Should Georgia Have Spiked the Ball?
Go read the rest at Smart Football.As explained in The Essential Smart Football, a lot of my thinking on spiking the ball was influenced by the great Homer Smith. I would have loved to know what the late Homer Smith would say about Richt’s decision not to spike against Alabama. But one of Coach Smith’s best points about the spike is one Richt mentions above: the spike play itself takes time, so people fantasizing about spiking and running three plays are being fantastical. As Smith explained: “Even when there is not time to use all four downs and even if you can snap the ball for a regular play as fast as you can snap it for the spike, [the spike] consumes a second that might have otherwise allowed you an additional play.” Richt’s thought was that the best shot at getting three end zone plays was not to spike. And without the ball being instinctively caught, there would have still been five-to-seven seconds left; enough for one, maybe two plays.Again, it’s not that not spiking was absolutely correct, but the anger is better directed elsewhere, and the decision not to spike is totally defensible.Ultimately to me it was a great play by Mosley, and an unfortunate fluke play for Georgia. One of the ironic things is that, with notable exceptions, Richt has been one of the better clock managers over the years. Much of that is because, after his first season at Georgia when his Bulldogs lost a variety of close games, he met with Homer Smith specifically to improve his clock management skills.
Whether one agrees or not that it was a mistake not to clock the ball, you can't argue that it's a no brainer. Georgia had the defensive personnel on the field that they thought they wanted. They had the right play called, but if you look at the replay, the receiver on the right fade was well covered and the ball would have probably fallen incomplete or been thrown out of bounds.
What happened was that CJ Mosley made a key play by tipping the ball, and the UGA receiver on the speed out reacted instinctively to catch it.
Would spiking the ball have changed that, assuming UGA ran the same play, got the same coverage and ended with the same result?