Steele and his #19 Georgia: breaking down the breakdown

The most fun I have with Phil Steele’s magazine isn’t the predictions – and you should know right off the bat that there’s nothing in his preview of Georgia which comes close to his “run the table” quote on College Football Live the other day – but sifting through the almost diarrhetic flow of information he provides in eye-strain inducing-sized print for the reward of finding insight or just plain, unusual facts about the program’s recent performance and what it brings to the table this season.

It’s safe to say that this year’s edition doesn’t disappoint in that department.

Take, for example, this passage from his quarterbacks section:

Last year I pointed out that Mark Richt was hoping for a season like ’05 out of his QB’s. In ’05 UGA had to replace their career leading passer, David Greene (#3DC).  DJ Shockley (PS#3) was lightly tested but led UGA to the SEC Title earning 1st Tm SEC and throwing for 2,588 (56%) with an outstanding 24-5 ratio (322 rush) in ’05. … Joe Cox’s stats last year were eerily similar to Shockley’s as he threw for almost the identical yds (2,584), comp % (56) and same amount of TD’s (24, 1 off UGA record). The 3 areas that were different were the rush yds (-28), int (+10) and no SEC Title.

That last observation may sound trite, but what Steele is getting at there is that Georgia’s offensive system is good enough to get a team to the SECCG – provided the quarterback isn’t bleeding interceptions all over creation and is otherwise doing his part to make the offense function.  Those yardage and completion percentage numbers for both Shockley and Cox are fairly pedestrian (Stafford crushed both in his junior year), but DJ didn’t throw picks and did contribute as a runner.  Joe’s contributions fell short in areas like that and so did his team as a result in part.

So when Mark Richt tells Aaron Murray he doesn’t have to be a hero, this is where he’s coming from.

I figured that Steele would have good things to say about the offensive line (he does; he ranks Georgia #1 in the country in that department) and special teams (he calls Georgia a top five team there, and that’s without a settled punt returner), but here’s something I wasn’t expecting:

… Richt has sent four TE’s to the NFL since his arrival here, but LY projected starting TE Bruce Figgins (PS#23) RS. TE’s Aron White (PS#12), true frosh Orson Charles (PS#2) and Arthur Lynch (PS#4) combined for 38 rec’s (15.5). This year they only lose Moore (5 st). Figgins returns and Green is back to full health making UGA my #2 receiving corps in the NCAA (see pg 13).


Steele’s biggest concern on the team is the defensive backfield, which is a sentiment I’m not sure a majority of Dawg fans would share with him (I’m guessing quarterback and defensive line rank higher on our anxiety scale at present).  He points out that the unit will be less experienced this season, but most of us would point to replacing Evans with Rambo and call that a feature, not a bug.

Oh, and about those turnovers last year?  Here are two factoids that will make you grind your teeth in frustration:

UGA’s 487 yds vs KY last year were the most in a loss in SEC play in Richt’s 9 yrs.

UGA has been outscored 90-27 the L2 yrs vs Florida but only outgained by 63 ypg.

There’s plenty more where that came from, so take some time to go through the whole thing.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

22 responses to “Steele and his #19 Georgia: breaking down the breakdown

  1. kckd

    I can see being concerned with the DBs. Honestly, Rodney has always put out an above average DL. And we’ve always done well replacing talented players there.

    We are moving some of our more talented players (Houston for example) to LBer. But the dbs have been a problem with blown coverage for awhile now and having them out on islands by themselves, which this system will surely put them in, doesn’t make me free of worry. That said though, they were suppose to have help on most plays last year, but that didn’t go that well in most games with teams with an offensive pulse in the passing game either.

    BTW, #1 OL and #2 WRs sounds pretty damn good when you cross that with what the guy wrote the other day about what’s important to return on offense.


  2. I have been saying that someone needs to tell me where the obvious weakness(es) are. I can’t find them. We are still very young & inexperienced at some positions but the talent & the depth is there.
    Run,Run,Run & Let The Big Dawg Eat.


  3. Chuck

    In a way, reading that just confirms the adage: “Stats are for losers.” We can crunch numbers all day, and I have no doubt that you can select different sets of numbers and make different points. Before last season, I thought Cox was going to do fine. I guess I can claim I was right. More of our losses were lapses on defense than lapses on his part. But, we still lost, and that is the only stat that can’t be crunched around to make another point. Once we started running successfully and stuck with it we were a much better team. Part of that is on Bobo, imo. He was slow to realize that we needed ball control to keep the defense off the field.

    I think it is fair to worry about the DBs, too. Rambo is an upgrade, but the DBs are going to be asked to do a lot in this defense, and not just in the backfield. The things that keeps me optimistic are that the DBs are getting a different approach to coaching, and they have always been physically talented even if they are perhaps an inch or two shorter than you would prefer.

    I am excited about the possibilities for the offense, and not just the offensive line: good running backs, good fullbacks, four really good TEs that can block and catch, and of course, A. J. Green. I might be able to QB this team. I would damn sure have fun with the playbook if I was Bobo.


