Georgia Bulldog News - The Blawg House
It is funny, I didn't think this Georgia vs. Missouri would get the kind of publicity that it has received thus far. I thought the game might fly under the radar, but, then, Sheldon Richardson decided to give ESPN all it needed to make this a highlight game for Georgia, for Missouri, for the SEC, and for the Nation.
The game will definitely have an electric atmosphere and the eyes of the nation will be watching to see how one of the best defenses in the nation (on paper) will match up against Missouri's high powered and fast paced offense. To be honest, this is one of the most anticipated games for Georgia that I can remember in recent times. The conference and national implications of this game could spring board Georgia back to national relevance or back to SEC mediocrity.
With today being the last day before the game, I thought I'd give you some of my last thoughts and keys for the game.
Aaron Murray in the Big Game
What has been the knock on Aaron Murray? Yards Passing? No. Touchdowns? No. Offensive Efficiency? No.
The knock on Aaron Murray's career at Georgia is that he has yet to show up in the big game. What needs to happen is that Aaron Murray does not need to just show up and run the offense efficiently (he does), he doesn't need to just get Georgia in the right plays (he does), he needs to show up and he needs to be BIG!
Those long passes need to connect. Those sacks need to turn into positive plays. Those turnovers need to be nonexistent. Aaron and Co. need to throw for 300+ with 3 TD's and 0 INT's. That would be big, and that would be a statement for the 3rd year signal caller's maligned career.
Pressure on Missouri's Young OL
Sheldon Richardson really did not do his friends on the OL any favors, because I'm fairly sure John Jenkins, Jarvis Jones, and Shawn Williams are pretty excited to show the young OL for Missouri (3 new starters, including a true frosh) what old-man football really means.
If Georgia can get pressure with their front 4 and close the run lanes for Franklin and his backfield, Georgia will have the upper-hand. Missouri's not built to make a downfield attack. Their attacks are quick hits and runs. Taking away a major part of their offense would make Mizzou 1-dimensional in a way that they do not want to be.
Don't Get Shell Shocked
It is easy for a team coming into an electric environment to take one on the chin, have the stadium rocking, and fall apart piece by piece - see Auburn 2007 & 2011. What Georgia really needs to do is pull an Alabama vs. Georgia in 2008 - come into a stadium and make a statement right away.
If Georgia can strike first and cause some early trouble for Mizzou, I really think that those looming thoughts of, "Can we handle the SEC?" will begin to creep in to the minds of fans and players. Momentum can play a huge role in college football. Georgia needs to get the momentum and keep it away from Missouri.
I hope that all the Dawg fans in Missouri welcome our new brothers to the SEC in a warm, welcoming way. I hope Columbia will be as generous as Athens on a Saturday.
However, I hope our Dawgs welcome Missouri in an entirely different way. The Tigers may be our new brothers, but they are our very younger brothers, and younger brothers tend to run their mouths a little too much.
Time for big brother to shut their mouths.
Saturday night's matchup, as Mark Richt put it earlier this week, is a monster game. If Georgia wants to prove it belongs in the national discussion of elite teams, then they have to go to Columbia and take out a team in front of their home fans in a stadium that will be rocking.
In order to do that, Georgia will need to deal with Mizzou's high tempo spread offense.
This post will be exclusively scheme based. While I respect James Franklin as a QB, and he is one hell of a QB, Missouri has a great offensive system and that is how they are successful.
The first thing you have to look at with Missouri is their formation philosophy. What do they want to do? That is easy. With their formations, Missouri wants to:
- Dictate how the defense lines up
- Cause confusion via motions and shifts
- Create mismatches with playmakers
- Work to get good run looks (believe it or not, they are a running team)
- Stay with a look until the defense stops it
By using that philosophy, Missouri can put any player anywhere. They can be versatile in their run and pass game, and, they can disguise their playmakers. To best suit their offensive philosophy, they're going to try and figure out in the film room how do defenses react to certain alignments. For example, how do they handle the empty set? How do they react to motions and shifts? In a 3-man front, they're going to want to know how good the nose is (i.e. can the center handle him himself), do they blitz or play read/react, and how do they handle trips (with LB's or nickel).
Based on the highlights from the following clips, we can see that Missouri runs a few of the following formations:
The goal of Missouri's offensive philosophy when it comes to formations is simple; they want to spread the defense horizontally in order to make them cover as much ground as possible. By spreading the defense, they are able to open running lanes, which is exactly what they want to do.
