Monday September 30, 2013
If you could put a Georgia football game in a time capsule, there’s a strong case for Saturday’s win over LSU.
You can start with the Chamber of Commerce weather. Athens was brilliant under a bright and cool late-September sun. Add in the national attention from a visit by ESPN Gameday. We gripe about Georgia’s record when featured by Gameday, but the turnout was outstanding. Myers Quad was packed and loud, and the show did a great job at showcasing the entire campus. This game, this setting, and this day WAS college football. All that was left to do was win.
I’m not sure Georgia wins this game without the first two. The team was able to put aside the big game hype and Gameday visit because, well, been there, done that. They’d been in two close games against top 10 competition, understood how to take the opponent’s best shot, and had confidence in their ability to measure up. The mental toughness was there, and the coaches honed the physical toughness with a week of practice in full pads.
It was a credit to both offenses that they were able to be so productive with their strengths taken from them. LSU was supposed to attack with a power running game, and Georgia could counter with Gurley. With Gurley lost to an early injury and Georgia doing a surprisingly good job against the run, the ground war never really materialized. Even the subplot of the Copeland/Hicks fullback duel fizzled. Both teams had their moments running the ball of course, but this game didn’t take long to develop into a battle of quarterbacks.
The game was won with Murray’s poise at the end, but it’s worth spending some time looking at the first quarter. Saying that LSU had dominated the first quarter is an understatement. They had been outscoring the opposition 62-3 in the first fifteen minutes. Georgia’s first drive was the picture of precision. The Dawgs didn’t face a single third down. Murray was a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive, topped off with a well-placed ball to Bennett for the score. LSU had allowed its only first quarter touchdown of the season.
But as impressive and important as that first score was, I think Georgia’s second touchdown was even bigger. LSU had responded with two quick scores of their own, the second coming after a Murray interception. If you go back to the 2011 SEC Championship game, a Murray fumble early in the third quarter started a torrent of LSU points. Within five minutes, Georgia had fumbled on their opening possession, went three-and-out, gave up a 47-yard punt return, and saw LSU take a 21-10 lead with drives of 27 and 17 yards. It was imperative that Murray put the interception behind him and that Georgia post some kind of answer to fourteen straight LSU points. The Dawgs turned to Gurley who reeled off a 23-yard run to start the drive. Georgia tailbacks put up 42 yards on the drive, and Murray was again perfect with two completions including the touchdown pass to Conley in the back of the endzone.
As dominant as LSU had been in the first quarter all season, getting off to a 14-14 start almost felt like a win. The Dawgs had overcome their mistake and even capitalized on an LSU turnover later in the game.
- What a great job from start to finish by the fans. The students were as into a game as I’ve ever seen – even moreso than the blackout games. Even when LSU deflated the crowd (3rd-and-22), the fans didn’t fade. I’m not a fan of shakers (they make no noise), but the swirling sea of red was an impressive visual effect.
- Continuing with the fans, I’ll remember the scene after the game for a long time. People just didn’t want to leave. And to have the players come back out to share the moment was a tremendous touch.
- Getting back to the game, it was the best special teams performance of the season. Morgan was clutch. LSU kick returns looked to be a missed tackle away from breaking one, but the Dawgs made the play. I can single out Stripling in particular for a good job of fighting off a block, staying in his lane, and closing off what could have been one big return. It was an interesting experiment for Georgia to put Reggie Davis out there to return kickoffs. I can see why they’d want to use his speed, but he didn’t seem to have the moves to do much more than run straight ahead. I expect kick return duties to continue to be an experiment.
- I guess we have to address the defense. Georgia did fairly well along the line of scrimmage, and more than a few of us were stunned to see LSU with single-digit rushing yardage at halftime. That commitment to stop the run cost Georgia a few times, and some of the struggles at the safety spot had to do with a lot of attention being paid to the LSU backfield.
- Before we get to Georgia’s pass defense, credit to Mettenberger, his receivers, and the LSU offensive coaches. His improvement was as-advertised. Georgia helped him out a few times, but there were many throws made with precision, a couple of ridiculously good catches, and they made Georgia pay when they had time.
