Archive for the 'Strategy' Category

Where Exactly Does the Problem Lie With the O-Line

I’ve pondered this question recently, and have had some good conversations with corbin on this exact issue.

We have what was thought to be the premiere Offensive Line coach in America in CSS. He was on Saban’s staff when he won a NC, took our line from shambles to riches in 2007, and is generally regarded as the best in the business.

We have several offensive linemen who are projected to be great NFL linemen. We were told that our O-line would be the most dominant in the conference prior to the 2010 season. Yet we witnessed a line who under-performed all year long, had a difficult time opening up holes, and generally got out-played for most of the season.

So, the best I can tell, there are four possible answers as to why we seem to be struggling so badly on the offensive line. I will preface this by saying I was an offensive lineman, and while a great running back is a line’s best friend, a running back is generally only as good as his line.

1-      Coach Stacy Searels is not as great a coach as we all thought. Maybe he was the product of great athletes at LSU, came to UGA and had one of the best running backs we’ve seen since Herschel, and rode Knowshon to perceived greatness. He really didn’t do a great job early on but had good results based on personnel. Now that he’s left with the current personnel, he is not really all that good. I don’t think this is the case.

2-      Our “NFL-caliber” linemen really aren’t as good as they are cracked up to be. I don’t know how this could be the case, but maybe it is. I’m not a scout, so I don’t know exactly what the deal is here. I would think that the folks who look at this stuff know what they’re talking about, and that these guys really are good. But if they are that good, and Searels is that good, then something’s got to give. I guess this has a little more validity than the above point.

3-      Knowshon and Stafford made the line look better than they actually are, and Murray and Ealey/King are bringing the level back down. I touched on this in my first point, and while I don’t think it’s the case, there may be some validity here. I just find it hard to believe that Searels could have a unit look so great for a couple of years and then have a unit look so mediocre the last two years. But maybe 24 hit the holes harder and also elevated the play of the line. Who knows? If so, then what’s the fix? And what does that mean about CSS? What role does Bobo take in it?

4-      Maybe CSS is a great O-line coach, and maybe our guys are truly talented. They’ve just become a product of a bad system. Honestly, I hope that this is the case. Maybe CSS has been brought down a level by his surroundings. Maybe these horses haven’t been given the proper training in the weight room and the gymnasium. We could have an “FSU factor” in place, where you have NFL talent that isn’t being developed properly. But doesn’t part of that fall on CSS? Hopefully with changes in the S&C program, this area of concern will get fixed. But if this is the case, then we’re left with a head scratcher. Our linemen are big, no doubt. And we have seen the reports on how strong they are. Is there a disparity between weight-room talent and on-field talent? I really don’t know. If this point is valid, will the changes this year help fix the problem?

The bottom line is this: If CSS is a great coach, and we have really talented linemen, then something has got to give.

Listen, there are many, many things for us to complain about this offseason. Likewise, there are a lot of areas that need to be fixed. This is just one of many. I know we scored a ton of points this year, but when we needed it we didn’t have it. The run game digressed in 2010, and if we didn’t have AJ spread out wide taking attention away, Murray would probably have struggled infinitely more.

I’m just wondering what the problem is here, and if it is a S&C issue, is it something that can be fixed? I am one of the fanatics who thought CSS was the greatest thing to happen to our line when he came on board, and have sweated every time his name was mentioned elsewhere. I hope that I wasn’t foolish in my thoughts, and that he really is the best O-line coach in America.

Maybe I’m way off base on everything and I am concerned over nothing. What are your thoughts?


Five Keys For the Dawgs against State

1. Establish control early. This is something that Georgia has not done a good job of in the past two games, giving up early scores to both South Carolina and Arkansas. As a result, early momentum was handed over, and the Bulldogs found themselves in an uphill battle from the start. They cannot afford to do that against Mississippi State, especially given a certain noise in Stark Vegas…the Cowbell

2. Be consistent on offense. As good as the Bulldogs executed in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, they were that lethargic for the first three quarters from an offensive standpoint.

3. Force MSU into mistakes. State’s offense is still trying to find its footing. Georgia must take advantage of this by forcing the Bizzaro Bulldogs into turnovers and mistakes.

4. Establish the run. One of the more disappointing aspects of the Bulldogs’ offense so far this year is its run game that has not been able to get on track. Having Caleb King back in the lineup should help this week, but a strong running game is a must. It eats up clock and keeps State’s offense off the field. More importantly, a time-consuming drive puts the control of the game squarely in UGA’s hands.

