Sunday, September 29, 2013

We're terrible on defense? I don't buy it.

I've been reading so much CRAP about the game yesterday, that I thought I'd rewatch it and see if I had seen a different one.  See, I saw us beat the #6 team in the country, perennial power LSU.  But from what I'm reading, you'd think we barely squeeked by Savannah State.

Because everyone is tinkled pink with the offense, I'll skip watching us play O.  I mean, we scored in bunches.  What everyone is pissed about is the play of our defensive backs.  So, let's just see how they did...

LSU's 1st Possession..

3rd and 10 on the LSU 34

Offsides on Jordan Jenkins (mistimed snap count on blitz)

3rd and 5 on the  LSU 39

LSU lines up in Shotgun-Trips-Left

TE goes in motion almost to the far sideline, pulling Ramik Wilson out of the box and down to the sideline with him.  The motion was mainly to find out if we were in Man or Zone.  Because Ramik, and not the Corner, went out with the TE, Metts knew he had man coverage.  Landry ran an inside-out route, and our Safety came down to make the tackle after the reception.  Not much else he could have done since he was inside of Landry to begin with.  We were in our base 3-4, sent 4 at the QB and didn't quite get there.  So, LSU First down.

2nd and 7, from the UGA 48.

I-Formation, 2 TEs, 1WR split right.  Metts fakes the handoff, rolls right.  He fires to Odell Beckham.  Damian Swann hits him as the ball gets there, and it's incomplete.

3rd and 7, from the UGA 48.

We're in our Base 3-4, LSU in a shotgun pro-set with twins to the right.

We send our Safety on a blitz, and Metts sees it.  He knows he's gonna have single-man on his wideout (Boone), and knows where to throw the ball.  Damian Swann falls as the ball gets there, LSU gets an easy score.  Upon review, it looks like Swann was attempting to undercut the throw to defend it, but lost his footing.  Also, our Freshman Safety didn't take the best route to Mettenberger on his blitz.  He ran it a little too wide, and as a result he was just a hair late in getting to the QB.

So, that's what happened on the "Oh my God, our defensive backs are so terrible!" first touchdown.

Georgia's 2nd Possession...

Ok, I was gonna skip offense, but I thought this bared discussion.  On our second Possession, on a 3rd and 10, Murray had a pass intercepted.  Because Verne and Gary said something stupid in their commentary, people are talking about how Murray missed a D-Lineman dropping into coverage for the 2nd time.  People are hot about Murray not recognizing the same thing that happened at Clemson.  The problem is, the D-Lineman DID NOT DROP INTO COVERAGE.  The D-Lineman was rushing the passer, was shutdown completely, so he did what you're supposed to do...he made space from the Center, and watched the ball.  Usually, this gives you a chance to deflect a pass...this time, he was able to pick it off.  But, he was not dropping into coverage.  He got ridiculously lucky that Marshall was coming right behind him for a check-down throw.  Oh well.

LSU's 2nd Possession -

2nd and 8 from our 12.

 LSU is almost in a Wishbone formation.  They have 2 wideouts, and three running backs.  One back is set deep, as in the ACE.  The other two are astride Mettenberger.  I've seen this in the Pistol, but Metts is under center.  Anyway, it plays into what they they go Max-Protect, and send only two receivers out.  Beckham, Jr runs an 8-yard stop...but it doesn't matter, because he's the 2nd read.  The primary read is Landry, who runs a 5-yard in.  Swann plays press coverage, but Landry makes space when he cuts.  Harvey-Clemons is coming over to provide help, but because he's running toward the sideline, and Landry is cutting into the middle, he overruns it and can't make a good play on Landry.  As a result, Landry gets a few extra yards down to our 3.

3rd and Goal from our 4.

LSU in Empty, 3 out left - the TE is all the way outside, pulling our LB (Wilson again) out there as well.  We're in a 2-4-5 with Harvey-Clemons in at Star.  I can't decide if the bust here is on Shaq Wiggins misplaying the ball, or on Harvey-Clemons for turning his back and vacating space.  Basically, what happens is that Harvey-Clemons hits Landry coming off the line, to disrupt his route.  He then follows Landry, and has help from the safety.  The problem is that because he bails out of where he was, Mettenberger has a clear path to throw the TD to Boone behind him.  Now, had he NOT moved, it's quite likely Mettenberger would have hit Landry for the TD.  We did have someone else there who could make a hit and possibly jar it loose...but we'll never know what woulda and coulda...only what dida happen.  In that one, it's really just another great playcall.  The TE pulling Ramik out of the play opened up the lane for Mettenberger to have an either-or read.

