Is defense as important as we think it is?

Before you jump my arse or give me the “one word:  Alabama” treatment, keep in mind that I’m asking you to consider this as a matter of degree, not dismissing the concept in its entirety.

With that in mind, take a look at Bill Connelly’s thoughts on tweaking the relative weights of offensive and defensive stats.  Also note a point that Bernie’s made this morning, that Georgia’s beaten the SEC’s second, third and fourth ranked teams in total defense.

I don’t think anybody would argue that it hasn’t been a strange season.  Maybe that makes this the best time to question conventional wisdom.  Or maybe it’s the college football equivalent of counting the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin.  Hell, I don’t know.  Did I mention it’s been a weird year?

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76 Comments

Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

76 responses to “Is defense as important as we think it is?

  1. Lorenzo Dawgriquez

    It appears that Mark Fox doesn’t think defense is too important

    • The Lone Stranger

      And yet that was Fox’s calling card as I recall upon his installation as DribbleDawg skipper. That, and the celebrated motion offense. Maybe the offense finally clicks in ’13 and the bottom falls out of the D. Hey, that is the pigskin formula. Weird.

  2. heyberto

    For me, it’s just how much would a serviceable defense help us through that middle stretch when we had key injuries on offense. We can’t be an offense only team and succeed. As great as Aaron Murray has been, even he couldn’t overcome the issues that were just that bad.

    Aside from that, I just want to see us play SEC caliber defense again. This shootout stuff, to me, just doesn’t cut it.

    • Erskine

      I agree with you about the continuous shootouts. I have been waiting for the defense to put 4 quarters together. But I also believe we have some defensive weaknesses we have tried to game plan around, but the opponents continue to exploit both young and older players.

      I believe a large part the poor defensive stats (at Georgia and overall within the conference) have to do with the experienced QB factor. We have faced, Clemson (Boyd 3 + yr starter), SC (Shaw 4 yr starter), LSU (Mett 2 yr starter senior class rating) & Mizzo (Franklin 3 yr starter). In contrast, next season, I expect defensive stats to pick up mainly due to the lack of experience at the qb position.
      Another point of view is to look at how many times our offense posted stats above the opponent’s average.

      The special teams blunders at Clemson was 10 points, the targeting call at Vandy directly lead to their TD, and that thing that happened at JH, account for potentially 3 more wins. Are these 3 wins the simple cure for the problem?
      As Aaron Taylor of CBS said, that is why we love college football, they are just kids playing a game, not employees like in the NFL, the balls going to take a funny bounce. It is just not as funny when the bounces affect your team.

      • diving duck

        I thought the same thing going into the Tennesee game. We had been picked apart by veteran quarterbacks. But then it turned out our inconsistency was not dependent on whatever qb was throwing.

  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    I can say that a good to very good defense is necessary, but not sufficient, for great team status. Scoring is higher everywhere lately, but today’s best defenses are just as important as the shut down guys of the 70′s and 80′s.

    Think about the fact that Vince never had a significant chance at a conference championship after Erk left.

  4. Ginny

    “Weird” is a very good way to describe this season. “Cursed” would be an alternative.

  5. Bob

    Dooley won two SEC titles after Erk left and came within a couple of feet of winning a third in 83. I think Dooley not winning another title after 82 had more to due with Knapp than Erk. And that said, Erk was indeed one of a kind and eventually was clearly missed very much.

    • By ’84 , the Junkyard Dawgs’ mystique was gone when the last of Erk’s guys left the program. Lewis was a disaster at DC after that. Does anyone remember one of the Guthrie brothers playing strong safety?

  6. Nate Dawg

    What if no-defense-video-game scores and playoffs make me stop watching college football? That scares me.

  7. Bright Idea

    No defense can let average offenses dominate the ball and time of possession like Georgia’s does. You have to find some turnovers. A defense has to stop folks on their next possession after your own score. No defense should constantly surrender 3rd and long like it is 2nd and short. No defense can give up 30+ regularly and win a championship. With that said, few defenses will be “shut Down” defenses anymore. That takes recruiting, scheme and great tackling, a rare combination.

  8. Weird, yes. Cursed, absolutely. This defensive staff underachieved last year with NFL talent all over the field. We should have expected that this defense was going to struggle.

  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    Alabama.

  10. Scorpio Jones, III

    Dear Larry,

    Well it is Friday before Kentucky, and except for a non-denial denial from Mark Richt, there has been almost no mention of Kentucky.

    I know, I know, fans think all the easy ones are easy.

    But…It’s a night game, right after Awbun yanked out our hearts, the nattering nabobs of negativity have fired the defensive coordinator….fingers have been pointed.

