Oct 21, 2011

2011 UGA compared to 2007 UGA at this point

Remember the UGA team that after playing 7 games (5-2) and struggling to beat Vandy in Nashville, went on to become one of the best teams in the country to end the season?


That was the 2007 Georgia Bulldogs, but could it also be the 2011 UGA team?


The past couple of years have made Georgia fans much more pessimistic about our team and program.  A 5-game win streak right now should be a big deal, but most of us instead say, "Well we've beaten no good teams" or "we have an easy schedule."  So let's take a look at 2007's UGA at this same point, one of the best teams of the past decade.


The 2007 team started the season with an overhyped Oklahoma State who was supposed to be great.  We won that game and thought we were great, but no one knew that OSU would end up going 7-6.  That win was probably about as good as our win at home this year against Mississippi State.  But perspective at the time made it seem much bigger.


Then the 2007 team then lost a horrible, boring game at home to South Carolina.  But South Carolina was horrible that year and went 6-6.  It was a bad loss, to a bad team.  The South Carolina team we should have beaten this year was much better, and even with losing Garcia and Lattimore they'll still probably end up at least 8-4.  It was a much worse loss in 2007.


Then the 2007 team destroyed Western Carolina 45-16, but not as impressively as we beat Coastal Carolina this year 59-0.


Once again, another huge game at Alabama.  Georgia won a thriller in overtime.  We were great again!  But guess what?  Alabama finished the season 7-6 and lost to Louisiana Monroe that year.  It wasn't as great of a win as it looked.


We then easily handled Mississippi (just like we did this year), followed by a horrible, blowout loss to Tennessee in Knoxville.  Tennessee was a good, but not great, team in 2007 that finished 10-4.


And then finally, in mid-October, we went to Nashville to play the lowly Commodes, and snuck out of the game on a last second field goal from Brandon Coutu to win 20-17.  We thought this year's game was bad, even though we were winning easily most of the game and almost let them come back.  In 2007, it was a struggle through the whole game.


So comparing the 2 seasons: Our 2 losses in 2007 were much worse than the ones in 2011.  We lost at home to a 6-6 South Carolina and in Knoxville to a good Tennessee.  In 2011, we lost to a top 5 Boise State team and a good (before injuries) South Carolina team.


Our wins so far in 2011 are pretty much comparable to 2007, except we've more easily handled opponents, despite playing too conservatively late in the game and letting teams come back.  In 2007, though, we still look at those wins as good ones, just because at the time they were played, our opponents were overhyped (see Oklahoma State and Alabama).


So going into the Florida game this year, our team actually has a BETTER resume than in 2007.  Could we get a repeat of that year, but this time with our East competition actually losing when they should?   

Oct 14, 2011

New Hyundai Commercial shows UGA's "Hedges" (YouTube Video)

This new national commercial has been slowly spreading around online.  It played on ESPN last night during the USC vs. Cal football game.  I've never owned a Hyundai, but thanks to this, I might look at them some in a few years when I need a new car.

Oct 3, 2011

Say Goodbye to Dreams of Mullen

A while ago, after Mississippi State's loss to LSU, I wrote this post explaining why I didn't think Dan Mullen would be a good choice for UGA if we were to make a coaching change in the near future.

Now it appears that Mullen has tried to emphatically pronounce to UGA that he is not the guy for the job.  First, his Bizarro Bulldogs were dominated by the real Dawgs between the hedges on Saturday.  We all know that the final score of 24-10 does not properly illustrate the true embarrassment suffered by the cowbell ringers, as Mark Richt and co. apparently decided that Georgia had enough points at the half and could just mess around a little in the 2nd and practice (poorly) field goal kicking.

Not only did Mullen's rising power in the west have a horrible day in Athens, but he seemed to have let his squad run out and celebrate midfield before the game even began, causing a bit of a scuffle between the teams.  Of course, Mullen claims that his team didn't mean to disrespect anyone, and it was clearly a Georgia player who started the whole thing.  Just to make himself sound more guilty, he also threw in that his team "won't back down" to anybody, and as the attacking UGA players approached, his innocent guys just wouldn't back down.  Too bad they aren't as tough on the field during the game.

Here is a video of the incident below (courtesy of ecdawg1).  It replays in slow motion toward the end so you can clearly see the MSU players rushing the G, and then the UGA players coming out toward them.  And at 1:17, you can see Mullen smiling while the refs are breaking it up.



Finally, Mullen perhaps also allowed one (if not more) of his players to... relieve themselves on the hedges, as photo evidence here purportedly shows.

This guy really knows how to build résumé.   

Sep 16, 2011

Why Dan Mullen Would be a Bad Choice for UGA (for now)

The Mullen lovers are out there.  They are few, but they are loud, and they lurk on message boards and comment sections, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

Dan Mullen was a very successful offensive coordinator at Florida during part of their recent glory years, before he took over the head coaching job at a struggling Mississippi State program.  In his first season (2009), the little Bulldogs went 5-7.  In 2010, they had a surprisingly good year, going 9-4 (a mediocre 4-4 in the SEC), but with no wins versus the SEC West other than Ole Miss, a team which has taken the same spot as Vanderbilt but in the West as division punching bag.

Yes, his recruiting was outstanding, as he managed to get the #25 and #19 class in the nation according to Rivals and Scout, respectively.

But should we be so excited by 5-7 and 9-4 that we're ready to hand the reigns over to this guy after only two seasons under his belt?

