After the Auburn game, I posted something in response to a Mark Bradley article about how Stafford wasn’t an “every-down” quarterback, whatever that means. Here’s what I blogged:
I don’t know if the system makes the man, or if the man makes the system, but it sure seems like Mike Bobo has turned the clock back to pre-Bill Walsh NFL style offensive football – run the ball to move the chains, hope to connect on a half-dozen or so big plays and don’t consider pass completion percentage as a measure of success.
I continue to see posts on Georgia message boards pointing at Stafford’s completion percentage as a chink in Georgia’s armor. All of which has gotten me to wondering how big a deal this may be.
Well, let’s look at the measurement itself first. There’s no question that Georgia’s passing completion percentage is low. At 54.7%, it ranks 98th in the nation. (For some perspective, the next highest ranked school in the BCS is LSU at number 74.)
OK, but how much does that matter to Georgia’s success, or lack of success, on offense? First, take a look at the statistical picture:
- Georgia ranks almost as low in passing attempts per game as it does in completion percentage, as the Dawgs’ 28.2 apg places them 97th nationally. And look at the splits for Georgia’s passing game. Georgia threw the ball less than 26 times per game when it won; the Dawgs averaged 39.5 passing attempts in their two losses. But even in its 10 wins, Georgia only averaged a 57.9% completion figure – which itself would only rank 66th nationally.
- Georgia averaged almost 32 points per game in 2007, good for 37th nationally. That may not be OMG fantastic, but it’s better than BCS hotties Southern Cal (#32 in completion percentage) and Virginia Tech (#54 in completion percentage) did.
- In third down conversion percentage, Georgia ranks 24th nationally, at just a hair under 45%. Again, a respectable number. There are three BCS teams with worse percentages.
- Georgia’s red zone conversion figure is a stellar 91.49%. That’s fourth nationally, with only two BCS teams sporting higher numbers.
- Georgia is the 43rd ranked team in the country in time of possession. It’s a decent number, with four BCS teams ranked lower.
All of that says that a crappy pass completion percentage in and of itself (1) doesn’t mean that you can’t score; (2) doesn’t mean that you can’t control the clock or the flow of a game with a respectable third down conversion percentage; or (3) doesn’t mean that you can’t score in the red zone. And, of course, it isn’t an impediment to winning 10 games in the SEC, or appearing in a BCS game.
But if you’re doing all those things well without a good completion percentage, what does that say about your offensive scheme?
… Mike Bobo, despite once being a quarterback, is an old soul when it comes to football.
“He is kind of an old-school guy,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He’s kind of got old-school mentality. He doesn’t mind smash-mouth a little bit. He loves a strong running game and understands we’ve got to look at personnel and do what we think we can do best. He and the staff did a really good job of trying to figure out what that was and push the right buttons.”
The buttons he pushed were outside runs, quick passes and screens and more runs…
The article notes that Stafford has only 81 completions during Georgia’s current six game winning streak. (Georgia had 86 completions in its first five games this season.) Yet Georgia continued to average around 195 passing yards per game in that time, which figure is close to its season average.
Here’s an insightful observation for you – less passing minimizes the impact of incomplete passes, since there are fewer of them (duh!). The Dawgs’ run/pass ratio this season is 58.12/41.88. (Last year it was more like 55/45.) No doubt some of that was due to necessity being the mother of invention, given the state of the offensive line at the start of the ’07 season, but, if anything, it seems to have intensified as the year progressed, even with the development of the o-line.
In the end, given the personnel and Bobo’s offensive philosophy, I have a hard time seeing why this is an issue that matters, at least this season. If you disagree, I’d be interested in reading your comments about it.