- “When they had time” is the key. Georgia did well to pressure Mettenberger and came away with four sacks. The decision to bring pressure or drop men into coverage wasn’t always made correctly, but I’m glad that the Dawgs were aggressive on LSU’s final possession. Jordan Jenkins hurdling a blocker on the final play didn’t quite get him to the quarterback, but it surely contributed to a rushed and inaccurate throw. Anyone who saw it had to think back to this image from the preseason. And congratulations to Jenkins for notching his first sack of the season. His impact has been much bigger than that, but it has to be a load off to get into the stat sheet. Leonard Floyd continues to be a deadly counterpart to Jenkins on the pass rush.
- As good as Floyd is getting into the backfield, teams are still taking advantage of he and the other linebackers in pass coverage. With Quincy Mauger earning more playing time, I wonder if we don’t see the coaches rethink personnel on passing downs. It’s true that there’s a lack of experience across the board, but Georgia does itself no favors to continue to match up linebackers with receivers. Do you replace a middle linebacker in those situations with Harvey-Clemons and add another defensive back?
- Truthfully, I expected a bit more from Grantham in this game. There was no spread offense and no dual-threat QB. With the NFL background of Cam Cameron, this was as close to an NFL offense as Grantham would see almost all year. Georgia was routinely confused by shifts, didn’t adjust to some matchup issues, and several times were caught unprepared before the snap. I credit him with a scheme that looked a lot better against the run, but there’s no reason for receivers to be uncovered at the snap.
- Georgia has been part of the tempo/no-huddle discussion for a while, but LSU used it quite a bit themselves with positive results. With as much as they go against the Georgia offense in practice, and considering all of the preseason preparation for Clemson’s tempo, I’m just disappointed that Georgia seemed to have so much trouble getting lined up when LSU pushed the tempo. Is it a question of coaches taking too long to get the call in? Is it the complexity of the scheme? I’ll grant some of it to young players still figuring out the basics, but that can’t be all of it. Fortunately we won’t see too many other teams able to exploit it that well, but some like Tennessee and Auburn will surely try.
- But when it mattered most, the defense ended with a big positive moment. You can see the glimpses of talent, and the safeties had a couple of impressive hits to separate the ball from a receiver. Guys like Mayes and Drew continue to make plays along the line. I’m looking forward to the continued development of the defense, but the coaches could sure help them out some.
It was a legendary win to wrap up a tough but rewarding and memorable month. The Bulldog Nation might be awake now, but the next few games is no time to doze off. One of the most impressive things about the 2012 season was the month of November. With the Florida win in hand, Georgia just had to hold serve to win the division. They went beyond just going through the motions and went on a run of dominant wins that had them in position for a huge reward when they met Alabama. With the “big game” gauntlet behind them, I want to see how Georgia handles their business in some games that won’t be as hyped but are as dangerous as any SEC game can be.
Thursday September 26, 2013
Georgia is honored to host ESPN’s coverage of LSU football. Is this a sign of what to expect Saturday morning?
Wednesday September 18, 2013
The NFL is increasing the price of its most expensive Super Bowl tickets in order to “close the gap between the face value of the ticket and its true value as reflected on the secondary market.” You can see why they’d want to do this: if a $1,250 ticket is going to end up fetching aver $2,500 on the secondary market, why not try to capture some of that difference in the primary market?
Thanks to the online secondary marketplace, we’re getting a much better and transparent sense of the true value of a ticket. Some are worth almost half of face value (if that). Others sell for many times the original asking price. As schools continue to partner with these secondary brokers, they should be gathering quite a bit of data about the demand for their tickets.
In a day when schools are squeezing all of the money they can out of their football programs, will they use this data to adjust future prices? Differential ticket pricing is already done at this level, but it’s still somewhat crude. Several of our opponents already place Georgia in a premium tier. More attractive opponents create higher demand, and prices are set higher. But how much higher? If we know that a visit from Alabama brings resale prices to over $200, why stop at a premium price of $90? Of course you have to balance maximizing revenue with selling out the stadium (not necessarily the same thing), but you’ll at least start with a more precise idea of what the price should be.
