Georgia’s 2013 yards per play story leaves me more confused than ever.

Year2’s observation that Georgia had a higher yards per play average than its opponents in the two losses to Auburn and Missouri got me wondering how that stat looked for the entire season, so off I went to Marty’s site to get the answer.

  • Clemson: +1.65
  • South Carolina:  -.39
  • North Texas:  +4.95
  • LSU: +.89
  • Tennessee: +.52
  • Missouri: +.48
  • Vanderbilt: -1.11
  • Florida: +2.23
  • Appy State:  +4.23
  • Auburn: +.45
  • Kentucky: +2.85
  • Georgia Tech: -.05
  • Season: +1.38

So Georgia lost three games this season in which it was more efficient gaining yardage than the opponent.  I get Missouri – a minus-4 turnover margin against a good team is awfully hard to overcome – and I sort of get Auburn, but what in the world explains Clemson?  Yes, the Dawgs were minus-1 in turnover margin, and, yes, they had one drive that resulted in no points when the field goal attempt was botched, but, still, that net ypp figure is well above the season average.  And the Tigers only ran six more plays on the night than Georgia did.

On the other hand, Georgia was 2-1 in games when it was in the red on ypp, and could have won the Vanderbilt game with a break (or, more accurately, without Vandy getting more than its share of breaks from the officiating crew).

(By the way, in case you were wondering, the ypp average for the 2012 season was +1.91.  The drop off in 2013 came slightly more on the offensive side of the ball (-.28) than on defense (-.25), which makes sense when you consider the injury situation.)

Anyway, there’s more to consider here to try to explain where the season went south.  Missouri, again, is the obvious one when turnover margin hurt, but if you look at the rest of the season, Georgia never had another game when the turnover margin was greater than minus-1.  That no doubt leads to a discussion about the special teams, but that’s a subject that’s worth a post of its own.

Or maybe the lesson is that it’s been a weird year and it’s going to be a futile effort to try to make sense of it.  We’ll see.

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41 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

41 responses to “Georgia’s 2013 yards per play story leaves me more confused than ever.

  1. sniffer

    We are what our record says we are.

  2. uglydawg

    “Or maybe the lesson is that it’s been a weird year and it’s going to be a futile effort to try to make ssense of it. We’ll see.” This is IT!

    Stats can often leave us scratching out heads. It’s often not how often you turn the ball over, but where on the field it happens. And GT can point to all kinds of TOP stats but it doesn’t change the fact that they aways lose the big game..esp. to any team that has exta time to prepare for their offense.
    I honestly believe there isn’t a better team in the country than a healthy UGA would have been this year….excepting, maybe, FSU.
    I honestly don’t believe UGA faced one team this year that was honestly better than them.
    Barring another freaky injury storm, UGA should be favored in every game next year.

    • Good points, all. I hesitate to chalk it up to just one of those years. The special teams problem is not a one year issue. It pops up one year as snapping issues, the next as kick returns, and another as getting caught on fakes. Our punt team gave up 2 TDs on blocked kicks and 2 others due to poor snap handling inside the defensive red zone. The YPP differential also could be chalked up to 3rd down defense where we got teams behind the chains on 1st and 2nd down and then give up a 3rd and 7 or more conversion. I just want the coaching staff to get things fixed.

    • americusdawg

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “I honestly believe there isn’t a better team in the country than a healthy UGA would have been this year.” Let’s be real and keep in mind that “Paper Tigers” are always winners as long as they don;t have to prove themselves on the field. It really doesn’t matter what UGA coulda, woulda, shoulda done IF WE WERE HEALTHY. Who is the God that decides exactly what “healthy” is anyway. I can only assume that UGA played their hearts out week in and week out … but the facts are that we got beat by Clemson, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Auburn. Many will argue that we had bad luck, we got robbed by the officials, we were riddled with injuries, we were out-coached, we were out-played, we had too many newbies, etc. Whatever excuse(s) we use … the results remain the same.