Missouri's main runs are the same that you see from other spread teams - the zone read the outside zone, the power, the jet sweep and the speed option. Now, what makes Missouri dangerous is the ability to run these plays with any of their skill positions.
For example, if you go back to the video, you will notice Mizzou's first highlight is the speed sweep:
Now, as you continue, you will see where Mizzou's OC's head goes to. He wants to build off the speed sweep. He's going to keep putting a skill guy in motion, and gaining the edge until the defense bumps a linebacker out to cover the sweep. Once he does that, the offense is going to come back to the QB wrap off the sweep.
In the video, Franklin actually keeps off the sweep, but doesn't run it, he uses it as a play action pass. Again, just another progression from the offense.
As for the passing game, look for Missouri to run a lot of their quick 3-step game. If Georgia is playing a lot of nickel, I would imagine Coach Grantham isn't going to leave his guys going man-to-man while only rushing 4. I believe that we'll roll a lot of coverage and sneak in some blitzes from the secondary. The key will definitely be getting to Franklin, and keeping the run lanes closed off.
If we can stop the run with our front 7, we should be very successful against Missouri. Their passing game will not be what beats us. It will be tempo and run lanes. We have to play disciplined, and, more importantly, we have to play FAST SEC football. That means when we hit, we have to lay the wood. Wearing Mizzou down will be the key to victory.
Ahh, isn't it lovely to get back to football season?
If you have or haven't noticed, The Blawg House has been shut down since the spring - and there is a reason for that, well, a few reasons. The first is that the site became more popular than I ever imagined, and got hit hard with spam - I'm still working on getting that fixed. The second is that I really wanted to improve the comment section, which is being worked on as we speak. Third, and most importantly, I know what I am and I know what I am not.
I am a football guy, and I like writing about football. What I do not enjoy writing about is speculation. I'm not a beat writer, I don't have inside access to the Georgia program, and I'm not a journalist. I'm just a guy that knows the game and tries to bring it to you from a different point of view.
That being said, we are finally back to seeing some football, which means, I want to share my thoughts with you all.
The Good from Buffalo
Todd Gurley - Boy, he was better than advertised, wasn't he, folks? Now, we only got to see TG3 carry the ball eight times, but what is obvious from watching him is that he is a very fast, powerful back with good top-end speed. I was really high on Keith Marshall - and still am, I think he has tremendous upside - but, wow, Todd Gurley is thunder and lightning in one package. Georgia has the blessing of having 3-4 very good tailbacks in Gurley, Marshall, Malcome, and Samuel. So, I don't see Gurley getting 25-30 touches, but I definitely expect to start seeing him get 15-18 a game. He needs to work on his pass protection, as he tends to lean and lunge (as most young backs do), but he has the strength to really build himself into an elite SEC back.
Aaron Murray - I will say this, the third year signal caller was a bit geeked up in the first quarter. He missed some wide-open receivers on deep bombs, but he came around through the 2nd and 3rd quarters. I really liked the opening drive of the third quarter. Murray was accurate, progressed, and picked apart the defense. The 3-step game was really unstoppable, as Bobo and Co. were really just calling the right plays for the Buffalo defense - which decided to take away EVERYTHING deep after they started getting burned.
Special Teams - A big question mark was how would Georgia be able to come back from losing Blair Walsh, Drew Butler, and Brandon Boykin - well, Marshall Morgan showed us that he has a huge leg for the kickoffs (just needs to be a little more accurate in FGs). As for the punt unit, the combination of Barber (long with avg of 51) and Erickson (pinning all his kicks inside the 20) made for a fantastic day from the punt unit. Finally, Swann and Gurley both showed that they have dynamic potential to be great replacements for Boykin.
The Bad from Buffalo
Missing Players - Not having Mitchell, Ogletree, Rambo, and Commings on the defensive side of the ball was a big blow. There's no doubt when you have All-American and All-SEC talent off the field, you're going to have some drop off. However, I will say that I felt like while Buffalo did move the ball (and credit to them), Georgia didn't really show all their cards and basically played vanilla... which leads me to my next issue...