First of all, Mark Richt isn't done yet, despite what some media pundits and strangely interested Alabama fans are saying.  We still have 10 games left to play and who knows what will happen.

Second, if you watched last night's ESPN game of LSU at Mississippi State, you might have noticed some very questionable coaching decisions.  Actually, look back before that to last week's game against Auburn.

Last week, when the Bulldogs had a 2nd and goal against Auburn with 10 seconds left in the game, Mullen decided to have his QB try to run the ball into the end zone.  He was stopped just short, and time ran out.  The game was over.  Anyone with basic knowledge of clock management in football was scratching their heads.  Why not attempt a pass first?  With 10 seconds, you have ample time to make a pass attempt, and if that doesn't work, the clock stops and you still have time to run the ball once more.

Here was Mullen's post-game explanation of the choice:
"You could go pass-pass, pass-run, or just run."

Yes, we are aware Coach Mullen.  You can either have 2 chances to score, or 1 chance to score.  You insanely chose 1 chance, essentially leaving a play on the field at the goal line to win the game.

He says he gave the choice to his quarterback, Chris Relf, who said he was confident he could get it in on just a run.  So he listened to the player, called the play, and they lost the game.

Skip to last night versus LSU.  With the Bulldogs down only 16-6 in the 4th quarter and 10 minutes left in the game, Mullen decides to pull his starting QB who everyone has raved about and put in his backup.  Although this is a surprising and confusing move, maybe Mullen had good reason to believe that Relf wasn't effective all night and that the backup might have more success.

But the real shocking decision came minutes later, when LSU tacked on an extra field goal to be up 19-6, and Mississippi State gets the ball with 2:53 on the clock and all 3 timeouts remaining.  The Bulldogs were still down by only 2 scores.  They would need to score a quick TD, kick a successful onside kick, and then score another TD.  It's extremely unlikely, but it's been done time and time again in college football (see Auburn vs. Utah State two weeks ago).

But Mullen decides to run the ball multiple times on this last drive, letting the clock run and refusing to take timeouts.  It was clear to anyone watching that he had given up; either he had no faith that his team could actually assemble a worthwhile offensive drive, or he just didn't care.  So he quit.  He let the game end without using his timeouts, and let his team go down without a fight.

A sad part was watching the backup QB and rest of the team running desperately to get in formation to run their final play with time running out, despite it being clear that their head coach wasn't going to call a timeout and didn't really care what they were doing out there.  He was just going to let it end, despite still having a chance to win.  What do you have to lose?  You're going to lose anyway, right?  If you turn it over and LSU gets the ball, they will take a knee and run out the clock anyway.  No harm done.

Now I don't want to say that these decisions should define the rest of Mullen's career.  He's still a decent coach who has recruited very well and had one good season at a struggling Mississippi State.  He could still do great things there, or at another school.  But decisions like those shouldn't earn you a job at a program like Georgia.  If anything, they should be warning signs that jumping on the Mullen-bandwagon might be a bit of a rushed decision.

Mark Richt may be done soon at Georgia.  None of us really know.  But I don't think I've ever seen Mark Richt give up on his team when down only two scores in an important SEC game, or any game for that matter.  And whether Mark Richt is good for the future of UGA or not, I'd rather have a coach who is smart enough and cares enough to give his team a chance to win, all other things aside.

Sep 14, 2011

Will the SEC East be a mess this year? (See: 2007)

In 2007, the SEC, like the rest of college football that year, was a complete mess.  There were no teams in the entire conference with less than 2 conference losses.  Georgia and Tennessee stood atop the East, each with 2 SEC losses, but the Volunteers would represent in the SEC Championship based on multiple close escapes late in the season.

The SEC East in 2011 looks like it could be just as much of a mess with no champion decided until perhaps the very end of the season.

Yes, Georgia already lost to East favorite South Carolina, but if you take a look at the schedules, the race isn't going to be over anytime soon.

South Carolina has likely wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky at home, but I see them losing at least 2 out of Auburn, at Miss. State, at Tennessee, at Arkansas, and versus Florida. 


Florida has to play Alabama and at LSU, not to mention at Auburn and the rest of the SEC East.  Once again, it seems likely they would have at least 2 SEC losses as well.

Tennessee is about to go play in the Swamp this weekend, and they have an even tougher West schedule than Florida.  They play LSU at home and at Alabama, plus at Arkansas.

And of course Kentucky and Vanderbilt remain Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

Of course it's still possible that South Carolina, Florida, or Tennessee could be way better than they seem and could burn through their tough SEC schedules and remain undefeated in conference, but I wouldn't bet on it.  Georgia, meanwhile, has the easiest SEC schedule of them all, with games at Ole Miss, against Miss. State, and the annual rivalry game with Auburn.

Don't be surprised if the SEC East ends up similar to 2007, with each team having at least 2 conference losses, and maybe even with a tiebreaker determining once again which team will play in Atlanta for the conference championship.

Sep 12, 2011

"Sometimes it happens like that," but UGA has promise


Russ sleeping at the 2011 G-Day Game. Photo: B. Spoon


"Georgia outplayed us. Give 'em credit.  They definitely outplayed us.  But we won the game.  Sometimes it happens like that."  Those were Steve Spurrier's words after South Carolina snuck out a win against Georgia in Athens Saturday.

It's hard to take, but it's true.  After an embarrassing week one loss versus Boise State where execution in plays was hindered even more by bad play calling and coaching, the Dawgs seemed to put everything together against the Gamecocks.

