Author Archives: dudeyoucrazy
Dabo Swinney, It’s OK to Act Like You’ve Never Been There Before; But You Should Act Like You’ll Be Back
I gained a lot of respect for Dabo Swinney during the playoff. I think a lot of people did. I’ve been pretty “meh” on the guy in general. The Clemsoning meme was always pretty good, but as a Georgia fan I know all about missed should-be-easy opportunities. So in that regard, I thought he was probably a better coach than the nation assumed. But I wouldn’t have classified him as a great coach. The fact remains that he lost an average of nearly four games per year over his first six full seasons (2009-2014, which excludes a 4-3 opening campaign in 2008). I thought he benefitted from a weak conference/division with a diminishing Virginia Tech program and rebuilding projects at Florida State and Miami. Obviously, Florida State is fully “back” and Miami and Virginia Tech may be headed there. But there’s something to be said for a coach who can lose five games in a season but still win his division (which Swinney did in 2009). The guy won his conference despite losing four total games in 2011.
So heading into 2016, the 2015 season seemed like it might have been an outlier. No matter how you slice it, last season stood out. Consider Dabo’s season win totals: 9, 6, 10, 11, 11, 11, 10, 14. That last number seems to pop. How about final rankings (Coaches Poll)? Unranked, Unranked, 22, 9, 7, 15, 2. Again, that second-place ranking kind of stands out.
But at the same time I felt all season long that Clemson was deserving of the playoff and on the shortlist of teams capable of beating Alabama for two very related reasons:
- They had almost beaten Alabama in last year’s national championship game*.
- Deshaun Watson is the best player in college football.
Notably, I didn’t give Dabo Swinney much credit for either of the points above. Sure he was the head coach and he got Watson on campus and put coaches in place to develop his talent and built a roster around him. But I didn’t give the guy that much credit. But credit is due now.
You’ll see the asterisk next to point number one above. And I think this is as good a place as any to remind everyone of that game. We’ve apparently all moved on from how epic last year’s national championship game was. Everyone is talking about Monday’s game and comparing it to the iconic Texas/USC BCS National Championship as the greatest title bout in modern college football history. I guess we’ve re-written or forgotten Alabama’s 45-40 win over Clemson last year. There were eight lead changes in that game:
- Bama leads 7-0.
- Clemson ties 7-7.
- Clemson leads 14-7.
- Bama ties 14-14.
- Bama leads 21-14 then 21-17.
- Clemson leads 24-21.
- Bama ties 24-24.
- Bama gains 31-24 lead and doesn’t relinquish it.
And there was no shortage of individual accomplishments:
- Deshaun Watson racked up 478 yards of offense and four scores.
- Jake Coker threw for 335 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs on 25 attempts.
- Four Clemson Tigers registered more than 60 yards receiving (Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett, Hunter Renfrow, Charone Peake).
- Derek Henry ran for 158 yards and three scores.
- O.J. Howard logged five catched for 208(!!!) yards and two TDs.
- Kenyan Drake had a 95 yard kickoff return for a TD.
That game was an all-time classic. But now that we have a newer version with an underdog victory and a revenge story, that game is forgotten. Now it’s Monday’s game vs. all the others. A 45-40 championship game is an “also ran” after a 35-31 championship game, I suppose.
Along those lines, my fear here is that recency bias and revisionist history will change the narrative of Clemson’s dramatic win over Alabama on January 9, 2017. The narrative may soon be that Deshaun Watson (again, the best player in the country by my estimation) came out and rolled the tide for 463 yards of offense and four touchdowns. The narrative may soon be shortened to “Alabama didn’t have an answer for Deshaun Watson.”
That storyline is an injustice to Watson, however. The reality is nobody has really had an answer for Deshaun Watson over the last two seasons. Sure, he racked up 941 yards of offense and eight scores against Alabama in sequential championship games. But he’s accounted for 10,431 yards of offense and 97 touchdowns over the past two seasons. This is as much about Deshaun flourishing as it is about Alabama struggling.
And that ties in to another potential injustice: a lack of credit for Dabo Swinney. People may forget Deshaun Watson’s early-game struggles. They may rightfully be overshadowed by the sum of his four quarters. But we shouldn’t forget what Dabo Swinney and his staff did for the entirety of the game.