Play Calling - I'm just complaining about this because, man, I really wanted a statement game. However, there was no reason to do anything other than what we did. We showed zero blitz packages - outside of a 4-man rush with Shawn Williams rolling down for run support - we played basic Cover 2 and Cover 2 man, and we played in a basic 3-4 set. We did a little nickel, but we didn't show anything for Mizzou to see. As for offensively, we were as plain as can be. Look, when you run toss leads and zone reads for 95% of your runs, you know you're vanilla. As for the passing game, we ran three things - the quick screen, the deep ball once the secondary came up to stop the screens, and the quick hitches/curls once the secondary fell back. Bobo played their defense like a fiddle. It will be fun to see them open it up a bit.
The Result - Anyone that was in Sanford Stadium knows how unbelievably hot it was in that stadium, everyone knows that our opponent was not going to get close to winning that game, and everyone knows we were wanting to get done with that game to focus on Mizzou. With all of that, we should never lose focus like that the remainder of the year. I really feel like Georgia can do something great, but the lack of focus on the field has to get fixed - hopefully, with that big game in Mizzou this weekend, it will be.
That's all for now, folks. I've been breaking down some Mizzou stuff for you all, and will have a little bit of x's and o's to you tomorrow!
Boy, oh boy... I've missed you all!!!
Actually, I really enjoyed a vacation away from the offseason drama, but I just wanted to post quick and let you know some thoughts on things that have happened since I left.
- The Dismissals
- I'll be honest, National Signing Day's lack of DB's, the transfer of DB's, and the dismissals of DB's really has me scared about 2013. I know we'll have a good set of guys next year, but, as an overall program - we needed those guys because we needed quality depth. I would just have to say that I am disappointed in the players that really had an opportunity to contribute to our program, but decided to piss it away. Hopefully they'll get it straight and we can sign some immediate help in 2013.
- The Commitment
- As the previous point said, we need DB help in 2013 and we got a good one in Shaq Wiggins. Wiggins is a guy who has natural cover skills, can be left on an island, and has really good ball skills. If there was ever a commitment needed after NSD and the dismissals, this was it. We will need more guys but Wiggins is a definite start.
- The Visits
- Georgia got a big recruiting visit from Robert Nkemdiche - the #1 player in the nation from Grayson HS in suburban Atlanta. While Nkemdiche did not say UGA has cracked his Top 5, you have to feel good about this guy at least being in our state. Most say he is a Bama silent, but his recruitment will go to the end. UGASports.com has a really good story on Reuben Foster's feelings towards UGA, as well. It would be so nice to get both those guys!
The 2012 season is going to have one heck of a long off-season. We'll have a ton to discuss leading up to Spring Practice, so I'm glad we're back. Also, the site will be getting an upgrade to its comment section to help the site be a lot more interactive! Please post your thoughts!
As I tweeted last night, there was bad news coming down the pipe from Athens. DB Nick Marshall, WR Sanford Seay, and DB Chris Sanders have all been dismissed from the Georgia football programs. Here is more from Marc Weiszer from the ABH:
"Georgia cornerback Nick Marshall is being dismissed from the team today, his high school coach confirmed this morning.
Wide receiver Sanford Seay also is expected to be kicked off the team after being accused of stealing money from another student in a university dorm room, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
As a freshman last season, Marshall recorded five tackles in 13 games with a role on special teams. He had designs on playing for the Bulldogs’ basketball team in future seasons and was viewed as athletic enough to offer playmaking abilities on offense as well.
“I think it’s a shame,” Ledford said. “He had a great opportunity at Georgia. He was going to have an opportunity to contribute to the team more next year, but that’s opportunity is gone now.”
Seay was a scout team player last season after arriving from Lee County High School. He had already run into team discipline issues during the season."
DB Chris Sanders was just announced this morning, but there is speculation that all three were involved with the same incident. Apparently, there was an attempt to steal north of $500 from another football player.
This is another black eye for the Georgia football program - especially coming off a Signing Day where the Dawgs only signed 19 players - and just one DB and one WR.
Marshall was a guy everyone felt could have a huge contribution to the team this years, as could Sanders. Seay, while not expected to get into the rotation is still a tough loss as scout team guys provide depth and quality practice opponents.
1... 2... 3... Breathe.
That is how I spent a lot of my time Wednesday morning. As the letters of intent rolled in, the remaining Georgia targets began to make their announcements. One by one, guys like JaQuay Williams, Brandon Greene, Patterson, and Avery Young decided to head places other than Athens.
Add in the spectacle of the Josh Harvey-Clemons commitment, and you've got a lot of Dawg fans with high blood pressure.
