Coach Tucker

First thought on Alabama

I know. It's so hard not to keep re-living those memories of the Rose Bowl. What an epic win! But we didn't do all that work just to rest on laurels, right?

VIA
The halftime adjustments by Tucker and Smart were what we've seen all season, just on a grander stage. My initial reflection was that Tucker got away from trying to contain Mayfield and squeeze the pocket, and used more stunts and blitzes, especially up the middle.

Well, I was partially right, as this video will show best. It's the back to back sacks on Mayfield in the third quarter that really started prove that the Sooners were going to have a tougher row to hoe in the second half.

The first sack is a coverage sack in my opinion. Tucker again uses four rushers to squeeze the pocket and by the time Mayfield tries to use his legs because there's no where to throw, Ledbetter is in his face with an easy sack.

And then...well, Tucker lets the boys loose!



Those two plays prove that, even though it may not have played out that way in the first half, Georgia had the defense to go up against this high-powered offense.

Okay, but aren't we supposed to be talking about Alabama? Yes, and that's my next point.

Jalen Hurts has a high of 16 completions in one game this season. And that was in the Sugar Bowl. We know he can hurt you with his arm, but only if you don't manage to stop the run.

Both of these defenses Monday night are going to be trying to do the same thing - stop each other's run game. And I think both are built just for that.

But I think Tucker will use similar schemes in containing Hurts that he did in the Rose Bowl's second half. He wants to contain Hurts as much as he can and force him to throw when he's uncomfortable. Stopping Harris and Scarbrough is a topic for later, because that is surely Tucker's biggest headache this week. Alabama has gained nearly a thousand more yards rushing this season than they have passing.

But games like this tend to come down to quarterback play. Hurts is a true winner, for sure. I like his style and leadership. Plus he comes up big in big moments.

But I like our guy. I think Fromm complements his offense in ways Hurts can only dream of. I just hope Tucker and those Savages can minimize Hurts' impact on the game.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing...Go Dawgs!

Rose Bowl – could time of possession be the game’s biggest factor?

If we can agree that this Rose Bowl isn’t likely to be the high scoring affair that Sooners have gotten used to with Mayfield at the helm of its offense, and if we can agree that the Georgia coaching staff is likely to want to slow this game down and limit the Sooner possessions as much as possible, then we might start to look for 2017 games for each team that could serve as a crude, yet convenient barometer for what each team wants to avoid.

Never fear, I did just that last night.

October 14th, the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma 29   Texas 24. (And yes, that’s considered low scoring by their standards.) Time of possession is pretty even with the Sooners possessing the ball for just under 32 minutes. Here’s a recap of the highlights:



What I see is a lot of big plays breaking down (for both offenses really) to the point where the quarterback and his playmakers have to improvise. Both quarterbacks do a remarkable job of moving the pocket, using their feet for both time and yards (points), and simply waiting for the secondary to break down to the point that a receiver was open or there was room to run.

In the end Baker made one more play than Ehlinger. Otherwise it might have been the Longhorns running out the clock at the end instead. And in the end Texas surrendered 174 yards on 39 carries. The Longhorns were essentially beaten by Mayfield’s arm because they weren’t effective enough in stopping Trey Sermon and Rodney Anderson on the ground.

November 11th, Iowa State 38   Oklahoma 31. The Cyclones handed the Sooners their only loss, and ISU too held the OU just below their season average in time of possession. Unlike the Longhorns though, the Cyclones were able use enough screens, score late, or play some defense late to hold off another Sooner rally.

There’s no question that Georgia’s secondary should provide a more difficult task for the Heisman winner and this Sooner offense. But the last thing we want to see is Tucker’s defense struggling to balance when to rush extra men and when to drop them back. Because Mayfield is the type of quarterback that will expose a defense that is playing on its heels.

And he’ll do it with ease.
Baker dominated the Buckeye midfield logo. What a champion!

If 2017’s version of the Red River Shootout and the loss to the Cyclones at home are the types of games Oklahoma wants to avoid playing again, then without question Georgia wants to avoid what happened on the Plains about a month ago even more.

November 11th, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, part one, Auburn 40   Georgia 17. This was, obviously, the Dawgs’ worst game in terms of controlling to game’s momentum and possessing the ball - 26:54 to 33:06. (We only held the ball for 25 minutes in Jacksonville, but that was all you needed to whip the gators’ ass this year, so…)

The Tigers were undoubtedly the more physical team at the point of attack. They gashed Tucker’s defense for 237 yards, and made it feel like double that.

However you feel about the Big 12 being a finesse league and full of soft defenses and cute passes, make no mistake that this Sooner o-line is legit. They’ve got a Heisman winner that has helped them win some awards and gain some recognition. Plus they’d love nothing more than to contain Georgia’s pass rush and open up holes for their running backs in front all those NFL scouts that will be out in full in Pasadena.

I like the fact that our offense could really complement our defense well on this grand stage in the Rose Bowl. Fromm will definitely have to make some throws, but there should be plenty of yards to gain on the ground against a defense that is 40th nationally in rush defense.

Hand the ball off. Tick tick tick tick tick tick...Keep the Baker man cold on the sideline as much as possible.

Go Dawgs!

But is Kirby a chess master?

Bear with me here...

We've seen the program take a giant step forward. The 9-0 record speaks for itself. But there's also the following to consider: an enormous uptick in recruiting, the starting quarterback gets injured and we respond by going on the road and beat the Fighting Irish, the fact that a starting linebacker can get popped for pot hours before a road trip and it's buried at the bottom of a sports page under the NHL standings, divisional rival programs are chomping at the bit to fire their coach just to keep up with a second year head coach from Bainbridge GA.

But what's most intriguing to me here leading up to the Auburn game is that Kirby and his staff are out-coaching those across the field. Tucker's halftime adjustments are second only to his pre-game game plan. Jim Chaney has gone from an inept doof with a whistle in between buffets to a bonefied game caller that dares defenses to stop the same play he just ran just so he can show you what his freshman quarterback can do with his arm.

I understand the nervousness for this next game. Auburn is better than they were last year when they seriously considered punting on second downs in Athens because their offense was so offensively incompetent. Stidham is a vast improvement over their disaster at the quarterback position in 2016.

But it's still Malzahn. He's dangerous only when he has the tools that he took from Richt's tool belt. As much as an improvement as Stidham is I still like our defense which has proven they can cover the entire field in big games, then they throttle down and pin their ears back.

Which is why I ask the question: Kirby has shown he can play the entire coaching game, from Mama's supper table to developing entire game plans designed to suck the life out of hostile stadiums. But is he two, three, or even four moves ahead of his opposition?

In other words, we were so vanilla on defense Saturday against the Gamecocks. Was that on purpose? We didn't need to blitz in Jacksonville, but Bentley could've used some pressure in his face. He has the arm to hurt you. Was Kirby just thinking, "No, we can handle these guys with the basics. Let's save those sexy looks for when we might need it, whether that's the fourth quarter today or next week on the plains."

It's only Wednesday, but I'm thinking we match up really well against this Auburn team. I think we can generate as much if not more of a pass rush that Clemson did the second week of the season. Despite only managing two field goals in last season's game, Chaney's offense still had Eason throw for over 200, and Chubb had over 100 yards as well.

Kirby knows Auburn. Tucker knows Malzahn. And if nothing else, they are still Auburn. And we're Georgia.


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