But more than you think. At least it looks that way if you dig in to Bill Connelly’s breakdown of Saturday’s game.
Bill starts with last year’s statistical story. And right off the bat, he’s into the unexpected.
Georgia held far more advantages over Missouri on defense last year than you may have expected, and vice versa, which flies against the “Mizzou is going to move the ball, but can they play physical defense??” meme.
Now obviously there are personnel changes which factor into the story for this season’s meeting – both teams’ offensive lines seem weaker than their 2011 counterparts, both teams have added freshman studs at skill positions and, of course… THE SUSPENSIONS – but the stats suggest this may be more of a defensive battle than we’ve thought it might be.
A couple of things about Bill’s numbers jump out at me. Last season tells us that Missouri’s chances at success improve dramatically the more the game is played in the red zones, because the Tigers did a better job of slowing opponents’ offenses down there than did the Dawgs. Second, it looks like it would behoove both teams to throw the ball on first down and throw it a lot on first down. (Georgia gets a bigger advantage, but Missouri’s offense does noticeably better the more it stays out of obvious passing situations.)
Given the opposition, I don’t want to read too much into Bill’s box scoring of last week’s games*. But one thing to note is Tavarres King’s catch rate of 75%. His numbers across the board are what you want to see from a team’s #1 receiver. Considering how poor his 2011 catch rate was, it would be very big for the Georgia offense if what we saw in the bowl game wasn’t a mirage and that he and Aaron Murray are developing a rapport. King knows he has to be a more consistent receiver. And I think Bobo’s playcalling last Saturday purposefully tried to reinforce that. It’s definitely something to watch for tomorrow night.
[*Except for one item. For all the complaints about how Georgia lost focus in the second quarter last week, it's nothing compared to what Missouri turned in against SW Louisiana in the second quarter of their game, according to Bill's S&P numbers.]
By the way, I asked Bill, who, it should be mentioned, has been generous to a fault in the time he’s spent responding to our questions, in a follow-up to rank the conditions he listed in his summary. Here’s his answer:
“If’s” In Order (from most likely to least likely):
1. If Mizzou outdoes the Dawgs in the turnovers and special teams departments…
2. If Kendial Lawrence produces better per-touch averages than Todd Gurley…
3. If Mizzou scores touchdowns in the redzone instead of field goals…
4. If Tiger defensive backs don’t get burned deep and allow easy points…
5. If the line battle skews neutral when Missouri has the ball and toward Mizzou when Georgia has the ball… (least likely because of the OL, not the DL — still pretty optimistic about the DL)
Agree? Disagree? Spout off in the comments.