The offensive play calling was much better, including a varied mix of I-Formation and shotgun plays (wonder if Bobo caught wind of my 78% stat on the blog...) which worked to almost perfection.  UGA was mostly unstoppable on offense, other than a few key halts after good drives in the 1st half that led to field goals rather than touchdowns, and the turnovers, of course.

The defense was phenomenal for most of the game, other than on a handful of critical drives late in the 4th quarter.

And the head coach finally seemed to realize that this was an urgent game, and we had to do everything possible to win.  Sure, we still ran a draw play on some long 3rd downs, but we also went for a surprise onside kick (which was barely overturned thanks to our favorite zebra Penn Wagers).

The media (ESPN) tried to convince everyone that this game would define Richt's future, and that a loss could mean his immediate firing.  Any realistic UGA fan knew that was false.  We know that Richt will likely have until the end of the season, at which point the AD and others will discuss his future as head coach at Georgia. And can you blame them?  Would firing a beloved head coach who's presumably loved by the players in the middle of the season really be good for us?

But instead, a loss here actually brought more optimism from fans than even last week's loss.  Somehow 0-2 turned out to be better than 0-1, mainly because of the way it happened.  Georgia's coaches began to coach, the players began to play, and everything was clicking.  Our running game appears to have life, as Crowell looked to be the 2nd coming of Knowshon Moreno while bouncing off of defenders and finding extra yards.  Our receiving corps look like they could be even better than last year with AJ Green, if we can just find a way to get the playmakers the ball.  Malcolm Mitchell is a speedster, Michael Bennett is the new Kris Durham, and of course we still have Charles, White, King, Wooten, and Brown back there.  And the defense not only made stop after stop, but they also made big plays, like a big interception by Rambo.

The media and other teams' fans are still convinced that Richt is done.  Maybe he will be.  They're convinced that UGA is "average" again, as one Rivals writer put it.  Maybe they are.  But they didn't look average on Saturday.  They looked like a great team, finally with coaching to match it, that made mistakes at just the wrong times to barely lose.

And while some can still rant about being 0-2, remember that is still 0-2 against the #4 and #11 teams in the country.  Mark Richt can't afford many more losses, and he certainly can't afford any bad ones, but he's still got a chance to make something out of this season with this team.  It's always better to lose early than late, as many teams have learned before.

Losing is bad.  We've lost way too much in the past few years, and we shouldn't be complacent with it.  We shouldn't be happy about 0-2.  If we don't have the type of season that UGA fans expect, maybe we should make some changes.  But maybe Saturday's loss shouldn't be weighed as heavily as the others, such as the Boise loss.  Because sometimes you can do almost everything right and lose.  Sometimes, it happens like that.

Sep 9, 2011

UGA vs. USCe: What I want to see, and what I expect to see...

What I want to see...

1. No forced play calling on the offense.  If the no-huddle shotgun offense keeps producing 3 and outs, don't keep trying to force it.  Mix things up, try different approaches, and see what works.  If something works really well, keep doing it until the defense stops it.  No need to get tricky when you already have the upper hand.

What I expect: More of the same from Bobo's offense.  Mostly baffling calls, but I do expect there to be a few great calls scattered in there that calm people down a little (see Boykin's run last week).

2. Isaiah Crowell start at RB.  Yes, he's a freshman, but he looks like he has what we need as an explosive player that can produce on the field and get the fans excited.  Give him just a moment to adjust to the unusual gameday environment in Sanford Stadium, and then call plays that give him a high chance of success to start the game to get him comfortable.  Also, if the running game isn't producing at all, give Malcome or Harton a chance to see what they can do in a game.  You never know if a player can turn it on in the heat of a game as opposed to practice.

What I expect: Samuel will start at RB, because that is the Mark Richt way.  Once again it will be a split of carries, probably Crowell with about 60%, Samuel with 30%, and Carlton Thomas with 10%.  I don't expect to see Malcome or Harton at all, especially if rumors of Malcome's disappointed Twitter comments are true.

3. Target Malcolm Mitchell.  The guy looked good, really good, toward the end of the Boise game.  His speed on his touchdown looked like it rivaled Branden Smith.  Get this guy the ball.  He deserves more targets after a great game performance.  Make the tight ends central to our passing game, and that includes Orson Charles and Aron White.  Also try to get Marlon Brown more passes, and Wooten too for that matter (both of whom also made good plays against Boise).

What I expect: I think we will target Mitchell, but not nearly as much as we should.  We used to have a problem with getting the ball to AJ Green, the best receiver in the country, so I don't expect us to get the ball to a freshman with supreme talent either.  We'll likely go to Tavarres King a lot more again, due to his experience and spot as #1 on the depth chart, and he'll be our primary receiver still on a lot of plays.  Hopefully he can improve his performance from last week.  Orson Charles will remain our #2 targeted receiver, which is good.

4. An aggressive defensive scheme that puts pressure on the QB and focuses on closer coverage of receivers.  In the opening drives of the Boise game, we had some tight man coverage on Boise, and our talent clearly could keep up and defend theirs.  Later in the game, Boise began to find wide open receivers all over the field with no defenders within 10 yards of them.  A soft zone defense leaves those dink and dunk short passes open that Kellen Moore thrived on, and Stepehen Garcia will do similar short passes all the way down the field if we leave them open.

