I've been itching to write this, so save all the delay conspiracies, the fanatics among you. I wrote on Saturday I'd be gone this weekend. I'm back now and can get back to business.
Yes, I was wrong about the UGA/Boise game.
Wrong about the outcome. Wrong about Boise's performance. Wrong about UGA's performance.
But be very careful to give a blanket dismissal of the arguments made during that time.
I talked about schemes, style of play, talent, belief, and several other factors.
What we learned from the game was the following:
- Boise is horribly beyond repair less talented than Georgia. I thought they had enough talent in spots to overcome Georgia. Jared Zabransky going into the game was someone who was strikingly efficient, confident, and had an extra running dimension to his game.
Against Georgia, he was throwing interceptions all over the place and making all kinds of turnovers. Certainly a lot of this was due to Georgia. They planned very well for Boise's attack (particularly early on) and Boise fell into their trap---throwing down the field on their bread and butter plays. The result: several interceptions. Not every interception was necessarily Georgia's doing, but enough were to give them credit.
Georgia's on field talent and depth made it impossible for Boise from the get-go to have confidence in its plan. One big hit there, a stop there, and Boise crumbled. I did not expect that. A football game is 60 minutes long and a lot can happen within that time frame. Boise gave up almost immediately, and credit goes to Georgia for making that happen.
- DJ Shockley can play a little football. He's had a significant history of booting games, but boy did he man up on Saturday. Although still not a great thrower, he made the throws asked of him. This is a signal to me that at least for one game, Mark Richt returned to his Florida State days and gave his passing offense the keys to the car, so to speak. So often we've seen Georgias passing offense more or less follow a pretty bland play-action, someone get open style, mixed in with a few dumps to the backs and a handful of tosses to the second option over the middle. Not this game. The Dawgs presented a variety of looks well beyond their normal approach, someone I'm fairly certain Boise State did not prepare for.
For his part, Shockley had a fine grasp of what his coaches wanted to do with the passing offense and had one of the finest days a Georgia quarterback has had in recent memory. That extra ability to run with the ball was the icing on the cake, and pushed Georgia from a game in which they might have scored in the mid 30's to a game in which they nearly hit 50 (and leniency probably was the only thing in the way of reaching that total).
Now, to defend some of the points made. Like HeismanPundit, I've also been consistently more concerned with the why's of college football. The main argument before this game was that Boise's scheme, its style of play, was so vastly superior to Georgia's that it could overcome Georgia's talent gap (combined with Boise's unusual confidence and swagger) that it could win this game.
Georgia obviously won this game. But the scheme issue will continue to linger. Echoing HP's discussion in his Mea Culpa, Boise State was so far behind from the first whistle in this game, they really never had a chance to implement their scheme, some of the scripted plays, and the overall technical advantage they possess. Jared Zabransky, partly due to Georgia's talent and preparation on defense, partly due to his own boneheadedness, buried Boise in a hole from which they had to alter their plans. Their magnificent offense was scrapped in order to play catch-up. Obviously Boise doesn't do catch-up all that well. Georgia made it an impossible task.
As predicted before the game, if Boise did not win, it would be because Georgia's talent was so beyond superior as to render Boise's schematic advantage moot. This was the case, aided by the horrific play of Boise's quarterback. The Georgia pimps will say it was all Georgia's defense, but I can assure you most savvy fans were shocked at some of the gross incompetence on display by Jared Zabransky. The answer rests somewhere in the middle---credit to UGA, shame on Jared Zabransky.
Leaving this game, we can be certain that Boise will continue to run its wonderful offense, and probably have some decent success this year. Great design is great design, and sometimes a team just runs into a buzzsaw like UGA where they don't have a shot to really do the things their offense can do.
If you watched any games at all this weekend, there were plenty of examples of scheme and style of play. To cite just one example, Wisconsin's perfected rushing attack was too much for a great Bowling Green offensive attack. But Bowling Green also did things to Wisconsin's defense, headed by an elite defensive coordinator, that has never been achieved by Big Ten opponents. Using vastly inferior talent. That's kind of the point. These low talent teams are, at times, able to play on the same stage as super talented teams. Its not luck, but design.
When the great talents like USC begin adopting some of the more winning schemes out there, you create these vastly superior teams. That's why Florida will soon be great. That's why I highlighted a team like Boise State before the season. Not everything goes right for all these guys, but on the whole, they're more able to dictate games to their opponents than more traditional approaches on offense and defense. In other words, there's less left to chance.
But sometimes, there's nothing you can do about talent. Obviously that's part of what happened with Boise State.
I now have the fun task of swiftly removing Boise State out of my preseason top 10, putting Utah on Big Six probation, downgrading Boise State on the Bix Six charts, etc. etc. etc. That's part of the fun of the game though, we're learning a bit more about what each team is doing, the limits to how far talent goes, how far coaching and style of play goes. Corrections are made and we move onto the next week.
One last thought. I must give Georgia coach Mark Richt some praise. I finally saw UGA's passing offense emerge this weekend, bringing back memories of his more wide open Florida State days. It took a while, but he's pushed the Georgia offense a little more forward. Pretty opportunistic too, choosing the Boise State game to show off the new look. It certainly threw Boise's DC for a loop.
There are obviously long-term shortcomings for that offense (anyone remember Oklahoma 13-FSU 2?), but it's still better than what Georgia has been running. Hopefully they'll continue to move in that direction, because there's something not quite right about their rushing attack.
Georgia fans are having their well-deserved moment in the sun right now, and hopefully that moment persists. I have reservations about the team still, but obviously many of them were lessened over this weekend. I did not give that team enough credit, and hopefully they will continue to win in significant fashion so as to where I don't have to do the opposite and give them too much credit.
Ok, one more "last thing"...
The talk of scheme and style of play will continue here. Too many other games and teams give great evidence to its existence and power, and will certainly be elaborated upon further on here and HP. You can rightly criticize me for missing the boat with Boise State, but to dismiss that this stuff even exists or is not incredibly powerful, means you're completely missing the boat when it comes to football.