    Does all this crap worry you, Larry?

    That’s what I thought……if you run into Erk, give him a hug, will you, and you guys up there, get together and see if you can’t doe something about the defense.

    Oh…tell Erk I still got the cigars.

    Scorp.

  11. Depends, do you wanna win a lot of games and rank pretty highly? Than you are fine being pretty lopsided for excellence on one side of the ball or the other (examples A&M this year, Florida last year). But if you wanna win titles, you need to be pretty damn good all over.

  12. Scorpio Jones, III

    But wait, there’s more…..

    So, Connelly and Bernie are saying Grantham’s defense is better than it appears to be?

    Now I really understand why I changed majors from pre-law to journalism when I discovered vastly easier math requirements.

    Don’t believe your eyes folks, don’t look at the scoreboard….and yeah, I do realize it was fourth and 18.

    Next somebody is going to ask what kind of inside linebacker Gurley would make.

    • So, Connelly and Bernie are saying Grantham’s defense is better than it appears to be?

      Nope, they’re not. Did you read their posts, or just assume?

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Connelly’s charts cross my eyes, but I did look at them, and

        “Strange 6-4 season when you’ve beaten the teams at 2, 3 and 4. With a game left against Kentucky and Mizzou having to play Johnny Football’s Aggies, there’s a decent chance of Georgia finishing top eight. But that would take a better than good effort against Tech in the season finale, a team known to get their yards in mass chunks.”

        But maybe I misread the sentence from Bernie?

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          It really is going to be, or could be, an interesting Arn Bowl.

        • Bill isn’t saying Grantham’s defense is better than it appears to be. He’s saying it appears that a team’s offense – any team’s offense – may be more important to its chance to win than its defense.

          Bernie isn’t saying Grantham’s defense is better than it appears to be. He’s saying that Georgia, with its mediocre defense, beat three teams with very good defenses this season.

          Before you go there, I’m not saying Grantham’s defense is better than it appears to be, either.

        • Yes, just stating that that one chart clearly shows an under-achieving Georgia defense. And yet we’ve beaten most of the teams at the top. That’s weirdly ironic. Just hoping this back and forth movie has a satisfying and tidy ending.

  13. Will Trane

    Consistency and injuries are the factors for me. An offense that disappears for a half at Vandy with a lead. An offense that takes almost a half at Auburn to get going and down by 20+. Officiating is 3rd. Ask JHC and Drew at Vandy. Ask JHC how weird it is. 2 losses when you offense is depleted and you are getting players repped.

    • Cojones

      Yes, but the D doesn’t show past one qtr of consistency. If this O injury situation is a contributing problem to the D, what’s the reason for the D’s other 3 seasons?

      • adam

        The defense was not a problem in 11 or 12, really.

        • Cojones

          Beg to differ. Same runup of points in those years, “couldn’t stop the ground game”, “great D players underperformed as a team”, etc.. The excuses used (“tired”, “fourth qtr letdown”, “on the field too long due to O scoring too quickly or going three and out”) didn’t fit the problem analysis when stats were viewed objectively. You bet that we had good D games every once in a while, but not consistently.

  14. Will Trane

    A deep pass play against 2 safeties who wonder what in the hell is happening re consistency and injuries. Matthews sits for half a season with and injury, comes back on the road against a very good rival. He gets banged up some more in the game. But not enough to get the rust off. Comes with a inch of a pick to close out a win.

  15. Will Trane

    10 games in with more experience, seen alot of weird plays, know you have played very good at times…focus on what you can control. Beat UK by putting points on the board with a power running game. Limits Uks points and have at least 2+ takeaways on D. Have some picks for a TD. Had one at Vandy, but what cgood did it do re offense performance.

  16. jim

    Has anyone ever won a championship with less than good defense? You can beat lesser teams with mediocre or worse defenses but you cannot beat the top teams. You must be very good on both sides of the ball to hoist that NC trophy in the air.

  17. D.N. Nation

    We haven’t played the #1 defense in the SEC, though we did pretty well against them in the SECCG. And we’ve beaten the #2, #3, and #4 ranked defenses in the SEC.

    It’s all Bobo’s fault. #ICanHasDawgSportsFanpostNow?

    • adam

      I don’t think anyone is complaining about how the offense played against South Carolina or LSU. If we hadn’t had a big first quarter against Florida, we would have lost that game, because we only scored 6 points in the final 3 quarters. I think the legitimate gripes about the offense this year would be disappearing in the second half against Vandy, 4 turnovers against Mizzou, and taking 40 minutes to wake up against Auburn.