What I expect: We'll do a better job of getting pressure on the QB, but unfortunately, we'll allow Garcia to dump short passes frequently to open receivers.  Hopefully we can rattle him enough to make him give up and look forward to the bar later that night.

5. Don't be afraid to be aggressive, but be smart about it when you do.  Mark Richt always refuses to go for a score at the end of the half when we have the ball.  We frequently have 1+ minutes on the clock and 2 or 3 timeouts, but we will run a screen pass or running play and let the clock run.  This game is too important to leave chances on the field.  We need to be in panic mode here, and we can't afford to just be calm and expect to come back and win.

What I expect: Even though this game is HUGE and could define the season (and potentially Richt's career), I still don't really expect us to change in a lot of common Richt ways.  If we didn't do it last week, I don't expect it that much this week.  If we didn't change ourselves to panic mode after going 6-7 and losing to UCF in a bowl game, I don't think losing to #5 Boise State will do it either.  Hopefully we'll have enough talent and just enough coaching to get a win regardless.

Sep 8, 2011

What about blocking? Screenshots show importance of I-Formation

I hate to beat a dead horse, but I saved some screenshots from the Boise game that might better illustrate why the I-formation was successful, and bring more confusion to why we abandoned it.

Some have mentioned that our overkill use of the shotgun was likely due to how poorly our offensive line was playing, and that it was in our best interest to give Murray space behind the line of scrimmage to have any adequate time to get a pass off.  In some cases, this is true, because the shotgun should give the QB a better view of rushing defenders and an ability to avoid being sacked.

But the I-Formation is important to UGA because of another factor: protection in numbers.  At the start of the revealing drive I referenced in my last post, the ESPN commentator made mention of I-formation being Georgia's "maximum protection" because it allowed for 7 blockers to guard the QB (5 linemen, 1 tight end, and 1 fullback or running back).  If you feel comfortable enough, the TE can become a receiver, and you still have 6 man protection.  But the I-Formation also appears to be more successful for UGA in pass blocking even with numbers aren't the advantage.

Here is the I-Formation in the first play of that drive:



Just for a better view, here's another shot of I-formation from behind:


Here is the same play after the snap.  Notice Murray has plenty room in his pocket and time to throw as the defense is sending five pass rushers against five blockers (we send the TE on a route).  He probably could have stood there for another second or two if he wanted.


As Georgia made their way down the field, the commentator continued to praise the decision of the offensive coordinator to switch to the I-formation, because it was allowing Murray much more protection and time to pass, while he was running for his life in the shotgun.  I also noticed that on the one play of that drive that we decided to run out of the I-Formation, Richard Samuel actually found a large hole to run through in the line (but unfortunately it looks like he ran into one of our blockers, just shy of the vast field of freedom ahead of him).

But just as soon as the commentators praised the change, we decided it was time to return to the shotgun (I presume just because it has such a cool sounding name).


Here on a crucial 3rd down, we go with 5 OL, no TE, and a freshman RB to pass block.  We have a four receiver set and no fullback for extra help in the backfield.  It doesn't end well.


Now the defense sends five pass rushers against a weaker UGA offensive protection, despite Georgia having 6 pass blockers.  The edge rushers get around that smaller line in a hurry, and the middle of the pocket collapses along with the ends.  Murray gets sacked here, and we miss a long field goal in a crucial moment.

It could be argued that we might as well go shotgun on that 3rd down, because everyone knew we would pass the ball.  That's true, but the bigger problem was the 2 shotgun plays before that, both of which were unsuccessful, right after we made it quickly down the field in I-Formation.  And pass blocking in the shotgun broke down much faster, even when having a numbers advantage, than it did in the I-Formation.

Also, that particular play above wasn't pretty.  Other than going back to shotgun, a formation in which we saw our offensive line fall apart and the pocket frequently collapse, Mike Bobo also apparently decided we would have plenty of time for Murray to pump fake a short pass and then try to hit the end zone 30 yards downfield.  The short pass might have been successful (or would at least give a better shot at a field goal), but instead we got a sack and no points.  Then again, we've complained about not being aggressive enough on offense before... right?

Sep 6, 2011

Boise Game Analysis: 78% of plays were shotgun formation

That's right.  I just wasted about 20 minutes fast forwarding through each play to figure that out.  78% of all offensive plays in Saturday's game were out of the shotgun formation.  Does that sound like UGA football to you?

Honestly, the stat by itself doesn't really matter that much.  Sure, Georgia is traditionally a power-I team that runs the ball with a lead fullback and then passes from under center, usually with a play-action fake.  But it isn't necessarily bad to try new things more often... as long as they work.  The problem isn't that 78% of plays were out of shotgun; the problem is that when good old fashion play-action passes and under center plays actually worked, we abandoned them and returned to the flashy deep snap.  The problem is that our offensive play calling has recently had a tendency to stick to things that don't work, and abandon things that have success.

Here are some more quick stats I compiled:

Total Plays in Game: 60
Total Plays Under Center: 13
Plays Under Center in 1st Half: 6/30
Plays Under Center in 2nd Half: 7/30

PASSING

Passing out of shotgun: 13 of 23 for 182 yards, 2 TD 1 INT, 14 yards per pass
Passing under center: 3 of 6 for 54 yards, 0 TD 0 INT, 18 yards per pass

Sacks: 6 of 6 sacks on Murray were in shotgun formation

The funny thing here is I (un)fondly remember the Arkansas game from last season, a loss which I blamed mostly on atrocious offensive play calling for the first 3 quarters.  I argued that we repeatedly attempted play-action passes without mixing things up, and it was obvious to the defense what we were doing.  I called for more shotgun plays to give Murray better sight of rushing defenders and the play as it develops, and when we began to pass from the shotgun in the 4th quarter, the offense suddenly began to improve.

