Monday, June 27, 2005

Boise State-Georgia: Do we really have to wait 68 days?

I'm generally a fan of unconventional thinking; it's a quality too scarce in the media, let alone the oft-conservative, lower brain power college football media. However, there's still such a thing as "too cute" and this uninformed prediction of doom for Georgia against Boise State definitely qualifies. Why uninformed? I'm glad you asked:

1. While Jerry Maguire was had at hello, I was had with this poor argument:

"Georgia is a fairly low-tech outfit, but one blessed with outstanding athletic and talented personnel."

That might not be a bad description of Tennessee, a defense with great athletes that isn't coached especially well, but it certainly does not describe Georgia's defense. As has been pointed out in this space, Georgia has been extremely effective under Mark Richt at slowing just about every offense that it has faced. That includes holding Florida's outstanding 2001 offense, which College Football Resource dubs "high tech," to 24 points, 20.8 points below their average. Or how about shutting out a 2003 Clemson team that averaged over 28 points per game, on the road, no less. (I'd be willing to bet that College Football Resource would have dubbed Tommy Bowden's Tulane offense as "high tech." Funny what happened to him when he moved to a major conference.) Or how about holding national title-winning LSU to half their scoring average? How about Georgia holding Auburn scoreless and first downless in the second half of their 2002 game. That Auburn offense was coached by Bobby Petrino, who took his trade to a lower level (Conference USA) and all of a sudden became "high tech" according to CFR. CFR alleges that "Georgia under coach Mark Richt has never really been exposed to the kind of offense Boise State plays," but they have been exposed and done quite well against another of the offenses that CFR states are too sophisticated for poor, dumb Georgia.

There's a reason why the NFL was so interested in Brian VanGorder. The argument could be made that Georgia will suffer without VanGorder, but that's not the argument that CFR is making. And as Boise State shows, some coaches are replaceable...

2. If Boise State's offensive is so "high tech" and unstoppable, even to a team with far, far greater talent, then explain why Dirk Koetter, who developed the offense at Boise State and then imported it to the mostly defensively challenged Pac Ten, has only had good, but not spectacular results. Is it a coincidence that the Boise State offense is suddenly lower tech when employed against better coaches and defensive talent?

3. It fails to take into account the disadvantages that teams face in crossing multiple time zones. East coast teams often struggle on the West coast and vice versa. The factor will be even more significant for Boise State because the heat they'll encounter in the Deep South a few days removed from August will be something new, although the 7:15 ESPN kickoff will ameliorate that factor. The road disadvantage is especially important for Boise State, as one of the comments to CFR's post made clear:

"Boise dropped considerably last year relative to their form the two years prior--a quick look at their 2004 games away from the Smurf Turf shows this:

"@UTEP: 47-31 (was 41-31 before Hawkins, inexplicably, had the QB run a TD in on the last play of the game--and keep in mind this was before UTEP had any sort of self-confidence)
@Tulsa: 45-42
@San Jose St: 56-49 (2 OT)
@Nevada: 58-21

"Yes, Boise only played 4 road games last year, a schedule that would make HeismanPundit oh so proud.

"For the record, that's an average of 34 ppg against (not including OT), against a relatively weak slate of offenses--by which, I mean these four teams managed a total of 70 pts in 6 games against BCS opponents last season (though their production fattened up while playing WAC opposition)."

4. Then there's this gem of an argument:

"As for the Georgia offense---despite his acclaim as a quarterback and offensive guru, Mark Richt's only been so-so offensively at Georgia. His squads have put up decent but unexplosive averages of 27.6PPG, 32.1PPG, 26.5PPG and 27.9PPG. In four seasons the Bulldogs have cracked the 30 PPG barrier just once! Yet this outfit is annually regarded as one of the nation's elite offenses. The talent is there, but the production less so. But look at Boise State in that same time period; 34.3PPG, 45.6 PPG, 43.0 PPG and 48.9 PPG. Mind you, many would argue those points came against inferior defensive opposition, but two valid counter-arguments are that their league mates are also more accustomed to facing some kind of sophisticated offense in any given season, thus making them more prepared to face such an offense (yet judging by Boise's totals remaining high, completely incapable of stopping said offense). The other argument is that regardless of conference, any team that has a truly balanced offense (Hawai'i need not apply) and is putting up those kinds of numbers should reasonably be expected to put up similar totals in any other conference."

CFR is absolutely right about Mark Richt not being a great offensive coordinator. His skills as a head coach lie more in the underrated aspects of the position - hiring and maintaining a good staff, recruiting, etc. - and less in x's and o's. However, when CFR tries to justify Boise's offensive numbers as somehow not tainted by the fact that they play in the WAC, a conference that he later concedes is "offensive," his argument that Boise could score just as much on Georgia or against other SEC opponents borders on idiotic. Aside from the Tommy Bowden/Bobby Petrino/Dirk Koetter examples above, I can't fathom how CFR misses a simple point: Georgia is a lot more talented than Boise State. All the pretty schemes in the world don't matter if you can't block an opponent's pass rush. Man on man, Boise's offensive linemen will not be able to handle Georgia's defensive line. Steve Spurrier would have learned the same lesson if he would have taken Duke linemen into the SEC. With Florida talent, it was a different story.

All of this, by the way, is causing me to examine my belief that Urban Meyer's offense is going to take the SEC by storm. I think that Meyer's offense is better than Hawkins', but I need to think longer about this.


peacedog said...

This is kind of absurd. I'm going to blog about it.

Anonymous said...

Nice! Glad to see a Georgia blog with some sense. Though we're Florida fans, we're linking away to you as we type.

peacedog said...

He's a very good writier, actually. I keep trying to tell him to quit his current profession and go write, but he won't.

Boise State should be a good game, but we'll see. Will Shockley put it all together this year? Can they test him, and force him to do stupid things the way Tech did (though part of that was the fault of the coaching staff)? If so, then the running game could have problems.

OTOH, givne the way the Cardinalsssszzzz ran all over Boise, I think it's not unreasonable to suggest the Dawgs might do that as well. Thomas Brown isn't human. Now if only Ware is over his fumbles. . .

Anonymous said...

Hey, both 'a youse: get on over to the Blogpoll discussion, round 2 on EDSBS. Consider this an invite, since we don't have your email adds.