Here’s a stat that’s getting a fair amount of attention: Georgia is 99th in the country in opponent third down conversion rate. There’s been a steady decline over the past three seasons.
- 2013 – 44.83%
- 2012 – 36.54%
- 2011 – 28.93%
The improvement in 2011 was dramatic and came in part because Grantham recognized there was an issue there that needed to be addressed. So it’s fair to say he’s got experience in how to bring that into line. It’s not a big surprise, but the gaping wound that needs to be stitched up is in pass defense. Check out the situational stats on passing defense when opponents face third and four or more yards to go. The other guys are 20-33, 310 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs. Tough to get off the field when they’re averaging almost ten yards per attempt and not turning the ball over in those circumstances.
Georgia’s offensive passing game has actually been better in those situations, which is a good thing and has no doubt been a key factor in those September wins. But overall, the offense’s third down conversation rate trails the defense’s by a significant margin. That’s a tough burden to shoulder.
It’s made for some exciting football watching the defense come up with key stops to save the South Carolina and LSU games, but as Emerson’s article notes, this is no way to run a railroad over the course of a season.