This time, it was exactly the opposite.  We came out determined to play some newfangled hurry-up shotgun offense.  Goodbye to the old Georgia power-running and play-action days, we're here to trick you with speed and finesse.  Unfortunately, it didn't work too well from the start, and the offense struggled severely from penalties, jitters, and plain old lack of execution.

THE REVEALING DRIVE

The most revealing drive of the game was the first of the 2nd half.  Georgia decided to do something different.


Georgia at 11:01
BSU
UGA
1st and 10 at UGA 15
Aaron Murray pass complete to Orson Charles for 12 yards to the Geo 27 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)
21
7
1st and 10 at UGA 27
Aaron Murray pass complete to Orson Charles for 28 yards to the BoiSt 45 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)


1st and 10 at BSU 45
Richard Samuel rush for 3 yards to the BoiSt 42.   (I-FORMATION)


2nd and 7 at BSU 42
Aaron Murray pass complete to Aron White for 14 yards to the BoiSt 28 for a 1ST down.   (I-FORM PLAY ACTION)


1st and 10 at BSU 28
GEORGIA penalty 5 yard False Start accepted.   


1st and 15 at BSU 33
Isaiah Crowell rush for 3 yards to the BoiSt 30.    (SHOTGUN)


2nd and 12 at BSU 30
Aaron Murray pass incomplete.    (SHOTGUN)


3rd and 12 at BSU 30
Aaron Murray sacked by Jamar Taylor for a loss of 6 yards to the BoiSt 36.     (SHOTGUN)


4th and 18 at BSU 36
Blair Walsh 54 yard field goal MISSED.


DRIVE TOTALS: GEORGIA drive: 7 plays 49 yards, 03:40 GEORGIA FGA


Notice the formations listed to the right of each play in parentheses.  So for four plays in a row, Georgia played under center in I-formation, just like the good old days, and quickly moved down the field.  The ESPN commentators even happened to come on the screen with a graphic showing how Aaron Murray's numbers last year were significantly better when passing from the I-formation rather than shotgun.  The offense quickly gained 54 yards on 3 play action passes (with one run mixed in to keep the defense honest).  This was a sudden, incredible momentum for the UGA offense which had been struggling all night.  But then, it's as if Mike Bobo suddenly changed his mind, and the offense returned to shotgun formation.  THREE plays in a row of shotgun followed, stalling the offense completely, and then a missed field goal attempt to end the drive.

It doesn't take a genius or a blogger with too much time on their hands to watch that game and see what was working offensively.  That same non-genius could easily determine that we didn't try nearly enough of what was working, and we repeatedly tried to force what wasn't working.  Why?  Because that's the tale of Georgia's offensive play calling in recent years.

Also of note, although the other three under center passes were incomplete, one of them should have been a 15 yard gain and was a perfect pass to a wide open #12 (names will not be named) who dropped the ball.

Finally, all 6 sacks on Murray happened during plays from the shotgun.  Re-watch those I-formation play-action plays and see how much more time Murray had to find his receiver and make a good pass.  It makes it all the more sad that we continued to ignore what was successful and tried to force the shotgun to work.

RUSHING OUT OF I-FORM

There's a slightly interesting difference in the rushing stats as well, as you can see below in Isaiah Crowell's rushing numbers:

Rushes from I-formation: 4 for 19 yards, 4.75 yards per carry
Rushes from shotgun: 11 for 41 yards, 3.72 yards per carry

So not only the passing game benefited greatly from the change of formation.

CONCLUSION


I really could rant a lot more about the game, but pretty much everything worth saying has been said by countless reporters, message board posters, and bloggers.  I hadn't seen a statistical analysis of the offensive problems yet, though, so I figured I could make a contribution.  Once again, I hold the opinion that offensive play calling was a HUGE detriment to our game plan, and greatly contributed to our loss.  If UGA's offense was allowed to run plays that set them up to succeed, I think we could have won that game.  If these mind-boggling play calls continue, I'm afraid Georgia will struggle more and more.  Not every game can be won based on talent alone.

Sep 4, 2011

Post-Game Analysis: Coming up Soon

I haven't been posting much for a while here, but I think it's about time for me to write a long-winded analysis of the game like I have in the past.  So it's coming.  You've been warned.

As for a quick note on my current feelings toward the state of the UGA program:

I try to step back and look at things realistically.  No end of the world doom and gloom, but no "Disney Dawg" sparkling either (I've never liked the "Disney Dawg" term much, but you have to admit it's catchy).  On the up side, I saw some good things (very few, but some) in last night's game.  I know that we only lost one game, it was to a top 5 team, and it doesn't affect our SEC chances at all.  Technically, we still have the whole season ahead of us, 11 games left to play, and an SEC title we're still fully in the race for.  On the downside, well... there is a long and obvious list of grievances that I will go more into detail on later.  We have many of the same problems we've had for years, and we seemingly refuse to ever try to change them.  This is stubborn and stupid, and if we keep that up, we're looking at another long season.  I'll still hold out hope that we can turn things around, but if a 6-7 year with a loss to UCF in a lower-tier bowl game with an entire off-season to prepare didn't bring change, I'm not too hopeful about seeing that change happen in the next week.

