The Bennett factor

Over at Team Speed Kills, cocknfire ponders Georgia’s short-term reality in the wake of the season ending injury suffered by Michael Bennett.

Still, it’s an average of almost five catches for 69 yards a game. The question isn’t so much whether the Georgia offense will regroup and find someone to replace those yards; they will. The question is whether they will do so soon enough to help out in one of the biggest games of the season.

As noted in his post, Bennett has certainly played the part of a clutch receiver this season.

Before he went down, Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns (cfbstats.com). Seventeen of his receptions (71 percent) went for first downs, including six of the eight catches he made in third-down situations.

If you review Bennett’s catches on the SEC video box scores archive — the Tennessee game was not up as of this writing — one thing that leaps out at you is that Bennett rarely drops a good pass. I can remember two passes that he probably should have caught and didn’t. I can remember at least one that he probably shouldn’t have caught and did. Another couple of passes sailed wide and Bennett caught one out of bounds.

He was a reliable receiver; he might not have been the kind of guy who has breakaway speed, but he can get open and catch the ball when he is open — two things that aren’t always as easy as they should be fore receivers.

My guess is that there’s a guy on the roster who may fit the bill.  Granted, he’s not been much of a contributor so far, but that’s about to change.

I’m talking about Malcolm Mitchell, of course.  He’s only caught six balls in 2012, which is too small a sample size to judge his ability to fill the hole in productivity that Bennett has left, but if you go back and look at what Mitchell did in 2011 – his catch rate was second best among all SEC receivers with at least 50 receptions and was also better than Bennett’s – you’d have to think he’s at least adequate for the task.  Beyond that, if, like cocknfire, you’re impressed with Bennett’s clutchness on third down, check out Mitchell’s 2011 performance in that department.

Is Mitchell still rusty from a lack of reps due to his stint on defense?  We’re about to find that out.  One thing seems likely – he won’t be focusing this Saturday on anything but playing wide receiver.

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54 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

54 responses to “The Bennett factor

  1. Rick

    And here’s a head scratcher – the line goes from -3 USC to even on the news of our leading receiver getting knocked out?

    • ThePetis

      Wide receivers don’t impact the point spread. Generally, only QB’s have more than a half point impact.

    • Macallanlover

      Point spreads move because of the money bet on a specific team, it is a balance thangy, not a prediction. The line should stay between a Pick and SC -3. Obviously bettors, who always bet more as game time gets closer, do not feel the loss of MB will change UGA’s likelihood of winning. There has certainly been enough publicity on it that it isn’t an oversight at this point. I can’t say if they are right or not, but I feel the best way to bet this game is to bet an UNDER on the 54 point total established for this game. It will take some home runs and ST scores to get that high, imo. Both teams will be seeing the best defense they have seen all year. SC’s chance of success comes from Lattimore getting a lot of carries which will run clock. And I don’t see UGA’s offense succeeding via 30+ yard plays. Both teams will have to grind it out, or win by field position and the TO margin.

      • Rick

        How is it not a prediction? The spread should move in tandem with the money line, which translates directly to a % chance of victory for each team (at least, that’s how I interpret it).

        • Sanford222view

          The line moves when one side is being bet more heavily than the other to balance out the total bet on each side. The line moving down from SC -3 doesn’t mean Vegas thinks UGA has a better chance of winning now. They just had too much money on UGA and now want more money on the SC side. In a perfect world Vegas never would have to adjust an opening line as the amount bet on each team would be equal and then the game would push giving them the “juice” from both sides.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            After all, UGA plus 3 points is a very attractive wager for this game. Of course the bettors all were wagering on Georgia. The market corrected itself.

          • Rick

            I think you guys are overthinking this – nothing you said there is inconsistent with the idea that the line spread/money line directly translate into a prediction of the % chance each team will win the game. Now, of course the total adds up to a little more than 100% (because the house has to take it’s cut), but if you remove that cut, it’s easy to see that the ‘line’ is exactly equivalent to a prediction for each teams chances (which right now, is almost exactly 50/50). If it didn’t, and you had a half-way decent prediction, it would be trivial to make a killing by betting.

            • Scorpio Jones, III

              Rick, the “spread” is totally driven by the bookies and bettors, that’s the only reason the “spread” exists, it has almost nothing to do with what anybody actually thinks about the game. Anybody who might actually know something about the game…IE the coaches, are damn sure not talking.

              Anybody who bets on college football by following the advice the bookies give by publicizing the spread is gonna need a bail out.

              In fact, anybody who bets on college football games is suspect.

              • Rick

                I agree with the last sentence :) However, when large amounts of money are being put at risk, the net result will be close to a perfect estimation of that risk given all available information (this is related to efficient markets theory). Assuming the spread does move in tandem with the money line (which I’ve heard does, and certainly did in the case of this game, but maybe I’m wrong?), then all you have to do is (1) convert the spread to money line (2) convert each money line to a percentage return and add them together (3) normalize to 100% to eliminate the house take and bingo, you have the most accurate predictions known to man (IMO).

