When you really figure it out, let me know.

I’ve expressed a good deal of bewilderment over the statistical story that Georgia’s 2010 season spun.  Several of you have interpreted my puzzlement as being about the way the stats were compiled, but I’ve understood all along how bi-polar the team’s scoring was last year.

It’s not the math from how Georgia blew out some of its opponents and played the rest close in the losses that escapes me.  It’s how a team with the Dawgs’ talent and resources can play that inconsistently over the course of a season.  It’s this.

… Georgia’s season last year was so bizarre and inexplicable that it has led to almost as many theories about what went wrong in 2010 as there are analysts. Georgia needed to do better in the fourth quarter. Georgia needed to do better in the first three quarters. Athens is where statistics go to die.

Bill Connelly hits on part of the problem with trying to figure out Georgia — the games they won were blowouts over lesser competition, while the games they lost were hard-fought contests against teams that were equal to or better than Georgia. While the South Carolina game was in some ways not as close as the score might indicate, this South Carolina fan was not entirely comfortable that the game was won until the 17th point was scored.

In fact, there was only one game in 2010 that Georgia lost by more than 12 points, and only two more games that the Dawgs lost by more than a score. At the same time, four of Georgia’s six wins came by a margin of at least 27 points, and the only won a single game by less than double digits.

That points to a couple of things — first, the disparity in quality between the teams Georgia defeated and the teams that beat the Dawgs. (Though Colorado and UCF severely challenge that theory. There’s no neat and clean way to dissect Georgia in 2010.) The other point bucks the trend toward sabermetrics and non-results-based stats that’s taken off in last few years.

cocknfire attributes that to a lack of clutch in Athens.  Maybe so.  I wonder if it’s more accurate to say there was a lack of focus.

Consider the Florida game.  I was there.  I didn’t sense that Georgia lost because of a talent disparity.  It might have been the best game Bobo called all year.  Lack of energy from travel and/or weather?  Pffft – the team clawed back from a fourteen-point deficit to tie the game twice in the fourth quarter.  Nah, what cost them the win was this:

  • Aaron Murray was overly amped up early on.
  • Two blown fumble recoveries.
  • A game-clinching interception in overtime caused by (1) Sturdivant’s failure to block his side of a three-man rush and (2) Charles’ running his route too deeply into the middle.

That’s what happens when you don’t stay mentally sharp for sixty minutes (or longer, I guess, since there was overtime).  Think back to some of last season’s other nightmares, like Ealey’s ill-timed fumbles or the debacle that decided the Colorado game.  It’s all a part of the same problem.  This was a team that you couldn’t count on to keep its collective head in the game at all times.

That’s what I don’t get.

And that’s why I have no idea what to expect from Georgia this year.

****************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Then there’s this observation from Michael Elkon.

… I found that Georgia was more likely to play close games than other top programs (five per year during the Richt era) and they had a very good 26-14 record in games decided by one score. 2009 continued with this pattern, as Georgia went 4-2 in one-score games, but then 2010 was completely against type as Georgia went 1-4 in such games (and that doesn’t include the losses at South Carolina and Mississippi State, both of which were tight games that were ultimately decided by more than one score). The 2010 team was completely against type for Mark Richt…

2010, the year of playing dangerously.

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35 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

35 responses to “When you really figure it out, let me know.

  1. Hogbody Munson

    Sometimes friend, it’s just bad karma and negative waves. Have a beer and quit worrying about it.

    Like

  2. baltimore dawg

    there’s nothing to “get” unless you want to put the team collectively and individually on the analyst’s couch. and there’s nothing wrong with fans doing that, although it’s rank speculation. i mean, i think it’s pretty obvious the team has gone from steely resolve to mental jello over the last few years. i’m sure there are many reasons why this has happened, but i’d guess that several highly publicized blowouts/embarrassing losses, coaches losing confidence in players and vice-versa, and the odd toxic personality or two have a lot to do with it.

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  3. vincent

    I know a lot of people here will say this makes me a bad fan but I pretty sure we’re going 5-7 this year. I just feel there’s too many issues for this team to overcome not to mention the pattern over the last few years.

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    • zdub

      People put too much stock in predicting season outcomes and how that correlates with “fandom”.

      I would submit that someone who isn’t blinded by homerism for his particular team (and thus predicts a poor season record for his team) is no less of a fan than someone who believes his team will go 12-0 every season despite the past season’s results.

      You’ll hear folks say there’s no way to predict how the season will end up and that is true. That’s why this is in a blog comments section and not the front page of the newspaper sports section. It’s all speculation and it’s all fun, whether we’re predicting gloom and doom or sunshine and rainbows.