Aug 20, 2011

ESPN Predicts UGA in Capital One Bowl; Also, video of new uniforms from Georgiadogs.com

It's nice to be getting some love from the media (even if we don't yet deserve it).

First, today it was announced that Georgia is ranked #19 in the AP Poll, a few spots higher than in the Coaches'.  I feel strange about a 6-7 team being ranked in the teens, but I'm not complaining.  The higher the better for making it to a better bowl at the end of the year.

Then, ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards are both predicting UGA to play in the Capital One Bowl this season, versus either Ohio State or Nebraska, respectively.  I can't say I would complain about either one of those scenarios.

As for our new uniforms that were released today, I will say this: I'm not a huge fan of how they look, mainly just because the matching jerseys and pants looks a little bit Arena Football League-ish for my tastes.  However, I think it would be a pity if all of our complaining fans made the team less excited about wearing them for the big opener.  Plus, I'm really glad they decided to release these images two weeks before the game so we can get used to them, unlike the fiasco that happened at the Cocktail Party in 2009.

By the way, the uniforms look a lot better in this video from the UGA athletics website.  I'm thinking people will really warm up to them when they're being worn by the real Dawgs as they run out of the tunnel onto the field.

Jul 15, 2011

Welcome Back to the Backfield, Mr. Samuel

First off, thanks to the person who wrote three enormous comments on my last post about Tech.  They were very enlightening.

Second, Richard Samuel is back at RB.  Some may worry that this is a sign of things not looking so great in the current backfield of Crowell, Malcome, Thomas, and Harton.  Others are quietly excited that maybe Samuel has the experience and motivation to actually compete and play at the position this year, or at least to provide good depth in case of disaster.  

If you look for Samuel's player page on ESPN.com, you won't find any rushing stats right away.  It does, however, list his tackles in 2009... while playing RB.  (Just click on stats to see his rushing numbers)

Quick stats from 2009: Samuel rushed 88 attempts for 395 yards, for an average of 4.5 ypc, a long of 80, and 2 TDs.  

Below is evidence of the said 80 yard run.  Look at 'dem wheels.  



Welcome back to the backfield, Mr. Samuel.  Good luck, and Godspeed.

Jul 14, 2011

Tech Cheating Revealed on Harry Potter Day?

Yeah, I know it's been a while.  But I'm back now, and all it took was the rejuvenating and all too familiar feeling of laughing at Tech's misery.

Everyone has seen by now that the Buzzing Bees are on probation and have to vacate the only thing they've won in recent history (2009 ACC Title).  Aside from the fact that everyone knows that UGA won the ACC in 2009, does anyone else find it funny that Tech's cheating and punishment was revealed the same day as the final Harry Potter movie is coming out in theaters? (tonight at midnight, or so I hear)

This has to be the most bittersweet day in Tech history, and for the Head Wizard, Paul "Punch 'em in the face" Johnson.

May 1, 2011

Reason #738 Why Tech Sucks: The Case of the Missing Stafford

Clearly there isn't much to write about lately, so why not take a gander at what's going on in the wizarding world of Georgia Tech?

First, we have the big news about Tech's strong showing at the 2011 NFL draft.  The Buzzing Bees had one player drafted, RB Anthony Allen, in the 7th round (officially pick #255) by the Baltimore Ravens.  You would think that running back might be the only position not hampered by Head Wizard Johnson's triple option offense when it comes to time to join the pros, but I'm thinking that would be a wrong assumption.  Just look at ESPN's recap of the Raven's picks, including this one sentence summary of Georgia Tech's Allen: 

"Allen will need some development and coaching as a runner coming from the triple-option scheme at Georgia Tech."

Sounds to me like the triple-option is considered a liability, not just by the NFL, but by scouts and media like ESPN.

In other Tech news, you may have heard that Matt Stafford was throwing passes to Calvin Johnson and Chad Ochocinco the other day on Tech's fields.  Here's a story that mentions the event and includes a photo of the three NFL players together in the Bobby Dodd governmental assistance structure for the football challenged.

Photo credit: @ochocinco himself

But if you're like me and you love to check out Georgia Tech websites looking for things to laugh at, you may have also noticed a post on Tech's official blog page.  The headline of the post reads "Megatron and Ochocinco," the short paragraph is about how two of the best receivers in the NFL worked out on campus, and it then has a nice little photo of Calvin Johnson standing with Ochocinco in the Tech stadium. 

But wait a second... there's no mention of Stafford anywhere in the post, and that photo happens to be the same photo of the three players that can be seen on the site I linked previously... except with Stafford cropped out.

Photo credit: Conspicuous Cropping Done by playatgatech.com

Really, Georgia Tech?  You're that offended by all things Georgia that you have to crop the 2009 #1 draft pick and starting Detroit QB from your photo AND the story?  

I assume this means any Tech fans who root for the Lions try to imagine that Stafford does not exist, and that whenever Calvin Johnson catches a ball, it was chucked miraculously into the air by a Tech-designed robot that probably looks like this.  Sure, it probably helps that Stafford has barely played in the past 2 years due to injury, but they still have to imagine it every once in a while.  

Keep on Ramblin', you wrecks.  

Apr 16, 2011

G-Day Trend: Today's Game a Bad Omen?

First of all, I think G-Day 2011 was a success in all the right ways.  We got to see the defense do well in the 1st half, and the offense turn it on in the 2nd.

