Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bobo Black Sheep...??

** Preface - I apologize for the color formatting mix up. I hope it doesn't throw you off. Something weird happened between the online processor I use and clicking publish. And my HTML knowledge is limited at best. I've adjusted it the best I could. **

There's been rampant discussion about hotseats in Butts-Mehre and Hale has even asked us how deep our faith is in Coach Mark Richt. Instead of answering that question directly, I'd like to pose another. 

Where's the love for Bobo? 

It's out there in the Dawg Nation, for sure. But sometimes you have to look hard, in nooks and crannies and all that. Amidst all the ridiculous CMR hotseat horse$hit, perhaps the more relevant question is whether or not Mike Bobo is sitting on a campfire.

And truly, is there a more divisive name on Coach Mark Richt's staff than one Mike Bobo? Some put him on a pedestal and are ready to anoint him the next guru in offensive football. While others find everything he does simply offensive.

Where do I stand? Well, I'll get to that specifically. But for now let's look at the Dawgs' OC from a few different angles so that we can attack the full picture.

Game Production
It's hard to argue against the team's offensive production the last couple seasons. As Bobo has ascended to the Offensive Coordinator position and wrenched the play calling duties from the head man's hands, he has built an impressive resumé. Maybe not spectacular, but his offense has been certainly produced.


The PPG drop may be concerning initially, but when you consider the talent drop off in the backfield between 2008 and 2009 (going from Stafford/Moreno to Cox/RB by committee) it's practically expected. In fact, it may play into Bobo's favor with many fans that the PPG only dropped a FG over those two seasons. Especially when looking at the +/- column that shows exactly how much more important that it was to outscore opponents the more Martinez ran the defense. In '07 we were nearly two TDs above the field; last season...only a Blair Walsh FG. 

And Bobo's offense has been ranked 5th, 3rd and 7th in his three seasons. So a brief summary of the game to game analysis would suggest that given the players to do his billing, Bobo is more than holding his own in the SEC.

Play Calling/Game Management
But for all the points scored under Bobo's watch, there have been a few headscratchers as well. And if there's one gripe we all hear most about Coach Bobo it's his play-calling. On more than one occasion I've witnessed my own wife lose her religion over simple run vs pass play selection. And there have been numerous times when it is clear that Bobo has had a difficult time adjusting within the game.

Case in point - Oklahoma State, 2009. To go to Stillwater and only get 250 yards and 10 points is perplexing, to say the least. And to this date, that's the one that still sticks in my craw. The opening drive was a picture perfect set of plays; ten plays, 80 yards, 5 minutes and 7 points. After that the offense was the 40 year old virgin playing the field at a frat party.

Despite the Joe Cox season's eve illness, when you're given an off-season to prepare and never ever seem to be in sync after the opening drive, it hurts more than your image as a coordinator and play-caller. And when it's admitted that certain players only made the trip as ghosts...well, that's just as nutty as a squirrel turd.

Sure, the reason we only played three receivers the entire game in the '09 season opener is a mystery that falls on the position's coach, Tony Ball. But ultimately the miscommunications and the inabilities of the offensive personnel to fall into the rhythm of the game settles at the feet of the coordinator. And I think Bobo has plenty of room to grow in terms of managing both the day to day operations as CMRs OC and the play by play duties as his chief signal caller.

And yet the down to down type numbers work in Bobo's favor as well, for the most part.


I'm not suggesting that Coach Richt should be satisfied with a 39% 3rd down conversion mark. Not in the least. But given the struggles on the line and overall inconsistency at QB last season, finishing 5th in the SEC for that area is pretty good. 

As with any stats, there's two sides to every story. I'm seeing them and explaining them one way and you may be seeing them completely different. For instance, it's easy to point to the 2007 season and say Bobo did a great job, but Stafford and Moreno could probably make Chan Gailey look like a genius. Furthermore, three years of stats isn't a lot to go on objectively.

And analyzing recruiting is far from objective, but Bobo has had his hands in recruiting for Georgia long before he began calling plays. I certainly can't speak for CMR. But if I had to guess, I'd say that Coach Bobo is about everything the head coach wants in a recruiter. He's young. He was raised in the South. He played for the school and had his share of signature moments. Played with some high profile NFL guys like Hines Ward. Has tutored the #1 pick in the NFL draft. Has a family... He's young.

If Coach Richt's name opens the door to a high profile recruit, there's a good chance that Bobo can seal the deal. He's gone head to head with the nation's best recruiters and has helped deliver some big names: MoMass, Caleb King, Rennie Curran, Richard Samuel, Marlon Brown and all of the QBs including Stafford...just to name a few.

Quite simply, Bobo is a force to be reckoned with in living rooms across the southeast. Mommas like him and their boys follow suit.

Variables Running Rampant
In every job there are things that we cannot control. If it were just a matter of being in charge I would imagine the country wouldn't be facing some of the issues we're facing right now. It's the same for Bobo, so we at least have to look at some of the hands he's been dealt.

Attrition can take on many forms, and all of them have slapped our offense in the face recently. Trinton Sturdivant is the prime example. To a lesser degree, AJs hamstring. Would a completely healthy O-line have meant more wins in '09? Possibly. Could a well behaved Figgins have meant more plays for the TE? Certainly.