Any tinkering with ticket prices will be a slow process. You have an entrenched fan base used to a certain system, and there will be a negative reaction if too much is done too soon – especially if similar adjustments aren’t made at the bottom end of the scale for less-attractive games. But as the data builds and schools get an exact picture of the demand for their tickets, it will be very tempting to transfer those premiums from the secondary markets into the coffers of the teams. As with the NFL and the Super Bowl, I’d expect this to start with the CFB playoff where the potential gap between primary and secondary markets is the highest. Just don’t be surprised to see it from individual conferences and schools down the road.
Monday September 9, 2013
Georgia fans probably felt a little helpless watching Spurrier target a few inexperienced or weak spots in the Georgia defense on Saturday. Fortunately, Spurrier wasn’t the only coach who had done his homework. As Gamecock (and former Bulldog) beat writer Josh Kendall reports, “Mike Bobo told (Blackledge) last week that Georgia had an advantage due to the new linebackers’ relative lack of experience and size.”
What lack of size? While the South Carolina defensive line is stout, the Gamecock linebackers are, on average, over 25 pounds lighter than the unit that shut down Georgia’s running game a year ago in Columbia.
In 2012, when South Carolina’s starting linebackers weighed an average of 239.7 pounds, Georgia rushed for 115 yards.
On Saturday, when the Gamecocks’ starting linebackers weighed an average of 213.7 pounds, the Bulldogs rushed for 227 yards and whipped South Carolina 41-30.
Follow the link for some more good observations from Josh.
Monday September 9, 2013
Georgia’s September 21 game against North Texas will start at 12:21 p.m. Your local SEC Network affiliate will have the broadcast. Fans in the Atlanta market will find the game on Peachtree TV as usual. SEC Network affiliates in other markets can be found here.
For the complete slate of September 21 SEC start times, use this link. Florida/Tennessee is the 3:30 CBS game of the week.
Monday September 9, 2013
Sometimes after a loss we’ll get a comment from a coach claiming that the plan was sound but that the execution was lacking. Go back to the 2007 loss to South Carolina, and Mark Richt deflected criticism of Mike Bobo by saying, "I think we had plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns. We’ve got to execute." Other times it’s the plan that’s lacking. A timid attack in Columbia last year didn’t do much to stem the Gamecocks’ explosive start.
On Saturday we saw what happens when a good plan is executed well. Georgia’s plan certainly tipped its cap to the abilities of Jadeveon Clowney* – the passes were usually quick and short, and runs often went away from him. But any plan would have failed without good blocking, tough running, accurate throws, and big catches. The execution we saw from the Georgia offense was what we had hoped for and expected from such a loaded and experience unit. It was a high level of performance from everyone from the backs to the line to the quarterback to the receivers. And it’s a good thing – this was a battle between two very good teams that came down to inches in the fourth quarter. Georgia had very little room for error when it had the ball, and fortunately the errors were few.
* – The Clowney backlash has been something to behold. I get why fans relish getting the best of someone like Clowney – sticking it to Tebow was one of the joys of the 2007 Florida win, after all. But Georgia’s success had a lot more to do with the rest of the defense than it had to do with a sub-par performance from a great player. Georgia was magnificent at frustrating him, and other teams will try to do the same until the rest of the defense can respond. That doesn’t diminish Clowney as a player or pro prospect, but it does show why the Heisman was never going to happen.
Any talk about Georgia’s execution starts with Murray. He set the tone on the opening series. With Clowney hanging on to him, Murray was somehow able to launch a pass in the general direction of Michael Bennett. It wasn’t, and it couldn’t have been, right on the money, but it was a strong response by a quarterback who was supposed to be in fear of the guy hanging off of him. Murray’s stats – even with the drops – were as good as it gets, and his numbers through two games are even ahead of last season’s pace. As important, he avoided any kind of mistake that could have turned such a close game.
When I heard that Murray had watched the Clemson film six or seven times, I was a little worried about the psychology major. Was he overthinking things? When you’re so analytical and obsessed with perfection, it can be easy to press, and that can lead to some of the mistakes and early jitters we’ve seen. South Carolina’s pass rush might’ve been a blessing for Murray in that he didn’t have much time to think. The plan called for a large helping of slants, passes to the backs, and other plays that showed that Georgia’s offense was very aware of timing. Some of Murray’s most successful passes – the first lob to Bennett, the touchdown to Gurley, and the last toss to Justin Scott-Wesley – were improvised or rushed. Murray’s talent and instincts are just fine, and he turned them loose in one of the best performances of the year.
