Friday, August 31, 2007

Our Weather is Hotter and our Teams are Meaner

So sayeth Mr. College Football, who says that the ACC and SEC teams are not going to lose this weekend (except in obvious instances where they play one another). I like Barnhart, but he does play to his audience and that can cloud his judgment. He knows he can never go wrong by picking all the local teams to win, but that devalues his opinion.

What further devalues his opinion is analysis like this:

Oklahoma State at Georgia: This one’s pretty simple. If Georgia can run the ball with that baby-faced offensive line, then things will be okay at Sanford Stadium Saturday night. But if the Dawgs can’t run the ball and Matt Stafford has to throw it 35 times, this one turns into a shootout with one of the best offenses in the country. The Dawg Nation does not want that. Georgia 24, Oklahoma State 20.

Did Lloyd Carr write this? Let's think about what Barnhart is saying here: if the running game doesn't work, the Georgia will have to throw the ball 35 times, they'll score more, and this will be a bad thing. If the Dawgs do run the ball well, they'll score 24 points and win a tight game. All Barnhart is saying is that the tempo of the game will be different if Georgia runs effectively. This has nothing to do with the actual result, unless one team is clearly better than the other, in which case the superior team wants a quicker tempo and more possessions because that reduces the chance of the anomalous result. Assuming that Georgia has better players, then they would prefer a game with more possessions. Barnhart (and Carr) drive me crazy when they babble about "shortening the game and protecting the defense," as if these should be goals for teams chocked full of four- and five-star recruits.

What Barnhart should be saying is this: if Georgia's young offensive line cannot open holes for their backs, then the passing game will become less effective, Georgia will struggle in the red zone, and the Dawgs won't be able to take advantage of Oklahoma State's weakness, which is a green defensive line. An ineffective running game is bad because it affects the ability of the team to score touchdowns. Additionally, Barnhart ought to mention that the offensive line affects the passing game in the sense that they have to protect a pocket passer who presents a giant target for pass rushers. (As a Michigan fan, I have a little experience with this concept.) Regardless of the game's tempo, Georgia will have significant problems if they cannot protect Matthew Stafford.

Personally, I think that Georgia's young offensive line will present problems during the season, but Oklahoma State doesn't have the defense to exploit this weakness. Thus, Georgia is going to be able to run and pass well. Oklahoma State will also be able to move the ball, although their effectiveness is more variable because we have no idea if Good Bobby Reid or Bad Bobby Reid are going to show up. Assuming that Good Bobby shows up, then the shootout that many have predicted ought to materialize. I still like Georgia in the shootout because of their depth and homefield advantage; I don't like Barnhart's reasoning for how the Dawgs will get from point A to point B.


Anonymous said...

Memo to sportswriters: stop referring to every fanbase as a "Nation." I do not recall ever seeing someone outside the South sporting UGa apparel.

Chg said...

I think the _____ Nation originated with UGa. While I agree that the term has become overplayed, your comment on the nationwide appeal of UGa is completely irrelevant.

The idea of _____ Nation is that the nation extends only to those within the fanbase. Everyone else is Other. That's probably why it is exceptionally appealing to Southern fans.

I could not care less who anyone in Montana pulls for. Unless it's the Grizzlies or Bobcats, there's a 90% chance he's just a frontrunner/bandwagon fan anyway, making him even more inconsequential. Those people don't even have a soul. It's science.

LD said...

As I recall, Larry Munson refers to the "Bulldog Nation" in the pregame video.