Offensively, Clemson ran 97 plays on Monday night. 57 passes. 42 rushes. That’s nearly 23% more plays than the second most prolific play-runner Alabama faced all year—Ole Miss with 79 total plays. The Crimson Tide defense wore down. That go-go-go offensive game plan, simple and perhaps obvious, was well-executed throughout the contest even when the Tigers weren’t scoring points. Clemson had 19 plays of offense in the first quarter despite kicking off to start the game and committing a turnover. The Tigers then reeled off more than 25 offensive plays in each of the game’s final three quarters.
Defensively, the Tigers remained tough even as Alabama mounted an early lead and things seemed destined to get out of hand. After taking a 14-0 edge in the game’s first 20 minutes, Alabama was held without a touchdown for nearly 25 minutes of game time.
Swinney kept his squad tuned-in even as Alabama took a seemingly insurmountable lead. He stuck with his game plan, trusted the game plan and put his team in position to win the game. Late in the contest, he trusted his play-makers, showed patience even as some (myself included) panicked about clock management and left the Crimson Tide reeling from a gut punch with just one second remaining (is that familiar, Bama fans?).
I mention all this (the 900 words above) to say simply: I’ve got no problem with Dabo Swinney acting like he’s never been here before. He hasn’t been here before. And a lot of people, including me, didn’t expect him to be here. The dude was in elementary school the last time Clemson won a Natty. His name is Dabo for goodness sake. Dabo’s don’t get nice things. Dabo’s don’t get respect. And yet, here he is.
I gained enough appreciation for Dabo Swinney during the playoff that I’m willing to overlook post-game comments like:
And to see my guys fight, just believe me. I told them tonight, I told them that the difference in the game was going to be love. It’s been my word. My word all year’s been love. And I said, “Tonight we’re going to win it because we love each other. We’re going to love each other.”
The difference in the game was
Pick Plays Deshaun Watson Mike Williams’ recovery from multiple headshots Philanderer Lane Kiffin being replaced by recovering drunkard Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator a week before the national championship game Bo Scarbrough breaking his leg with 17 minutes to play love.
I can look past those comments because I recognize that Dabo Swinney is a better coach than I thought and I appreciate that he’s never been here before.
But going on the offensive against a sports talk radio show host like Colin Cowherd in your post-championship presser? Come on, dude. What is that? Cowherd’s certainly not above reproach. But you just won a national championship and in your press conference you’re doing this?
What was that? “I’m not a fraud, you’re a fraud. You didn’t do your homework. Print that, media. You guys only had us ranked second in the nation in the preseason behind Alabama. And guess what, we might have been the second-best team in the country with two seconds left on the clock, but with one second left and with no seconds left we were the best. You might be a fraud too. Let’s talk about all the people who didn’t see that final drive coming. I’m gonna name names while these two gentlemen flank me and look confused. We’ll celebrate tomorrow. Tonight, we name names because what’s the point of being a champion if you can’t be petty?”
I’m not calling Dabo Swinney a fraud. Colin Cowherd did that. But I will say that Dabo Swinney looks unbelievably desperate in the exact moment at which he should be at his career’s pinnacle of comfort and confidence. He just won the national championship and he looks shaken by a radio guy.
Dabo, you’re the most desperate national champion in the history of college football. You gonna call me out on that next time you win the big one?
Probably not. Because there won’t be a next time.
That’s all I got/
Dude Emeritus here, back from the dead to grow some whiskers.
The crew from my day job is doing a contest, and I really don’t want to lose to a bunch of Big 10 and Pac-12 amateurs in my office. So show me some love by donating to the cause (not to me…just to my fundraiser). In exchange, I promise daily updates on my facial hair non-progress.
And as you can tell by this video, I’ve been really working over-time on that beard.
Thanks for your consideration.
And, because Chad is horrible at deadlines, we should mention he is running a similar campaign in via his real estate business.
Essentially, the idea is this: call him with a ready-to-go client referral, and he donates in your name. $100 in the Charlotte, NC area, $25 literally ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD.
No contests here, but he wants to at least beat the last two years’ combined total of just over $500.
Donate your own money here, or contact Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect him with someone in need of help buying, selling, or investing in property.
His selfie game is not nearly as strong, but his beard game is electric. Watch out for this one, folks.
#1. You Can Still Laugh at Tennessee
I want to live in a world in which Tennessee isn’t much better than average. For the past decade or so we’ve been blessed with that world. And based on what we’ve seen so far (including Saturday), we still live there. Rankings and feel-good-Butch-Jones-Definitely-Doesn’t-Look-Like-He-Walked-Off-The-Set-Of-Beavis-And-Butt-Head opinions be damned, does anyone really think Tennessee is a Top-10 team? Because I don’t. Georgia’s not a good team and Tennessee needed a collapse by a whole unit and a lot of luck to get the win. Make no mistake about it, Tennessee is in the driver’s seat in the East*. But winning the East isn’t the long-term end game here. They’ll get run by Bama or whoever wins the West.