More from a bright and sunny home opener:
- Was anyone else surprised that Spurrier ended the game eating two timeouts?
- The trend of booing injured players is on the rise, and I’m disappointed that it showed up at Sanford Stadium yesterday. It wasn’t to the degree that we saw at Clemson last week, but it was there. It’s ridiculous that we had to spend time last Sunday producing video evidence of a legitimate injury. Whether or not these stoppages are meant to slow momentum, the benefit of the doubt used to be with the injured player. It needs to be that way again.
- The wonderful closing drive meant that the defense never had to take the field after its crucial goal-line stop, so we won’t know for a while whether it’s going to mark a turning point for the defense. South Carolina found success with that speed option from their opening drive, and they kept going back to it. It’s the play that they scored on early in the fourth quarter. In fact, Herrera had a chance to stop the pitch on that scoring play and couldn’t complete the tackle. After Ray Drew’s stop on third down just inches short of the goal line, the Dawgs were ready, and South Carolina went to the well one too many times. Shaw was met immediately by Jenkins and forced the quick pitch. Herrera was up to the job this time and slowed Mike Davis long enough for Wilson and several other defenders to finish the job.
- Speaking of Herrera and Wilson, what a test for them. You had a tough runner in Davis, an elusive quarterback to contain, and Wilson in particular was picked on almost as much in the passing game as Langley was. But they had enough left in the tank to suck it up for the big stop. The next few weeks will be about developing depth across the board, but few positions could use depth as much as inside linebacker. It’s a big three weeks for Kimbrough and Carter.
- And on Langley, be patient with him. He’s out there for a reason, and he’ll continue to learn and improve. It’s said that offensive line and cornerback are two of the toughest positions for freshmen, and we saw a master probing the weak spots of Georgia’s defense yesterday.
- Jordan Jenkins through two games has six solo tackles, two tackles for loss, and zero sacks. Is that representative of Georgia’s pass rush so far?
- I could go overboard gushing about Gurley, Hicks, and the rest of the backs. It’s enough to say that, with Murray and the backs, Georgia is deploying an NFL backfield in the college game.
- I wasn’t down on Marshall after the Clemson game, but his impact was limited. You can’t say that about this game. Keith reminded us of what he can do running the ball, but his speed on those swing passes was magical. What a weapon.
- All hail Sol. The third-quarter sun saved Georgia at least once.
- The Dawgs were a little better at third downs in this game (6-14 vs. 4-14 a week ago). Georgia’s success at sustaining drives was helped by two fourth down conversions. That early 4th-and-13 pass to Scott-Wesley was both important and outstanding.
- With Morgan available going forward, you wonder if we make the same call on 4th-and-13 from the opponent’s 31. I hope so.
- South Carolina got zero points directly from its defense or special teams (excepting placekicks of course). They had the short field thanks to the botched punt, but that’s as much help as Georgia gave them. It’s been a few years since that’s happened. Georgia forced the game’s only turnover, but it came at an important time in the third quarter. It stopped a promising Gamecock drive and led to a field goal that put Georgia out in front for good.
- The game day experience was generally pretty good. The ticket scanning made for a logjam at entry, and I hope people keep that in mind for the LSU game. The only big disappointment was that the score came down off the scoreboard immediately after the game. If ever you wanted a few shots at a scoreboard picture, this was the game.
- And the crowd. Wow. Even with the problems at the gates, the fans showed up. The second quarter rally by the visitors put a damper on things, but the fans had an impact through the end of the game. It helped that the Dawgs, as they did at Clemson, were outstanding at answering scores.
What a difference a week makes. That’s not just a comment on the progress made since the Clemson loss. It’s also a reminder that with 10 games still left, each win has to be earned all over again.
