Category Archives: Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia vs. Tennessee Preview: Football Genius Takes Dawgs Outright, Thoughts on Les Miles and a Weekly Preview
The latest episode of the DudeYouPodcast is now live and ready for action.
Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd on the Tweets) is joined by Andrew Hall (@dudeyoucrazy) for a recap of Georgia’s embarrassing loss to Ole Miss, a spirited discussion about the state of Georgia football under new head coach Kirby Smart, a reflection on Les Miles and general college football chatter.
Consider this your September report card.
There’s not much to say about the Ole Miss fiasco that took place on Saturday. In my preview, I wrote that the Black Bears had two distinct advantages: their passing game and their D-line. Turns out I was, for once and quite unfortunately, spot on.
With that being said, any sane Georgia fan would have been okay with a 3-1 start in Kirby Smart’s “year zero” in Athens. Working with a green quarterback, a terrible receiving corps and offensive line, injured stars at running back, and a front seven decimated by graduations, anything more than 8 wins would have to be considered a miracle.
Not to make excuses, Georgia can still accomplish its most lofty reasonable goal: winning the SEC East. Yes, they have to beat a suddenly-formidable-again Tennessee team to have that in play past Saturday, but considering what we’ve seen on the field through four games…that’s a nice prize to still have on the table.
What went wrong?
To be honest, a lot:
- a negative point differential through four games;
- bad luck with fumbles: the Dawgs have lost 4 of 5, opponents have lost 3 of 6. Those numbers normalize to around 50%.
- an opposing passer rating of 135.77 despite six interceptions. Said another way, a passer rating 31 points WORSE than 2015’s.
- Jacob Eason has been objectively worse in 2016 than Greyson Lambert was in 2015.
- Special teams still being incredibly clunky. Recspecsdrigo Blankenship could’ve stopped the bleeding early against Ole Miss. William Ham made the Mizzou game very uncomfortable by shanking multiple opportunities. T.J. Logan’s kickoff return in the opener should’ve been the difference in UNC’s favor.
- The running game, for all we bemoaned Brian Schottenheimer’s inability to coach the offensive line’s new schemes effectively, that is MUCH worse than in 2015.
- 2014 (Bobo) 6.04 YPC, 8th nationally
- 2015 (Schottenheimer) 5.44, 18th nationally
- 2016 (Chaney) 4.55, 61st nationally
With all of that being said, if we replay this schedule with similar results, Georgia is probably 1-3 more than half the time.
Consider the following on a game by game basis:
- Mitch Trubisky was 0-7 on passes of 20+ yards against Georgia, as his adjusted QBR for the game was 52.3. Since, he has gone 78/97 (80%) for 1150 yards, 10 TD’s, and 0 picks. At least four of those deep balls were flat misses by the junior QB. Georgia benefited from a shaky first start and a ground game that made its sole appearance in September.
- Nicholls State: Jesus Christ.
- 1st half: 324 yards passing from Drew Lock, which exceeds any single GAME from a year ago.
- 2nd half: good defense, and the worst performance in taking advantage of scoring opportunities presented to the offense I’ve ever seen. Currently Georgia is averaging 4.21 points per “scoring opportunity”, which FootballOutsiders.com defines as 1st downs inside the opponent’s 40. That is 97th in the country.
- Ole Miss: Jesus Christ, round two.
A sampling of teams ahead (and just behind) where Georgia ranks in S&P+:
Wake. Western Michigan. Georgia Southern. Western Kentucky. MizzouColoradoMarylandTempleCal.
It’s bad right now, guys.
What went right?
Despite all of those disgusting stats above, Georgia is 3-1, 1-1 in the SEC (with an all-important road win under its belt), undefeated in the East, and as I said: still has an outside shot at the East.
The Dawgs did the right thing in letting Jacob Eason learn on the fly. The WR corps have to get better, the offensive line has to get better, but for Georgia to reach its potential in 2016, and especially the next two years when the Honeymoon is over, Eason has to be the guy.
On defense, the young guys are stepping up. Trent Thompson, Roquan Smith, and D’Andre Walker are all true sophomores, and all have multiple tackles for loss through four games (Thompson has four). This bodes well for the future. No seniors have even half of one, yet. On the whole two-deep, only Maurice Smith and Chuks Amaechi are set to graduate.
The freshman running backs, Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, have outperformed Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Herrien has been explosive, with 7.1 YPC and 3 TD. Chubb is at 5.08…but at 3.92 after North Carolina. Michel is at 4.61.
I used the term “year zero” in the lead in, and that’s exactly why. There is a significant youth movement on this team, and to have checkmarks in the boxes of “neutral site game vs. ranked opponent” and “SEC night road game” this early in the season is a significant achievement, given the raw numbers on the Dawgs.
Probably a loss to Tennessee this week. However, a rowdy Sanford Stadium crowd, a CBS kickoff, and a key rivalry may be just what the doctor ordered (sorry for the cliches) to get the team’s focus on track.
Schematically, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. They’re allowing Eason to throw the ball downfield, the defense has been ballhawking and aggressive…the young guys on both lines just have to grow up. Outperforming your numbers is better than the inverse.
After Saturday, we will know what to expect from this team the rest of the way. A 9-3 season is not out of reach (although their cumulative projected wins now sits at seven). If the team grows up fast, we can get back to talking about a return to Atlanta next week. If not, get prepared to enjoy watching a young team grow up, take its lumps, and fall in love with the next group of championship level Georgia Bulldogs.