                I should say, however, that my expertise is in math and economics, not in gambling, so maybe there are inefficiencies that I am not aware of (although I wonder why they aren’t being exploited!).

                • Scorpio Jones, III

                  Because football games, especially at this level, are not decided by math.

                  • Rick

                    That’s why I said the predictions are the ‘most accurate known to man’. I didn’t say they weren’t still awful ;)

              • Cojones

                Suspect? Count me among your “suspects”. Suspect of what?

                Now I’m going to bet money on UGA just to worry your judgemental, worrying ass. :)

          • Macallanlover

            Correct, in a theoretical world with a perfect 50/50 split of dollars wagered, the bookie/Vegas will be guaranateed to win 5% of ALL dollars bet on that game since the losing bets pay 10% of their wager.

            Money line bets have nothing to do with that as it is simply a bet of who wins the game straight up. Last week when UGA was a 14 point favorite, I wanted to bet a lot for UGA to win but didn’t want to lay 2 TDs to TN on a bet utilizing the spread. To bet UGA to win SU, I had to wager $525 to win $100 (UGA was a 5-1 favorite). I could have bet $100 on TN to win and would have been paid $425 had they done so (4-1 underdog). Haven’t checked yet but this week should be pretty even on ML bets, but again, it is all about balancing the money.

            • Rick

              OK, if money line is independent of spread then I concede that point. I’ve seen conversion charts for them in the past, but perhaps they are just approximations.

              • Scorpio Jones, III

                Live football is not a video game. There are intangibles that can not be introduced by any algorithm.

                But I can tell you this with absolute certainty, the best team always wins, that’s why some folks here keep warbling about playoffs being the only solution to a national championship.

              • Macallanlover

                Rick, your point on ML bets isn’t totally invalid as the favorite on the spread will certainly be the betting favorite on a ML bet. Similar to the odds on parimutual betting at horse races, the odds change based on how many dollars are bet on certain horses, but there is no “win by X amount of links” which would be the football spread equivalent to entice bets on a weaker horse. But the ML will have heavier odds for and against in a football game that has a larger point spread because there is a larger talent disparity. So there is a correlation but I have never seen it graphed. I knew I felt UGA was 14 points better than TN but didn’t think the 5 to 1 was a good bet. Shows there wasn’t a lot of “win” bets made on TN.

                Your assumption that the line is actually a prediction since it reflects a balance of real money is logical until you study the dynamics of public betting. Most of the betting public are not very sophisticated in their approach and much of the money is bet with the “heart” and not the “head”. A team with a huge fanbase (say Notre Dame) may drive the point spread higher in most games than it should be, especially against smaller programs. Interesting note from a link on today’s GTP shows that Western kentucky has covered the spread in the last 14 straight games going back to September of last year. Much of this is because: who is there to bet on WKU against Bama or Kentucky?

  2. Russ

    I see Marlon Brown stepping up. He’s been big this season.

  3. So correct me if I am wrong, but I thought I saw some clear examples of Bennett’s breakaway speed. He’s not a breakaway receiver?

  4. Bulldawg165

    I may be overly optimistic but I feel pretty good about Malcom Mitchell’s ability to get back up to speed as a receiver in time for this weekend, especially considering how fast he managed to catch on last year as a true freshman. I just hope Murray doesn’t get lit up all game before he has a chance to throw to him.

  5. yurdle

    Bennett’s play in the slot will be missed. Having hands, height, and confidence on the slant is crucial, and Bennett also has the speed to really gash you.

    Also, his blocking on those WR screens we have been running to King is not easy to replicate. He does a great job of locking down the outside corner and freeing King to get 10 yards. Especially against an evil, evil DL like USC, those kind of easy perimeter yards are going to be missed. Can Wooten or Conley throw those blocks as well?

    Bennett was a real threat to run the slant inside, which made a defender take inside leverage. At the same time, he could get outside and either run a sideline pattern or block out a CB on a screen. We’re going to need somebody who can give that kind of inside/outside pressure from the slot.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Pretty astute observation of 82’s abilities….you gotta assume he was the best we had at that stuff since he was playing. Conley has the size and speed and has certainly made some catches, but I have no idea about his capabilities as a complete receiver. The best choice might be to move Marlon Brown into this slot, considering his size and speed, but if there is anything this offensive staff should be pretty damn good at it is evaluating receivers, so I just can’t afford to worry about that.

  6. Chuck

    More wicked play from Ahrtie Lynch iyam.

  7. Rebar

    We will see what we will see; if we are a championship team, another receiver will step up. It will be hard to replace Bennett, but there is talent behind him.