5. Negate the big play. If you were at Sanford Stadium a week ago, you no doubt so way too many instances of a big play by Arkansas leading to or being a touchdown. UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham noted after the game that the defense’s progress is stunted with each busted play. To shut down State, the Bulldogs need to minimize defensive mistakes and not give up the big play. If they can do that, it’ll be a good day for the Georgia defense.

Lugnut Dawg

Before we hated him…

This year, even though Notre Dame has Brian Kelly, I think its going to take a few years for the Irish to be a player in the National Title discussion.  Irish fans up there are salivating for BCS bowl, even though the last time they got that far, their defense made Jamarcus Russell look like a #1 pick (And the Raiders were stupid enough to take him…but that’s another post).

The recent post from the folks over at Every Day Should Be Saturday features a baby faced Urban Meyer and the beginning stages of the “Tebow Dive/Where’s the ball?/Oh crap” offense. Could you imagine if Meyer had stayed there? And if Tebow would have gone there?

Here’s the video:

I’m more a fan of stifling defense and a run first offense. I really think Nebraska should bring back the option ASAP– with their defense they would be unstoppable, but it is a thing of beauty seeing this Urban’s offense in its beginning stages.


Christmas in July

Thanks for the welcome y’all! Hope to shoot some of my thoughts from campus as much as I can.

When Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals came to Atlanta a few weeks back, the ole AJC got into “Stras-mas” spirit.  ESPN was celebrating it every 5 days too…that is until he lost a game. I know baseball sustains us until the Fall, but the real holiday comes on the day of the first kickoff.  As we get older, the closest thing to waking up on Christmas morning as a kid might just possibly be the first Saturday in September.  We start playing Redcoat music a month out. We wake up before my phone alarm goes off.  The theme to GameDay brings up emotions that rival  those from Jingle Bells.  And if we’re at home, we might even spend all day in our pajamas.

One thing that does remind me about Christmas: wish lists. Not all lists are alike, but its always worth making one.

Now I know all of our lists would probably begin with National Champs, AJ winning the Heisman, hanging 50 on the board in Jax, Munson making a comeback, and hoping Herbstreit goes on Dancing With The Stars so-his-dreams-could-be-crushed-and-he-would-look that-much-more like-a-pansy…but I’m more about Fall Saturdays in Athens. Saturdays in Athens make the home losses bearable and the wins that much sweeter.

So here goes, my wish list — Christmas in July style:.

No more black helmets. Period. I wouldn’t mind bring the Red britches back for away games though. If Herschel can, anyone can.

All expenses paid trip to Boulder. It’s on my to-do list for the Fall. At least it is worth asking for.

Teach ’em young. This starts at Orientation…but the Orientation Leaders should make incoming freshmen know the words to “Hail to Georgia Down in Dixie.” (aka the real fight song–the one the Redcoats play after every FG). For someone that lived close to Athens growing up, learning to “call the dawgs” and Orientation was an awkward waste of my time.

– Practice. I don’t care where: In Sanford, the Steg, Myers Quad, Reed Quad, etc. There should be a pep rally of sorts the night before every home game. See….Midnight Yell.

– Make the entire stadium first come first serve. If the people want their seats, the AA can just charge more for their “reservations,” much like the red seats are already there.  Everything else should be fair game. It works like magic in High School.

-No more “SeatExchange.Com” advertisements during games. You know what I’m taking about. The bright green ads on the little LED boards. They’re terrible. The first time I saw it, I thought it said “”. And I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.

– Two words: open tryouts. Over the past two years, the mic man has been irrelevant. And the mic “girl” experiment failed miserably. What better way to spice it up than to have a campus-wide open tryouts each week? No physical requirements necessary, just the ability to pump a crowd/the student section up (because without it, there is no noise). I can just imagine 5’5 300 pound, semi-obliterated 5th year on a mic during the game. RIPPPPPPP ‘EM UP, TEAR ‘EM UP.

Encore showing of the Damon Evans DUI “You Drink and Drive, You lose” video. What better way for the message to get across?

– Add a little more post-game tradition. I know we have the chapel bell, but I’m talking about right after the game, after the post game prayer.  Coach Richt often comes over to the student section after a big victory…but what if that happened every game? And what if the entire team came? All it would take is one game, the entire team in the student corner, and the Redcoats blasting the sweetness that is the theme to “Tara”.

-Change the location of the trumpet solo. My idea? Right underneath the National Championship flags in the Upper Deck, West Endzone.

– More crunk Redcoats. If we’re not gonna be super traditional (Ohio State), might as well get crunk.

Exhibit A — LSU:

Exhibit B — BC

More student seats. The last number I saw stated that a little over 10,000 students receive tickets for a game. And thats with enrollment at 35,000 + and a stadium of 92,746. More students = more noise = better game environment. I’m sure this has been drilled into the AA’s head, but stating one more time never hurts.

