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December 27, 2017

Stopping Georgia's Offense

If we didn't know what we were facing when Oklahoma had the ball, we'd be pretty ok with the S&P+ of Oklahoma's defense:


Yep, bottom quartile.  It is simple to assume Big 12 offenses and all, but when you look at the Big 12, only three are top 25 in offensive S&P. When you add in Ohio State, they faced four teams in the top 25, but did face two (Oklahoma State and Ohio State) in the top ten.

Georgia's 8th ranked defense faced one top ten (Missouri, who put up 28 pretty quick points on Georgia), and Notre Dame to round out the their top 25 opponents. Georgia faced some really bad offenses: South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Florida, all in the 85 to 118 range. The worst offense OU faced is Texas, but did face pretty bad (~80s) offenses in Iowa State and Baylor.

Need I remind you of the Iowa State game where the starting LB also wrecked havoc in the second half running the wildcat as the QB?

Which brings me to my actual point:  Oklahoma struggled with spread concepts, especially those that had power running options incorporated in them. 

So, what does that mean? Oklahoma has fared well against rushing first teams (Ohio State, TCU twice, WVU), holding them to under 5ypc.  But I keep coming back to the Kansas State game, a 42-35 win for Oklahoma.  The Wildcats averaged 6.38 ypc in what was easily their best rushing performance on the season. Not surprisingly, OU graded out at 16% in Connelly's ratings on defense for that game. 

Kansas State led 21-7 a few minutes before the half. They got there because the Sooners couldn't stop their inside runs from passing looks, while KSU ate them up on first down passes.

Now, I'm not saying Georgia will line up and try to jam the ball down Oklahoma's throat, if for no other reason than that is what Oklahoma is expecting.  However, if we can get running down hill, we can make it very interesting for a Sooner defense that has struggled trying to stop more than one phase of a dynamic offense.

That gives me reason for hope.


December 26, 2017

Georgia's Defense in the Rose Bowl

"Big 12 don't play defense."

"Oklahoma haven't played anyone with our defensive speed."

"They don't face any SEC type defenses in the Big 12."

Be honest, how many times have you said that in the past 15 years? This season? Since December 3rd?

We Georgia fans have been raised on the religion of 'Defense Wins Championships, Inc.™.' Well, now we'll have a small sample size, but a sample none the less, to test the theory (mantra, really) that they can't handle SEC defenses.

I'd posit that Georgia's defense hasn't faced an offense like Oklahoma's since Auburn's 2103 National Champion runner up. Yes, Auburn's 2017 offense is pretty good, and I feel comfortable saying what Georgia faced on the Plains in November is a close as we've seen this season. In the linked article, I noted it was more about the short passing game, supplemented with timely running plays, that makes Oklahoma's offense tick.

There are three things Georgia needs to do well to slow them down:

  1. Make Mayfield uncomfortable in the pocket with a four man rush. Call this the Iowa State plan.
  2. Play super competent assignment defense behind them. Call this the Mississippi State plan.
  3. Keep Oklahoma in difficult field position choices. Call this the SEC Championship Game plan.
Oklahoma will score points.  The key is to keep them from scoring TDs on all drives.  Blutarsky hit on this last week. The Sooners will score points. Oklahoma has punted 36 times all season, an average of three per game.  They are only giving the ball back two times a game between turnovers and failed 4th down conversions. That means they are scoring on about 9 drives a game.

Iowa State put Oklahoma's QB in difficult run/pass situations because of LB Joel Lanning's game.  He constantly put Mayfield in 'do I pass or do I run situations' on the underneath passes.  Mayfield got his yards, but Lanning's coverage of TE Mark Andrews gave the Cyclones' front the time it needed to cause Mayfield to run...into Lanning's waiting arms.  

The other two points are pretty self evident based on what Georgia did in their games against Mississippi State and Auburn in the SEC Championship.  I'm not comparing Fitzgerald to Mayfield as much as I'm comparing what Oklahoma wants to do with what Mississippi State tried in our game. Oklahoma doesn't have as much designed QB run built into their offense as they have the option for the QB to get chunks of yardage on runs built in if the pass isn't there. Georgia forced Fitzgerald to win the game with his arm, then took that option away from him. 

We did much the same in the SEC Championship against Stiham, but also closing some of the Auburn play book by keeping them in 2nd and 3rd and long plays. 

Now is the put up or shut up time for SEC Defense as the King of All Football Things trope. I'm still noodling out how this goes, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be as much about slowing rather than stopping Oklahoma.

December 18, 2017

Vegas on the Possible Outcomes of the National Championship Game


2017-2018 Bowl Season - Exact Outcome of the CFP Finals
Alabama Wins Vs Georgia                     7/2
Alabama Wins Vs Oklahoma                  4/1
Clemson Wins Vs Georgia                     4/1
Clemson Wins Vs Oklahoma                  6/1
Georgia Wins Vs Alabama                     25/4
Georgia Wins Vs Clemson                     13/2
Oklahoma Wins Vs Alabama                  6/1
Oklahoma Wins Vs Clemson                  7/1

Looks like Vegas thinks the Sugar Bowl has the best two teams.