However, after sitting back and looking at the 18 (19 if you add in Clemons) guys we signed, I can definitely say that Georgia's class of 2012 definitely deserves some attention. Here is my thoughts on the areas where I felt Georgia did well... and where I felt they could have done better.
AREAS OF HIGH NEED WHERE GEORGIA SUCCEEDED:
The additions of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are absolutely the highlight of the 2012 Georgia Bulldog signing class. Marshall has elite speed, vision, and ability. As an early enrollee, Marshall will get a chance to get 1/2 a year in under his belt before any of the other freshmen, which will make him able to produce come the fall. Gurley, actually, rose higher than Marshall as the post-season went on. Gurley's addition gives Georgia a unique position in have 3 very legitimate top running backs. Finally, one of my favorite signees is FB Quayvon Hicks. Georgia's need for a traditional FB was very evident in the bowl game. Having a true fullback will allow Georgia to be multiple in their run and pass game, which is what they want to do.
Althought Drew Butler and, especially, Blair Walsh had down years, the Dogs were definitely going to be thin at the specialist areas. However, Collin Barber and Marshall Morgan will both basically come in and replace those guys. Both young men are very talented and, hopefully, Georgia will be able to rebound from a down special teams year. Morgan has the ability to be very consistent and long with his kicks - which will help on kick-off's and on offense.
Althought we will have Sterling Bailey and Ray Drew after this year... Jarvis Jones & Cornelius Washington will be gone after 2012. Therefore, the OLB position was one of definite need, and, boy did the Dawgs get a few good ones. The, hopeful, addition of Josh Harvey-Clemons is a big addition. Jordan Jenkins is a guy that is also very talented and very versitile. He can play standing up and he can play with his hand on the ground. Finally, Leonard Floyd will add depth, but will be a guy that needs to be developed.
AREAS OF HIGH NEED WHERE GEORGIA FELL SHORT:
This is probably the most glaring issue. Georgia needed more than 3 guys, so not getting Chester Brown, Avery Young, and Brandon Greene were a bummer. Georgia really needed another big man and, actually, I would have felt pretty good if Georgia would have gotten one of those 3 guys. However, even though Georgia fell short, the three that Georgia did get are very good players and will be quality depth. OT John Theus and OL Mark Beard are guys that will contribute immediately. Theus is just a once in a few years kind of guy and his talent will make him available come the fall. Beard being a JUCO guy should be able to come in, learn the system, and contribute. Greg Pyke will need a little development, but is definitely a guy who will contribute in the future.
Although Georgia does have some depth in the defensive secondary, I felt like Georgia needed to get some more DB's to add depth. Sheldon Dawson is definitely a talented player, and will be a Brandon Boykin kind of player. However, Georgia will need to add numbers and quality to the 2013 class.
Georgia did not sign one inside linebacker. Having guys decide to flip and having some very talented targets go elsewhere was tough to swallow. Although Georgia has guys like Herrera and Ogletree, they needed to sign some guys to work in for after this year. 2013 will be a big year for ILB.
Georgia got two good players in Blake Tibbs and Ty Smith. These areas would have been better with the addition of Williams, Patterson, or adding another tight-end. Thankfully, in both these spots, Georgia at least has some young depth and at least signed some "Plan-A" players.
While Georgia has Aaron Murray, Christian LeMay, and Hutson Mason, the Dawgs got another very good prospect in early enrollee, Faton Bauta. Bauta will more than likely redshirt, however, that is not a bad thing. Bauta is an interesting prospect in that he will be very unique with his dual threat ability. After Aaron and Mason leave, the combination of LeMay and Bauta will give Georgia fans some big time excitement.
Although Georgia didn't have a ton of big needs at DL, they got some big time talent in DT's Jonathan Taylor & John Atkins and DE's James Deloach and Josh Dawson. Taylor and Atkins are big time guys in the middle, and may actually play this year. Dawson and Deloach may need some development, but could see reserve time to develop their skills in live situations.
At first, I was a little frustrated in Georgia's lack of numbers. I felt like UGA needed to get to 21-23 players to give some extra depth. However, just throwing out last minute offers to "Plan-B" guys may not have been the right move.
However, the guys that Georgia did get are very, very good. There is a reason that Georgia's class is ranked #5 and top 20 by tons of other recruiting services. Having guys like Clemons, Theus, Marshall, Gurley, and Jenkins make this group a very talented class - and as Coach Grantham put it, a great compliment to last year's group.
What are your thoughts on this year's class?