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September 15, 2014

First and goal play calling: Always give Gurley the...

I've been pretty clear on what I think about the play action call. It wasn't a wrong call, it was bad execution and a bad result. Be honest with yourself, if that play works, and I'll get to it not working in a second, would you be willing to give Bobo credit for having the guts to make a call that worked by using Gurley as a decoy?

I agree with Cory Brinson. It was a play that got blown up because South Carolina's DE did his job (and reviewing it, it is possible Theus didn't do his or Mason didn't check into a protection package to cover the DE). The outcome of the drive was as much dictated by the terrible grounding as the play call:
The OUTCOME made this a bad call. The fact that the refs blew the grounding call made this a bad call. The result put us out of position to do what we would have wanted to do the next 2 plays, which would have been ramming Gurley down their throats. But, it didn't happen.
Any question what happens on 2nd down there if we aren't on the 14?

Hey, it's cool to bash Bobo and all the cool kids are doing it, but be honest about why you are doing it. If you just like blaming Bobo for all our ills, fine. Be honest about that. But also be honest about why we lost to South Carolina.

Mike Bobo's offense didn't allow Dylan Thompson to hit 70% of his passes for 3 TDs, while consistently failing to get pressure in the middle or from the edge. And he didn't call the double wide safeties that allowed seam routes unfettered access to the end zone at times. He didn't make up a holding call on a 54 yard TD run. He didn't miss two FGs. He didn't coach the kickoff receiving team that looked like the keystone cops.

That play is an easy lighting rod for second guessing, but at best, it is an easy place for a simplistic one liner reason for the loss. One last honesty time question: If we'd have run Gurley there and they stop him four times because they had ten in the box, would you still be in blame Bobo mode for not doing something to leverage them keying on Gurley for at least one play?

See also:
- What sucks most about Saturday night's loss (Blutarsky)
- Richt to discuss calls with SEC officials (Emerson, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)


Hunkering Hank said...

It's a bad call because it's a pass play and three bad things can happen on a pass play - (1) sack with a (2) big loss of yardage (intentional grounding) or (3) interception/fumble. On a run play, you might not score with the best player in America - he might get stuffed and fumble - but he won't get stuffed ten yards into the backfield forcing a complete change in playcalling from that point on. Beyond the totally obvious, that's why it's a bad call. As for the totally obvious, if SC stuffs Gurley 4 times. Fine. UGA got beat by SC. They beat our best play with our best player. But instead, here we are defending and attacking our own team because UGA again beat itself with suspect coaching. It would be easier to live with just getting beat because we got beat. It's the self-inflicted losses that divide.
And I acknowledge and agree wholeheartedly that had the defense not totally sucked, UGA would have won.

Austen Bannan said...

I'm fine blaming Richt rather than Bobo. Richt clearly is a part of the play calling process and signed off on not giving Gurley the ball. I was yelling at the TV before the play started because I feared that Gurley was going to be ignored. Passing the ball in that situation isn't always a mistake, but Gurley was energized and clearly wanted the ball... and he's America's best.

A more telling call of Bobo's struggles is running Gurley left on 3rd and 16, which Gurley individually rescued us from with his cutback. Another issue - why not more toss-sweeps? They weren't going to work like they did against Clemson, but Michel got a decent gain on one, and our O-Line is very good at executing on them. It's sad we always give Keith Marshall his token carry or two right up the middle instead of putting him in the open field.

It would make sense to blame the defense in this game, but we know our defense has limits whereas our offense has strengths that we didn't maximize. One way or another, Spurrier's coaching and mojo earned SC a win that didn't have to happen.

Austen Bannan said...

Also, am I right that McKenzie burnt the defense once and then didn't really get many (or any) other snaps? We sure didn't try to stretch the field ANY the rest of the game.

WT said...

I am frustrated by the call, yes. But why was it such a dumb call on first and goal from the 4, when earlier in the game we were first and goal from the 5, and we got the touchdown to Rome on a play action pass?!?

Everyone and their mother seems to have FORGOTTEN a play action pass WORKED just 2 series before that. This proves your point: that the *result* is what everyone is so frustrated about, not the call. And if you were to watch those two plays, I think the execution (including, as you say, possible failure to check out?) is better on the first than the second. I still didn't much like the call on the first one, despite the good result. But that's why I grumble a little and shake my head rather than flip out or say we should fire anybody.

TylerDawgden said...

I believe you are overly optimistic on us not being devided if Gurley gets stuffed, but it is a good point.

TylerDawgden said...

I felt like SC did a good job taking away those underneath plays. The book on Mason, at least until he shows otherwise, is take away option one and two, he'll throw it away.