Friday September 6, 2013
Snap out of it, Dawg fans. There’s still this funk hanging over a lot of us, and that’s not what we need on Saturday. If you saw the game last year in Columbia you know how a home crowd can contribute to steamrolling an opponent. I can’t remember the coaches and players ever being this persistent about asking for a good crowd on Saturday. You can tell what this game means to them, and I hope it means enough to us to put aside the post-Clemson blues and do what we can from the Dawg Walk through pregame through all four quarters.
A great player like Clowney is disruptive by nature, so it’s foolish just to go about things as if he’s just another defensive end. At the same time, focusing too much on an individual can keep you on the defensive and take you out of plays that might find success against parts of the defense that are less strong. You can’t play scared. There was that whole subplot a few weeks ago about which quarterbacks played scared against Clowney. “Scared” is a loaded term. What happens is that a quarterback – an entire offense, even – becomes so aware of a player that you rush things or throw out entire elements of your playbook. Short, quick passes are fine, but do you entirely give up on the vertical game? (See “asinine sideline swing screen.”) The diversity of what Georgia can do on offense is one of its strengths; becoming a predictable draw or screen offense makes the field more compact and can even make things easier for the player you’re so worried about.
Last week, Georgia was a disappointing 4-of-14 on third down. It didn’t help that nine of those 14 third down attempts came with at least five yards to go. If you want to lessen the impact of a dominant defensive end, limiting obvious passing situations is a good place to start. Georgia has to be more effective on first and second down and either avoid third downs or make the distance as manageable as possible. The barrage of ineffective counter draws last week set up some nice play-action possibilities (especially the long reception by Hicks), but is it worth the numerous long-yardage situations if you’re only going to set up one or two plays out of it?
In the end, there is no play that doesn’t depend on blocking and execution. Georgia can call up the most brilliant scheme to counter the South Carolina defensive line, but it won’t matter without a better effort from the line.
Georgia threw the ball to its running backs a few times last week. There was the brilliant play-action catch and rumble by Hicks. Murray checked down to Gurley on the very first play. Marshall made a nice catch on a swing pass. But Georgia, for whatever reason, still struggles to execute the screen pass. It might just be my own confirmation bias, but I just don’t think of the screen as a play Georgia runs well. The Dawgs had a couple of well-timed screens go awry at Clemson. Gurley was set up with blockers and a lot of open field ahead, but Murray’s pass was tipped and nearly intercepted. Georgia later ran the mirror image of the famous Nebraska inside screen to Conley, but Murray had to sidestep and ended up making an inaccurate throw for an incompletion.
Murray’s height is always going to come up. I’m sure that can be a factor, but even Joe Flacco at 6’6″ is going to have a tough time seeing over a leaping 6’4″ defensive end only a few feet away. A well-executed screen is a balance between holding the defensive pressure long enough for the play to develop and then releasing in time to trap the pressure behind the play. If you wait too long to release, there are no blockers for the receiver, and the receiver is likely to be caught in a traffic jam near the line of scrimmage. If you release too soon, you give a quick defender like Clowney a clear path to the quarterback before the quarterback can even drop back. That leads to unpleasant outcomes like this:
Yes, the coup de grace of the 2011 loss to South Carolina came when Clowney blew up an attempted screen. We know that screens can be great ways to counter aggressive defenses. I’m just hesitant to go all-in with screens in this game because 1) Georgia has problems executing them, 2) you’re playing with fire when you invite a speedy rusher into the backfield, and 3) is South Carolina’s defense all that aggressive? By that, I mean their defensive line is good enough that they can get the pressure they need with just the front four. Watch these last two videos from their UNC game. Sacks from simple straight-ahead four-man rushes. Not even a stunt to be found.
That strength along the line creates a big luxury for the defense. You can drop everyone else into coverage and be fairly certain that you’ll get enough pressure if you can cover just competently for a few seconds. So even if you’re able to get off a screen behind that line, know that you’ll still have seven defenders behind the line to deal with. This goes back to what I was saying about how playing scared can make you do things contrary to what you might do best. A screen is a logical counter to a good pass rush, but does it attack the weaknesses of the South Carolina defense? Or does the very presence of Clowney bait Georgia into doing something they don’t do all that well? Is a win against Clowney necessarily a win for the offense?
