Dawg stat watch: maybe next year

For a while here, I tracked seven SEC statistical categories because they had in common that they were areas that Georgia excelled in during the three years that the Dawgs played in the SECCG under Mark Richt. (You can read the background on my analysis here.) I did this wanting to know if Richt would be able to capture lightning in a bottle in the ’07 season.

Anyway, the statistical goals I followed were

  1. Hold opponents under 17 points per game.
  2. Finish at least +8 in turnover margin.
  3. Average better than 380 yards per game on offense.
  4. Finish in the top five in total defensive yardage.
  5. Finish in the top three in first downs.
  6. Finish no worse than third in passing yardage.
  7. Finish no worse than third in sacks.

I quit tracking these when Georgia went in the tank at Tennessee. Of course, after I stopped, the Dawgs started winning and I didn’t want to tempt fate by revisiting this analysis. But that’s a moot consideration at this point.

So, with the regular season in the books, here’s where the Dawgs wound up in the SEC in each of these categories:

  1. Points allowed per game: 21.0
  2. Turnover margin:+4
  3. Total offense per game: 379.1 yards
  4. Total defense per game: 324.7 yards, 3rd in the conference
  5. First downs: 232, 8th in the conference
  6. Passing yardage per game: 200.3, 8th in the conference
  7. Sacks: 34, 1st in the conference

In the end, Georgia only covered two of the seven goals, although they were close in a third. Yet they came within a whisker – more accurately, a missed field goal or three – from making it back to Atlanta for what would have been a remarkable fourth time in seven years under Richt.

Coming that close in the standings while being that far off statistically from what worked before makes me wonder if something has changed, either with the conference as a whole or with Richt’s philosophy on how to win in the SEC, that could explain this. Or maybe it’s completely random, who knows?

It looks like something I might occupy myself with on a rainy Saturday in February. Consider yourselves warned.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

4 responses to “Dawg stat watch: maybe next year

  1. Senator, if you get bored – do your analysis on the last six games. I’d like to see that one.


  2. peacedog

    Something has changed IMO.

    Obviously, you’ve always got to keep re-evaluating your yard-sticks. Doing “top X in the conference” has some advantages over a flat # target; it will naturally adjust with any conference trends (e.g. if you say “2nd in sacks”, and the league adopts a rule where defenses get 14 guys as opposed to 11 on offense, sack numbers could rise but 2nd is still 2nd).

    Georgia’s 380 yards per game, otoh, is still pretty good even though it was only good for 6th in the conference. I think it helps display that you need to add red zone %s into the calculation somewhere. Georgia not only converted a high # of redzone opportunities into points this year, we had the most potent offense of the Richt era. I think if we had been more like some of Richt’s past teams, which frequently failed to score TDs in the redzone, this might have been a very differnet year (though I also think part of that rise is simply due to luck; I think improved play from the OL and RBs also helped elevate it).

    Also, I like looking at 1st downs but also at Third down conversion #s as a subset of that. UGA’s 1st down gains were middle of the pack (like it’s yardage), but it converted third downs at a good clip. I wonder how much of a correleation there might be to getting redzone opportunities & turning them into precious TDs.

    It’s still really strange that we lead the conference in sacks, to me. Our ability to pressure QBs was really a tale of two seasons.


  3. pd, keep in mind that I sort of reverse engineered this whole approach. So I can’t really change the “yard-sticks”, as you put it, without blowing the whole thing up.

    It’s not that there aren’t other measurements that wouldn’t be relevant to what Georgia did this year, it’s just that those won’t change what happened in ’02, ’03 and ’05. And if you want to get technical about it, it’s been validated in the strict sense that Georgia didn’t meet those benchmarks this year and didn’t go to Atlanta, either.

    One thing I might start with is to compare the ’04 and ’07 seasons (both cases where the Vols eked out a trip to Atlanta despite being statistically inferior to Georgia) and see if there are many similarities in the stats.


  4. Chuck

    The reason the trends were bucked are:

    1. 21 points per game is the new 17 points per game thanks to the kickoffs being kicked from farther back (Richt maybe even predicted 4 points more

    2. We didn’t turn the ball over very much this year for a while and we didn’t have it turned over too us for a while either. All and all, I think the USCjr game was decided on the freak non-turnovers they got when they tried to fumble, so this category may still hold water.

    3. I think you can call this one accomplished. There were many games in which, if we needed more offense, it was there for the taking. In fact, Stafford’s 40 yarder to Sean Bailey in the UF game that was called back on a phantom procedure penalty would have made up the differential.

    4. Accomplished.

    5. You don’t need as many first downs when you’re breaking off big chunks of yardage with 80 yard runs and 60 yard passes. Just as Richt has said that time of possession is a misleading stat, I think if you’re a threat to score in a hurry, this stat is going to go down. I imagine UF would suffer from the same statistical shortfall if it weren’t for running the score up to 70 whenever possible.

    6. Knowshon/Thomas Brown reducing the need for passing yards– haven’t had a back that can take over a game like that in the Richt era.

    7. Accomplished.

    In conclusion, I think the areas in which we fell significantly short were a result of unusual success in compensatory areas.