I am beginning to see and hear questions about Georgia's strength and conditioning program again. Regular readers know that LHB was a consistent critic of the former S&C regime and we have consistently voiced our support for Joe Tereshinski and his staff.
CCRider of Sports and Grits observed that during the second half of the SECCG Georgia's offensive line was visibly gassed and I thought the defense was also running on empty by the 4th quarter - others noticed also:
Georgia's defensive front is 6'3 351 lbs (NG John Jenkins), 6'3 294 lbs (LDE Garrison Smith), and 6'3 309 lbs (RDE Abry Smith) across the line. Alabama's defensive front is 6'1 310 lbs (NG Josh Chapman), 6'3 285 lbs (WDE Damion Square), and 6'4 319 lbs (SDE Jesse Williams) down the line. A&M's defensive line was 6'0 310 lbs (NG Eddie Brown), 6'5 301 lbs (SDE Tony Jerod-Eddie), and 6'5 277 lbs (WDE Spencer Nealy) across the front. Whereas Georgia has a man-mountain in the mdidle in Jenkins to plug the A-gap, both 'Bama and A&M have chosen to go with slightly smaller, more athletic players. All three teams have a 300 pounder at the strongside defensive end position, but both A&M and Alabama go a little smaller at the weak defensive end position. With Garrison Smith at WDE, Georgia is basically running a front with three nose guards, which can be effective early in the game, but will wear down late (see SEC Championship Game)
[I Am The 12th Man]
The question is why? If we could trade S&C staff with Alabama or LSU would Georgia have won the game?
Conditioning was not an issue for UGA between the first game and the SECCG and I don't believe that S&C was responsible for the losses that bookended the season. I am not saying that conditioning is to the point that no improvement is possible. Given another off-season under JoeT and the effect of the new nutrition staff, conditioning will improve. The culprit now is depth.
Years of poor recruiting decisions by the staff (now departed) have left the team under-manned compared to the oversigners. When the effect of those mistakes is confronted by a unit reinforced with depth gained by the recruit-tryout-cull process that is oversigning - the later will usually win. There are few option available to narrow the gap.
If Georgia is not going to oversign then it can not afford to make recruiting mistakes. When competing against oversigners a recruit who is considered a project is a luxury. Every mistake represents a slot that would get a do-over at an oversigning school, while at UGA a walk-on gets a scholarship. Prospect evaluation decisions must minimize errors and hope that oversigning will either be outlawed or cause its practitioners to get sloppy.