Forget the debate over Murray for a second. Going back to 2005, South Carolina’s defense and special teams has put points on the board against Georgia seven times. We remember the crushing fumble and fake punt in the 2011 game, but there was also an interception return in there too. It goes without saying that Georgia has to avoid not only crippling turnovers but also the special teams miscues that helped to sink them last week (and last year in Columbia). We also know that it’s not just the direct scores that hurt you. Ealey’s fumble from the SC 3 in 2010 ended Georgia’s best chance to get back in that game. An early Murray INT last season ended Georgia’s only trip into South Carolina territory until late in the second quarter.
There’s the flip side – what can Georgia do to create turnovers and points? South Carolina is fairly stingy with the ball. Shaw only threw seven interceptions in 2012, two of which came playing from behind in the 4th quarter at LSU. In their three-game losing streak to South Carolina, the Dawgs have forced three turnovers – 1 in 2010 and 2 in 2011 – but they’ve done little with those opportunities. A Garcia fumble in 2010 led to a long Georgia drive, but the drive ended on Georgia’s own fumble. Garcia was intercepted twice in 2011 and had a rough first half, but Georgia failed to take control of the game when they had momentum. The kind of opportunity that we saw in the muffed fumble recovery at Clemson have to be cashed in on in games like this.
But before Georgia worries about converting opportunities, they have to create them. Georgia’s lone takeaway last week came on a muffed punt. The defense didn’t have many chances to create turnovers and didn’t come away with any. Grantham’s “biggest complaint to the players was a lack of turnovers.” You wonder if Georgia is going to go with a higher risk/reward approach on Saturday.
- With Mitchell out for Georgia, I expect South Carolina to focus on Gurley. That means some dense coverage in the short and intermediate passes until Georgia can establish some kind of deep threat. I’d be happy to see an early shot or two, even if unsuccessful, to show some attempt at a vertical passing game. If the SC linebackers are going to help against the run, this is an opportunity for Lynch to have a bigger impact than he had a week ago.
- While Murray can be “wild in the strike zone” even as he’s completing passes, that’s fine with me. He just could really use a good, confidence-building start. The early pick in Columbia last year deflated the offense, and it took a while to recover.
- I like Georgia’s matchups against South Carolina’s receivers – as long as they keep those receivers from getting behind them. South Carolina tested Georgia deep just a couple of times last year. The Bulldog defensive backs had good chances to break up those passes (or even intercept them), but they lost the one-on-one battle each time. Hopefully Georgia’s safeties do better this time around.
Wednesday August 28, 2013
I really enjoyed this conversation with Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell about the upcoming season over at Grantland. If only most of our fans had this kind of informed and level-headed approach to the team, program, and season.
Wednesday August 28, 2013
You’ve seen by now that Georgia’s 2-deep on defense is as inexperienced as we feared it could be: 10 players have never played a snap of D-1 football, and 8 are true freshmen. That’s not unexpected, but the approach of the Clemson game gives us a chance to look at some specific ways Georgia will have to deal with their situation.
PWD had a good one here:
The Nebraska game turned out well, but you also remember that scene early in the third quarter when Georgia couldn’t get lined up on the goal line. You wonder how complex Grantham will try to get with such an inexperienced defense. It’s not quite 2010 again, but it’s going to be important to get these new guys into a comfort zone where at least they know what their assignment is before they worry about the offense they’ll see. Georgia’s defensive success in this game will have a lot to do with Grantham’s ability to improvise with what he has versus what he’d prefer to do.
That brings up a related topic – one of the reasons why Herrera didn’t see more time last year at MLB had to do with getting the defense lined up. It’s the job of the middle linebacker to read the offense and adjust the defensive call to match what he sees. Herrera has been a solid linebacker since he was thrown to the fire as a freshman in 2011, but he was still developing the big-picture skills. That gave the coaches a decision and a trade-off – do you put the better defender in or the guy more likely to align the defense correctly? There’s no one ahead of Herrera and Wilson this year, so it’s on them. So we’re not only looking at Grantham getting the call in quicker, we’re also depending on the middle linebackers to improve on a weakness of last season. Fun stuff.