Now that last one may be a stretch, but miracles do happen on holidays. After all, Santa does wear red and drink Coke, so he must be a Dawg fan.

Merry Christmas!


2-QB System: Not For Me

Corch Meyers is going to utilize the 2-QB system this year, and that’s just fine with me.

Personally, I hate the 2-QB rotation. When Greene and Shockley shared time, it made me furious. And I hope that this year we do not implement a similar system with Gray and Murray/Mettenberger.

I understand why some coaches may see the benefit of this system. In the case of Florida, Brantley is really their only QB with any experience or deep knowledge of the program. So, with their style, on third and short, I kind of get why they’d want to put a more elusive QB back there. When we did it, I get the theory that it would cause opposing defenders to make adjustments.

That said, the cons of this style outweigh the pros by a long way. For starters, the QB is the most important position on the field. I was a lineman in high school, but I knew my place. To be successful in the SEC, or on any level for that matter, you have to have a field general leading the charge. You have to have a QB who commands the respect of the offense and of the opposing defense. I’ll go back to DG for an example. He was by no means the most athletically gifted player on the field, but he was smart, confident, and possessed that “it” quality that the great ones have. He was the leader. During his prime, there was no doubt who was in control. When you start tinkering with that, questions arise. Further, the leaders confidence has the chance to be shaken because he knows at any point he may be yanked.

Another problem I have with this system is the rhythm of the game. If you’re driving down the field and get in a third and short situation and bring in another guy to call the shots, you potentially ruin the rhythm. Of course, when it works out, it looks like a good call. But no competitor ever wants to leave the field, and when you do, it takes you out of that rhythm you’ve created. Same case for a drive-to-drive scenario. If you’re rotating QB’s every few drives it’s darn near impossible to get into a rhythm. I just don’t see the benefit in rotating 2 guys at the QB spot.

This is a lot different than rotating in O-linemen or D-backs, or any other position really. Most every other position on the field have a more narrow range of responsibilities. A QB has to not only read the defense, but develop a sense of what they’re doing and how they are handling different situations. You just can’t do that from the sidelines. You can do your job from play to play, but there’s so much more to it than that. You are charged with managing a game, and you have to be out there with your guys to do that.

I’ m all for UF deploying the 2-QB system. I think it’s a great call for them. But I think I will lose my mind if we follow suit. Pick your guy, whoever it may be, and let them have it.


Turnovers and Turnovers Created

In David Hale’s mailbag this morning, he addresses the amount of turnovers created vs. the turnovers committed ( he provided the numbers and I did the graph).

Turnovers and creating turnovers is a relatively new problem, over the course of Richt’s career.  If you look at this decade, the worse years with turnovers was 2000, 2006, 2009; when we had subpar quarterback play (you could even take 2000 off but we’ll leave it up there for some context). 

Also, there is a difference between a down year and a disappointing year.  2008 and 2004 were very similar years as far as our talent level, preseason expectations and end of the season results.  The turnover margin those years were very similar.  If people say the defensive scheme we play, the one we have run nearly a decade, is no good at creating turnovers, look at 2002-2003, 2005-2007.  I submit it is not a coaching problem as much as player problem.  Players are not making the plays.   Ucheedawg reads that and says: “It is up to the coaches to get the most out of the players to make the plays.”  I want to make something clear:  I am not giving the coaches a pass, and it is up to them to put the correct players out there (ie Rambo over Evans), but it is the responsibility of the players to make plays.

The problems we are facing now are problems that when seen them in the past, it has been corrected.  Having a new QB next year will make the # of turnovers committed shrink tremendously.  Even in 2001, with first time starter RS Freshman David Greene was QB, the amount went down.  I think we can all agree that a new DC will be coming in, so our turnover numbers should increase also; as they did in 2005 and 2002 (I’ll give BVG a pass in 2001 as that was transition year across the board) whenever a new DC has come in. 


Go Dawgs!

Joe Cox Gives Team Best Chance To Win In the Future

After the Tennessee Tech game, David Hale rattled off all of the key contributors who were “youngsters.” 

On the offensive side of the ball, let’s look at some key contributors at skill positions for this past weekend’s victory against Auburn who are RS Sophomores or younger:

RB: Caleb King, Washaun Ealey

WR: Tavarres King, Rontavious Wooten, Israel Troupe

TE: Aaron White, Orson Charles

Noticeably absent from this quick rundown are two key positions/players.  The first is A.J. Green, who although injured still had two catches for 24 yards.  Saying he will be a contributor next season is a gross understatement. 

