Han by Andy Lee

Halftime Adjustments

Han Vance on Georgia football: Midway through the regular season, it is time to look at where we are in the Classic City. The top winning strength of the program of current has plainly not been recruiting talent; it has been defensive halftime adjustments. If the level of fixing Kirby and Co. are able to do past the mid-point of the game clock on that side of the ball can somehow, magically, be translated into full roster team-wide adjustments here and now after the sixth game of a 12-game regular season, Georgia will still win it all.

Back to the recruiting. In my last article (“The Sun also Rises” at BHB), I very briefly used real player evidence – not basically dumb high school kid rankings, which are projections of many thousands of children’s future performance in college and the NFL, at the end of the day – to show that Ol’ Georgia, with a combination of mostly Mark Richt’s lesser recruits and fewer but some key Kirby Smart infills was actually better in terms of talent: again, real on-the-field provable quantifiable results-based talent, back in 2017, than it is right now coming off the heralded recruiting classes.

There is no recruiting trophy nor statue. Quick high-noter: Deandre Baker is the only player in UGA history to be recognized as the top defensive back in the country. Roquan Smith is the only player in UGA history to be recognized as the top linebacker in the country. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are the top rushing duo in NCAA history. The best performing Kirby recruits to-date were on that 2017 team, too.

That receiving core, including Nauta – who like young #1 guy Eason verbal committed to Richt and planned to enroll ASAP then simply kept his commitment by signing an LOI (Letter of Intent) in Kirby’s first class, seen as Kirby’s only “bad” class – at tight end, could actually get open in space.

Kirby’s current kids can’t. Most of the few big pass plays have been coverage busts or amazing pinpoint passing to covered guys. I knew this would be the hugest of team problems when the Kirby/Chaney offense did not retain any of the top pass catchers not named D’Andre Swift. I was told Georgia will be fine, because of the talent of Kirby’s recruits. Swift is the best receiving option right now, because he knows how to get open and get into space, on the edge or in the middle of the field. No other player on the Georgia roster has shown this ability consistently at all, and the regular season is half done.

Another Georgia loss and the season is officially a bust. It was natty or bust this time, after last year’s team was so young (youngest in the SEC).

You saw how Notre Dame’s defensive key above all else was to tackle Swift immediately on pass plays. They knew. He had over 110 yards rushing and a touchdown Saturday. Georgia lost. That’s not a good omen.

Former UGA defensive coordinator and current Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff basically neutralized our passing offense after Notre Dame mostly neutralized our passing offense and then UGA alum Will Muschamp stopped Fromm from winning out the full-half season, on a way way too many 51 passes.

Will drastically out-coached his younger counterpart classmate in Athens for the historic win at your alma mater. Will just isn’t very cool, by the way. Type of football-only dork that wears his jersey to school on a Friday…in college. Luckily, his wife dresses him now.

When you beat your fair university, do not gloat. Show some class. Man, I have not seen any football coach so visibly happy to beat the Georgia Bulldogs since Kirby Smart ran onto the Georgia Dome field to gloat and party after Alabama miraculously beat the better team in Atlanta. Y’all recall when Aaron Murray, the SEC’s all-time passer and future NFL MVP Todd Gurley, came up four yards short and ran out of time because of a lucky fingertip tip and inbounds catch on a redirected pass that one-time New England Patriot and “author” (with a ghost writer I have met) Malcolm Mitchell was going to catch in the front side of the end zone?

That team was chocked full of NFLers on a defense (somewhat poorly-) coached by the current Florida Gators defensive coordinator and had one of the top offenses in Georgia history. In fact, at that stage, Mike Bobo was on an offensive coordinator tear unmatched in Georgia history. The last year he was in school, the Murray-led offense set the scoring mark for the school. It stood one year. The next year, Lassiter product Hutson Mason actually led Georgia to a better offensive production point. That high-water mark still stands. Enter “Schitty Hire” – the son of an NFL legend, of sorts.

Mark Richt had Jeremy Pruitt, a lightyears better DC than Todd Grantham, and he had the offensive talent on campus. What he had though, was a predictable conservative play-caller he had hand selected to do things “the way we do things at Georgia” and not change things. He should have pulled the plug midyear and called his own plays. It failed so badly he got fired, as the winningest coach (74%) in UGA history.

Kirby is up to 77%. So the best Georgia coaches ever win just three-of-four. That good enough?

Enter the big man on campus. No not Kirby. Jim Chaney did a terrible job calling plays at Georgia his first year. The team, which had won 10 games in back-to-back years, fell to 8-5. The next year his too conservative nature with a lead and inability to adjust when things went wrong cost Georgia the natty. Last year, it was more Kirby’s fault by calling the fake field goal at LSU when the game was close and fake punt at midfield and just totally, visibly panicking, in a tie football game in Atlanta.

Wait a second…IT IS ALWAYS THE HEAD COACH’S FAULT!!! …Always. The CEO has to grow or go. Since starting 11-1 by bashing a historically weak schedule, only once getting blown out, at LSU, Coach Smart is 5-3.

Two of those wins came against Murray State and Arkansas State. Imagine 10-3.

Bobo is 24-27 as a head coach, by the way. Kirby could have him call plays for Georgia next year. Always next year, around here, Georgia is always lookin’ good next year, as my fellow alumni member brother Johnny Vance and I have noted since he was in middle school. He is the VP of a bank! That’s how howlingly long this crap has gone on.

I would rather have him call plays than James Coley. Kirby’s pick.

{art by: Andy Lee of Han Vance in San Diego, coffee and ink / collage by: HV}