Both Georgia and Clemson are facing big questions in the secondary. Georgia will be without two likely starters thanks to a suspension and an injury. Clemson has also been banged up, and they’re looking to improve on a unit that was sub-par to begin with. So while each team hopes its secondary can step up, they’ll lean on relatively stronger units up front. If either team can generate pressure and chaos along the line, they’ll force more rushed throws and poor decisions that will help the defensive backs.
Tyler had a nice look yesterday at Clemson’s speed and depth along their front seven. That kind of disruption of Georgia’s rushing lanes and timing of passes is just what the secondary is looking for. The Dawgs aren’t as experienced up front, but they will at least have a strong rotation to keep the line fresh. Georgia’s linebacking corps is the most experienced unit on the defense (even that’s relative), and they’ll have to be keys to applying pressure while maintaining the discipline to deal with Clemson’s counters to the pressure.
Each team has ways to derail attempts to bring pressure. For Clemson, it’s tempo and the scrambling ability of Boyd. He can elude initial pressure and create on the run. Georgia’s front six or seven must worry not only about pressure but also containment. Boyd’s running threat also allows Clemson to use option plays from most any formation to freeze Georgia’s front to buy time or make them pay for overaggressiveness. On the Georgia side, you have the tailbacks and play-action. Gurley and Marshall are the quality of tailback that require run support from the secondary. Tyler made an interesting comparison of Clemson’s line to the Boise defense we saw in 2011. The current talent at tailback is one big weapon that Georgia didn’t have to counter what they saw from Boise. If Clemson is aggressive on the line, they’ll open things up for draws, play-action, and screens. We’ve seen Gurley and Marshall put in work in the passing game during the offseason, and this could be a good chance to use them to relieve pressure.
Tuesday August 27, 2013
It’s been an unavoidable topic during the offseason: attendance is lagging at live sporting events. Teams, even good ones, are finding it tough to sell out of season tickets. Teams are struggling with ways to compete against home viewing where the fridge and restroom are steps away, parking is ample, and you can see 43 different camera angles from your HDTV.
Quality of competition counts, but we’re in a part of the world where 40,000 people will turn out to watch a team scrimmage itself. Of course those spring scrimmages are free with (at least in Athens) open parking. So any discussion about attendance that doesn’t spend most of its time on cost and convenience seems misguided. Wi-fi in the stadium is nice, but I have that at home, too, and it’s not going to be what draws me to a game. Besides, I’d rather we not have a stadium full of fans with heads buried in their phones. Attendance is a participatory sport.
So I guess the extreme in bring-home-to-the-stadium is this concept at Michigan. They’ll tow a loaded FEMA-like trailer up to campus, cater to you during the weekend, and then tow the thing away when you’re ready to leave. It looks like the portable version of a Cockaboose.
Looks great – but why would anyone leave this to actually go to the game?
Thursday August 22, 2013
You can find the complete list here. It raised eyebrows for Murray to be named first team over returning quarterbacks who won the Heisman or the national title, but it’s an entirely defensible decision.
Georgia’s preseason all-SEC players (according to the coaches):
- Aaron Murray, 1st team QB
- Todd Gurley, 1st team RB
- Arthur Lynch, 1st team TE
- Chris Burnette, 2nd team OL
- Jordan Jenkins, 2nd team LB
- Damian Swann, 2nd team DB
- Keith Marshall, 3rd team RB
- Malcolm Mitchell, 3rd team WR
Wednesday August 21, 2013
The 2013 football schedule doesn’t start for another week, but the big news today is the release of the 2014 SEC schedule. We knew that the conference would stick with an eight-game schedule, so the only real question was whether another SEC West opponent would replace LSU. That turned out to be the case. Rather than a return trip to Baton Rouge, Georgia will pick up Arkansas and head to Fayetteville.
Here is Georgia’s 2014 slate:
Aug 30 – vs. Clemson
Sept 6 – BYE
Sept 13 – at South Carolina
Sept 20 – vs. Troy
Sept 27 – vs. Tennessee
Oct 4 – vs. Vanderbilt
Oct 11 – at Missouri
Oct 18 – at Arkansas
Oct 25 – BYE
Nov 1 – Florida
Nov 8 – at Kentucky
Nov 15 – vs. Auburn
Nov 22 – vs. Charleston Southern
Nov 29 – vs. Georgia Tech
Dec 6 – SEC Championship
A few observations:
- Everyone’s first analysis is to check who a team avoids from the other division. Georgia misses Alabama, LSU, and A&M.
