Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The QB Debate: Of Opinions, Preferences, and Agendas

There have been a lot of rumblings lately that not only do Mark Richt and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer not see eye to eye on Georgia's would-be QB, but that Schottenheimer actually wants to go with Lambert because it's "his guy."

With so many insider tips, hearsay, and secondhand accounts of the QB situation floating around, it's difficult to distinguish what's real and what isn't.

I have no insider tips, no secondhand accounts, and plenty of hearsay to offer you. What I will suggest to the average fan is to use your head. It's difficult to do, as we've all waited 8 months for football, and it's reached a fever pitch. Nonetheless, try to digest a few suppositions that I will present as givens.

First, Greyson Lambert transferred in early June. Schottenheimer was hired in early January. The timeline of events alone  suggests that Lambert really couldn't be Schottenheimer's "guy." It is entirely possible that Schottenheimer decided fairly early on that Ramsey, Bauta, and Park were, none of them, viable candidates for the job. It's also possible that Schottenheimer was dead-set on bringing in somebody else, but he couldn't have known that there would be an eligible transfer who would even have a shot at earning the starting nod.

Second, Schottenheimer's coaching credentials have not necessarily been trending up lately. That's not an indictment on him; he was an OC in the NFL for several years, which has to stand for something. But, if he bombs out in this role, he's going to be relegated to being a college position coach for the foreseeable future. You don't come in and rock the boat if you know that this gig carries that much more weight. From both his mouth and Richt's, Schottenheimer was considered the ideal fit because his offensive philosophy would not impede the recent success Georgia's offense has had. Now he's going to take that harmony and butt heads with the HCIC? Not likely.

In this age of instant information about any number of subjects, it's easy to take the latest quote or report and spin it any number of ways. Everyone, it's assumed, has some sort of ulterior motive.

So, let me propose this wildly outlandish idea: Ramsey and Lambert (it seems Bauta is no longer in the running, but who knows) are neck and neck for the starting job. Ramsey is currently the team favorite, having been with the team for awhile, and finishing out last season as the quarterback. Lambert is the new guy. He is viewed as a guy who left his school because he wasn't going to be the starter (this, apparently, is 100% true). As such, the team is a bit torn between trusting the coaches and aligning with one of their own.

Taking these things into account, it's easy to see how someone heard from a guy who is best friends with the third string long snapper that Lambert is only going to start because Schottenheimer wanted to use "his guy."

Personally, I choose to believe that we can win with either Ramsey or Lambert, and that Richt and Schottenheimer will evaluate everything and go with the guy that gives them the best chance to win. It's simplistic and not nearly as exciting as hearing that my friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with a girl who saw Schottenheimer and Lambert pass out at 31 Flavors last night. But, it's probably the truth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why It Makes Sense to Not Name a Starting QB (Yet)

