Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Film Review Outback Bowl: 4 Defensive Questions

Meta: I'm retooling film review a bit. I'm going to go back over the box score and try to figure out a few things that could use further explanation and highlight those plays rather than rewatching the game over and over trying to find things that jump out at me. It should make for more cohesive posts that will occasionally miss an excellent or important play but help tell the story of a game better.

Bonus: If you didn't check it out on Friday, Heck at the Only Colors did an excellent chart of an offensive drive. 

Question #1: The MSU Defensive Unit had 16 Tackles For Loss. Wha' happened?

When I asked a couple Georgia Bloggers if there was anything they wanted me to look at when reviewing the game the single question that came up from all of them was "Did our guys look conditioned?" I'm not sure I can answer this totally because I don't know what "Ahnold Georgia" should look like. However! I can show you this play which occurred in the middle of the second quarter which helps explain the simply gaudy TFL number from a passing perspective.

Here MSU lines up with in a 3-3-5. Denicos Allen and Chris Norman are right up on the line of scrimmage. It appears that MSU will rush five.  Right on the yellow line in the back are Bullough and Isaiah Lewis. Lewis is up short covering the slot receiver for a quick throw.

Norman takes a step back and Bullough a couple steps forward. Now Norman is no longer the imminent blitzer but it could be Bullough or Norman. From a pre-snap read perspective it's no longer obvious.

Norman backs out of the blitz and now Bullough appears to be the blitzer.

Except now Bullough takes a couple steps back and now all MSU has managed to do is really create confusion about who's coming and when. Which is a good thing for MSU fans and sad panda if you're an UGA fan.This is a zone blitz, check out Heck's excellent post on how Zone Blitzes work over at the Only Colors.

The play snaps and MSU only sends four. Rush, Drone and Gholston as the down linemen and Denicos Allen as the helping blitzer.

Johnny Adams plays tight on his guy. Bullough starts running to cover the flat. Although being well behind the LOS the slot receiver seems like Murray's best read for picking up the first.

But here's where the play goes kasplodey for Georgia. The red arrow points to Denzel Drone, who played DT only in our 3rd and long package this year. He's double teamed by the Center and Left Guard, which whenever a 260 lbs dude is taking on two 320 pounders that's bad. This leaves Gholston one-on-one with the Right Guard and Allen to take on the tackle.

"HAI GUYZ, I'M OPEN RIGHT NOW!" William Gholston is turning the corner on Mr. Right Guard.

Lewis hands his guy off to the deep coverage and comes up to cover the flat and now it's just a matter of time. Gholston comes around and sacks Murray for a loss of six.
So really, three things happened on this play that directly attribute to it's success. 1.) Narduzzi does a great job dialing up pre-snap confusion in the Zone Blitz.The appearance is that the blitz will come from the offensive left, then the middle, then it actually comes from the right. 2.) The UGA blocking is less than ideal, a 262 lbs DT should not occupy 2 320 lb guys so effectively. This leaves Gholston in 1:1 coverage against the right guard. 3.) Murray misses what was probably his second checkdown after the RB when that WR would have had a chance to make the move. MSU fans, this is the Cousins throw you all hate. If Murray makes that throw good chance UGA moves the sticks even still.

Again, this time on a run play

Georgia lines up in a Shotgun /Offset I type formation. MSU is its typical 4-3. There are six people on the Georgia offensive line, this is important!
The ball is snapped the entire line rolls left while the H-Back stays home to seal off Rush from the backside. Which creates a six on three situation with the defensive linemen.

Number 68, Georgia's Right Guard takes Anthony Rashad White on in a single blocking situation, the Right tackle makes a beeline for the linebackers to get out into the second level. The remaining four offensive linemen are occupied with Worthy and Gholston.

White SMASH! White knocks his guy to the ground while Worthy fights through a double team to get into the backfield. 
By the time Crowell really gets moving he's pinned on his left by Worthy and his right by White.
So the verdict here. MSU's Defensive Line kept consistently eating the UGA's Offensive Line's lunch. In both of the plays above the Offensive Line had superior numbers 5 OL - 4 DL in the pass play and 5 OL -3 DL! in the run play and still MSU's guys were getting through their blocks and blowing the plays up.

I remember reading in the run up to the Outback Bowl about how restaurants cried when they knew that UGA's O-Line was coming to eat because the guys averaged almost 330. I also remember thinking big people don't necessarily mean good people. I think the above two plays really illustrate that point.

2.) What was with all of the long bombs for Georgia, doesn't MSU know how to defend the pass?

Aaron Murray finished the Outback Bowl 20/32 for 288, 2 TD's and 2 picks. If you take away his three longest completions, he finishes 17/29 for 95 yards, 1TD and 2 picks. You can also very likely wipe the other touchdown off of the board since the other touchdown drive contained a 53 yard pass in it. So with the exception of the 193 yards on three passes, Murray's YPA was 3.28. Holy shit. That's mind blowingly good by our pass whole defense.

Of course, the 3.28 number doesn't matter because they DID complete three passes for 193 yards. Here Tavarres King lines up in the slot and takes it to the house.