LSU's 3rd Possession -

1st down at the LSU 27  Offset I-Right, Twins Right, TE left.  We're in base 3-4.  We bring 4, they go play-action.  We have a bunch of guys at the Qb when he throws, perhaps the reason he one-hops it towards Beckham.  Swann was actually the closest person to catching it, but would have had to make a hell of a play.

2nd and 15 at the LSU 22 (after penalty)

Shotgun Pro Set Twins Right, TE left.  They send a Back in motion to the left, again pulling Ramik out that direction.  This time, there's no WR there to dive inside.  Instead, the TE runs a drag, pulling Herrera to the middle of the field, and they isolate their TB Hill on our LB, Floyd.  Now, Floyd is a hell of a player...but he's a freshman pass-rushing OLB who isn't that well-versed in coverage just yet.  He is on an island, and drifts too far to the outside as Hill cuts underneath him for the catch.  He gets a big first down, and is eventually cut down by Tray Matthews at the LSU 45.

And then, like a Douche, Verne says "Tray Matthews made the mistake of tackling air" - of course, Tray is the one who actually tackled Hill.  Eat it, Verne.

3rd and 8 from the LSU 47

Shotgun - Left, Trips right.  We're in a 2-4-5, and I can only see 9 players on the two of our Safeties are playing very deep (maybe 12-15 yards).  At first glance, it looks like we send 6, but we don't.  We only send 4.  Wilson and Herrera both have reads on the two running backs.  Wilson follows his coming underneath across the middle, and Herrera drops back as his flares around the line to come to the seam.  Amarlo knocks the Mettenberger-Falling-back pass away (Floyd Pressure).

LSU's 4th Possession -

2nd and 7 from LSU 40

I-Right-Normal.  We're in Base 3-4

Leonard Floyd beats FB block, comes around and forces an awkward throw, which the TE is unable to hold onto between Wilson and Herrera.

3rd and 7 Shotgun from LSU 40

Split-backs, twins left.  We're in 2-4-5 again, 2 safeties deep.  Swann is up on Boone, playing bump-run.  Our other two DBs on the screen have a 5-yard cushion.  We rush 5, only Wilson drops into coverage, and it's basically just a mid-zone.  Ray Drew gets through for the sack!  They sent 3 WR out, we had 5 to cover them - Metts couldn't get rid of it before The Preacher called down the forces of Heaven on his arse.

LSU's 5th Possession

2nd and 6 from LSU 29.  Offset I - FB right, TE Left.  Wideout to each side.    Base 3-4

Metts drops back, pocket holds, he hits Beckham on a 10 yd stop route.  He gets about 4-5 after the catch.  So what happened?  Looking at the coverage I see Floyd dropping into a Hook-Zone at about 5 yards.  He's basically shadowing a RB in the backfield, to be ready for a flare-out.  Swann is in coverage on Bekham, but It looks more like zone than man.  If i had to guess, I'd say we were playing a Cover-2 Robber look, where our safety comes down and covers the middle zone, while the Corner drops deep.  It's also possible that we were running a Man-Zone Cover 2, where the Corners were in man, and Swann simply overran the bailout when Bekham stopped.  Either way, we made the tackle, and it's hard to place a "blame" without knowing precisely what was called.  Harvey-Clemons moved over as soon as the ball was thrown, so it was a good reactionary play.

2nd and 6 from LSU 47.

Shotgun Trips Left, bunch Formation - Base 3-4

We drop 7 into zone coverage.  Our guys put pressure on Metts, and he checks down to his RB.  Floyd and Herrera combine for the tackle.  2 yard gain.

3rd and 4 from LSU 49

Shotgun Split Backs, Twins right.  We're in 2-4-5

Timeout.  Damnit.

3rd and 4 from LSU 49

Shotgun, Empty.  We're in 2-4-5 again, very spread out.

We rush 4.  Jordan Jenkins gets a hit on Metts, but he's a touch late.  Swann is in bump-run, but he doesn't get a hit on the Beckham.  As a result, Beckham runs by him and makes a grab as Swann catches up.  Swann makes the tackle, but Beckham gets the first.

1st and 10 from UGA 34

Offset I-right Normal.  Base 3-4

Play-Action.  We rush 4 - Chris Mayes gets the sack.  Metts had to hold the ball too long.  Guess the receivers were covered.  All of them.