Aaron Murray looked excellent, going 12 of 17 for 122 yards and a TD, while the backups Mason and Lemay (and even walk-on Parker Welch) looked pretty solid themselves.  Although Ealey and incoming hopeful star Isaiah Crowell weren't playing, Caleb King looked good with 30 yards on 5 carries and Ken Malcome had similar numbers (7 for 39) and a TD.  The receivers didn't look spectacular, but they looked like a solid group that should be able to get things done with Murray throwing it to them.  Orson Charles and Tavarres King, while not of AJ Green caliber (but who is?), are still capable of being SEC stars themselves.  And of course Branden Smith was the star of the offense (is that right?) while catching and running the ball.  The defense had plenty of standouts from Alec Ogletree (7 tackles), Reuben Faloughi (3 sacks, 3 TFL), Chase Vasser (7 tackles), and walk-on Connor Norman, who had 5 tackles and a very nice interception.

Now that that's all out of the way, WHAT ABOUT THE OMEN?

Last year I noticed a trend from recent G-Day games that showed how higher scoring spring games generally lead to better seasons.  Based on the point scoring, last year's G-Day seemed to predict between a 9 and 10 win record for the Dawgs.  But there was one problem: in the previous five G-Days, the Red team always won, but in 2010, the Black team won.  I wondered if that could lead to some bizarro Bulldog season with catastrophic consequences.  Unfortunately, it did.

Below is a chart of each G-Day, first listing the points scored by the winning team, then the total points in the game, and the following season's record.

2011: 18 points (29 total) ????????? (Black team wins)
2010: 17 points (24 total) 6-7 record (Black team wins)

2009: 13 points (16 total), 8-5 record
2006: 14 points (24 total), 9-4 record
2008: 17 points (20 total), 10-3 record
2005: 21 points (33 total), 10-3 record (winning SEC)
2007: 34 points (55 total), 11-2 record

Last season was filled with catastrophe.  First, there were plenty of off-season arrests through the spring and summer, then a crazy NCAA investigation led to the Dawgs losing AJ Green for the first four games.  Very unfortunate fumbles and other strange happenings (along with just plain bad coaching or play) ended up in a losing season. 

So while a few more points were scored this year at G-Day, which would alone predict between a 10 win season, the Black team has won again.  Things are different this year, though.  While in the past, the Red team has almost always been the first team offense, this year the teams were drafted and randomized, so the winner doesn't really matter as much.  So far, this has been a great spring for the Dawgs, with no real bad news and a "Dream Team" recruiting class.  So maybe things will turn out different in 2011.  The good news is, this entire trend is hopefully ridiculous and only worth discussion for fun.  

I'll just hope that the 2011 Bulldog squad won't worry about any trends or records from the past, put last year's catastrophic results behind them, and look toward an SEC Championship (and perhaps more) in the fall.  

Apr 1, 2011

Kids "Calling the Dawgs" in UGAnda?

Not an April Fool's joke, I promise.  The April Fool's joke appears to be the fact that I actually posted something.

Watch awesome video below:

Mar 23, 2011

UGA Returning Percentages 2011 Edition: Rushing

Yes I am reusing my photos.

So now football practice has resumed and it's springtime, which means there's really not going to be any real news other than funny little anecdotes and interviews with players/coaches for a while.  That means it's time for the fun stuff: NUMBERS.

You may remember last year when I looked at the numbers of what percentage of yards, touchdowns, tackles, sacks, and other fun stats were returning for Georgia's team. Maybe the most exciting fact I found was that UGA was returning EVERY rushing yard from 2009 to 2010.  Of course, that changed slightly when only days later running back Dontavius Jackson decided to transfer, leaving us 38 yards shy of that achievement.  But still, I thought that the returning rushing experience was a great sign for how the team would perform in that area in the fall of 2010, and I even found an interesting pattern that showed a correlation between large returning rushing percentages and success in the following season.  Needless to say, that didn't turn out to be the case in 2010.

But why not look at it again for this year?

Going into 2011, UGA is once again losing very little from the rushing department (percentage-wise).  This is mostly due to Georgia losing no running backs, but both experienced fullbacks (Shaun Chapas, Fred Munzenmaier) have departed, along with AJ Green and Logan Gray (both having a handful of rushing yards last season).

Even with those four players leaving and taking a total of 118 yards with them, the numbers look very, very nice.

  • UGA is losing about 6% of the 1854 rushing yards from 2010, which means a return of 94%.
  • Shaun Chapas did have 2 rushing TDs in 2010 which accounted for 9.5% of the 21 total rushing touchdowns, so without those, UGA returns just over 90% of rushing scores.

Now of course in 2010, the returning rushing percentages didn't account to much, which was unusual according to recent trends.  We'll have to wait and see if things will be different this season, and we have yet to see how Ken Malcome or new recruit Isaiah Crowell might contribute to the rushing numbers.

Mar 18, 2011

Bulldog vs. Husky: Real Puppy Fight (YouTube Video)

A quick YouTube search reveals many previous battles between Bulldogs and Huskies.  This is clearly a long, underrated rivalry in the history of dogs.

The Fake "Dawgs" Must Go Down Tonight

As you may or may not know, the University of Washington likes to refer to their mascot, the Huskies, as "Dawgs."  Firstly, the word "dog" is no where in their mascot name.  As many have said, they aren't the "Huskiedogs."  Washington fans like to claim that the "w" in "Dawgs" stands for Washington.  Then I ask them what the "a" stands for.