      • DawgPhan

        It is hard to not see that Mizzou and Vandy are totally different games if either Marshall or Gurley are healthy. Putting the ball in the Douglas’s hands late in the game proved to be a disaster in both cases and are the single plays that you can point to that are keeping us from a rematch with Auburn.

        It doesnt change anything, but it is right there.

      • uglydawg

        OK. I’ll be specific in my hypotheses. Take every team in college football and average their number of injuries this year. Apply that mean to this years UGA team and replay the season….are you getting the picture? Sure, it changes reality not one bit but it does explain some things to those of us who seek real analysis…..and while we’re at it, let’s find the mean of officiating calls for targeting…and for holding by opponents…and calls against coaches for saying “that’s crap”. ..I’ll be willing to pre-accept the mean as Georgia’s fortune next year.

  3. The Clemson matchup seems easy to explain. The Murray fumble on the sack gives Clemson the ball on the UGA 16. Short drive for a TD there. Same thing happens in the third when penalties force UGA to punt deep in their own territory. Clemson starts at the CU 45 and scores from there. That’s two relative freebies right there.

    • I think we’re talking apples and oranges here a bit. The metric I’m exploring is yards per play, not total yards. I guess you could argue that short drives impede an offense’s chance to hit a big play, but otherwise, unless you’re starting inside an opponent’s five, there’s no reason you can’t average seven yards per play on a short drive.

  4. Russ

    Weird year indeed. I think it defies analysis.

  5. @gatriguy

    Flukish year, but these things tend to even out in the long run. At the star of Richt’s tenure, we won so many close, ugly games…this is one of those years where we lost a lot if close games.

  6. JN

    I have always been surprised at how much emphasis is placed on YPP. YPP can be a very telling stat, but it can also be a very misleading stat. In the case of UGA under Bobo, I would definitely classify it as misleading. This has nothing to do w/ how good or not good Bobo is as an OC, it simply is what it is. But ever since Bobo has taken over, UGA has always had periods where they trudge uphill through mud and other times where they can’t even slow themselves down (e.g. LSU and AU late drives). You couple that with the strongly evidenced opinion that Richt wants to sit on a lead in the 2nd half (e.g. UF, Vandy, this year) and it causes this stat to be skewed very badly.

    There are just too many factors that can cause this stat to be skewed for it to be as telling as some believe it to be, imho. Type of system, how good the defense is, the score late in the game, etc. all change it dramatically. I would even go so far as to say when a team like Alabama or LSU win the national championship that their YPP would be a good percentage lower than most people would think it would be for a national champion…because they were grinding out numerous wins over the course of the season late in the game with their ground attack.

    Oh, and that Todd Gurley guy…he changes that stat just a weeeeee bit.

    • How was it skewed? Georgia was first nationally last year in ypp and is twelfth this season. Injuries explain a good deal of that, as the Dawgs didn’t have the same big play capability after the UT game.

      BTW, ‘Bama was fifth last year in ypp and is eighth this year.

      • JN

        I wasn’t saying UGA’s stats were skewed this year or last year. I’m talking about YPP in general.

        I didn’t look at Bama or anyone’s else’s stats. I was saying it’s perfectly within the realm of possibility for the top teams in the country, particularly for teams with really good defenses, to not have as good YPP as much lesser teams.

        • “In the case of UGA under Bobo, I would definitely classify it as misleading.”

          Sorry if I misunderstood.

          • JN

            Again, did a sorry job of explaining my point about YPP in general. I guess I should have said misleading. I will use UGA in 2012 as an example as to why YPP can be a very misleading stat.

            in 2012 UGA was #1 in the country in YPP.

            Against SCU they managed 7 points.

            Against UF they managed 17 points.

            Against Bama the offense managed 21 (7 were ST and giving them credit for 21 is being lenient b/c 7 of those points were after a successful fake punt), they had 7 three-and-outs, and had two chances to ice the game with clock eating first downs but went three-and-out twice in a row in, all in a game where they averaged over 7 YPP.

