Over at Team Speed Kills, cocknfire is surprised by something about South Carolina’s and Georgia’s openers.
… Both of these teams looked impressive in their debut against midmajors, South Carolina waxing C-USA contender Southern Miss and Georgia leveling Louisiana-Lafayette. But here’s something that surprised me slightly when I looked at the numbers: While both teams saw a gap between their total offense and scoring offense numbers, it was a yawning one for Georgia, ranked 63rd in total offense but seventh in scoring offense. Part of that is sample size, sure, but it’s worth wondering whether the real Georgia offense is the one that scored 55 points or the one that posted a more average 377 yards. South Carolina was the 29th-ranked scoring offense with 41 points and the 39th-ranked total offense with 449 yards. That’s a bit more withing reason.
Honestly, given the sample size (as he notes), it’s not that much of a surprise. Georgia’s offense benefited from good starting field position resulting from an early interception, a stop on fourth-and-one at the ULL 26 and two fine punt returns of 29 and 24 yards. Add in the Jakar Hamilton pick-six, and it’s pretty easy to see where the points came from and the yardage didn’t.
This is what Phil Steele’s yards per point metric is all about. Good teams generally have lower offensive YPPs than poor ones, because they do so many of the little things right on special teams, turnovers and penalty yardage that they put their offenses in better positions to score with greater ease. I posted a couple of months ago about how Georgia was surprisingly efficient on offense last season in conference play and noted this in response to Steele’s bullishness on Georgia’s ability to put points on the board in 2010:
But it’s turnover margin that really makes Georgia’s 2009 offensive YPP so remarkable. Ordinarily teams with a low offensive YPP raise a red flag for Steele. As he says on page 299 of the Preview, “(t)eams that had an extremely low ypp the previous year usually have a weaker record the next season.” Since 1990, teams with a YPP less than 13.56 have a 67.2% chance of compiling a weaker or same record in the next year. But then he goes on to note that the probabilities aren’t as dominant as they are for teams with a high offensive ypp to improve “… because there are some teams like USC that benefit from turnovers on a yearly basis, keeping their ypp low.”
Good turnover margin = lower offensive YPP. Bad turnover margin = higher offensive YPP. Georgia was 11th in TO margin in SEC games last year, yet still led the conference in scoring efficiency. What does that suggest if Richt and Bobo manage to find a way to stop the bleeding? Steele seems to be pointing at a boatload of scoring for the men in red and black; we’ll soon see if he’s on to something here.
Just for yucks – and again, keep in mind that the sample size is as small as it gets here – here’s how the SEC looked in offensive YPP after week one.
SCHOOL POINTS YARDS YPP Florida 34 212 6.24 Georgia 55 377 6.85 Ole Miss 48 479 9.98 LSU 30 313 10.43 Arkansas 44 472 10.73 Tennessee 50 537 10.74 S. Carolina 41 449 10.95 Miss. State 49 569 11.61 Auburn 52 608 11.69 Alabama 48 591 12.31 Kentucky 23 466 20.26 Vanderbilt 21 432 20.57
Obviously that 6.85 YPP isn’t going to last – it’s almost half the YPP Georgia racked up in conference play last year – but if the Dawgs can maintain an efficient pace that leaves them in the top three in the SEC in YPP this season, it’s not unreasonable to expect that plenty of scoring will follow.