My colleagues here made quite clear the same thing I saw Saturday night: this Georgia team is okay, but probably not great yet. With an amazing inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities, an anemic run game, and a pass D that got shredded for 320 yards IN THE FIRST HALF against Missouri, one can safely state that the confidence gained from the fourth quarter of the opener is more or less gone.
That being said, Georgia is 3-0, and that’s better than any other record possible given the amount of games played thus far.
If you haven’t watched any Ole Miss football this season, you’re just not a big college football fan. They’ve appeared (and lost) in the marquee matchup in two of the season’s three weeks thus far. Assuming you have…you know they can play like a t0p-5 team or a top-150 team.
First half vs. second half Chad Kelly
Chad Kelly is many things: the SEC’s best quarterback, gunslinger (both literally and figuratively), rapper, and…the streakiest damn quarterback I’ve ever seen. When he’s on (see first half vs. Florida State, first half and last 3 minutes vs. Alabama), he’s dynamic.
For a defense that just allowed Drew Lock to–again– THROW FOR 320 YARDS IN THE FIRST HALF– Kelly could pose an issue. Teams have seemed to have trouble matching up with Ole Miss’ rangy receiving corps early, and only adjusting when it becomes evident yet again that the Rebs can’t run the ball.
If Georgia can force Kelly to be efficient– score on 9-10 plays rather than 3-5– he will make mistakes. The Dawgs just have to get some pressure from someone, anyone on the front seven and avoid coverage busts that made Missouri so damn stressful.
Ole Miss D-Line: Awesome
The line you saw creating havoc against Florida State (again, in the first half) and nearly decapitating Jalen Hurts last week is very, very good. For an offensive line that has yet to find any kind of rhythm, this could be…problematic.
They’re led in the post Robert Nkemdiche era by Marquis Haynes, who schooled Cam Robinson a couple of times last week. Freshman Benito Jones has three tackles for loss early on, as well. Nobody else has registered a sack, but D.J. Jones, Isaac Gross, Breeland Speaks, and John Youngblood are by FAR the most athletic D-line Georgia has faced (and will face, until Florida at least).
For Georgia, the line has to hold up at the point of attack, and try some screens out of the backfield to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and perhaps tunnels or quick hitches to Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin to slow the pass rush.
Advantage: Georgia. Where?
The Ole Miss secondary is hobbled, young, and wasn’t all that good to begin with. The quick hitters early will be key in order to provide Jacob Eason some time to get the ball downfield, because there WILL be openings downfield. You don’t want to get into a shootout with Kelly, but picking spots (as Jim Chaney did very well against UNC, not so much since) is going to be the key to Georgia keeping the Rebs at arm’s length.
Will Georgia Win?
Ole Miss’ strengths through three weeks mirror Georgia’s weaknesses. Georgia has not really established any real strengths yet, though I expect Nick Chubb to get back on track to some extent any time.
For a road game against a tough SEC West opponent, its nice to have a noon kickoff. Nicer still is the hope that Ole Miss is suffering from a bout of confidence issues after taking it on the chin in the second half of both of their notable games.
Normally, this would constitute the throwaway game on the SEC schedule– but with Tennessee set to face Alabama and a game Texas A&M, and Florida drawing LSU and Arkansas, the Dawgs have a chance to steal an extra leg up on the road to Atlanta.
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/
Let’s start with this: I hope Penn State loses to Temple, thus rendering the PedoBears 3rd best in Pennsylvania. That game starts at noon, and so do the following:
#2 Florida State at #10 Louisville: Have you heard of Lamar Jackson? Lamar Jackson scored 13 touchdowns in his first 60 minutes of play this year. Lamar Jackson is a sophomore. Lamar Jackson did this:
And that’s just the Louisville side. Can’t think I remember GameDay being a nooner before, but hey. Early season scheduling, man.
#25 Miami at App State: This….is a game that is happening. No words, man.
There’s other football on at noon, but that pair (plus Penn State losing to Temple) should be the CRUNKEST noon slate ever.
#1 Alabama at #19 Ole Miss: The best of the mid-afternoon bunch, but…
#22 Oregon at Nebraska: The classic “Oregon is garbage against the run, and Nebraska can’t run the ball”; and
Colorado at #6 Michigan: Jim Harbaugh, certified obnoxious sociopath, refuses to publish weekly depth charts. Then he got pissed about Colorado’s for this week:
— Colorado Football (@RunRalphieRun) September 13, 2016
And hey, if you can get it, Syracuse at South Florida and Pitt at Oklahoma State both stand to be really fun.
The evening features two games between SEC West coaches that need wins to stay off the hotseat, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t have Xfinity’s 8-channel “previous” option, you need to establish a favorites list.
The aforementioned SEC West Anxiety Bowls: Mississippi State at #20 LSU (MSU’s Dan Mullen is the safest of these four coaches but wants out of Starkville) and Texas A&M at Auburn.
Buuuuutttttt….you’re an SEC homer if you jump on those.
(Georgia plays at Mizzou on SEC Network, they start at 7:30)
#3 Ohio State at #14 Oklahoma: I think Ohio State has 13-0 laid out for them if they win at OU. Even if not, they are in good position to win the B1G because the B1G is awful. The Big XII is also awful, and Oklahoma could lose this and become the first two-loss playoff team.
#12 Michigan State at #18 Notre Dame: I guess its interesting.
USC at #7 Stanford: Watch USC win this game just to troll us all.
Do your chores, skip GameDay, and saddle up. Don’t start drinking til around 5 if you want to make it through the marquees and the Dawgs.