Here we are with just two and a half weeks before the season opener, and, according to most credible reports, the coaching staff has not yet decided who will lead the Dawgs' offense. They definitely haven't named a starter publicly. Some have speculated that Greyson Lambert, fresh off a transfer from UVA, will be the starter. Others have long held that Brice Ramsey will nail down the job, or at least, that it's "his to lose" (which also suggests that it's not "his" at all, but I digress). Faton Bauta, meanwhile, is reportedly the early odd man out, which begs the question, why would you bother rotating him in at this point if he wasn't still firmly in the race? But, you already know all that, even if you've just been ducking your head in at the daily updates. We can rule a couple things out in terms of Richt and staff playing this one close to the vest. First, there's no reason nor opportunity for the element of surprise; they'd only be surprising ULM and Vandy. Second, while each candidate brings a little something different to the table, no single QB is so drastically different than the others that it makes sense to go w/ the (gasp) two-headed quarterback scenario, at least, not schematically. So, those reasons aside, what the hell's taking so long? First off, we're dealing with a transfer who just got the playbook a few months ago, and has only been officially practicing with the team for 2 weeks. I'll make the assumption that, while he almost certainly started at the back of the pack, he's made enough progress for the coaches to say, "he's come this far in 2 weeks, so what might he look like in another two weeks?" In other words, if the game was tomorrow, we might see Ramsey or Bauta, but it's not. Ramsey/Bauta might be better right now, but will they be better come kickoff? If Lambert is close enough to being #1, then the staff has to give it more time. Secondly, and this only applies if you're a true believer in head games, the staff needs to find out which, if any, of the candidates can deal with the daily pressure. It's getting to the point of 'win or go home' in a manner of speaking. Obviously, whoever's second in the pecking order stands a decent chance of playing anyway, either by injury to or ineffectiveness of the initial starter. But, generally speaking, if Lambert, Ramsey, or Bauta were to have an especially off day this late in the process, that might put him too far back to catch up. That's a lot of pressure to deal with. It's nothing compared to the pressure of a prime time showdown against a top 10 team, but it's as close as you can get at this point. Who can best handle the rigors? Lastly, there has to be a calculated assessment of strengths and weaknesses. I have no idea if Richt and Schottenheimer have a weighted scale or anything like that, but the bottom line is that they have to measure the pros and cons of each guy. And, it goes far, far beyond saying, "This guy knows the system better, but this guy has been more accurate." Percentages to be weighed surely include: Percentage of playbook knowledge/expertise, what percentage of the playbook is the QB physically able to run (with confidence), getting into the right play pre-snap, post snap adjustments (check down vs. taking a sack vs. throwing it away, etc), turnovers, and passing accuracy to name a few. From there, they've got to check the drive charts. Under which QB do we move the ball most effectively? Does any one QB seem to have the team behind him more than another? Taking all those percentages and measurements into account along with a few dozen other criteria, you begin to understand that the best thing is to keep on keeping on until they're sure. They have the luxury this year of being able to sacrifice a few pre-season reps for the eventual starter because we open with (all due respect) Louisiana-Monroe. The reps will be there before the meat of the season begins, so we're better off giving this thing a little more time now, rather than rushing it because of some sense that a starter must be named sooner than later.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mettenberger's 10:1 TD:INT ratio WON'T LAST

...At least, not for the whole season.

To be sure, Teen Wolf has looked better this year than last. Other than not being the fleetest afoot, he has all the measurables you look for in a QB. LSU has done a good job of getting the ball out of his hands early, and continuing to be a power run-first offense, while taking shots down field as soon as the defense steps up to stop the run.

Having said that, I will go on record as saying that Zach Mettenberger will not finish the season with 20 TDs and 2 Int's, or 30 TDs and 3 Int' get the idea. I don't believe he's improved that much that quickly since last year, and I don't believe he's flat-out capable of that, period.

So, my question for you, dear readers, is whether or not the severe dent in his overall passing statistics will begin in Athens this Saturday, or will it solely be reserved for games against Bama and Florida? Not for nothing, but racking up positive stats against the defenses they've gone up against thus far only tell me he's not bad. They don't tell me he's especially good (and that's not to say he isn't, it's just that I can't glean much from what I've seen so far).

Monday, September 23, 2013

Georgia's SECRET WEAPON against the Tigers?

I think it's evident that, against North Texas, Georgia wanted to give the Tigers a little more to think about, by showing the "Rooskie" and the the halfback pass (well, WR pass to be more precise) with WootenDaBallCarrier. I say that, because it's fairly safe to say that the Dawgs were not having any trouble moving the ball against the Mean Green with a more conventional approach, so they didn't NEED to resort to trickery.

So, the question now becomes, has Georgia already emptied its bag of tricks in an effort to spread LSU thin mentally, or do the Bulldogs have more gadgetry up their collective sleeve?

In general, my only suggestion would be to max protect and take some shots downfield early and often. North Texas proved that any running game can be stopped if the defense completely sells out to stop it, and LSU is obviously bigger, faster, and stronger than the Mean Green. I think everyone will be expecting Georgia to get Gurley involved early. Aside from that, what kinds of things would you like to see that Georgia has not yet shown this year.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I can post blogs using CAPITAL LETTERS, too!