      The defense has clearly underperformed, but the offense isn’t infallible either. Hopefully the defense gets a lot better next year because we won’t have Aaron Murray.

      • Cojones

        I cannot believe that we point fingers at the best O in the history of our team in order to compensate for a D that posts Ls (shakes his head).

      • D.N. Nation

        It’s almost as if the majority of skill position players on offense were out for Vanderbilt and Missouri! Or something! I guess we’ll never know, thus must fire Bobo!

        • adam

          I didn’t say that. I said they contributed to those losses.

          Ya know… at Vandy we were missing 3 starters (Mitchell, Gurley, and Bennett). After Drew was ejected and JHC got hurt, we were missing 3 starters on defense too.

          If losing 3 starters on offense means it’s ok to stop scoring points on bad defenses, what does being down 3 starters on defense mean?

          Vandy and Mizzou were team losses, IMO. If we score 1 TD in the second half against Vandy we win. If we don’t turn the ball over on offense, we win. If we don’t muff a punt or blow a punt snap, we probably win. It’s not all on the defense every time we lose. If we didn’t turn the ball over 4 times against Mizzou, we probably win.

          I’m not saying the defense has played well. I’m just saying that our losses are not entirely the defense’s fault.

      • Dawgbreath

        Agree with you on several points. Depending solely on a big offense is not sound.. I can think of two recent quarters of play in which UGA ran only six plays each. That meant if we didn’t get a first down within three plays, our offense wouldn’t be likely to see the ball again anytime soon.

  18. Scorpio Jones, III

    Is there any doubt, at all, that Bama-FSU is the national championship game we are drooling over, given we ain’t part of the equation, just from a football eye candy point of view?

  19. King Jericho

    I don’t think a great defense is necessary, but you need to at least be creating turnovers or making those impact plays (sacks, big tackles for loss, etc) to give you enough stops for your offense to win the shootout. Auburn 2010 is the example of that. Georgia 2012 is probably a good example of that as well.

    That being said, a good offense and good defense aren’t mutually exclusive. As much as I love a good, dominating defense, I’d settle for just being positive in the turnover margin. That’s how the Patriots have done it in the NFL and they’ve been the most consistent program over the past 10 years or so.

    • Ginny

      “Georgia 2012 is probably a good example of that as well.”

      Great point. Statistically, they weren’t great but there were play makers all over that created a lot of big plays for us. Jarvis, Ogletree and Bacarri especially.

    • Ginny

      To further that point, you have to consider the affect that big plays have on completely shifting the momentum of the game. I really feel like that’s what we were missing this year.

      • By Georgia We Did It

        I agree, but the one issue I have with UGA and turnovers is the offense’s lack of going for the “kill” after a TO. Usually the next play should go for the endzone or for big yardage when usually all we do is hand it off up the middle.

  20. McTyre

    What’s lost on many – from pundits to fan apologists – is that UGA defenses (and ST) in the Stafford and Eras didn’t have to be elite – simply average-to-solid would have sufficed. Ball control offenses like Bama’s – or simply. AD ones like Muschamps – need elite Ds to contend. People don’t understand that 2012-13 UGA Ds are even worse that their stats suggest when you consider the points, drives and field position the O gave them. 2012-13 Gator D excelled despite bad offense. Please stop making excuses for why our D and ST are perrenially underachieving.

  21. W Cobb Dawg

    If our D was just a little bit better we’d have been national champions last January. And we would likely be heading to the secc this year as a top 7 team.

    Do I expect a shut down/top 10 D from CTG’s replacement? Maybe not, although it’s not a silly question. But CTG is on the verge of setting all time worst stats for UGA defenses. Imagine what our record would be with CTG’s defense if we didn’t have a record setting QB and one of our all time best offenses.

  22. David

    I did a quick look at the past four years of SEC title participants. The two division champions from 2010 through 2012 are typically in the top 6 for both categories (the only exception is 2010 Auburn, which won on pure
    offense, finishing 8th in scoring D but 1st in scoring O).

    2010: South Carolina 6th O, 6th D; Auburn 1st O, 8th D
    2011: Georgia 4th O, 6th D; LSU 2nd O, 2nd D
    2012: Georgia 3rd O, 6th D; Alabama 2nd O, 1st D
    2013 (projecting possible candidates): Alabama 4th O, 1st D; Auburn
    3rd O, 5th D; Missouri 2nd O, 3rd D; South Carolina 9th O, 4th D

    Conclusion, to win an SEC division, you need to be at least top 6 in
    both O and D. To win the conference, top 4 in both categories (unless
    you’re Auburn 2010).