Nick Saban gets it. The Alabama head coach built his program around a dominant defense and strong running game. And yet . . . Saban sees that defenders can no longer grab and grab receivers with impunity. He sees his security guards and linebackers having their keys destroyed weekly by guards who climb to the second and third levels during passing games, causing his defense to react to the run – well beyond the three-yard buffer allowed by the rules. And he sees how done quarterbacks from high school are. And he sees how the traditional negative outcomes associated with passing football have disappeared or dissolved.
« In the past, a good defense was a good offense. Good defense doesn’t beat a good offensive anymore, « Saban told ESPN’s Chris Low. « Georgia has as good a defense as we have an offensive and we scored 41 points on them [in a 41-24 Alabama win]. It wasn’t like that before. It used to be that if you had a good defense, other people wouldn’t score. You were always in the game.
« I’m telling you. This is no longer the case. I do not like it. But we just have to make sure we have a crime as and as explosive as we have it. «
Alabama has the No.. 1 college football offense this season per SP . In 2019 it was No.. 2 offense, just behind the record breaking LSU Tigers and Joe Burrow. In 2018 it was second again, No.. 11 in 2017, 14. in 2016 and 23. in 2015.
There has been an offensive transformation in Tuscaloosa. Saban realizes that in the current college climate, passing with these rules is so much more efficient than beating the ball in its place. And that’s with the best offensive line in college football and several future NFL picks in the running back position.
But his previous second studies with the defensive coordinator failed to achieve these results. And it’s not just that crime among head coaches Kirby Smart, Jeremy Pruitt and Will Muschamp (twice) hasn’t been as good as that of Alabama (probably an unreasonable expectation) – it’s also that they are way behind their respective defenses stayed behind. The defensive side of the coaching support under Saban holds.
Will Muschamp in Florida deployed great defenses, coupled with crimes that ranged from poor to slightly above average. On average, Muschamp’s Florida crimes ranked 61st in SP. Place, while his defense is the 7th. Took place. Within four years he had three different offensive coordinators, which made it difficult to establish continuity. Muschamp was fired after the 2014 season after failing to commit a crime that was in the top 40 in a season.
In South Carolina, where Muschamp’s crime ranks 76th. and his crimes the 44th. Occupied place, it didn’t get much better. His 2018 offense ranked 21st. Place, however, was a major outlier compared to the other four seasons that made it 105. , 69. , 98. and 87. Occupied place. He was released in November.
Offensive was also a challenge for Kirby Smart in Georgia, relative to the defensive side of the ball. For five seasons, Georgia’s Offense has an average SP rank of 32, while Smart’s Defense has an average rank of 8.
And insulting has been a huge problem in Tennessee, especially since Jim Chaney was hired. In three years under Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee’s Offensive averaged 68th. Place, while his defense ranks 41st. Occupied place. In Pruitt’s first year, the offensive was actually 38. and defense 72 . . . But after putting his stamp on the program and hiring Chaney, the last two years have been a complete reversal, and the offenses averaged 84. and defense 20 . . .
Overall, Saban’s former defensive coordinators have been SEC head coaches for 17 seasons. Together they give an average attack in 58th place and a defense in 24th place. That’s a big loophole.
Will Muschamp has had numerous quarterbacks in Florida that failed under his watch in Gainesville but continued to do well after moving to other schools and are still in the NFL. He had constant changes of coordinator. In South Carolina, he seemed to lack the staff to carry out the crimes he was trying to carry out. And his game management was often a vote of no confidence in his crimes. There are many factors to consider, but after nine years of coaching in the SEC, it’s pretty clear that Muschamp’s teams can’t be offensively successful.
Tennessee is an interesting case with an obvious problem. The offense has decreased every year when Pruitt was at the helm. The volunteers have one of the worst approaches in the SEC. They hit the ball in the line with an inefficient running game and then ask their quarterbacks to rescue them in the negative leverage they create. They set their QBs to fail. Tennessee has one of the lowest rates when it comes to throwing the ball on early downs, using game actions on those downs, and generally setting up a quarterback for success. Instead, the playcalling makes it clear that Tennessee doesn’t believe in its quarterbacks. Instead of setting them up for more favorable throws in more favorable situations, Tennessee tries to hit the ball with the game in progress. And knowing this, the opponents will charge the defenses against them, resulting in a quick attack that ranks 61st in success rate and 115th in efficiency. This leads to unfavorable throwing situations and many of them.
« A big reason Tennessee won the route [in 2019] was because of the execution of Guaranteeano behind the chains or on third runs, » said Clark Brooks of SEC Stat Cat, a site that publishes SEC statistics an in depth base tracked. “He was the front runner among returnees in many of these statistics. But obviously he couldn’t repeat that magic. ”
Pruitt’s tenure so far looks like a defensive coordinator trying to win a 1990-style football game. And that’s odd because he was on Nick Saban’s team during the transition from Alabama to passing and taking advantage of college rules.
There may be hope for the future when Tennessee is ready to change. Freshman QB Harrison Bailey was a four star hotel from Marietta (Ga. ) in the class of 2020 and the volunteers have recruited so much better than their offensive ratings. Chances are there must be progress. But to rediscover the magic of 1998, Tennessee has to stop playing the game the way it was played in 1998.
In Athens, Smart is the most interesting of the three cases. His crimes in years two and three (2017 and 2018) ranked 7th in SP. and 3. Place which is great. Georgia didn’t seem too upset about losing Coordinator Jim Chaney to Tennessee, and based on the results in Tennessee, that feeling seems legitimate. However, the offense of Georgia dropped to Jan.. Place in 2019 and 43. Place in 2020.
Smart could be the former Saban defensive coordinator turned head coach ready to play modern football. His split from Coordinator James Coley and the involvement of Todd Monken to commit a more overt offense would suggest so. As well as bringing in transfer quarterbacks Jamie Newman and JT Daniels. But with the pandemic, Georgia was unable to fully install and redo its new offense due to the lack of spring training and summer team training. Newman signed out before the start of the season. And while it is now evident that UGA should have reached out to JT Daniels earlier than before as he looked great against the state of Mississippi on Saturday, he certainly wasn’t ready after his knee injury in September 2019.
It is entirely possible that Smart is realizing how many points it takes to win at the highest levels of the sport, and that factors beyond their control (opt-outs, injuries, COVID) are currently the ones changes taking place and attitude changes mask in Georgia. After all, Smart has directed two top 10 offenses in its five seasons. Although the process changes are somewhat obvious, the results have not followed.
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