Just sayin'. Now, for something Bulldog-related... LSU is a huge favorite at home against Auburn this week, and for good reason. The national story line is whether or not Auburn is on its way back to above averageness, or if most folks are putting waaaaaay too much stock in a last second victory over MSU. I'm going with the latter. But, I am hoping for an all out war Saturday night in Red Stick. The Dawgs are coming off the bye, and should be able to have nothing but 2nd and 3rd stringers in the game at about the 40 minute mark. So, if Auburn can keep it fairly close for most of the game, Then LSU should be the more tired and beat up team (not to mention the traveling team) in Athens in a couple weeks. At the end of the year, in, say, the SEC Championship Game, I'll be more of the "I want 'em at full strength" mentality. But, for now, I just want to see the Dawgs get out of this September gauntlet at no worse than 3-1.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Georgia's Defense, Or...Why We Fans Are A Funny Lot

First, for all you Webster, Jr.'s out there, I am aware that "Fan" is short for "Fanatic," so critical thinking and rational conclusions are not going to be key ingredients in our general mindset. That being said, we knew this was coming.

We knew just about every defensive starter was leaving, and for the NFL at that. We knew that we were going to be starting freshmen, and for that matter, freshmen who'd missed extensive practice time in the fall. We knew that the resulting inexperience would lead not only to 'busted plays,' but also to missed opportunities.

But, here we are after 2 weeks (myself included), throwing beer cans at the TV, and cussing out anyone who misses a tackle, drops a pick, or fails to get pressure on the QB on any play.

Part of this, I know, is that we all try to have a positive outlook when there's a bleak prognosis.

"Hey, the defense was crappy against the run last year anyway, so maybe some new faces will help."

"I heard Brendan Langley and Shaq Wiggins are picking off 3 balls every practice."

I attribute that to the same thing that you'll see with Ben Affleck playing Batman. People will remember that they were pissed off when Heath Ledger was picked to play The Joker, but that turned out great. They'll tell themselves that the studios have too much riding on this to go with someone they weren't sure could pull it off. The bottom line, though, is that no matter how much rationalizing you do, Ben Affleck is going to suck as Batman, so you might as well accept it, and just hope he's at least good enough to not completely ruin the whole movie franchise.

The difference here is that, unlike Affleck, who will suck for the entire movie, the Dawg D has the ability to make improvements over the course of the year. With a bye week and a patsy coming up before mighty LSU, and 120 minutes of game film to pull from, I do expect Georgia's defense to make significant strides.

So, we can continue to be irrational fans, or we can take a deep breath, remember that we knew this would be part of the deal, and just see what happens.

Until the next time a safety gets burned for an 80 yard TD, and we'll go through this all over again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Possibility of Dawgs being overconfident? Good.

Sure, a 5-2 record and being ranked in the 20's in the polls is not the end game of Georgia's aspirations, either this season or any other. Even though it marks a return of sorts to normalcy compared to the past couple of years, most will acknowledge that there's still a long way to go before being considered among the elite in the SEC or college football as a whole.

So, it may sound strange to consider that the Bulldogs should be feeling supremely confident heading into the WLOCP this Saturday against a team that has dominated the Dawgs for the better part of the last two decades. By the way, I've taken to saying the word "decade" like Kennedy did when he said "we choose to go to the moon in this d'cade..." I just like the way it sounds.

Anyway, this confidence could stem from the fact that the Bulldogs have reeled off 5 straight victories, albeit against lesser competition, while the Gators are scuffling, and have lost 3 straight. Add to that the fact that the only viable QB for the Gators should be hobbled and rusty, if indeed he does take the majority of the snaps.

It's needed, this confidence. The Bulldogs need a real sense of superiority for a change, and not one that's conjured by some nifty motivation, new uniforms, or celebrations. Those ugly uniforms and goofy gator head on those helmets seem to bring out ineptitude, and even fear in the Bulldogs almost every year.

Let's face it. Georgia has a better team than Florida. Despite several missteps, the Dawgs are finding ways to win the close games instead of finding ways to lose them. The only thing that can stand in their way of beating the hated Gators this time around, barring injuries and such, is that deer in headlights look that seems to grip the team 'round Halloween each season.

If Georgia is carrying around a feeling of confidence, even arrogance this time around, then that is a welcome change, and it could help keep the Dawgs riding high.