Going into the season, it’s fair to say that the two biggest concerns expressed about the Georgia program were how the defense would do with a new staff and new scheme and how a redshirt freshman quarterback would hold up. We’re three games in and these Dawgs are 1-2, but the statistical picture painted so far might surprise you.
First, start with Aaron Murray. He’s got two SEC games under his belt, and here’s how he stands with his conference peers:
- fourth in passing yardage
- sixth in passer rating
- fifth in completion percentage
- seventh in yards per attempt
- sixth in total offense
That’s certainly a credible start. He’s better in every single statistical category I’ve listed than the much more ballyhooed John Brantley. If that completion percentage (62.2%) holds up, it’ll be the best number ever posted by a starting quarterback in the Richt era. And, more importantly, note that Murray’s passer rating is better than Joe Cox’ 2009 rating.
As for the defense, take a look at this post over at Team Speed Kills. Year2’s comparison of this year’s South Carolina and Arkansas games with those from 2009 shows a defense that has tightened up against the run (despite going from a four-man front with size and experienced depth at the tackle position to a three-man defensive line), forced more punts and turnovers and, most importantly, reduced scoring. You asked for a more aggressive defense, Dawgnation, and that’s what you’ve gotten (that’s at least a partial explanation for why the yards per passing attempt rose). The new coaches and scheme seem to be making a difference.
Also, catch this:
… I don’t know if we can chalk all of the improvement, especially in points, up to the defense alone. Georgia committed three turnovers in each of these games last year, as opposed to one turnover in each of this year’s games. That helps out any defense. In addition, Georgia’s punt coverage is a little more than four yards per punt better and its kickoff coverage went from allowing 25.71 yards per return in ’09 to 17.57 per return this year. These two combined have resulted in about 40 yards of field position saved per game. [Emphasis added.]
I know that we bitch about the offseason chatter from the coaches about how this area or that is going to improve because of renewed focus, only to see little change, but there’s an indication that what was said about special teams and turnovers wasn’t mere lip service.