3rd and 7 from UGA 31

Shotgun Split Backs, Twins Right.    2-4-5

They send one back in motion left, to pull our backer.  Herrera bumps Wilson out onto that back.  We rush four.  Swann in bump and run...actually presses hard on his receiver, taking him out of the play.  They try to sneak a back out to the space vacated by Wilson.  Mett's pass bounces off the RB.  It wouldn't have mattered, as Herrera clobbered him anyway.  Either Herrera recognized the same type of motion play, or Grantham made that adjustment.  Either way, nice to see LSU go to what had been working and see it fail.

They get a field goal.


After that, we drove down and scored another TD to take a 24-17 lead at halftime.

I'll take a look at the second half later.   But, looking at the first half, I certainly don't see that "terrible" secondary that I've been reading about.

Go Dawgs.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get Ready for the Sacrilege ...

... or, shut up about Erk Russel and Vince Dooley.

I'm just tired of reading stupid posts about how great our defense was "back in the day."  Yeah, Erk's defense gave up few points.  In 1980, his defense was 9th in the nation in scoring defense, with a now-unimaginable 11.4 points per game surrendered.  To me, that sounds like horseshit.

Regular readers of my blog know, of course, the love-hate relationship I have with numbers.  I look around the SEC landscape today, and I see touchdowns being scored in bunches...and I have to ask myself, is it that the SEC defenses suck now...or were we simply 3 decades behind in offensive firepower?  We've prided ourselves on being a defense-first league...but that seems to be no more.  Surely we didn't just throw in the towel.  What the hell?

Well, that got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, our glory defense of old wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  Maybe, just maybe, the COMPETITION had something to do with it.  So, I decided to peek into the holiest of holies.  I decided to investigate the crown-jewel of the UGA history book.  I decided to, dare I say it, consider debunking the MYTH that is the Great Georgia Defense of Erk Russel in 1980.


For those of you still reading, I applaud you.  Now, let me admit that I dig into this with absolutely no sense of irony, as in 1980 I was not a Georgia fan.  In fact, I wasn't a fan of any team at all.  In the fall of 1980, when Herschel was running roughshod over linebackers and diving into endzones, I was toddling around my parents' split-level home in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  I had never heard of the Georgia Bulldogs, and definitely didn't know that 19 years later, I'd be strapping on a red helmet emblazoned with a Black G on the side.  So, let me go ahead and say that for me, as for many fans, the 1980 season holds no mystique.  As such, it is fair game for fire.  

Here we go.

Richt and Company take a lot of flack for their record against top 10 opponents.  So far in 2013, they have already defeated as many top-10 opponents as the 1980 team did.  That's right, Notre Dame (7), was the sole top-10 team to be defeated by the "great" UGA team in 1980.  National Championship resume's just weren't all that demanding back in the day I suppose.

Of the 12 games Georgia played, only 3 were true road games.  The first was a 1-point victory over Tennessee to open the season.  UGA 16-TN 15.  By the way, Tennessee was a 5-6 team in 1980.
UGA also beat UK (27-0) and AU (31-21) at their homes.  AU was 5-6 that season.  UK, an impressive 3-8.

Georgia won the Cocktail Party against #20 Florida, who would go 8-4 that season, 26-21.

I suppose curent fans would look at UGA's 42-0 whipping of TA&M and think that's pretty good... right up until they realized that A&M was in the "Southwest" conference, and 4-7.  Oops.

A 4-point victory over Clemson sits better with us than our 3-point loss this season, of course.  Then there's the nasty fact that the tigers were a 6-5 team that year.  Ugh.

We beat 3-8 Ole Miss 28-21.  Wow.  3-8.  They put up 21 on the vaunted Erkster.

Even State-Rival Georgia Tech put up 20 points that season, and they were 1-9-1.  

YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.   GT had ONE victory in 1980, but they put 20 on the board against UGA.

Sure, the goose eggs against UK and TAMU feel good.  And of course, the one against 2-9 Vandy as well.  But still...all this hootin' and hollerin' about the amazeballs Erk Russel defenses starts to sound a bit childish when you look at the offenses that defense faced.  

TN                     5-6    (1 pt MoV)
TAMU              4-7
CLEM               6-5    (4 pt MoV)
TCU                  1-10
MISS                 3-8
VANDY           2-9  
UK                    3-8
USCe                8-4     (3 pt MoV)
FL                     8-4     (5 pt MoV)
AU                    5-6    
GT                    1-9-1
ND                   9-2-1

So, Erk's defense was able to go undefeated and sit 9th in the nation in scoring defense against a schedule that featured eight teams who posted sub-.500 records.  In fact, there were more teams with 3 or less wins, than there were with 6 or more wins.  

