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February 7, 2011

Profiles in Hope: Finishing the Drill Up Front

Why would I list this area as a reason for hope? Because it simply can't get worse from an strength and conditioning standpoint. Let's look at the offensive line for a moment.

Last year, Georgia ranked 10th in the SEC (73rd nationally) in rushing offense with 142.6 yards per game. The natural assumption is that Isaiah Crowell will solve all of that with his arrival in the Classic City. But let's look more closely at the underlying numbers.

Check out Georgia's performance on 3rd downs in 2010:

Rushing on 3rd Down Yards Per Carry
3rd Down Overall 1.4
3rd and 1-3 Yards 2.7
3rd and 4-6 Yards 0.4
3rd and 7-9 Yards 0.9*
3rd and 10+ Yards 2.8

The numbers on 3rd and 7 or longer are misleading because sacks weigh heavily into those stats, and the sample size is really small. Just focus on how sad those numbers are for 3rd and 1-6 yards. As a point of comparison, Tennessee had high school kids all over the OL and nothing overwhelming at RB and produced better stats in short yardage.

Get stronger up front and we keep drives alive. Keep drives alive and we win more games. Duh.

But it's not just strength that's needed. Consider these yards per quarter stats for 2011.

Quarter Rushing Yards/Carry
Overall 4.1
1st 4.8
2nd 4.5
3rd 4.3
4th 2.9

To me...that's conditioning. To Grantham's credit, the defensive line didn't have a complete 4th quarter collapse like the offense did. And one could argue that being down in so many games and having to throw more to come back lead to more sacks. But still. We didn't go for it on 4th and inches against UCF because Richt didn't believe he'd get it.

You could also point to the fact that we lost five games in the 4th quarter as another compelling stat to believe that it can't get much worse from an S&C standpoint.

Now...fix that issue, and improvement isn't so hard to make reality. Just getting our kids in shape, eating right and lifting with accountability and we can turn things around.

The Risk Point:
Having said all of that...Georgia just hired a guy to be our Offensive Line coach who has never produced an NFL player. Never recruited SEC caliber talent. Only had one winning record for in his very short four six year career. Helped produce an OL at UGA as a grad assistant that gave up 47 sacks, and tutored under a guy we all wanted to run out of town a few years back.

We're also losing two starters from this group, and I'm baffled as to who will be our 5th starting offensive lineman next year after Sturdivant (LT), Glenn (RT), Gates (OG) and Jones (C). So it's not like the OL being in shape is a lock to fix everything. But it sure as hell can't hurt.

See Also:
-- A positive commentary on Friend - LadySportsWriter



RC said...

This hire doesn't move my needle at all. I really don't get Richt's fascination with the Neil Calloway coaching tree. I would really have liked to see a fresh set of eyes and perspective brought in.

Though not totally fresh from an Athens perspective, why would a guy like Chris Scelfo not at least get a look? He's a hell of a recruiter who was described to me by a high school coach as "Rain Man" when it comes to general knowledge and grasp of offensive football, owns a home in Athens, and would likely provide a stabilizing influence for Bobo, having coached him as an undergrad.

Dawgaholic said...

Friend has fire and excitement about his job. Hate it that some people aren't trusting the coaches on this one. If the guy knows fundamentals, which he should if he was an all-SEC lineman at Bama and coached under Callaway, he should be fine considering his work ethic and excitement about the job. Regardless of anyone's opinion of Callaway, the guy's got ten SEC rings all related to his involvement with OL. He can't be all bad.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

And what were BVG's great accomplishments prior to coming to UGA? Leading Western Ill to being the 12th best total defense in 1-AA?

Searels had done all that you note Friend has not and yet no one was shedding tears when he left.

Just how much input does a grad assistant have anyway on the actual coaching?

Unknown said...

Brian Van Gorder had 20 years of coaching experience BEFORE arriving in Athens including being a head coach at Div II and the HS level. He had also been a DC before going against BCS teams while at UCF.

If you're saying both were unknowns...ok. I'll give you that. But BVG wasn't a noob to the profession.

Why the heck, UGA has to be an On the Job Training Factory is beyond me. 3 Coaches on offense never had the job they have now before coming to Athens. That's a little amateurish if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Trust the Coaches? You mean the ones that are 1 make or break season away from being fired for exactly these types of hiring decisions?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back.

Friend's hiring is a meh. But the reality is not many OL hires are going to win the press conference.

ColumbiaDawg said...

Either the move will pay off, or Richt will be gone. He knows what the stakes are.

And considering Richt's situation, maybe Friend was the best that he could get. Why would an assistant coach give up a stable job where is now if he knows that he could be looking for another job after the 2011 season?

Anonymous said...

Just because Friend is an unknown like BVG, it doesn't mean he's gonna work out or not. The real question is was this the best guy we could get, or just the easiest guy to find? I get nervous when we hire someone that has a uga connection for that very reason. The bottom line is we should not be gambling on unproven coaches, we should be a destination school not a stepping stone

Anonymous said...


The answer to your question, which is a valid one, is $$$$$$$.

We have plenty of it, but aren't willing to spend it on football.

Anonymous said...

typical.. you only blog when its time to be a cynic

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Yet he had never coached an SEC player; maybe tried to recruit some and that was the standard put forth.

Searels had everyone excited. I recall folks on various blogs who mocked hiring a guy from CMU to be the DC.

I doubt you will find many position coaches with 20 years of experience that are going to move. If a coach has been a position coach for that long at a place (Penn State?) then he is not going anywhere unless the HC is fired/retires.

Coaches make bad hires; AD's make bad hires. The trick is to know when to pull the trigger to release a guy who is not performing.

Did anyone on the blog even for a moment think that Searels would fail? I doubt it. Shows how much the folks posting on blogs know. If any of you knew anything about it, you would be coaching somewhere, not posting anonymously on blogs.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

PS: Gerry Faust was a high school as well. Not really sure being a head HS football coach is really a resume builder. Saban was never a HS head coach...

Clem the Lady Stunnah said...

***Apologies for posting here what I already put on Emerson's blog, but it seems I'm in line with the thread of comments

This feels a LOT like the Van Halanger/Tereshinski shuffle. It might be a step in the right direction, but it's really frustrating to see this staff continue to churn it's own connections.

It isn't apparent to me that Friend is the result of Richt & Co. going out, and looking for the best man available. Rather, it seems like they settled on the guy they knew. I don't believe Bobo for a second to evaluate talent and make the best hire. He hasn't earned that trust.

This hire is a lot like 3rd & 8 for us - predictable. It's the equivalent of a screen for two yards when we needed another six. I'd have appreciated hearing:

"After interviewing candidates from Stanford, Wisconsin and Texas A&M, we decided that Will Friend of UCF was the most qualified, dedicated and enthusiastic hire we could make."

Instead, we got:

"We made a call to a former graduate assistant. He took the lateral job to get out of a 3rd tier school, which is coincidentally coached by a guy we ran out of town."

Color me unimpressed.


Anonymous said...

Yeah but...but...but...we had a great recruiting class!

We've had those for the past 10 years you say? Yeah but...but...they've never had the "dream team" label!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what some others have said. Richt seems really prone to hiring someone within his coaching tree. He very rarely goes outside. Last year's 3 defensive hires were some of the very few exceptions to his rule.

I see this as him either being lazy or not being able to hire away outside talent b/c nobody wants to coach under him (especially now). Both of those reasons are unacceptable.

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