Odds courtesy of

December 17, 2017

Will Offensive Pace Matter in the Rose Bowl?

Man, I can't get my head around how Oklahoma scores so many points (other than they are really, really good at creating big plays).  When you break down Bill Connelly's advanced stats on Oklahoma, they are first in the nation in offensive explosiveness and efficiency. That is borne out when you consider the faced the third fewest 3rd down attempts in the nation with 144. For comparison sake, Georgia faced 165.

That is  an offense that is very effective at staying in front of the chains. When you factor in their 66 conversions and their 12 fourth down conversions, they are only giving the ball back a shade over 25% of the time when you get them to 3rd down.

That's around 11 3rd downs per game for Oklahoma, with 2 punts per game. They punt at a rate of .4 per offensive score.

Yet they run a pedestrian 75 plays per game.

So, they just line up and run plays until they score. If it takes two plays or 12 plays, they don't care. They'll get theirs.

I know this isn't freshly plowed ground, but it is starting to freak me out. The two things keeping me together are

  1. Georgia's offense is specifically designed to eat clock while breaking the will of an opponent, and 
  2. We've faced a similar offense twice this season in Auburn.
Is it too soon to start packing for Pasadena?


December 16, 2017

Rose Bowl Tickets and Hospitality Packages

Now that the airlines have added some flights, the prices to LA are moderating (some), you can get out there for around $650.  There are a couple of options for you, if you want ticket and hospitatlity, including post game watching of the Sugar Bowl on site. PrimeSport has put together a tailgate that includes food and beverage pre-game, as well as a place to wait out the legendary post game traffic.

They also have tickets that are starting below $300 before fees.

December 15, 2017

Stopping Baker Mayfield

I'm not plowing fresh ground here, but dang can Baker Mayfield move the pocket around quickly. I keep getting asked will he hurt us more with his legs or arm, and I remain convinced it is his arm, but that answer has a lot to do with his ability to move around and create time...and confusion. Watching Mayfield in clips, it is easy to see defenses, linebackers especially, get undisciplined in their assignments. Oklahoma's offense will run at least two receivers, with an Hback or Split End exploiting the middle zone area, while sneaking a RB out for quick in/out or wheel route. The linebackers in coverage have to be very good pass defenders, especially on plays that Stidham is baiting them into peeling off coverage to pursue him.

Think Stidham on Auburn's third FG drive in the regular season or their longest pass play completion in the SEC Championship game with wheel route combos to Chandler Cox.

Like many big play offenses, Oklahoma dares you to be aggressive, then beats you with it. The difference is that offense also clicks well on the 5-7 yard play, which is all about Mayfield's ability to find an open receiver in the 3-6 yard range. They faced about 6 3rd and longs (7+ yards) a game, that from a team that had over 140 offensive drives this season. That is comparable to Georgia, but they use their short passing game to accomplish that. Then they lull you in and hit a 65 yard pass play.

That is all about Mayfield's ability to move the pocket and extend plays, not necessarily by rushing, though he can do that, too.

So, what's the trick to stopping them? Baker Mayfield isn't great with walls between him and open ground.  When he is pressured into rushing around a wall to escape, he tends to get caught and put on the ground face down pretty easily.

Go back and watch how Mel Tucker's defense played against Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Georgia made Stidham uncomfortable in the pocket, making him throw the ball away a fair amount. That is the best example of how you can hope to slow down Oklahoma. Make Mayfield uncomfortable by pressuring him to run into that wall or get rid of the ball, probably without blitzing too much.  The magic is in actually doing it again, this time against a better QB and an offense that has a month to prepare for what you did.

WSLS Bowl Pool

If you didn't get the email, you can join here.

Just like regular season, we are doing confidence picks.  Games close at kickoff, so there are a bunch of games you'll miss out on tomorrow.


WSLS Ep. 122: Georgia's Going to the Rose Bowl, Y'all

We bore Scott to tears talking about Bowl Season.

Here's a whole bunch of interesting links, as promised:
Southern Tab Cigars:

December 10, 2017

You Mad Bro? Catch in SEC Championship

Love it.

Photo courtesy of Jim Hipple

December 9, 2017

Rose Bowl Tickets and Pricing

Now that UGA has released their tickets and the Rose Bowl has given scalpers/Ticketmaster another chance to power grab all the released and sold a few remaining tickets, the secondary market is your friend.  The get in price has remained pretty constant at about $250. On a ~$175 face value ticket, that isn't terrible. 

As you can see, Georgia will sit facing the press box, which is on the East side of the Rose Bowl. Bring your sunglasses as we'll have the sun in our face. 

Funny thing about the Rose Bowl, end zone seats are lettered backwards from K-A (K basically at field level), then from 1-77 going up. It appears the seat back sections on the side lines start at row 1-7 depending on the section. From everything I've heard, the better seats are above the lettered rows, and if you are behind the benches, up around row 25-45. The ring walkway around the stadium is around row 30. I've also heard the end zone lettered seats are great, at least while the teams are playing towards your end zone.