*Believe it or not, Tennessee hasn’t “locked up” the East quite to the extent that people believe right now. They have Texas A&M on the road this week and next week Alabama comes to Knoxville. You can’t quite assume both of those are losses but I think there’s a better chance that Tennessee goes 0-2 in those contests than 2-0. Georgia needs Tennessee to lose at least three to get back in the division race, but Florida just needs them to drop one. And even lowly threats like South Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri (not Vandy) could get scary for the Vols when you consider just how awful Tennessee is capable of being for prolonged periods.
Tennessee trailed App State for 60 minutes. Tennessee didn’t lead VA Tech for the first 25 minutes of play. With 11 minutes left to play, Tennessee was clinging to a 2-point lead against Ohio (University…not State). Florida led Tennessee by 21; Georgia led by 17. This is not a team with a penchant for playing complete games. So the collective “we got this” mentaility of Vol fans who haven’t been to an SEC Championship Game in 3,229 days and haven’t won one in 6,512 days (but who’s counting?) is a bit premature.
#2. Jacob Eason
He’s so much fun to watch. Like…transcendentally fun to watch in the fourth quarter.
#3. It Was Better
A loss is a loss but compare Georgia’s performance on Saturday (a game some would say the Dawgs should have won) with what the team did a week earlier in Oxford (a game some would say the Dawgs didn’t even play) and even lackluster performances against the likes Missouri and Nicholls State. This was better. I’m not sure how you could collectively say otherwise.
#4. Jacob Eason
He’s also not Greyson Lambert. Just wanted to circle back around and hit that one.
#5. Brian Herrien
I love this kid and at this point in the season I think we can safely say this isn’t a one-off success story. He’s good. He’s consistently good, too. Herrien has logged carried in four games this year, he’s averaged 4.9 YPC or better in each contest, run for at least 45 yards in each game and hit a run of 15+ yards in every outing. He’s good. He’s consistent. He’s 18 years old. Get a load of his game log:
- UNC: 7 carries, 59 yards, 8.4 YPC, 1 TD, Long of 19
- Nicholls: 8 carries, 47 yards, 5.9 YPC, Long of 23
- Ole Miss: 11 carries, 78 yards, 7.1 YPC, 2 TDs, Long of 16
- Tennessee: 15 carries, 74 yards, 4.9 YPC, Long of 15
#6. Natrez Patrick
A lack of QB pressure and questionable play in the secondary has taken some of the shine away from linebackers like Natrez Patrick this season. But the NatPat (TM) had himself a game on Saturday. 10 total tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack and another QB hit. Big game. The NatPat leads the team in tackles (both solo and total), is second to Trent Thompson in TFL, tied for first in sacks.
#7. Young Defensive Front
In addition to the NatPat, consider the other players in Georgia’s front seven who are making plays. Trenton Thompson is second on the team in tackles, first in TFLs and tite for first in sacks. Roquan Smith is doing big things. D’Andre Walker is starting to come into his own. Julian Rochester is becoming a force. It’s terrifying to think about what this unit might look like next year. Lorenzo Carter may be tempted to go pro early (though I’m not sure 5.5 career sacks in 31 career games get him there), but if he stays Georgia stands to return everything along the front line.
#8. Jacob Eason
I mean Tennessee DBs stopped running because they thought the kid couldn’t throw the ball that far. He flicked his wrist and that should have been the end of the game. Geez.
9. Kirby Smart
Oh, I’m going to go there. Whether or not he gets Georgia to where Georgia wants to be remains to be seen (and even if Georgia was 5-0, the same sentiment would ring true), but I love the direct, unambiguous language he uses after a loss. “Bottom line is we’ve got to do better’ we’ve got to do better than them,”
Smart is a results-driven dude in a results-driven scenario and I don’t have major beef with anything he’s done so far with the program. Could Georgia be in a better spot right now? Sure. I think we all think the Dawgs could/should be 4-1 and the gap between there and 3-2 seems insurmountable given Tennessee’s sequential wins against the only presumed challengers for the division (Florida and Georgia).