Please, shut up about the amazing Championship Defense and the Junkyard Dawgs and all of that.  Understand that there were four teams, who were middling at best, who could have upset that apple cart.  Things came together just as they had to in that season, and there was a fair amount of luck involved as well.  

The Georgia defense of 2013 is very talented.  They have faced MUCH STIFFER competition than that 1980 crew could ever have imagined.  They've given up more points, yes.  Luckily, on the other side of the ball is an offense that is lightyears ahead of the 1980 one (Herschel notwithstanding).  So now they face another top-10 opponent in LSU, and it's time to see if the D has improved from its first few games out.  

I've seen marked improvement every week.  I hope you have, too.  And I hope we all see it today.  

We need it.... because the teams we play this season are much better than those that made up the "Championship Schedule" back in the day.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Specifically for "Rick W"

Rick W threw up a healthy retort to my last post, saying that Grantham had all offseason to prepare for Clemson and South Carolina, and we gave up 68 points.  He says Grantham "doesn't have a clue" and that we're the 5th (or so) best defense in the conference.  He says we're closer to Vanderbilt than we are Alabama defensively.

Hey Rick, tell me again how awesome that Bama defense is....

628 yards and 42 points surrendered to the team that beat them a year ago...

A year ago.

Saban and Smart had a full year to get ready for that game, and they gave up 628 yards and 42 points.

I guess they don't have a clue either.

Or maybe, just MAYBE, as I said before ... when you face TOP teams, you simply need to be able to make one more stop than they do.

Those "total defense" and "Scoring defense" stats sure are great stuff for bloggers and fans to discuss.  They sound fabulous coming out of Gary Danielson's increasingly slurred pie-hole.  But, in actuality, they mean nothing.  nada.  zip.  zero.  zilch.

What matters is whether or not your defense can make that one final stop they need to make in order to win the game.   That's what UGA did against South Carolina.

Go Dawgs.

Friday, September 13, 2013

All that "This just isn't a top-10 defense" horseshit

First off, let me say that the titular statement is completely asinine when said in week 2 of any season.  Take a look back in week 8, and you may have some data from which to make that claim.

Just FYI...the nation's top 10 "total" defenses right now:

10. Penn State
9.  Alabama
7. Marshall (tied)
7. UCF (tied)
6. Duke
5. Florida
4. Virginia Tech
3. Michigan State
2. Arizona State
1. Wisconsin

(Georgia #100)

The nation's top 10 "Scoring" defenses are:

9. Marshall (tied)
9. Louisville (tied)
9. Duke (tied)
7. Arizona (tied)
7. Oregon (tied)
6. Washington
4. Oklahoma (tied)
4. UCF (tied)
1. Georgia Tech (tied)
1. Arizona State (tied)
1. Wisconsin (tied)

(Georgia #95)

So I guess you need to ask yourself if you truly believe a few things.  First of all, do you believe that Duke has one of the best defenses in the country?  Second, do you believe that Georgia has the 95th-100th best defense in the country?  

I don't think anyone would argue that out of the 10 teams at the top of the polls, Georgia has faced the toughest two-game stretch of any.  Out of the 10 teams at the top of the polls only TWO currently have defenses ranked in either top 10.  Alabama at #9 in total defense, and Oregon at #7 in scoring defense.  Oregon drew Nicholls State in week 1 (and a bad Virginia team in week 2) and Alabama had week 2 off.  So....yeah.

Of course, for every defense, there is an opposing offense, right?  After the past two weeks, people have been pretty happy with the play of our offense.  The O-Line faltered for a quarter and a half, but putting up 35+ on back-back top-10 opponents is seen as pretty damned good.

Well, here's some info:

UGA scoring Offense - #38 in the country
UGA total Offense - #20 in the country

Who out there believes we're as low as #20 in offense?  I'm pretty sure most of you believe we have the BEST RB tandem.  Many believe we have one of the top QBs.  (Some ignorant folks still argue he just can't win the big one and isn't clutch.  Read: Shut up.)

Simply put - there's too much football ahead of us to make any solid judgment calls on what we've seen thus far.  I'll bet you this...Clemson is going to light up MANY teams for more than 38 points.  I'll also bet South Carolina tops 30 a few times.  