      You’re not a bad fan for thinking we will not be a good team again this year. I am inclined to agree, though I don’t think the record will be quite as bad as 5-7 (that would mean the only wins are the 2 cupcakes, Vandy, KY, and [Ole Miss or GT]). 7-5 or 8-4 is what I would guess given what we know and have seen to this point.

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    • If we lose 7 games in the regular season with this schedule, the coaching staff will be dead men walking on November 12 after the Auburn game. I just don’t see that happening unless we have a total collapse (and injuries) across both sides of the line of scrimmage. My perspective is that we have the ability to win every game we play and have the potential to lose 6 or 7 (BSU, USCe, MSU, UT, UF, AU, GT). We’ll see in about 4 weeks from now.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      I think you’re overly pessimistic, but not a bad fan. I’d say 7-5 is the low end barring significant injuries and 10-2 the high end for the record this season. My guess is 9-3.

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    • Hackerdog

      As Rickus said, you’re too pessimistic. We could win 5 games this year without practicing.

      We may not win the East, but we’ll win more than 5 games.

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  4. Jim

    The only way I can think to explain it all is poor coaching…

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    • Macallanlover

      Reaching for my nitroglycerin…..

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Of course its coaching. The coaches are given everything they need – great pay, great facilities, rabid fan support, and top recruits. I can’t imagine our coaches are so thick-headed as to not know their jobs/careers are in jeopardy. That’s my biggest reason for expecting a 10 win year.

      Then again, the coaches took a UCF win for granted after a dismal season of screw-ups. Maybe they are thick-headed and we will have a lousy year. Either way, I’ll be watching every game.

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    • Hackerdog

      It’s your opinion that the coaches told our RBs to fumble at inopportune times? You think our coaches told the refs to ignore the rule blowing dead a play when a runner’s helmet comes off? You think our coaches encouraged AJ to sell his jersey to an agent? You think coaches are capable of overcoming the lack of personnel for a new defensive scheme without missing a beat (Saban couldn’t do it).

      If you think that Mark Richt is capable of bending time and space to his whims, then you don’t understand how the universe works.

      Don’t interpret my post as saying that there were no coaching mistakes last year. But I can’t understand how people can stand in the forest and miss the trees.

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      • Sep

        I agree to a lot of this. I do believe we weren’t prepared sometimes but coaches didn’t fumble and miss blocks.

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        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Fumbling on a regular basis and missing blocks on a regular basis is all about coaching.

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          • Hackerdog

            I can understand arguing the missing blocks is about coaching. Arguing that fumbling is about coaching is just crazy. Every football coach in America, from Pop Warner to the NFL, gives the same advice on carrying the football. You’re saying Richt/Bobo/McClendon don’t know this?

            I think most of the discontent about coaching is just from people who can’t come to terms with the randomness of the world. If something bad happens to you, you must have caused it. If your team loses 7 games, it can’t be that some human errors compounded with a string of unhappy accidents/randomness to result in a worst-case scenario season. It has to be Richt’s fault. It’s either just believing in voodoo or intellectually lazy.

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        • Macallanlover

          At this level, those errors are more about execution and focus. Coaching is a catchall for those who don’t believe in holding the individual accountable.

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  5. JG Shellnutt

    An over-reliance on player leaders (which can be appropriate)…but when you don’t have any true leaders anymore and the coaches did not step up into that role more fully, well the results speak for themselves.

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    • H. Randolph Holder

      I think player leadership, or the lack thereof over the last few seasons, has a great deal to do with our problems. In my mind a good leader on a team needs to show heart, character and ability and pretty much in that order. And, more often than not it is not the superstar that makes the best leader. Leadership on the field must be shown through work ethic and passion. The 2002 team is a prime example of that. That team was loaded with leaders almost to the point of having too many chiefs. They all found a way to work together towards a common goal, however, and were successful. Also, many of those leaders knew when they needed to rally around other leaders. I would submit to you that even David Pollack recognized Tony Gilbert as the better leader in certain situations.

      Maybe our staff was just lucky with the first few classes that came through, but I do not believe we have had the level of player leadership necessary to be a good football team over the last few years. Our coaches have tried to insert leaders, but the process is more organic than that. Also, I am fully willing to admit that perhaps some of our recent players weren’t willing to be led or thought that they had all the answers simply because of their talent.

      I do believe, however, after reading many of the comments from our current team that we do have some natural leaders now. And, that those guys are doing their best to step up. It seems as though our current staff is doing more to help that along, maybe more than they have done since ’05. I think if that takes root, it will pay huge dividends and we will pull out some of those close games that have slipped away in years past.

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      • In WPa

        Well said…there were some bad eggs and foul balls the past 2 years who may have caused commitment issues within the squad. Some of these vocal “D” voices portray a different dynamic, at least to me.