  4. Cojones

    Although all of this is opinion I concur with Steele and the author, but with an added caveat. Take a look at those players recruited for the last two years and this year . Subtract the starting players and look at the remainder with a jaundiced eye. I see many potentially great players remaining who are momentarily overshadowed for differing reasons, none linked to talent. It gives me a swelling confidence in this team’s ability to let the fur fly and to kick ass… against any team. Some of you writers should write about 2-3 players each time in dedicated articles. That would give the fan base an ongoing confidence and remove the uncertainty capped on this team that writers have tried to instill with continuing negative articles on players, team and coaches. Small histories with coachs’s comments and evaluations of the player’s strong points would fit the bill. We know that player contact is limited at this time, but not coachs’s first-hand positive evaluations. Try it. We might like it.


  5. 69Dawg

    The Qb situation has me concerned, not because I don’t think AM will end up being a great QB for us but because of the way he pressed in the G-Day game. If he let that pressure get to him, then what in the world can we expect when SCU’s D tee’s off on him. The thing is QB’s try to make things happen and make plays when the best play is to throw it into the cheap seats. Cox was continually trying to make plays but throwing int’s instead. We destroy UK if Cox just ate the ball but QB’s try too hard to be the hero and it bites them in the butt.


    • Reptillicide

      Disagree. In the G-day game he was competing with 2 other QB’s for the starters job. If ZM was still here, then I could see maybe Aaron getting nervous looking over to that sideline to see if Mett was getting ready to come in for him…. but now, I don’t expect that Murray will be concerned about anybody taking his job. Simply put, he’s the ONLY guy. So he won’t have losing his job to worry about. Just the game.


  6. Reptillicide

    Darkhorse national title contenders?

    Oh wait… that’s South Carolinny.


  7. Dboy

    “UGA has been outscored 90-27 the L2 yrs vs Florida but only outgained by 63 ypg.”

    I’m I the only person who finds this infuriating?


    • Ben S

      Actually, I’m pleasantly surprised there’s a silver lining. Previously I was just consoling myself with the fact that we allowed eight fewer points and scored seven more than in 2008.

      Also, was I supposed to have heard about this?


    • D.N. Nation

      It’s not surprising. Here’s how the 2008 game went:

      1) Georgia drives down Florida’s throat.
      2) Stafford throws a pick.
      3) Pick returned for, like, 60 yards.
      4) Florida scores TD in 10-yard drive.

      Lather, rinse, repeat.


  8. Dawgfan17

    If we do indeed have the best OL, and anywhere near a top 10 WR group with King and Ealey in the backfield then I don’t think Murray will get into a situation where he feels like he has to press to make things happen. Even though it was what it took to win the games against USC and AR the way that Joe had to carry the team in those games seemed to carry over with him the rest of the season in him thinking he had to win them all on his own. Murray hopefully won’t be put in situations where he has to be great in order for us to win. Run the ball, get the ball to the play makers at wr/te and when that doesn’t work let the best punter in the country come in and earn us some field position.


  9. Dawgfan17: I agree completely with you.


  10. AthensHomerDawg

    Hey thanks for the posts this weekend. Off topic here :Has anyone else noticed the parallel between Bama’s situation in 2002 and Tenn in 2010. Mike Shula(also Catholic and a prominent coach’s son) had coached the Dolphins,was the 2nd youngest coach in Div1A, 5.4 million contract and was hired after the musical coaching chairs of Price and Franchione-who had abandoned Bama to Coach his dream job at Texxas A&M. Shula inherited an offense in disarray and sanctions and went 4-9 his first year. Got the injury bug his 2nd season, went 10-2 his 3rd year. Got an extension and fired his 4th year(6-6). Alabama won the NC 3 years later. So in all a 7 year journey back to the NC. I remember what happened to UGa in the 90’s. Such is college football. Hey its preseason….work with me some here. Vols are all in denial. The level of coaching in the SEC is high. Does a newbie come in and win…. I don’t think do. CDD is gone in four years too.


  11. pcsjax1

    If a Head Coach has confidence in his offensive line, he will act like it!
    Mark Richt’s comments are tempered with caution and reservations when asked about the offensinve line.
    This O-line has had the same players for two years, they are experienced, yet have underperformed with mediocre running stats and results for two years. The Dawg Nation wants “Championships Plural” like Alabama, LSU and Florida. This requires an offensive line and running backs that are posting rushing stats at the top of the SEC. This Offensive line has rushed poorly against SEC opponents for two years and it’s exactly the same players. Where is Steele getting all this crap!

    In the G-Day game, Murray looked a lot like Joe Cox. The Dawg Nation is concerned about an offense that will go five series with no score like in the Texas A&M game.. His “spin” on Aaron Murray. “He has the leadership and skill sets. He was an “all-American” in high school.” When Murray throws an interception, Richt should be reminded that he was an all American in high school and has leadership and skill sets.
    . His “spin” on Aaron Murray. “He has the leadership and skill sets. He was an “all-American” in high school.” When Murray throws an interception, Richt should be reminded that he was an all American in high school and has leadership and skill sets. Or as Richt says: “Just watch Aaron Murray’s tape.”