But put all of this in perspective. Georgia’s first loss was to Ole Miss, a team that was tabbed as the 11th or 12th best team in the preseason (by the AP and Coaches respectively). Georgia’s second loss came to Tennessee, a team that was favored in the game and that was ranked in the preseason Top 10 by both the AP and the Coaches. Georgia entered the year ranked 18th by the AP and 16th by the Coaches. Polls don’t matter that much and preseason polls are kind of a joke, but who saw a schedule featuring three top 25 teams in the first 5 weeks (UNC was also ranked by both major polls)—two of which were ranked ahead of Georgia—and said, “We have to be better than 3-2 in year one of a new coaching staff with a freshman QB?” I didn’t.
10. It’s South Carolina Week
We hate South Carolina, remember? Sure, we hate everyone. But right now we hate South Carolina. Night game on the road in Columbia…whew boy, I’m tired of Sandstorm already.
That’s all I got/
Rough 12 months for lovers of college football. Not talking about any of the games, the recruiting charades or alleged scandals. I’m talking about losing two absolute legends of the game – Steve Spurrier and Les Miles in less than a year’s time.
Spurrier ceremoniously quit mid-season because he couldn’t take the losing. As a Georgia fan that spent decades being tormented by his maniacal genius, that abrupt ending is both my favorite Spurrier moment (again, as a Georgia fan) and a poignant ending.
I suppose it’s equally fitting that Les Miles’ tenure in Baton Rouge came to an all-too-obvious ending as the final second of LSU’s comeback bid ticked before the ball was snapped at Jordan-Hare stadium. But I love Les Miles for that. I love that this is how it ended for him. But I hate that it did end for him. And I hate the context of that ending.
I hate to the very core of my being that yet another Jordan-Hare miracle took place. Sure, the right call was made. But that’s not the point here. The point is that such game-altering antics don’t happen at other stadiums. Neither do the tipped balls or the Kick-Six. And I hate that Auburn played a part in that. I don’t know that Gus would have been bused out of town with a loss, but if he was I’d like to think some of Auburn’s other-worldy BS mojo would have gone with him.
And I hate that so much of this came down to unfit expectations.
Last year, LSU opened the year 7-0. Then, after three-straight losses to divisional rivals (Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss), Miles was nearly fired. In those three losses a miserable single-option offense (Fournette-or-Bust) managed a meager 47 total points. It’s hard to quantify just how close Miles was to getting the boot, but daaaaamn it was close. The offense was very much at the core of LSU’s problems.
Over the offseason, LSU brought in a few of decent WRs and offensive linemen in a stout signing class that was (per usual) defense-heavy. Danny Etling (who threw 16 TDs and 12 INTs for Purdue over the course of two seasons), saw his redshirt roll off post-transfer and entered the mix. But no real offensive improvements were made. The media quite appropriately tabbed this team as the FIFTH BEST TEAM IN THE NATION!
Well guess, what? LSU isn’t a Top 5 team. They weren’t then and they aren’t now. Supposedly, that is disappointing. Supposedly losing to Wisconsin (no. 8) is disappointing. Losing by one point on the road to Auburn is disappointing and a fire-able offense – supposedly.
I’m not saying it wasn’t time for Les to go or that his entire exit is inappropriate (it’s sadly perfect). But I’m not yet glad it happened, I’m devastated that it’s over.
Fare thee well, Les. Have fun eating artificial turf at Notre Dame. (Please. Please. Please.)
That’s all I got/
I’m sure somebody will do a more thorough recap of the Mizzou game, but let me say this as a quick personal reflection: THAT WAS FUN! Say what you want about Missouri football (I don’t think the Tigers are very good) but as ugly as that game was it was infinitely more fun than last year’s squabble with the Tigers. Loved the defense making play-after-play-after-play-after-play-after-play; loved seeing Eason make a big time throw in a big time spot; loved watching Joystick on offense. Lots of fun there. But two things stood out:
- It shouldn’t take a good team 5 turnovers to beat this Missouri team. At least not normally. So either Georgia’s not yet a good team, or that wasn’t a great collective performance from a good team.
- It shouldn’t take 55 passes to beat anybody in Georgia’s offense.
That second question has me pretty rattled. Seriously, what’s up with the running game and Nick Chubb in particular?
Nineteen carries for 63 yards from Chubb is about as uninspiring as possible. But combine that tally with the following game situations and it makes even less sense:
- Georgia trailed 7-0 after the first drive.
- Georgia trailed 10-0 after 6:40 of game play.
- Georgia led for about six minutes mid-way through the second quarter and for about 4 minutes bookending halftime.