Then there's the actual players that do play. Last season saw an uncanny and frustratingly adeptness at turning the ball over. While Bobo can be held responsible for calling some bad plays at bad times that produce terrible results (read: Spikes INT at goalline in Jax), it's the players that miss the blocks, miss the reads and let loose the ball from their grasp.

But perhaps the biggest factor out of Bobo's control is the defensive performance (and to a lesser degree the Special Teams' performance). I tend to think that Bobo makes his best play calls when emotions are high and momentum has swung. In Tuscaloosa when we faced our first possession of overtime, the defense had just held Bama to two yards and a FG. There was little doubt in my mind we weren't going for the endzone right away. One and done...good times.

But lately the defensive turnovers and sacks have been few and far between. Hopefully Grantham is in the process of cutting out that cancer. If he does it will always work to Bobo's advantage.

In the final analysis I'm pleased with Bobo as the offensive coordinator, while recognizing the vast room for improvement. Bobo's move to the sideline last season was a good and necessary tweak. As with any of us in our own jobs, I would imagine there are more adjustments being made behind the scenes that could also bring positive results. At least I hope so.

One thing is for certain, Bobo has finally seen what happens to assistant coaches that don't produce. I disagree with the Finebaums and the Murschels on Mark Richt's safety in Athens. It's just my humble one, but I believe he could survive another mediocre season. But let the experts pose their questions. Within the Dawg Nation I believe there are better ones to ask.

I guess it's hard not to feel the heat when you operate under a one year contract year to year. But Coach Bobo is certainly feeling more of it this season than last. Cuz if the season turns ugly in '10, ol' Willie won't be there in his asbestos suit.

** All stats taken from


BulldogBry said...

I hope Bobo stays for a long time. I was going to say that Chapas is every bit the back that Southerland was, and therein lies the 3rd down problem. But the numbers don't really bear that out. Like you said, Bobo doesn't fumble, the players do.

Ollllddude said...

I like CMB, too. Granted, he will give you a head scratcher of a play now and then, but that's true of almost any play caller, including CMR and Donnan and Dooley and Les Miles (to go outside the family). And there are others. But all of them have been pretty stout coaches over all.

You do what you now; you get into habits; we are all guilty of that at some time or another. The lady who is the music director at my church has a hymn book with 700+ hymns in it. On any given Sunday, mat least 50 and often many more are appropriate to the service. But she has 3 or 4 hymns that she just flat wears out. Maybe I should invite CMB to my church. :)

MikeInValdosta said...

Longtimer rider of the Bobo bandwagon!

Unknown said...

If you think Stillwater(Oklahoma State) was "perplexing", what about no score in the first five offensive series against Texas A&M in the "nobody cares" bowl!

Anonymous said...

If theere's anything we've learned from the rise of the Corch at UF, it's that coaching execution is at least as important, if not more important, than calling plays. Therein lies my concern when our coaches are given a pass for players' missed assignments and turnovers.

Dawgfan17 said...

I think Bobo is the guy to be there. Last year he was playing most of the year without a running game until the line got healthy (Davis returning). That forced him to lean on Cox more than he wanted to and led to some bad plays. Despite that UGA tied Arkansas for points scored by SEC teams in conference games. That is pretty impressive. The one thing that Bobo needs to work on is getting more consistancy from game to game and even quarter to quarter. When he gets hot with his play calling there is no stopping him. However he can go through cold stretches and that really hurts. If he can get to where those cold spells don't last a full quarter/half then this years offense could be one of the best in the nation under him.

Bernie said...

I appreciate all of your comments, truly. This was a difficult post and yet went about how I expected. Bobo is a difficult topic for many of the reasons Dawgfan17 pointed out (better than me). He's hot...and cold. When he's hot it's as beautiful (and undefendable) as that pass from Staff to Mikey in Tuscaloosa. When he's cold it's brutal.

I really believe this is a turning point season for Bobo. And I hope he's turning up the heat on SEC defenses. High, real high.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Bobo isn't necessarily stats like PPG or the number of first downs. Rather, it's how he calls a game--this isn't easily expressed through hard stats. Think about all of the playcalling "lulls" Bobo goes through: the OK State game (one of the worst playcalling performances I've ever seen), the first half of the LSU game, the Tenn game, the TX A&M game (the D and special teams kept us in--Bobo's playcalling was abysmal in the first half), the early stages of the Auburn game. We played some truly awful defenses last year and performed horribly. More concerning, the offense really did not play well against TX A&M, which is the last time we saw Bobo in action--not all that much progress was made.

Anonymous said...

My advice for Mike Bobo to take his game to the next level: don't be so rigidly committed to "balance." Like many others, I am extremely perplexed by others with some of Bobo's calls and typically I'm most confused when he calls a pass or run for the sake of staying balanced.

For example, in Stillwater we ran it up an inferior D-line's pooper. We dominated the line of scrimmage the first drive (keep in mind this is after reading quotes about Samuel being tough enough to carry the ball 30 times)and what do we do the next drive? Line up in a 4 wide spread!!! Why? What's wrong with continuing to pound the ball and break the oponent's will? (btw, Studivant wasn't hurt at the beginning of the 2nd drive, so don't say it was him).

However to Bobo's credit, he seemed to better grasp this at North Avenue at the end of the regular season. Run, run, run, run, and run it some more. We were as "unbalanced", if not more, than a Triple Option offense and the results were fantastic. I hope to see more "unbalanced" playcalling in 2010!