Georgia Football: The Big Problems with Each of Georgia’s Offensive Coordinator Candidates
There’s a lot to like about these guys (I mean that!), but there are some red flags as well. If the three candidates listed by Chip Towers of the AJC yesterday are in fact the current “short list,” then it’s evident Georgia won’t be bringing in a Pruitt-level, universally loved offensive coordinator as a new hire. That’s OK. Hell, that’s probably normal. But here are the things that bother me about the candidates Towers highlighted.
When I think about Stanford football, I think about a program on a relative rise. But is that still the case? With Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh, the Cardinal rocketed upward. The team won the Orange Bowl in 2010 with a 12-1 record and lost an overtime nail-biter to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl the following year. In 2012, the Cardinal won the Rose Bowl and in 2013, lost by just four points in the same game. Over a four year period, Stanford was nine points away from going 4-0 in BCS Bowl Games.
But how much of that credit can go to Bloomgren, who wasn’t there in 2010, coordinated the run game in 2011 and 2012 and ran the offense the last two years?
If we’re looking at Bloomgren’s most relevant experience to the current opening at Georgia—meaning his time as offensive coordinator—I can’t show him all that much love.
In 2013, Stanford averaged 32.3 points per game. That’s a respectable figure, but it barely cracks the nation’s top third. Last year, that number fell to 27.2 points per game (80th in the nation). I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I watched a lot of Stanford football this season. But I can tell you that Stanford lost five games this season and the Cardinal didn’t score more than 17 points in any of those losses.
Based on nerdy data compiled over the past five years or so, the average amount of points scored in an FBS vs. FBS matchup is about 28 points per team. Averaging 13.4 points per game in a subset of losses makes it pretty easy to blame the offense for defeats. If Stanford had put up that rough national average (28 points) in these games, the team would have won four of those five contests. If Bloomgren’s offense had scored 14 points, it could have beaten Southern Cal. If his unit had posted 18 it would have gotten past Notre Dame. If he’d scored 21 he would have defeated Utah. Twenty-seven points would have yielded victory against Arizona State.
Under Todd Grantham, Georgia lost too many games because it gave up too many points. My fear is that Georgia could lose games by not scoring enough under Bloomgren. That was the case at Stanford.
Florida’s offense improved in its lone season under Kurt Roper. But it didn’t improve enough to keep anyone on that coaching staff employed.
Roper’s unit also had a Bloomgren-like knack for scoring too few points to win games. In all five of the Gators’ losses, Florida scored fewer than 28 points.
Even more concerning: I’m not sure Roper is the hero he was made out to be when he arrived in Gainesville after a stint with Duke. I wrote this back in August while previewing the Gators and the concerns and sentiments still ring true. It’s wordy, but worth a read [emphasis added]:
But while Muschamp’s seat may be the hottest, his brand spankin’ new offensive coordinator is under the most pressure.
This Florida team was far from perfect in 2013, but the most obvious shortcomings were on the offensive side of the ball. Assuming the defense remains itself, then it is the offense that really needs to take steps forward in 2014. If it doesn’t, then Muschamp will be out. And if he’s out and a leading cause of his release is poor offensive performance, Roper is out. So, Muschamp is fighting for his job (and hiring Roper was a big part of that), but in a way Roper is fighting for everyone in Gainesville.
So can he do it? Maybe.
He did big things at Duke, particularly at the tail-end of his tenure with the Blue Devils, and I suspect the Florida offense will be better in 2014 mainly because it has to be.
But as far as Roper’s offensive genius is concerned, it’s too soon to say just how great he is. And that’s a point that may (particularly Florida fans are missing). As a byproduct of timing, his hire was a homerun. After all, Duke was coming off its best season in decades and the offense was the main reason for the Blue Devils’ success. But in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t the grand slam it’s being painted as.
Roper’s tenure at Duke was clouded by relatively unimpressive rosters and further diluted by a series of “co” coordinator seasons and inconsistent on-field products. 2013 was stellar, but there were peaks and troughs over his six seasons in Durham.
- 2008: Co-Coordinator with Matt Luke, Duke averaged 24.75 points per game and finished 4-8 (1-7 in ACC).
- 2009: Solo Coordinator, Duke averaged 25.17 points per game and finished 5-7 (3-5 in ACC).
- 2010: Solo Coordinator, Duke averaged 25.25 points per game and finished 3-9 (107 in ACC).
- 2011: Co-Coordinator (again with Matt Luke), Duke averaged 22.5 points per game and finished 3-9 (1-7 in ACC).
- 2012: Solo Coordinator, Duke averaged 31.54 points per game and finished 6-7 (3-5 in ACC).
- 2013: Co-Coordinator with Scottie Montgomery, Duke averaged 32.79 points per game and finished 10-4 (6-2 in ACC).
Put bluntly, I don’t know how much credit to assign to Roper. His best season came with a co-coordinator who was brand new, and that level of success was more an exception than a rule.
Furthermore, his offenses often showed flashes of brilliance against inferior foes before disappearing. In 2010, when he was the lone coordinator, Duke scored 41 and 48 points respectively against Elon and Wake Forest to open the season. Then the point totals dipped to 13, 21, 16, 13 and 7 as the Devils moved into the meat of their schedule. They posted back-to-back outings of 30+ points in the last weekend of October and first weekend in November and followed suit with 16, 20 and 19 points in their final three games.
In 2013, Duke failed to score more than 28 points (roughly the national scoring average) on six occasions (Memphis, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Florida State). Their other eight outings resulted in the following point totals against the following defenses:
- 45 Points against FCS North Carolina Central
- 55 Points against Pittsburgh (the nation’s 69th best scoring defense)
- 38 Points against Troy (107th in scoring defense)
- 35 Points against Navy (40th in scoring defense)
- 35 Points against Virginia (98th in scoring defense)
- 38 Points against NC State (83rd in scoring defense)
- 48 Points against Miami (65th in scoring defense)
- 48 Points against Texas A&M (95th in scoring defense)
Only one of the teams above (Navy) ranked in the top half of the FBS in scoring defense.
It should be noted that this year—without Kurt Roper—Duke averaged 32.4 points per game (a smidge under its 2013 average) with Scottie Montgomery (Roper’s Co-O.C. from 2013) at the helm of the offense. They failed to score 28 points five times (as opposed to six in 2013).
The beef here is obvious and two-fold. First and foremost, he’s inexperienced. For all that he has in his favor as a product of Georgia’s coaching system, he’s called plays one time in his life. It was great and enough for me to root for the guy, but it was one game.
Secondly, if he’d shown promise all along, wouldn’t this hire have happened already? Is Richt interviewing other offensive coordinators for show? Is he just trying to add credibility to the Lilly hire? I don’t know. But if he’s the best man for the job, why doesn’t he have it yet?
That’s all I got/