Second, their live mascot (named Dubs) isn't even a real husky.  It's a malamute.

What are these people trying to pull here?  Their mascot is a farce.

Of course, no one outside of Washington really calls them the Dawgs (while it's universally known that the true Dawgs are UGA), and it's likely that not many know of the malamute named Dubs, while Uga is the most popular mascot in the country.  And clearly "Dawgs" is a word modeled after the Southern pronunciation of "Dogs," as in part of the word "Bulldogs."

In a match between the real Dawgs and the Huskies MalamuteDawgs, there can only be one true Dawg.  Let's do this UGA.

Mar 17, 2011

Aaron Murray: Football Assassin (YouTube video)

I'm being told by multiple sources that this is a video of Aaron Murray attempting a QB trick shot on the beach in Key West for spring break.

My question: Did he fail.... or succeed?


Mar 13, 2011

Haters Gonna' Hate: UGA a 10 seed in NCAAT

I will admit, I don't know too much about the NCAA tournament selection process.  But I did find it strange how the "experts" and media types were going back and forth on Georgia.  Almost every prognosticator seemed to say UGA would either be one of the last four teams in, or one of the last four out.  But it turns out that none of them were correct, and Georgia ends up as a 10 seed, facing 7th seeded Washington in Charlotte on Friday.

I'm surprised, but only because I've been hearing bad things so frequently the last few days about this.  I don't care whether it's deserved or not; I'm just happy to see the Dawgs earning a spot in the big tournament for once.

Mar 12, 2011

Georgia Football: What's the Level of Excitement?

It usually seems like the first day of spring football practice is big news.  This year, the coverage appears to be lacking, and so does the interest.  Granted, usually the basketball team isn't actually in contention for the NCAA tournament, and there is a 2 week hiatus between the first practice and the next.  But is it possible that there's a lower excitement level in general toward Georgia football at the moment?  Did a 6-7 season bring a feeling of cautiousness, perhaps even nervousness, about the coming year in Georgia football?

I started thinking about the type of season that produces the most excitement from a college football fan base, and that would have to be a nearly undefeated season, with a win in a BCS bowl, and returning stars.  In other words, 2008 was the optimal year for excitement in UGA football.  They were coming off an 11-2 season, a blowout win in the Sugar Bowl, and returning huge names in Stafford and Moreno.  Add to that the recruiting hype of a player like AJ Green, a #1 pre-season ranking, and the cover of Sports Illustrated, and you have about the maximum excitement level attainable.

A down year can bring excitement too: the excitement for change, improvements, and (obviously) doing better than the year before.  I got that feeling after 2009's 8-5 year, which was followed by a QB battle in the spring and the implementation of a new defense.  It wasn't the excitement of going into 2008, but it was still decent.  But is there a point where the losses become too many, and it's difficult for fans to feel the usual self-induced hype of a coming season?

We might have reached that point.  There's still anticipation, a growing star at quarterback, new recruits, and plenty of improving to do.  But the general feeling for now might be a cautious optimism.  Great things can happen in 2011, but we'll have to wait and see.

Mar 11, 2011

Georgia Loses to Alabama, but it Isn't Over Yet

Because the fact of the matter is, no one knows where UGA is going to go.  I've heard plenty of prognosticators say that even with a loss to Alabama, Georgia should still be in the NCAA Tournament.  That may be so, and perhaps as long as there aren't any huge bubble busters coming in the next two days, UGA should be in.  

I find it most relaxing to just sit back, think positively, and wait to see what happens.  As a Georgia fan, the easiest route is to be angry over a very frustrating loss, throw your hands up, and scream about how, "Well now we've done it!  We're going to the NIT!  And we deserve it with how we played!"  But a frustrating loss doesn't change that Georgia has a very good résumé, won the "must win" game against Auburn, and gave up a big lead to lose in overtime against the Tide.  

I have no idea what the committee will do and how things will shake out, but I'm not going to worry too much about it.  Before Thursday's game against Auburn, the general consensus I heard was, "Georgia really needs to win this game to feel good about the NCAA tournament, but if they lose, they still have a decent shot."  Then after handily taking care of Auburn, I heard about the Alabama game, "Georgia really needs to win this game to feel good about the NCAA tournament, but if they lose, they should still have a good shot to get in."  Which tells me that it's all up in the air, and we'll see how it shakes out.  That's all we can do.

Mar 4, 2011

Should UGA Hold Open Tryouts?

Of course it isn't necessary.  Georgia has no problem filling up the roster with highly rated athletes and hand picked walk-ons to fill any gaps.

But Vanderbilt is in a different situation, and they've decided to now make possible the dreams of most college-aged sports fans.  They held a football walk-on tryout on February 15, and 17 students showed up to see if they have what it takes.  



I know it makes no sense at a program like UGA, but imagine how awesome it would be for the 30,000 or so students (minus about 60% females) to have a chance to wear the silver britches.  Even if none of them made the cut, it would still make a great reality show.  Make it happen, Mr. McGarity, and I will produce the reality show for free.  Title ideas?

Here are a few:
The Next Top Dawg
Mark Richt's: "The Arena"
Georgia Football Idol (with judges Mark Richt, Greg McGarity, and Mike "Big Dawg" Woods)

PS: Follow me on Twitter, because it's all the rage these days (or so I hear).