King cuts up like he's going to run a shallow corner route, Trenton Robinson starts sliding with him and all is well.
Except then King cuts a hard left and turns it into a skinny post route, T-Rob gets caught flatfooted and King gets high and mighty as he blows by T-Rob.

Now King is behind both safeties and this isn't a B-Dubs commercial.
Trenton Robinson just got juked out of his pants and you don't get safety help when you're the safety. It was a very athletic play by King to make the cut and get open while Robinson was flatfooted.

The 60 yard bomb in the first quarter

Two things happened here, King had two steps on Darqueze Dennard, That's important. Second and even more important, King was 45 yards down field when he caught this ball. NFL QBs do not always make this throw. That's throwing the ball 50 yards to a moving target perfectly. The basketball equivalent is taking a three from three feet behind the line. You can play defense, but if a guy can make that shot, you can't defend it.

The other long pass play was a blown tackle by T-Rob and Dennard not tackling well in space. T-Rob did not have the best game. Dennard gets a pass because while UGA picked on him plenty, he picked back, twice.

MSU never corrected for giving up the deep ball in this game, they just worked to get to the QB faster. Given all the breaking of the Offensive line in the rest of the game, this is a strategy that both seems sound and obviously worked.

3.) The play that saved the game for MSU.

There were many, but this one in my opinion was the most important. It was 2-0, but the Dawgs were driving and MSU's offense didn't look helpless yet, but they were about to. Momentum was well onto the Dawgs side and they were going to go for it on 4th and 1. They had already been stopped on 2nd and 1 as well as 3rd and 3. Surely, MSU didn't have another stop up it's sleeve, did it?

Again, Georgia doesn't even pretend like they might throw and MSU doesn't even pretend like Georgia might either. MSU with 10 in the box. Adams in single coverage(aka having a smoke and a pancake) since no throwing will happen here.

The play breaks and the right guard #68 pulls to assist in the run left.  The "linebackers" which consist of 3/4ths of our secondary and Bullough just hanging out waiting to see what happens.

The direction of the arrow doesn't really signify anything directionally, it's just to show how ridiculously the left side of Offensive line was getting pushed back. Orson Charles and the left tackle are already two yards behind the line of scrimmage before the ball has even been handed off. Since the play is a run left that's really bad in pass protection this would be fine.

Malcome could bounce outside, but to go left would completely destroy his momentum since Charles is now almost four yards behind the LOS. Malcolme instead tries to sneak out in the gap between Charles and the LT. That gap was being filled by Trenton Robinson.

Instead, Malcolme ends up tripping on his own Offensive Lineman's foot and falling down. There was a good chance he'd have been stopped by the waiting Trenton Robinson, but we'll never find out.
So the play gets stuffed and MSU gets the ball and downs. They preceed to spend the next 8 possessions going three and out so it's not like they had no desire to let Georgia win. MSU's offense tried VERY hard to lose this game and that's why their picture pages will be so much more interesting.

4.) Should Richt Have Set Up The Kick On Third Down In The First Overtime?

Well. No. At least in the hindsight is 20/20 sense. Statistically though I think deserves a deeper look. NFLAIDS would say yes a kicker should always make his field goals from 42 yards. For Walsh, the story was a bit different though. He was 5/10 on the season at this point on field goals of 40-49 yards and 14/18 inside of 39 yards. To get inside of 39 yards would have only required getting the ball inside of the 22! They took the second down play to setup the field goal from the 23!

While a 40 yard field goal is not immeasurably different from kicking a 39 yard one there was a risk here. MSU had held UGA to 1.3 yards per carry all game long and had held them for negative or no yardage on 16 of their 37 rushing attempts to that point so their odds of no gain or a negative play were 42 percent. With the exception of the three long bombs, MSU had contained Murray to 3.28 ypa in the game. Georgia would have had to go big or go home.
Conversely though, Murray was 5/7 in the fourth quarter so your odds throwing the ball were actually not too bad. As it happened, these were not Murray's instructions.

Doesn't exactly scream pass, does it?
So it's clear that Richt never had any intention of going for a TD. In the end, the odds of Walsh making a 42 yarder were 50 percent which aren't bad. The odds of rushing on 2nd or 3rd down for positive yardage were pretty poor, only 58 percent. The odds of getting a first down aerially were not good either with Murray averaging only 5.6 ypc excepting for the Bombing of the MSU Secondary. If Murray completes a six yard pass it's 3rd and 2 and you're right back where you started with running the ball being a risky proposition.
Very long story in a sentence, Richt was put in a bad situation by only getting 2 yards on first down. At 2nd and 8 it was an uphill climb no matter how he went. The kick was certainly a safer option in terms of turnover control. It just didn't work. Which yay!

The Verdict

MSU's defense was outstanding despite giving up 23 points. Georgia had no success moving the ball in any controlled fashion, it was all boom or bust. With lots and lots of bust. If you're an UGA fan and made it this far I would say any concerns you had about your O-Line's conditioning are founded. Next we move on to the Offense, I suspect that will not be as fun to watch.

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