- For a new quarterback, it’s as close to an ideal schedule as you can get. Four of the first five are at home. Though Clemson and South Carolina will pose tough challenges, there’s at least a bye week before the trip to Columbia.
- The long road trip is back. We’ve seen long stretches away from home like this before (2009 most recently), but Georgia will go from October 4 through November 15 without a home game.
- The long road trip includes one tricky stretch. Missouri and Arkansas might not be the toughest teams on the schedule, but they represent a haul during the middle of the year. It’s not as if the Dawgs will be driving all the way out there, but those are two extended road trips after four straight games. It’s just something to watch. As for the fans…might as well spend a week in Branson, I guess.
- South Carolina opening with an SEC game isn’t new – they just opened at Vanderbilt last year. But in 2014 they’ll start with a Thursday home game against Texas A&M – the inaugural game on the new SEC Network. (Go ahead and start writing the post-Clowney-and-Manziel-era pieces now.) While Georgia will have a bye on September 6, the Gamecocks will host East Carolina.
- Both Georgia and Florida preserve their bye week before the WLOCP.
- Georgia should be fairly pleased with their schedule, but of course not everyone will be happy. Florida will face LSU and Alabama from the SEC West in 2014.
- 2014 will be the first time that the Dawgs will play Auburn and Georgia Tech in Athens in the same season.
- Don’t get used to this schedule – we’re still a couple of years away from anything resembling a permanent schedule and a decision on eight or nine conference games.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
It’s a ticket kind of day around here.
The Vols have released single-game tickets to the general public. You can find them here. Tickets are $80/ea. You can select your seats – Georgia sections in the upper deck are usually GG and HH.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
With the season just a couple of weeks away, we’re starting to get news about changes to the game day experience. We haven’t heard anything new about tailgating, parking, or traffic flow, and we’re not expecting significant changes in those areas. We’ll pass along anything that comes up.
One thing that is changing is how you enter the stadium – no more tearing of ticket stubs.
All reserved seat tickets are bar-coded and will be scanned for entry at all gates. UGA Student tickets will continue to be loaded onto their UGA ID Card and only accepted at Gates 1, 3 and 4A.
Few transitions are seamless, so fans are urged to get to the South Carolina game a little early to avoid a crush at the gates.
Going to scanning will allow fans to transfer tickets online (through official UGA partner StubHub). While UGA hasn’t announced details of that process yet, StubHub does this with other teams, and we expect that things will be similar for Georgia. Look for an e-mail from UGA soon with specifics.
There is one obvious issue with the StubHub system: there will still be the original tickets out there. These aren’t counterfeit tickets – these are once-valid tickets that have been transfered online and inactivated. StubHub’s system works like this: “The barcodes on the tickets you currently have will be invalidated and tickets with a new bar code will be issued to the buyer.” It’s easy to imagine a number of inactivated tickets floating around the secondary market, especially for bigger games. There needs to be some way outside of the StubHub system – apart from at the gate – to verify whether a ticket is valid.
Thursday August 1, 2013
Preseason polls might not be accurate, but they do establish pole position for the race to the national title. If that’s the case, Georgia should be happy to start the season at #5 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. They won’t have far to climb in order to contend for the national title if the season unfolds favorably.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Georgia must face four top 13 opponents during the regular season – three of them in September. Georgia’s first two opponents, South Carolina (7th) and Clemson (8th) are also in the top ten.
The SEC placed six teams in the poll, and none was lower than 13th. (Alabama-1, Georgia-5, A&M-6, South Carolina-7, Florida-10, LSU-13) The conference has half of the initial top 10. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee also received votes but did not crack the top 25. Only Missouri, Kentucky, and Auburn received no votes.
We’ll see some shakeout among the top 10 right away. Georgia faces two top 10 teams and adds Florida at the beginning of November. Alabama and Texas A&M are set to meet as well. Later Oregon will play Stanford, and Clemson will close with South Carolina. Ohio State and Louisville are the only preseason top 10 teams not to face another top 10 team during the regular season.