            UGA also converted 29% of 3rd downs in those three game.

            In the 12 biggest quarters of football, UGA’s #1 YPP offense managed 45 points. That comes out to 3.75 points per quarter. Maybe it’s just me, but I would call that misleading.

            #1 in the country in YPP makes the offense sound beyond great, but this particular offense was simply not good enough in the three biggest games of the year, and that’s with Todd Gurley.

            Again, YPP may very well be a perfect indicator of how good some offenses actually are. Then again, other times it can be a very misleading stat.

            Because of that I don’t put much stock in YPP. IMHO it simply doesn’t tell the entire story.

    • Will (the other one)

      I think the “sit on a lead” was partly justified given how bad the D was, especially early- and mid-season. The problem is we had an O that could kill the clock very late, but not in the 3rd quarter, and generally was much better suited to going almost 2-minute drill. But I can’t quite fault the coaches for not going all in with a “well if we score on almost every drive, even if it’s fast, we’ll hold serve” approach.

      Now we just hope the D improves enough that the offense can play fast without worry next year.

    • JN

      Went back and read my original post. I see how you thought I was saying UGA’s stats were skewed. I did a poor job a relaying my point. I guess I was using examples that involved UGA to show why I think YPP can be a very skewed stat. But yes, it can also be very indicative of an offenses prowess.

  7. AusDawg85

    Analyze this season? No…lock it up. Way in the back of that giant government warehouse from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. This one is best forgotten. Showed enough promise to spike the Kool-Aid, but gave way too much fodder to the perpetual Downer Dawgs. Get the popcorn ready for G-Day.

  8. StuDawg

    Yards per point is the most important stat, according to the bookies. As in, how many yards the opponent has to go to score a point. Ours was very low this year.

  9. Joe Schmoe

    On the turnover topic, it’s not just about how many and where on the field but the situation of the game when they occur. For instance, the fumbled punt in the Vandy game was at a point where about the only thing that could put them back in the game was a turnover. In other words, does the turnover cause a complete shift in momentum at a critical juncture of the game.

  10. Gigadawg

    I think it was a matter of consistency, or inconsistency, on defense. Seemed as though Georgia could stop people pretty well sometimes, then give up the crucial third-down conversion. And, yes, a lot of those opponents’ drives were on the short end of the field. They didn’t need a lot of yards per play to score. Exciting, frustrating, ultimately disappointing year. But there’s always 2014. Bring on Clemson (Aug. 30)..

  11. Greg

    I think you are over-analyzing this issue. The bigger differentials are App State, North Texas and UK…and, to a slightly lesser UF, when we dominated early and then let them back in the game with a couple of key mistakes. The remaining differentials were all pretty close and that was the story of our season. Play a ton of close games and you’re going to win some and lose some. If Marshall Morgan hadn’t made some big kicks against LSU, UT, UF and GT, we could have ended up like UT or UF.

  12. Cosmic Dawg

    Interstingly, the more turnovers YOUR team gives up may DECREASE your opponents’ YPP if they tend to give them a shorter field, even as they score more points.

    Just a theory little Adelaide Cosmic Dawg (age 4) worked out on her blackboard and asked me to relay.

  13. Bo

    Ain’t rocket science.

    We’re 7-0 in the last two years when we come on top in turnovers
    1-9 when we don’t.

    Apparently, that stat is virtually meaningless when compared to turnovers.

  14. Bo

    I think that’s our record in SEC games including 2012 and 2013.

    Not too surprising, what is surprising is that Richt seems unaware.

  15. Jerry Springer

    Yards per play is a poor indicator of Georgia’s performance.

    It does not take into consideration the hidden yardage given up through turnovers, penalties, poor punting, poor kickoffs, special teams loafs, and all the other undisciplined stuff Georgia football is famous for.