What vital position is absent from this list?  Quarterback.  Joe Cox has had a very up and down season.  He has been praised one week and criticized the next.  Here at TGT have wanted to see someone else (preferably Aaron Murray) get some PT at quarterback to start preparing for next season

While most fans are looking towards next season, we have heard Mark Richt say that he will play the players who give the team the best chance to win the current game and that he is not giving up on this season.  Perhaps, in Coach Richt’s commitment to this season, we are actually getting better for next year. 

Against Auburn, no other quarterback on our roster could have led us to victory.  For the ability that Joe Cox lacks, he makes up for it two fold in fight, heart, enthusiasm and leadership.  There is no denying that. 

Imagine this scenario:  true freshman Aaron Murray and a team full of young players go out against Auburn and get down 14-0.  What do you think the poise and leadership is gong to be like in the huddle?  There is obviously no way of knowing, and this is of course purely speculative.  I would think that the leadership, direction and confidence is much better with Joe Cox at the helm. 

A team full of young players wouldn’t learn anything with a fellow pup leading them.  By having Joe Cox leading the way for all the young players around him, he is able serve as a coach on the field.  The younger players like Orson Charles or the more veteran players who have not had as much playing time like Caleb King are getting better before our eyes.  They are learning fight and determination from Cox now. 

By leaving Joe Cox in the games, now the whole team will be better suited for future SEC battles.  Whenever a new quarterback gets broken in next season, there will be a team of experienced juniors and sophomores around him.  There will be a battle tested squad who knows nothing but fight and heart to help break the new quarterback in. 

Maybe, just maybe, Mark Richt knows something about coaching and managing a football team after all.

Go Dawgs!


Why the Fan Base Is So Angry

I got a call Tuesday afternoon from a very good friend and avid reader of our blog.  He had just read the a very well reasoned post about the Senator’s confusion regarding Caleb King starting this weekend over Washaun Ealey.  

As always, the Senator delivered a well written, good point.  There seems to be a lot of second guessing among the fan base of the coaches’ decisions this season, and rightfully so.  More specifically, the fans have questioned some of the strange personnel decisions.  We have done it here on TGT.    

I must say, it is quite confusing why some players are receiving playing time over others.  Not turning this post into player bashing, but a common thought for example would be why is Bacarri Rambo not playing ahead of Bryan Evans?  I also agree with what Ucheedawg said on Tuesday: there needs to be a change at quarterback. 

The reason Washaun is not starting (he will still receive a majority of the carries I feel certain) is because he missed a key block in pass protection.  It is ironic because King got placed down the depth chart last season for the same reason: a missed block against Florida. 

I think there has to be a sound reason as to why the coaching staff would play Rambo as infrequently as they have other than seniority.  I don’t think the coaches are hell bent on playing people just based on seniority.  If playing people just based on seniority was the MO, Demiko Goodman or Kenneth Harris would have started last season ahead of A.J. Green.  Brannan Sutherland didn’t start last season when he returned from injury, although he played a lot.  Shaun Chapas continued to get the starting nod.  Kregg Lumpkin would have started ahead of Knowshon Moreno in 2007 just because he was the senior.  This Saturday, freshman receivers Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten are both starting ahead of senior Michael Moore. 

But at the beginning of 2007, Knowshon didn’t start in favor of the upperclassman Thomas Brown, until Brown got hurt.  Knowshon still played a good bit.  There is just a lot of scrutiny this season; scrutiny over everything.   Is it because the performance on the field, has for lack of a better word, sucked at times?  That probably has a lot to do with it.

I don’t think, however, the mindset of the coaching staff has changed much since 2001.  That may be part of the problem.  There are two differences though from this year as there was a couple years ago.

One obvious reason is the wins/losses. The second, and I think the biggest reason, is the fact that fans have more access to information now than they did in 2001-2006. 

I don’t care to go back and look at quotes from early in Richt’s career here at Georgia, but I can’t imagine there being a whole lot of differences in what he says now after a loss/win and what he said in 2002-2007 after a loss/win. 

Today, in 2009, our fans have much more access to information than they ever have.  We are blessed to have someone like David Hale to provide in-depth transcripts of news conferences, player interviews, etc…  Sites such as Rivals give premium “inside” information and there are many blogs better than this one such as Get the Picture, Georgia Sports Blog and Dawgsports that give tons of analysis.

The reason fans get so mad at what Richt says or about player personnel decisions is because they are more informed now than they every have been.  You don’t have to work hard to find up-to-date news, analysis and commentary.  Fans can scrutinize because it is easier to do. 

It is like that not only for UGA sports, but a variety of topics.  This changing world where information can be found using a BlackBerry or iPhone in a matter of seconds keeps an informed public and ultimately leads to more opinions.


 Go Dawgs!