Is this defense a "shut down" defense?  Not at the moment.  Is it good enough to win a championship?  I'd say yes.  Why would I say yes?  Because at the end of the day, a Championship defense need only to make one more stop than the opposing team can make.  That's it.  We'd all love to see 14 shutouts a season.  Realistically, though, the competition is just too damned good for that to happen.  I wouldn't doubt we'll see one or two.  As the playmakers get settled in and gel, I think you'll see the defense's numbers improve greatly.  The important thing is this - the offense is potent enough that even if the defense is fairly pedestrian, it could be good enough to win a title.

Basically, Georgia is in the top 10, so you're damned right this is a top 10 defense.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aaron Murray - the best "Bad" QB in NCAA history

...Or, Football Players don't listen to Fans.

17-23 309 yds 4 TDs.  0 Picks.  0 Fumbles.  0 horrible misreads.  0 brain farts.  0 reasons to look for any approval from a fanbase that has called him out as being "unable to win big games."

After a 3-point loss in a hostile environment (read: my 55-10 dream-based prediction is why I don't get paid for this), a multitude of "Dawgfans" heaped the trash-talk onto Murray.  "He just can't win big games" was the common consensus.  They point to the less-than stellar mark against ranked opponents during his tenure.  Readers of this blog know full well the stock I DON'T put in that.  Why?  Because every game is its own experience.  Every game is its own little universe.  The way that UGA played Alabama in the SEC Championship game had no bearing on how it would play Nebraska in the bowl.  Likewise, the UGA beatdown by USCe in Columbia did not show us how the Georgia offense would play for the majority of last season.

It's long been said that a quarterback has to have a short memory.  If he throws an interception, he has to forget about it when he gets back on the field.  He has to just go out there and play.  Most great quarterbacks do just that.  When they make a mistake, they just say "Screw it" and play on.  Why?  Can't change it.  All you can do is play the next play.

Unfortunately, fan bases do not have to master that same skill.  They dig and research and try to find every piece of evidence to predict how a quarterback will/won't perform in the future.  ... OR, they don't Analyze ANYTHING, but instead simply look at W-L numbers (read: Chest-thumping hillbilly screaming "It's the only thing that matters!" - shortly after having a 3-hour argument with a Florida fan about how closely we played them in so many losses that could have gone our way, so Florida obviously wasn't the better team) and claim the quarterback is held responsible for all of it.

Against Clemson, Murray didn't have a banner day.  His two turnovers were definitely part of what prevented a victory.  He had 1 TD on the ground.  He threw another one, but it was taken away.  I don't get to see the wide-angle tape, so I don't know if he had other open receivers for TDs on the day, but Bobo was a bit critical (as Murray was of himself) of some COMPLETED passes that could have gone for more, had they been more accurate.  Still, when your offense gets 35 points, its hard to blame the QB for the loss. It just is.

But, Murray could have listened.  He could have agreed with the rabid fanbase and thought, "They're right.  I just can't do it.  I just can't beat ranked teams.  I just can't win big games.  I mean, there was the Nebraska game last year where I bounced back after throwing a couple of INTs in the 1st half, and there was Florida last year...won that one, and of course the way I sliced up Missouri in their first SEC game, after we had fallen behind..that was pretty good.  And then there were those two pesky top-25 wins against Auburn and Tech my sophomore year.  But yeah, the fans are right.  I should just quit football."  Fortunately, he didn't do that.  Nah, he just went out, led a great game, threw for 300+ for the 9th time in his UGA career.  He tossed 4 TDs for the 9th time in his career.  He beat a top-10 team for the second time in 2 seasons.

I've been critical of Murray in the past.  I've expected more.  After the Clemson loss, I told a friend of mine that his stats and performance aside, a 5-star recruit, 5th year senior, 4th year starter, 2-time SEC Champion can't have simple mental mistakes like NOT WATCHING THE PLAYCLOCK in a game against a top-10 team.  You just can't do that.  But, I have never questioned Murray's courage, tenacity, or ability to make plays.  I HAVE questioned his ability to make decisions.

As he has matured, his decision making has improved.  Bobo and Richt are now allowing him to get out of the pocket more, and we saw against USC how GOOD that can be for UGA.  They trust him to make the right decisions.  As fans, we should as well.  Barring injury, Aaron Murray will hold quite a few UGA and SEC records.  He may even get to hold a Crystal Football.

If that moment comes, I'm sure he'll be willing to start listening to fans.  Because if that moment comes, they'll have nothing but praise for him.  And, many will say, "I've been with you the whole time."  And he'll believe them - because as a Good Quarterback should, he'll have a short memory.

Go Dawgs.