide were ranked #2 at the time. So, it stands to reason that the Rebels would jump up significantly in the polls.

The issue at hand is that we don't know how good Alabama is, just as we didn't know how bad Auburn was before a near-death experience at home against the Sisters of the Poor, followed by the debacle against LSU, just as we didn't know how good OR how bad Stanford is, and so forth.

We go through this nonsense every September, as the voters try to figure out who's who. It's not until mid October when we at least get some idea of the, wait for it, contenders and pretenders.

Look at it this way: IF (still a big "if" against Bama/Saban) Georgia beats the Crimson Tide a week from Saturday, the victory will not carry nearly as much weight as Mississippi's win over that same team did. Why? Because at that point, the Tide will have lost 2 of their last 3 (assuming a victory this week), and they will have been ranked ~#10-15 instead of #2.

Having said all that, let's turn our attention to the Dawgs themselves. Post-Vandy, it was bridge-jumping time. Post South Carolina, it was Lambert for Heisman time.

Either way, pollsters and playoff committee people alike (I'm looking at you, Condy) have nothing but box scores and SportsCenter highlights to judge.

What I want to focus on is, how did the Dawgs actually look?

You can tell a completely over-matched team from one that was outplayed and outcoached. ULM was the former. South Carolina was the latter.

It's not as though the Gamecocks were getting completely pushed around or getting torched on go routes. On the contrary. The majority of yards gained by Georgia on the ground were hard-earned. The majority of passes (the one to Reggie Davis notwithstanding) were amid reasonably to very tight coverage.

No, the lopsided victory Saturday, especially offensively, was the result of talent, execution, and a game plan that exploited weaknesses and kept South Carolina's defense off-balance all night. Spurrier has never been more dumb-founded as when, post game, he read the stat sheet indicating the Dawgs only even got to 3rd down 4 times the whole game.

I'm not here to tell you that Georgia will win the SEC and National Championships. I'm not even proposing as a matter of fact that they will not be on the losing end of a lopsided game, either. What I am telling you is that, barring injuries or illegal memorabilia signings, this team is prepared to, on a given Saturday, beat any team in the country.