I still think there are going to be a lot of Dawg fans in Pasadena, but given the lower allotment to the schools (13K each), as well as the sales to the locals and scalpers Web 3.0 entrepreneurs, hold backs for corporate groups, and the pre-announcement sales, getting a ticket isn't a given unless you are willing to show up with cash and hope or go ahead and bite the bullet through aftermarket.

December 8, 2017

You Can Only Hope to Contain Kirby Smart

Sometimes, I think Scott Sinclair has the hardest sideline job in football.
Photo courtesy of Jim Hipple
There is nothing about this picture that I don't love. Even Aaron Feld is perfectly framed here.  By the way, any doubt one of the lesser heralded upgrades with Smart's hire is featured in the picture?

December 6, 2017

Updates on Rose Bowl Seating

From the official Rose Bowl website:

A limited number of remaining tickets for the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 104th Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual will go on sale Wednesday, December 6 at 9 a.m. PT/ 12 p.m. ET. Tickets will be available online or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-653-8000. Oklahoma will occupy the west sideline (press box side) and have their colors painted in the north endzone, while Georgia will occupy the east sideline and have their colors painted in the south endzone. A maximum of four tickets per person will be available during the Rose Bowl Game ticket pre-sale. Individual ticket prices start at $185 plus Ticketmaster handling fees.

December 5, 2017

Tournament of Roses Parade

While it isn't my cup of tea, I'm told that part of the full experience of the Rose Bowl is the Tournament of Roses Parade, which starts at 8am Pacific on January 1st. With the Rose Bowl kickoff slated for 2pm Pacific, it feels like it would cut into tailgating time. Like I said, not my cup of tea.

Still, if you decide to go, here is the route map from the Tournament of Roses website:

It is also important to note that LA is a driving city. Be sure to note the road closures and whatnot in your planning to get to the game on the 1st.

Check out that website. Apparently, you are allowed to volunteer to decorate the floats and can view them being made, as well as view them post game and on the 2nd at Victory Park in Pasadena.


December 4, 2017

Alabama is Favorite to Win Championship; UGA vs OU is a Pick'em

Vegas money is a funny thing. Lines and quotes courtesy of Bovada.

Odds to win the 2018 College Football Championship         
Alabama                                   9/5                            
Clemson                                   5/2
Oklahoma                                 11/4                          
Georgia                                    10/3

College Football Playoff Lines
Alabama           -1½
Clemson           +1½     

Georgia            PICK
Oklahoma         PICK

“With both the College playoff games at essentially a coin toss that is exactly how the early money is coming in 50/50. However, as my experience tells me we will most likely need Georgia by game time, and the Bama game who knows. I expect a lot of Tide money late.”
Kevin Bradley, Sportsbook Manager,       

Rose Bowl Tickets and Packages

Flights are sky high (see what I did?) right now, but prices for tickets to the game are doing ok.  We have a couple of options if you don't get them through Hartman.

PrimeSport is a premium hospitality provider
You may have noticed StubHub is also a partner again, so you can always check the banner or the links on the main page to see what they are going for there.  

In talking to my LA friends, there are no real bad seats in the Rose Bowl, but lower isn't always better because the slope is flatter in the lowest part of the bowl.  Also, the end zone seats are all bench, but it is the Rose Bowl, so if they did a flyover with the Spruce Goose, I'd be ok with it.

WSLS Ep. 121 - SEC Champions

Y'all. We are going to the Rose Bowl.

Have a question for us? Hit us up on Twitter
Or, Leave us a podcast review and ask a question. We will read it and answer it on a future podcast.

December 3, 2017

Rose or Sugar?

It's one or the other. 

For my money, let's go to Pasadena. We have a path to the Sugar Bowl in nearly ever season.  We haven't been in the running to go to the Rose Bowl but once in the last 70+ years.  Plus, we've never played Oklahoma.

Yesterday was one of those other worldly days.  I spent several hours after the game randomly exclaiming some variation of 'Holy Crap!' due to the memory of the SEC Championship Game sneaking up on me.

Admit it, you did, too.


December 2, 2017

SEC Championship Game Preview

You've heard me go on about line play and coaching. You know we have to play against demons and history.

All that is left is to go do the damn thing.

Go Dawgs.

December 1, 2017

Some Things Never Change (and an update on SEC Champ Game Tix)

As you probably know, the market for tickets to the SEC Championship Game has remained strongly in favor of the seller. I remember writing something for the 2012 game and what prices did, thinking they were falling early in the week, so I looked through the ole GSB archives to find, yes, they were falling earlier in the week.

Little did I know I would find the gift that keeps on giving:

Never change, Tennessee. Never change.

By the way, the get in price is down around $400 as of this morning, with lowers in the upper $600's.
With only about 20% of the traffic on ticket broker sites coming from Alabama, there is a good chance tomorrow's crowd will be leaning towards Georgia.

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