  8. AthensHomerDawg

    This has the look and feel of the meme we all shared when the Gunrunner II program eliminated our SEC Freshman of the year running back. I hate losing a wonderful possession receiver but we gotta move on. Anyhow, uSC has about 200 running plays for 850 yards and The Dawgs have about 200 running plays for 1250 yards. I know we are all nervous over Lattimore running through us again. Truth is… Lat has been shut down. Gurshel hasn’t. Our last year’s best receiver is back in business full time. We’ve had our big game, must get it done, road trip. Second verse just like the first. “Now lets go up there and set things right.” Go Dawgs!

  9. Charles

    Perhaps we plug Malcolm into Bennett’s slot? The physicality from his reps on defense would help here.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Certainly a point…the blocking aspect is mostly, coaches say, a matter of want to, not can…..guess we’ll see.

  10. Irwin R Fletcher

    I’m not trying to minimize the loss to Bennett…hate it…but UGA lost its top receiver last year, too, in the middle of the season heading into two tough games against Vandy and UF…his name was Malcolm Mitchell….and his production was replaced by Michael Bennett, Marlon Brown, and Chris Conley. I’m not saying that either of those teams are as good as USCar this year, but Conley’s no slouch and Rome has been coming on.

    It definitely changes the play calling though. I’m not sure I would trust anybody as much as Bennett on that swing out pass to either block or catch and run like he has done this year. That’s where it hurts the most in my mind…he is underrated as a blocking WR. Hopefully Hines is in Athens this week giving a pep talk.

  11. Sanford222view

    I agree with some of the comments above regarding his blocking ability. I think that will be the area where the Dawgs miss Bennett the most.

    • Blocking ability, Toughness, & being the Go To Guy when Murray needs it the most.. Bennett was his security blanket.
      I still believe he will be sorely missed this Saturday.
      Marlon Brown might be the 3rd down, got to have a first down, WR Now.
      Theus at LT ?. TE”s having to help block DE’s. ?.
      Now is the time for the real Dawg D to rise up & get the job done.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        DickSamIV chipping on the DE dba Orlandis Gary vs Virginia and Patrick Kerney. Kerney was whipping Stinchcomb until Gary put a hat on him. Quincey”throw it over their heads” Carter got some relief and we won that game. Yeah we got the tools in the box. Let’s get them out.

      • Theus ain’t moving to left tackle. At least not this week.

        • Will (the other one)

          Does Sakerlina every flip their ends? Or do Clowney and Taylor stay on their own sides all game?

        • Macallanlover

          In the words of Steve (Joshua) Martin in “Leap of Faith”, “Thank Ya Jesus!!”

  12. Debby Balcer

    At least it happened early enough in the week for MM to practice in his place.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Right, Debby. I am still concerned that instead of having an All-SEC MM at receiver we now have a mediocre MM at receiver, DB and returner. Please CMR, return MM to only wide receiver!

      • jryuuu

        +1.
        a bird in the hand is worth 2 (or 3 in this case) in the bush.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          My fear, on this issue, is that losing 82 means the loss of a leader by example.

          I have other fears that may be more important.

      • Debby Balcer

        The loss of Bennett will mean MM moves back to offense and so his focus won’t be scattered. If anyone wants to shut Spurrier up as much as us it is Coach Richt.

  13. After rewatching the game from last year, the team did very well against that D. I guess I blocked the game out. They just needed to eliminate mistakes. And can someone please teach Murray how to take a sack and hold onto the ball. Those sack-6’s are killers. And watch out for the LB’s drifting into underneath coverage. Hold on to the ball and we destroy them last year. Even with all those yards from Latti.

    • Will (the other one)

      Yep. The difference between what we did to their D and what Arkansas did in a blowout win is we actually ran the ball a little better…and we basically spotted them 28 points.
      While both DEs scare me, I’m damn glad Melvin Ingram is not playing against us again.

  14. Lakatos Intolerant

    In my opinion, our biggest offensive advantage is Mitchell, Brown and King versus the Carolina secondary, so my guess is that Bobo uses the +25 yard passing game early (and often, hopefully) to soften that run D. Of course, that’s contingent upon the o-line giving Murray enough time to PA and step into the throw. I don’t know if we can pull the statistics to prove it, but we’re utilizing PA less this year, which hopefully will lead to more effectiveness when we do. That’s why I expect to see Murray under center (at least on 1st and 2nd downs) for the first 3-5 offensive series, and Bobo will adjust as needed depending on our success. There’s no better way to quiet a raucous crowd and build confidence then hitting a few long pass plays early on. Like the rest of you, I’m concerned about the pass rush, but I think Friend will have his unit ready to protect and ball out. Soften that front 7 with the pass early on and then look to establish the run. And PLEASE, give me a reason to make some bad decisions late Saturday night!

  15. Mykiesee

    I propose we start calling Gurley and Marshall, “Shake and Bake”. Yeah, that just happened.

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