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  6. Zach

    Senator – I really like the angle of “lack of focus” – or even more specific, “lacking the ability to maintain focus”. We saw moments of brilliance, on all parts (players and coaches) – but obviously it is the late-game errors that we remember and ultimately cost us.

    Here’s my thought. It’s conditioning. Lack of conditioning that has impacted mental focus. When an athlete (any sport) is physically fatigued, the mental capacities are fatigued as well. These things go hand in hand – you can see it from your own exercising – and we saw it plain as day on the field last year. Didn’t have the energy to stay focuses.

    Here’s to more running, more discipline and more on the field success. Already got 2 of 3.

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  7. Otto

    The stat I want to see is average lenth of time per offensive possesion or # of drives over 3min or over 5min not the published time of possesion which is just you held the ball for 35min.

    Clock killing drives were a trade mark of the 1st half of CMR’s tenure. They have become more rare since CMB took over playcalling. Could UGA put together a drive like Bama’s 4th Qtr clock killer in the ’09 Iron Bowl?

    Further everyone watching knew that was Bama’s plan and most had confidence they would pull it off. If UGA were in the same siutation I would expect a fumble like Kentucky ’09 or score to quick then not be able to move the ball again as in Arkansas ’10.

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    • AlphaDawg

      I agree Otto, and I raise you the TOP card using the USC game as reference. There were 5 or 6, three and outs during that game, which lead to a fatigued defense. Add in the best Freshman TB since HW and our D was just beat down by the 4th Q.

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      • In WPa

        Yet there the Dawgs were (as the defense kept ’em in it), creeping within a single possession until the infamous fumble-at-the-6 gaffe. Betcha fumbles edge down a bit this season.

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    • Jackson

      I have harped on that point for two years. I haven’t been able to find any statistics on three and outs but you can look at total plays run by each team quite easily. Over the last 3 years the disparity usually runs around 20 plays…. I.e. USC ran 69 plays last year and we had 47 offensive plays. That just kills your defense. 22… that’s 50% more. I would agree that is the reason why our defense is tired in the 4th qtr and leads to other mental lapses.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        According to the box scores I pulled up on football reference, the differentials are as follows in our wins against non-patsies (and Vandy) with points allowed in parantheses:

        UT – +10 (14)
        Vandy – +25 (0)
        UK – -23 (31)
        GT – -47! (34)

        And in the losses:

        USCum – -21 (17)
        Arkansas – +13 (31)
        MSU – +11 (24)
        CU – -12 (29)
        UF – -7 (34)
        AU – -23 (49)
        UCF – +11 (10)

        Basically, I think the play differentials had as much to do with how well the defense was playing as how long the offense was holding the ball. It’s also not surprising that the teams who could run the ball most effectively had the largest differentials.

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  8. Russ

    It’s conditioning. Fatigue makes cowards.

    I think we’ll be much better this year, and win the East. The defense is going to be lights out. Offense will be serviceable due to lack of depth at OL and RB, but still get the job done.

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    • Zero Point Zero

      Nice outlook. I’m on board. We’re undefeated until we’re not. I’m all for realism but the 5-6 repeat talk is chicken shit.

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  9. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Fatigue causes mental mistakes, too, not just physical ones. The problem last year was the team was not in condition, particularly the O-line and D-line. That said, even guys who are in shape can make mistakes (i.e. Murray) ’cause they are not perfect. I think the new S&C program is curing the conditioning problem and hope/believe that the Dawgs are going to have a big year.

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  10. RevTizzy

    Time to put last year behind us.

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  11. Will Trane

    When I look at any team, it comes down to these factors. Strength and conditioning. It allows players to develope and improve technique. It allows players to practice quicker, faster, and with more focus. That allows coaches to have more assurance a game plan will work, and if it needs some changes. It allows players to be ready to play the entire clock, quicker play, more focused play, and the confidence to exceed the ability or talent of who they are against on a play during the game. Next is the roster. You have to have a complete roster … no players suspended, sitting out due to academics, nagging injuries. A roster makes for better practices and play in a game…substitutions, best players on the in certain situations. And lastly, coaching. Coaches are the leaders. Players will make the plays when they know it can be done. They did it in practice. And if 10 can’t then 12 will. Those are the factors for me. Don’t think the Dawgs had enough of that the past 5 seasons. You look at the teams they lost too, well they did.

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  12. WFdawg

    I think the thing that frustrates us all about last season is that it resists easy explanations. No obvious factor or factors explains the data comprehensively. Likely, they’re explained by a combination (perfect storm?) of factors, some of which can’t be identified statistically. I think we’re entitled to try to figure it out though; those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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  13. Cojones

    Null hypothesis:
    Express statistically how the Georgia Bulldogs play in 2010 can be statistically nil.

    There you have it in the simplest of theorems. Let the search end.

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