South_FL_Dawg said...

No. That was a bad call because we were in the 4 with 4 downs to go. I appreciate Cory's analysis that there was some logic behind the call. I can see how the opponent would stack the box because it seemed obvious what was coming. Well it was obvious for a reason, a good reason.

I wonder when our team practices goal line what they practice. I would like to know if Bobo & Richt had planned before the game for what they would call if we were down there late like we were with the game on the line. Because I would think these situations are discussed ahead of time.

But yeah, even though there was logic behind the call it was still not the right call. You at least give it to Gurley a couple of times before you try something else. Dance with the one who brought you.

Chuck said...

"One last honesty time question: If we'd have run Gurley there and they stop him four times because they had ten in the box, would you still be in blame Bobo mode for not doing something to leverage them keying on Gurley for at least one play?"

A: No, I wouldn't blame Bobo. I would blame our O-line for not being man enough to get enough push to get the most monstrous back in America into the end zone. I would think poor execution, not poor decision-making did us in. I contend that poor decision-making AND poor execution occurred prior to and on the play that was called. Here's the thing: we'd already been man enough on our previous TD. Why were we so certain there was a better way when we'd already been successful bringing the hammer?

Bernie said...

We can argue about the play all day and see both sides. If we ran it ten times in that situation I would even bet that we score as frequently with the play action there as we would a handoff. My contention is that it has to be a mindset. A year ago that play call makes more sense in that it is Murray's team. The game is on the line, let the four year starter under center make a play. But now the team is Gurley's. That fact is indisputable. He's the star. He's the NFL draftee in a matter of months. He's the only player in the stadium that has the abillity to put his team on his back and take over when the game is in the balance. So as coaches you HAVE to put it in his hands. Have to.

And Austen is absolutely right. I can easily put myself just far enough into Bobo's shoes to see a scenario where I try to outsmart myself. The head coach has veto power. Richt is kicking himself for not exercising it. And I would be too.

Austen Bannan said...

Fair enough, but even if Mason has no spectacular arm, we've gone two games without much thought at all to trying even one deep ball. Even the throw to McKenzie wasn't a "deep ball." I think Reggie, McKenzie, and a couple others would have a chance against SC defensive backs. Would have been nice to try instead of handful of failed dump passes to Gurley in tough traffic to at least keep SC honest out there.

As I read somewhere, it's also true that our defense has been so sad in recent years that we take it as a given and pin our blame on the offensive preparedness and play calling. I'm guilty of that, but I ultimately still think there is a reason - at least when we know our new d-coordinator hasn't had time to recruit his team and was left with a weak secondary. Teams with UGA talent on offense should be expected to succeed when opportunities present themselves against mediocre defenses.

Trey said...

Soooo, why not run that first play again (which is one of my favorite plays, btw)? That wouldn't put Mason on a bootleg, and it wouldn't allow for a free defender to annihilate the QB. It would also be play-faking to his throwing hand, allowing him to see any pressure coming and have two options to throw to (FB or TE). Instead, we sold hard on the play-action, with a QB bootleg. The DE kept contain (surprise, a DE did his job!), and there was nowhere to go with the ball.

The play-call itself is predicated on the defense not doing what it is supposed to do. The only way it succeeds is if the defense makes a mistake. I think that, in general, is a bad strategy on a regular play in the first quarter. I think it is a terrible strategy down 3 at the opponents' 4. The other play-action call is at least a constraint play. Force the defense to make the right read and cover both options. If the safety reads run, the corner is stuck between the fullback and the TE, and can't cover both. Even if the safety reads pass, you can still throw it to the TE in the corner of the endzone where it is either incomplete or a TD.

It's not just that the pass vs. run decision wasn't the higher percentage play in that situation. It's that the actual pass play-call wasn't all that great either.

Aladawg said...

I'll repeat : We have 4 chances to get 4 yards with the best college football player on the planet with ~ 5:10 left to play. Trust in him to get it done. At worst we end up with more of a chip shot field goal. Despite all the warts and boils I am convinced we win the game if we don't get cute..........Did we deserve to win playing that poor at defense; maybe not. It's all about the situation. At this point in the game you have to ride the horse. I will guarantee you, had we been successful with the cuteness I would not have been happy with the call. I am still unhappy that Gurley was not in for the 3rd and 1 in the first half of the Clemson game to get the key first down. Ultimately this is Richt's mistake and I have been a huge Richt supporter for a long time. Still doesn't make this right. We continue to blow key games when we have huge chances to win. We steal defeat from the jaws of victory.

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