Thursday, October 29, 2009

From the Cornfield - Thoughts on Being Competitive Saturday

Senator, I take your challenge.  Actually, I had been thinking for a week what I would do if I were Mike Bobo and Willie Martinez.  How do I handle facing one of the top defenses in the nation?  How do I stop TGCPE? I have some ideas based on very unscientific research and what I have seen this season.

First, a caveat.  My knowledge of football is mostly based on observation and study.  The smartest football thing I have ever done was realize in 9th grade that my path to paying for college didn't involve football and that as much as I loved playing, I would only be a DIII prospect at Oline, at best.  I hated playing Oline, so I focused on school work and other things in high school.

Having said that, it doesn't mean I don't know anything about football.  I know that you win against lesser or equal talent by exploiting where you have talent advantages and not letting them do the same to you.  You win against greater talent by exploiting where you have talent advantages (if you have them), plus dictating what they do with their talent.  A great recent example of that is the Georgia/Tennessee game.  On paper, Georgia and Tennessee are evenly matched offensively to defensively.  Monte Kiffin used their strength on the line to create problems for Georgia's running (which wasn't a strength) and short passing game, while practically begging Georgia to beat them with longer passes.  So what did Georgia do?  Balance, baby.  Balance.

The first play of each Georgia drive tells the whole story of the Tennessee game.  Of Georgia's twelve drives, Cox threw the ball six times on first down. Even more telling, there were only two down field plays on first down.  The first was an incomplete pass on the fourth drive; the second was the 21 yard completion to AJ Green on the drive that started with just :17 on the clock at the end of the first half, when there was no choice but to go down field. Two of the other four pass plays were on back to back drives, with the same play and same result, swing passes to AJ that were stopped for one yard losses. The others were a short pass to Mike Moore that was incomplete and an attempted FB screen.

As the O coordinator, you don't want to put your team in a hole on second and third downs, but a sloven devotion to balance and fear of failing is a sure recipe for disaster.  While I understand where Coach Bobo's motivation is coming from, now is the time for him to go to hypnosis, have his therapist die from a heart attack mid-treatment and change his approach and mindset about what he has to or doesn't have to do.

Wow, that's messed up.
By shedding the fear of failing, Bobo can attack the very good Gator defense in the one place they have shown you can by simply making every down a passing down.  Do it early and often.  I don't think there is a soul in the world that can complain if Cox throws to AJ Green 20 times, his head Coach included.  Dare Florida to double team him.  Looking back at Florida's games this season, the team that has the most passing yards against them is Charleston Southern.  Why then did the Buccaneers not score but three points?  They tried to run the football against the Gators. Arkansas' longest drives were nearly exclusively passing plays. Look, I get the Gator D is good and particularly good at pass defense, but their running D is top ten also.  Georgia's running game is a disaster, regardless of situation or opponent.  Line up in a shotgun and give Cox the extra five yards to do something.  We can simulate a rushing game by running "bubble screens, middle screens, swing passes to RBs, FB screens, rocket screen, tunnel screens, you name it, we need to run it."  Involve the TB in the passing game, especially if you get Caleb King the chance to get open in space with blockers.  If Logan Gray comes in, run a double stop and go with AJ on one side and Woot on the other.  Drag Orson in the gaping hole down the middle seam.  Just sayin'. 

Defensively, I think Georgia stacks up evenly against their offense talent wise. What we do here is very simple.  Enact the 2007 defensive game plan.  Have Rennie Curran assigned to TGCPE.  If St. Timmy stops to perform a brit milah, Rennie needs to be the one to hand him the knife. Assign Darius Dewberry to perform the same duties with Aaron Hernandez, but tell him that he should treat Hernandez like a blocking sled and hit him anytime the ball is snapped, even if Georgia has the ball.  Cheat Rashad Jones in to cover Hernandez in the event he gets loose, and to help with Chris Rainey or to blitz. Tell the other Dbacks that tackling runners is someone else's job and that if any receiver is left alone, they will become Coach Searles' personal sandwich boy. Ditto to any lineman or other linebacker that doesn't wrap up and tackle a runner. Blitz indiscriminately with anyone. Essentially, make Florida beat you with someone besides Tebow and Hernandez.

I could talk about kickoffs, but we've all beaten that horse a bunch.

Finally, I rush the punter every time. If we aren't interested in returning punts, fine.  Give yourself a chance to make something happen otherwise.

As you can see, I advocate a complete change in philosophy.  Attack, not defend.  Proact, not react. I don't believe that to be successful in a one off basis, you have to run the ball.  In fact, if you run the ball as a counter to, as opposed to in competition with, your passing game, you will find success running the ball.  Georgia's best runs against Tennessee came when Tennessee was anticipating pass, late in the game.  If we establish that we are going to pass the ball early and often, the running game will get traction.

As I said, I don't have answers, only thoughts.  I could be crazy or just plain stupid (or likely both).   I'm just saying we at least give the Dawgs a chance by relying on the strengths of the team and dictating the play of the other team.  It is my opinion that simple tailback sweeps/dives, set and situation projected screen passes, and a once every seven plays heave to AJ won't get it done offensively.  I know a soft zone that plays re-actively to the run will be the salve that makes TGCPE feel much less frustrated.

Do these things well and it just might be everything we thought it could be.

And treat the football like Milton did the red stapler.  Burn the place down if someone takes it.


  1. I worry (as a Gator-hater) that b/c UF is struggling so badly on offense, that the gameplan may be to be ultra conservative, keep it close, and hope for the best in the 4th quarter. Hopefully that isn't the game plan. I'm with you on aggressiveness, and I think you fall into what happened to LSU if you go super conservative - lose by only 10 or so but have no real chance of winning. If the D plays well, a couple big strikes in the passing game can beat Florida due to their struggles on O.

  2. I'm pretty pessimistic about the whole thing. Sure, in theory in some alternate universe, we can win. But I just don't see it happening. My best case scenario is we keep it within the spread. Sigh.