Sunday, November 02, 2008

Seven Thoughts on the Cocktail Massacre

1. How did Georgia get pummeled by 39 despite outgaining Florida? The red zone and turnovers. Look at Georgia's possessions when they came close to the Florida goal line:

Second drive - Georgia drives to the Florida ten, gets pushed back to the 20, and then misses a field goal.

Third drive - Georgia drives to the Florida 23, get pushed back to the 26, and then makes a field goal.

Fourth drive - Georgia drives to the Florida six, gets pushed back to the ten, and then misses a field goal.

Fifth drive - Georgia drives to the Florida 30 and then Stafford throws the back-breaking interception.

People who want to pin this game on the missed field goals or bad calls are missing the point. Georgia has struggled in the red zone to a degree this year and that failing was brutally exposed yesterday. The fact that Georgia had to try so many field goals in the first place is a problem with this team. Going into the game on Saturday, Georgia had attempted 17 field goals and Florida had attempted six. The red zone issues were not a shock.

As for the turnover issue, Florida won in this department 3-0. The Gators were a little lucky that Georgia negated a pick with a silly personal foul, but at the end of the day, Florida's defense looked more aggressive and more likely to turn Georgia over.

2. So why does Georgia struggle on offense to score touchdowns and on defense to force turnovers? Look at the lines. On offense, the offensive line struggles to protect Stafford or create holes for Moreno when an opponent has its back against the wall and comes out blitzing and pressing. The same problem afflicted Georgia in 2003 when it had a green offensive line. On defense, the defensive line doesn't get pressure because of a combination of injuries and the apparent end of the Georgia defensive end assembly line. A defense that can't get pressure with the front four is going to struggle to for turnovers.

3. Tim Tebow's passer rating for the game: 227.20. Matt Stafford's passer rating for the game: 103.81. Mark Bradley, have at it. You proclaimed that Stafford doesn't throw picks anymore after one pick-free game and he promptly threw two in Jacksonville. Stafford is still too confident in his arm.

4. Since we're discussing turnovers, I ought to mention Gary Danielson harping on Joe Haden getting his hands on A.J. Green on the key third quarter pick. Haden's offense was marginal, at best. He was cutting under the throw when he brushed Green. The contact didn't change the facts that: (1) Haden was cutting under Green; (2) Green didn't do a great job of running the route; and (3) the throw wasn't very good. Georgia fans have a legitimate beef with the third down spot on Florida's first touchdown drive and Louis Murphy's slingshot move on Asher Allen for Florida's fourth touchdown. The fact that Florida had seven touchdown drives indicates that Georgia fans shouldn't be blaming this game on the men in stripes, even if Penn Wagers and his merry band often deserve the criticism.

5. While we're on the subject of Danielson, how in the world does he reconcile his constant compliments for the Florida offense with his claim that the spread option is not a great offense anymore?

6. Urban Meyer had less confidence in his offense than Mark Richt did. Florida's game plan was surprisingly conservative. The Gators were running the ball a lot between the tackles (more than I expected) even before the game took a turn for rout city. Meyer's decision to run out the clock at the end of the first half when Florida had 1:45 was too conservative, as was his decision not to go fro a fourth and five from the Georgia 38 on the first possession of the third quarter. (Urban, don't you know that I was trying to convince a friend last week that you get the Romer principles better than Richt?) Richt, on the other hand, showed with the second quarter onside kick that he didn't have a lot of confidence in Georgia's ability to stop Florida. I'm generally a fan of the onside kick because the conventional overrates the importance of field position and underrates the importance of possession. (13 years of watching Lloyd Carr teams taught me that lesson.) I'm not going to kill Richt for ordering the onside kick, but the message that he conveyed with that decision is unmistakable.

7. Georgia is left in a weird position. The Dawgs will likely run the table and beat Michigan State or Ohio State in Orlando. Georgia will finish the year at 11-2 and in the top ten, but there'll be a strangely hollow feeling at the end of the year because of the combination of the expectations for this season and the fact that Georgia was blown out by the top two teams in the SEC. If Moreno and Stafford go pro after the season, then a sense of a missed opportunity will also affect the final evaluation of the season.


peacedog said...

1. UF collected 4 turnovers (3 ints, the knowshon fumble). You might count the onsides kick as a fifth, since it so perfectly emulated what a good turnovr does (a short field that leads to points!).

2. Bobo's playcalling was pretty good 20 to 20, but appaling after that. Though he can't be blamed for the good calls that went awry (e.g. the rollout where Stafford threw behind Chandler).

I do think Blutarsky is right that we perhaps weren't attacking downfield enough and left the middle too alone. We threw the pass to Harris, but otherwise the middle wasn't utilized that much. It needs to be. We need to get back tot he TEs.

Anyway, inspite of that we moved pretty easily between the 20s until the game unraveled. But we get in the redzone (and you might argue that redzone trends begin to appear in playcalling inside the 30) and a couple of things happen. Bobo gets too cute/tricky. Knowshon takes himself out of the game (and he is the one who subs himself out) and something bad happens. E.g. on one redzone trip Caleb King came in and missed his protection assignment badly. The result was either a sack or a hurry that busted up the play (I can't recall which) and helped disrupt the drive. I bring the second case up because it's happened quite a bit this year. Not that the general redzone approach has helped things.

I agree it's definately about the OL. And about the TEs, though we havent' appeared to have the TE be a factor in the gameplan since Sc (when the TEs where removed from the game plan after a series of Chandler drops, and then of course Chandler got hurt).

3. In talking to several people I wonder if perhaps the onsides was a decent call but it sounds like the kick was awful. I missed it as I was cominb back from the bathroom at the time. Richt has been (rightly) criticized for being far too conservative in this game historically, which was part of the reason last year was so refreshing. I wonder if the call was partly a result of his attempts to reverse that trend. I do agree with the idea that it arguably sends a bad message.

Walsh had a brutal day. Nothing against the kid personally, of course, but there was no reason to miss the kicks he did that I saw (no bad snaps/holds/protections breakdowns).

4. On defense, at several postions we seem to be short on SEC-caliber talent.

5. The second half drive where we started at the one sure seemed like a patented Bobo drive. We've had a number of long drives this year (alas, not all finishing in TDs, but impressive none the less). The int was such a killer. . . and I'm frustrated that we unraveled so completely on both sides of the ball after it.

I think it can be said that this team wasn't ready for a championship run. With all the off the field troubles (most of them minor and overblown in the media, true) that spilled into the season, and the fact that we've been embarassed badly in two of our biggest games, I'm a little vexed. I have no answers, though.

Unknown said...

Not to start a fight here, but there have been several teams that have moved the ball between the 20's well vs Florida that have walked away with little to show for it. I don't know if that is a product of how the defense is designed or due to changes made when the opposing team hits the red zone, but it works.

My point being that not all the blame for the failed redzone offense is Bobo's fault.