- Georgia trailed by six points for almost 30 minutes of play (27:25 if my math is right).
- Georgia didn’t reclaim the lead until less than 90 seconds remained.
While trailing for the vast majority of the ball game, one would assume that passing would be the conventional method of coming back (though the 55 attempts are still staggering). But shouldn’t such an emphasis on the passing game open up the run at least to some extent? Now, a team may not choose to spend a lot of time on the ground in such circumstances but right now I’m talking solely about the opportunity to have success when the ground path is selected. And yet despite that perceived opportunity, Chubb averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. And consider these specifics:
- Chubb picked up 3 yards or less on 12 of his 19 carries.
- He picked up more than 5 yards only twice in the game (his career average is about 7 YPC).
- His first and only run for more than 10 yards was on the last play of the third quarter.
And he actually carried the ball a lot, so it’s hard to make a case for “not getting going.” Excluding a one-carry game against Tennessee last year for all date moving forward, Chubb had averaged 18.1 carries per contest. He got 19 on Saturday. Nineteen carries is also right at his career median (nine games with fewer attempts, nine with more, a few with exactly 19).
From YPC perspective, this was the third-worst game of Chubb’s career. The two more lowly performances came as a backup in 2014 when he got just four and 11 carries against Troy and Tennessee respectively. Those were “didn’t get going” games.
Also of note: Chubb didn’t get the start. First play from scrimmage saw Sony Michel on the field; not Chubb.
Which brings up a broader theme here. Consider Chubb’s 3-game YPC average this season—it’s significantly lower than his career YPC measure. The chart below shows his career as measured by three games’ worth of YPC numbers (i.e. every carry and every yard for the most recent 3-game sample) and the black line represents his career average rushing average.
And consider those games and those opponents.
The North Carolina game was an admittedly-Chubb-like performance (32 carries, 222 yards). I’m not going to discount any yard gained by any running back, but if Chubb doesn’t spring for a 55-yard TD late in the game things look very different statistically. More importantly: this was a notoriously bad UNC rush defense. Illinois’ Ke’Shwan Vaughn ran for 116 yards on just 15 carries against the TarHeels. His other games this season: 17 carries for 49 yards against Murray State and eight carries for 22 yards against Western Michigan. James Madison’s Khalid Abdullah ran for 116 yards on 18 carries against UNC. He had more carries and fewer yards against Central Connecticut State and he had just 43 yards on nine carries against Morehead State. I think a lot of guys will have their best game of the year against the Heels.
Chubb had 20 carries for 80 yards against Nicholls. University of Incarnate Word (star???) Desmond Hite gained 104 yards on just six attempts against the Colonels in their only other game this year.
Statistically, Chubb’s game on Saturday would be the fourth-best against Missouri. Eastern Michigan’s Ian Eriksen ran 23 times for 90 yards. West Virginia’s Justin Crawford ran 21 times for 101 yards and Rushel Shell ran 16 times for 90 yards.
So is this a Chubb problem, an offensive line problem or a scheme problem? At this point, I’ll take the cop-out answer and say it’s a bit of all of them. This offensive line is downright infuriating. It hurts. And given that, an insistence on running the ball up the gut seems like a schematic misstep. But I don’t think we’re looking at Chubb 2.0 or even Chubb 1.0 yet. A smattering of reasons I suspect that:
- Eye Test: That “burst” isn’t there and he seems a bit impatient in the backfield.
- He’s had the lion’s share of carries this year (71 touches), but Brian Herrien, Isaiah McKenzie, Brendan Douglas and Terry Godwin have all accounted for higher YPC numbers. Further, five Bulldogs have tacked runs of 14+ yards. The line is (at least at times) opening gaps or holding blocks.
- If the offensive line sucks it’s at least an equal amount of suckage between run blocking and pass blocking. Eason was sacked four times and hit twice more on Saturday. For the season, UGA QBs have been sacked nine times in three games. So saying Georgia opted so heavily for the pass game (55 attempts is the third-highest total in Bulldog history and the highest since 2000) solely because of poor offensive line play seems like an odd assertion.
- Eason only averaged 5.6 yards per attempt on Saturday. A fully-functional Chubb gets that and more.
Obviously, my hope is that there’s not a problem at all. I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. But I don’t think Eason is ready to handle the whole show on the road at Ole Miss. I’m not sure that we can expect an 80-yard drive with every single yard coming through the air to close this one out. We need Chubb to be Chubb. Hopefully that’s not a problem.
That’s all I got/