    • Walker07

      You are way too bitter and upset to try to make rational arguments right now.


    • Hello Negative Nancy!

      The OL was dominating the last third of the season. Ans for OLines, continuity is one of the biggest and most important things. With another year under their belts, and another spring, things look VERY good. It is for that reason that personally, I see Sturdivant as a backup or alternate option, not a starter.

      You can tell a lot about a player not by what the coaches say about them, but how the coaches use him.

      I always knew Logan Gray clearly didn’t have it because the coaches rarely ever game him a chance to play. There had to be a reason for that.

      Same goes for Cox. They were very quick to give Stafford more options and playing time even when he was a freshman and Cox had a year of redshirt under his belt. That says a lot.


    • Macallanlover

      Aren’t you the same guy who blasted Rict’s credentials in the Chattanooga paper? So is it just CMR you dislike, or the total program? If you don’t like UGA football, that is fine. There are many who wish disaster on us, but most of them admit they are fans of TN, UF, or AU. And there are many who legitimately worry about an inexperienced RS Frosh QB. But the sky isn’t falling on Athens by any means.

      You can question Steele, or any other writers’ prognostications, as no one has ever been able to predict CFB results consistently in May, but doubting PS’s facts is pretty weak. I don’t know another publication or network who researches the facts better than Steele, and uses that data as the basis of his picks. Injuries and off field issues may affect how those players/units/teams perform, but he is pretty unemotional in his approach and not afraid to go out on a limb by differing from the herd. I don’t see anyone else picking OU as the favorite this year.

      With PS placing UGA as the 19th best team yet having Top 5 units with the OL, ST’s, and receiving corp, I would say he is agreeing with you that we will fall short somewhere. That could be defense, may be coaching, or a QB not living up to his potential. But he is also saying publicly that UGA has the potential to win big IF things fall right for us. That seems fair to me, we can certainly win the East, and perhaps the SEC, but there are enough unanswered question to say it may not happen. I think both UGA and UF should be between 11-15 starting out, but UGA has the talent and schedule to be in the Top 10 at the end.


  12. UGA’s offensive success in 2010 is going to ride much more on Bobo’s play-calling than on AM’s arm.

    Also, I don’t put much stock (if any at all) on AM’s G-Day performance. The playbook for that game was the thinnest I’ve seen in a spring game in the past five years. He’ll make his mistakes, no doubt. But so did Stafford, if you’ll recall.



    Last 4 years :

    48 wins Florida
    40 wins LSU
    39 wins Alabama
    38 wins Georgia Bulldogs

    In the last 4 years, 14 losses by Coach Richt. This is the # 19 team in the nation in won / lost over these last 4 years.

    9 points 2001 vs South Carolina
    10 points 2001 vs Florida
    17 points 2001 vs Auburn
    16 points 2001 vs Boston College
    13 points 2002 vs South Carolina
    18 points 2002 vs Tennessee
    13 points 2002 vs FL 0-13 3rd down
    10 points 2003 vs LSU
    16 points 2003 vs UAB
    13 points 2003 vs Florida
    13 points 2003 vs LSU
    20 points 2004 vs South Carolina
    13 points 2004 vs Marshall
    14 points 2004 vs Tennessee
    20 points 2004 vs Arkansas
    6 points 2004 vs Auburn
    19 points 2004 vs Georgia tek
    17 points 2005 vs South Carolina
    10 points 2005 vs Florida
    14 points 2005 vs Georgia tek
    18 points 2006 vs South Carolina
    14 points 2006 vs Colorado
    14 points 2006 vs Ole Miss
    14 points 2006 vs Florida
    20 points 2006 vs Kentucky
    15 points 2006 vs Georgia tek
    12 points 2007 vs South Carolina
    14 points 2007 vs Tennessee
    20 points 2007 vs Vandie
    14 points 2008 vs South Carolina
    10 points 2008 vs Florida
    17 points 2008 vs Auburn
    10 points 2009 vs Okie State
    20 points 2009 vs Arizona State
    13 points 2009 vs LSU
    19 points 2009 vs Tennessee
    17 points 2009 vs Florida

    Phil Steele Ranks UGA # 19 this up-coming season. No where else does he rank UGA.

    # 19


    • Sanford222View

      What is your point? All you did was post every game UGA scored 20 points or less during the Richt Era. Talk about cherry picking stats.


    • Macallanlover

      I have no idea what point you are trying to make but anyone who arbitrarily seizes a random four year period from a 100 year+ program is usually trying to distort information to justify a point that does not look as good when ANY other period is used. Sounds like what Florida and Auburn fans do; use it all, or use a coach’s total career. Stop thinking everyone has the thinking ability of the OJ jury.

      Each year in CFB is unique; things aren’t perfect at UGA but you have to feel pretty good about having CMR at the controls. Anyone miserable with our past nine years, and where we are positioned going forward, has to be a very unhappy person in life. Enjoy, it is spring and there is much to be excited about. There isn’t another fanbase I would trade places with.