Monday, October 02, 2006

Some thoughts on Football and Stuff

Georgia - Ole Miss

  1. Broken Record. Run the ball out of normal formations instead of misdirection. Use better clock management. Stop dropping the ball. Quit running screens to the fullback on 3rd and long. Blah.

  2. I've written rude things about Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column plenty of times, and he does cherry pick things that fit his theories and discards when things don't work. I'm not sold on most of what he writes, but sometimes his theories at least deserve attention. Anyway, you can either read his column tomorrow or keep reading this paragraph. See, Gregg would have had a field day with Georgia's 4th quarter coaching decisions. 4th Quarter, 12:10, Georgia leads 14-3. Dawgs get the ball on their 40. First play is a pass to Goodman, which was an odd decision because of the propensity of receivers to drop balls, thus stopping the clock. It was a completion, however, and the Dawgs followed it up with two successful running plays, getting a first down and keeping the clock rolling. On first down, the Dawgs were penalized, setting up a long first down. Now, instead of grinding out three 5 yard runs, working off another 3 minutes (or forcing the Rebels to use one of their 3 TOs), Richt instead threw the ball on first and second. Completion on first, incomplete on second. Clock stopped. (this is where Easterbrook would say something like "Ye Gods!", but there's more next time around). Third down, a pass that doesn't go past the first down marker. 4th and about 4 on the 40. Georgia averaged over 4 yards a carry, and that number included a sack and a few backwards plays. There are two options, each with advantages and drawbacks. Punting means a likely 20 yard shift in field position. And Georgia had had two punts blocked already. Not punting means either getting the first down and burning another 3 minutes off the clock, possibly getting close enough to get a field goal, or even a TD (Easterbrook says 1 in 4 possessions turns into a TD). Also, going for it means that there is less than a 100% chance that they'd be giving the ball to the other team. 20 yards or a chance at making it a two touchdown game or better and shortening the game. Momentum might've been something. But the Ely-Kelso punt (after a totally moronic time out), which flew into the end zone, immediately led to the next series where Ole Miss scored their TD. Easterbrook would have called it a preposterous punt. But he would've been more frustrated about the next Georgia series. Pinned back after a foolish decision to bring the kickoff out of the end zone and the usual block in the back/holding penalty on the return, 6 minutes on the clock, and the lead is just 5. Time to grind out a long drive, with three and a half yards a play, killing that clock, right? Nope. First down, pass to Goodman (complete, out of bounds, clock stopped). Now there's some room to work with, so they'll surely run the ball, right? First down, Lumpkin gets 2 yards, clock burns almost a minute. Second down should be another run, right? Nope, pass incomplete. Clock stopped. 3rd and 8, Lumpkin picks up 19 on one of the best blocking schemes of the game. Clock stops momentarily. First down, hand off to Lumpkin. Loss of 2. Ole Miss calls time out, which is great, since they had all three of them at the time. Second and 12, 3:47 to go. Two runs here and it means the clock either gets worked down to around 2:10, or Ole Miss uses their time outs, thus limiting their ability to run the ball (and considering that Ole Miss had 27 yards passing other than the TD, that'd be a great thing). So does Lump take the ball and head straight ahead? Nope, drop back, incompletion. Clock stopped, Ole Miss saves a TO. WORST PLAY CALL OF THE ENTIRE NIGHT. Third down, Stafford drops back again, but thankfully he takes a sack, forcing Ole Miss to burn a time out. Had he thrown an incompletion, Ole Miss would've had another 35+ seconds to work with, and opening their playbook more on the final drive. Second and Third Downs with under 4 minutes, sitting on a lead, and Georgia tries to throw, with a freshman QB and handless receivers. Mindblowing.

  3. Ole Miss fans were awfully friendly outside the stadium. I didn't have any real problems inside, either. Still, there were way more than 52K tailgating, but the stadium wasn't even full. That makes little sense to me. Also, it honestly seemed like their fans only got fired up when the band played Dixie, and then they got quiet again. Perhaps if you cared more about reality than symbolism? Ahhh, who am I to tell people what to think. They sure get fired up about that stuff though. And in a way, ironically, the only African-American Ole Miss students I saw, other than the players, were in the band.

  4. It seemed to me that the coaching staff was more concerned with helping the self esteem of the quarterbacks than actually gaining yards and winning. There was no reason to throw as many passes as we did. And even when Georgia did run, the Dawgs were often in a set to throw but the QB checks off into an inside handoff or a fullback draw. On plays like that, the line is already set to block one way, and the personnel is set for a throw (often with a fewer blocker upfront). When Georgia wanted to run, the yards were there. But we didn't want to. In fact, I'm not sure we've lined up and actually run the ball forward for an extended period in any of the last three games. And that actually makes me feel a little positive about this weekend. Last year we pounded Tennessee up the middle. I'm hoping we use a similar style this weekend. I just hope the coaches start to realize that the fragile egos of the QBs will be just fine if the game is out of hand.

  5. OK, one last thing. Georgia's defensive backfield is really good. And the front 4 are really good. The linebackers worry me though. Verdun-Wheeler hasn't picked the right hole to shoot all year. The Dawgs' D played better when there were 5 down linemen, and one of the safeties was forced forward. I'm glad to see that worked, and I hope the staff keeps that 5 man front around in the Florida game and this weekend too.
Other fun facts...

Wyoming and Florida Atlantic have the same record, 1-4. Wyoming has actually outscored its opponents by 10. Florida Atlantic has been outscored by 170. Only 12 teams have scored 170 points total this season.

If you look at point differential (points scored - points allowed), none of the top three teams remain undefeated. Texas, LSU and Clemson have the greatest point differential, yet each has suffered a defeat.

I think I'll wait one more week to break out the Lebowski Rankings, just to make sure the strength of schedule has sorted itself out. But if you must know, Ohio State is on top, Eastern Michigan is on bottom. And Georgia sits behind Wake Forest and Rutgers.

I've also got a new objective ranking system that I'll break out soon. It's called the English Table. I take all the college football teams and rank them based on record, with three points awarded for a win. The tiebreaker is point differential (which is how I know those fun facts). I know what you might be thinking... that point differential favors high scoring teams. Well, not exactly. I didn't notice any real trends that favored one team over another. And it definitely seemed like defensive teams were more likely to be at the top.

One last fun fact: For all I've complained about Georgia's offense this year, it could be worse. Even in the last two anemic offensive games, Georgia has managed 2 touchdowns, thus earning the G's on their helmets. Consider: Duke hasn't scored 14 points... total... in all their games combined. 13 points in 4 games. 3.25 points a game. Seriously. If they can't get a field goal, they don't deserve to wear the D. 13 points. All of that scored on Wake. Three times Duke's been shutout, including once to 1-AA Richmond. Aside: speaking of Richmond, Gameday should roll into Durham, NH this weekend for the showdown between the Richmond Spiders and the New Hampshire Wildcats. Both teams are 4-0, both have a win against a 1-A BCS team. In a way, it's the only game between two undefeated teams... just a thought.

Gameday recap... maybe tomorrow. Hopefully.