On the outside looking in: a few choice stats

Let’s face it:  as the Chinese saying goes, we live in interesting times.  The coaching upheaval engulfing the SEC right now starkly contrasts with the island of stability in Athens, Georgia, yet there’s no doubt that the status of the composition of Mark Richt’s staff will remain a hot topic of conversation for the Dawgnation during the upcoming months (for two measured examples of that, you need go no further than Dawg Sports and these posts from MaconDawg and Kyle King).

Me?  I’m a blogger.  I have no special contacts inside the program; I’m not even a close observer like David Hale or the other beat writers who blog.  So while I can observe the symptoms pretty much like anyone else who’s passionate about the program, I don’t feel particularly qualified in prescribing a cure other than in the most banal terms.  So, yeah, while I’m sure that Mark Richt would heartily agree with me that a pass rushing defensive end would be nice and that it would be terrific if Georgia cut back on the number of kickoffs that go out of bounds, in the end, I lack the insight into the inner workings of the program to say with confidence what would work.  Besides, it’s not like he’s asking for my advice.

So what I think I’ll settle for over the next few months is looking at snippets of data and comments from the coaches and players to see what went right and what went wrong this season, with the hope that, kind of like a mosaic, maybe once I’ve assembled enough pieces, it’ll be possible to step back and see a bigger picture of how the program looks.

With that in mind, here’s something to mull over.  I came across a system for ranking college football teams at LawPundit that is based on the concept of net average yards per play of offense over defense.  It’s a little more complicated than that – he tweaks the base number with strength of schedule and won/loss records – but the gist of it is that the better the net, the more dominant the team.  (You can see his Week 14 rankings here and a more detailed statistical breakdown of the top twenty teams here.)

His analysis led me back to where I go most of the time for stats, the invaluable cfbstats.com.  Here are a few numbers to chew on:

  • Average yards per play (offense). Georgia ranks a staggering ninth in the country, at 6.8 ypp.  That’s Big XII country, folks.  Indeed, Georgia is right up there with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas.  The only SEC team with a better number is Florida.
  • Total yards per game (offense). Georgia ranks 21st nationally, which isn’t bad, but isn’t close to where the top Big XII schools rank.  The reason for the disparity in these first two categories is that the Dawgs are a woeful 92nd in the country in the number of plays run on offense.  That adds up to a lot of yardage not being gained.  Texas, for example, runs almost nine more plays a game on offense than does Georgia, so that while its average yards per play is less, its total yardage is over forty yards a game more.
  • Average yards per play (defense). Georgia is a little better than average in this department (5.1 yards/play), ranking 43rd nationally.  That’s tied with Mississippi State for ninth best in the SEC.  Interestingly enough, that number would tie for the best in the Big XII, with Oklahoma.
  • Total yards per game (defense). At 318.3 yards per game, the Dawgs rank 27th nationally.  That’s seventh best in the SEC and considerably better than the Big XII’s best, Texas, which gives up almost 340 yards per game.  Again, some of that is related to number of plays defended, where Georgia is 20th in the country.

So what, if anything, does that tell us?

First of all, injuries or not, there’s a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia.  And Bobo’s done a pretty good job harnessing that talent on a per play basis.  The big knock would seem to be that he didn’t squeeze as much out of the offense as he could have, but whether that’s by design or whether it’s a bug in the system, I couldn’t say.

The reason I’m willing to give some credence to the argument that it’s by design is because the Dawgs didn’t have to defend as many plays as most teams, either.  Slowing the game down may have been a deliberate attempt by the coaches to protect the defense.

There are two x-factors with this analysis – turnovers and penalties.  In both cases, Georgia is far worse than average.  It ranks 72nd nationally in turnover margin (look carefully and you’ll see that no top 10 team is ranked lower than Georgia) and 115th in penalty yardage (Southern Cal is worse, yay!).  That probably translates into more short fields for opponents with less net yardage and fewer plays run for Georgia.

Let me know in the comments what conclusions you draw from this.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “On the outside looking in: a few choice stats

  1. Scott

    What I get from this is that Florida should kill Bama on Saturday.

  2. peacedog

    Where does UGA rank in punts by offense I wonder?

  3. AlphaDawg

    Its hard to compare Big12 # of plays to UGA’s, UGA runs the ball a lot more than the 3 Big 12 teams, resulting in the play clock running more, resulting in less play. The 3 Big 12 teams, obviously throw the ball more resulting in more clock stoppages, Resulting in more plays so its not a very good comparison. Just my 2 cents concerning that tib-bit of info.

  4. UGA runs the ball a lot more than the 3 Big 12 teams…

    Alpha, that’s not true.

    Georgia has 393 rushing attempts this season.

    Oklahoma has 517 rushing attempts this season. Texas has 479 rushing attempts this season. Only Texas Tech (303 attempts) has rushed fewer times than the Dawgs.

  5. Joe

    Obviously, you cannot see in-game situations from the analysis. I think that there are two parts to the play-calling that have lead to our good per-play average, and our inability to stop teams from going on Rick Pitino ’96-style runs.

    Bobo seems to have a propensity to try and “answer” whenever the opponent does something good. The finest example I can find of this is AU, 2007. We were absolutely dominant in the contest but suddenly found ourselved down 20-17 after a couple of mind-numbingly bad officiating. 2nd and 13, we hit MoMass for 45 yards, next play, Knowshon breaks a run, and the rout is on.

    Think for a second if the pass to MoMass falls just incomplete? We go 3 and out, AU has all the momentum and who knows how the rest of that game plays out? I suspect much like Alabama, UF and Gtu did this year.

    I would call our play-calling “uneven.” There are many 3 and outs countered by 3 play scoring drives.

    It is easy to laud Bobo’s propensity to “go for the jugular” in some instances, but I think that his gambling has also contributed to some of the defenses monumental meltdowns.

  6. dan

    That was Bailey on third down against Auburn 07.
    What these numbers lead me to believe is that there are liars, damn liars, then statisticians.

    That, and teams whose opponents start on the 40 or better all the time and don’t get turnovers fare more poorly than they would like.

  7. peacedog

    It’s ridiculous to suggest that the only thing keeping Auburn 07 from becoming Bama/UF/GT 08 is the 2nd and 13 pass to Bailey. I shouldn’t have to point this out.

  8. verysadolddawg

    look, all the mind-numbing number crunching in the world will not eliminate the simple fact for whatever reason…for… what.. ever… the… reason(s)the question I hope is being addressed in Athens is:
    Did we play every play with our collective hair on fire, and since the obvious answer is NO, then WHY?
    I’m not sad we are 9-3, I’m sad we are 9-3 and looked like we should be 3-9 in the three we lost.

    Are there coaches who could do a better job…yep, are there players who could have played harder, yep, did ole lady luck take an injury break, yep…hell even our national voice took an injury break…although his replacement is better than I could have imagined.

    It’s just been a bad year, and yet we are 9-3, and we ain’t Bama, with National Championships as our birthright.

    We are Georgia, where there have been many times when 9-3 would make you weep with joy…you know it, I know it.

    This is the best coach and coaching staff we are ever likely to have, lets let them earn their money and believe the obvious problems …and some not so obvious ones, too, will be fixed.