This is a pretty cool concept.
Havoc rate is a pretty simple method for looking at how much hell a defense is raising. Add up tackles for loss (which includes sacks), forced fumbles, and defensed passes (picks and break-ups), divide it by total plays, and voila: havoc rate. The national havoc average in 2013 was 15.9 percent.
The school currently last in havoc rate? That would be South Carolina. Nevertheless,
Against Georgia, South Carolina’s was a paltry 11.7: four tackles for loss (two sacks) and three pass break-ups in 60 snaps. Not very good. However…
A) It represented significant improvement from South Carolina’s first two games, in which the Gamecocks averaged a woeful 6 percent against Texas A&M and East Carolina: five tackles for loss, five passes defensed in 166 snaps. (Further frame of reference: Navy was dead last in havoc last year at 9.3 percent.)
B) South Carolina’s second “sack” saved the game. Georgia trailed 38-35 with 5:24 left, and Damian Swann had just picked off S.C. quarterback Dylan Thompson and returned the ball to the Gamecocks’ 4. Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo had called seven consecutive run plays (three for Todd Gurley, one for Sony Michel, three for fullback Quayvon Hicks) to finish Georgia’s last scoring drive, and he decided it was time for the play-action bootleg that tends to work pretty easily in those situations. Only, when [quarterback Hutson] Mason turned to run to his right after faking the handoff, [Gerald] Dixon was charging at him. Mason attempted to throw the ball at a back’s feet (a “grounding” that doesn’t tend to draw a penalty), but the ball deflected off of Dixon, and Mason was penalized.
It was a pretty tenuous call, and if the ball doesn’t hit Dixon, it doesn’t get called at all — but it set into motion the chain of events that won South Carolina the game. Facing second-and-goal from the 14, Georgia quickly went three-and-out (thanks in part to a pass broken up by J.T. Surratt), and previously automatic place-kicker Marshall Morgan missed a 28-yard field goal off of the right hash. South Carolina moved the chains a couple of times, converted a fourth-and-1 by a literal millimeter, and ran out the clock for the win.
So while South Carolina didn’t generate much havoc, it generated clutch havoc. That’s something.
Maybe it’s not so much that Georgia coaches are intimidated by Spurrier as it is they refuse to accept the simple premise that they’re always going to get his best shot. But they always will. No matter how you measure it.