Quantity versus quality

Marc Weiszer explores some of the numbers behind Mike Bobo’s strategic change of heart:

… The changes come a season after Georgia set a school record with seven straight games with 30 or more points (against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Florida, Idaho State, Auburn and Georgia Tech) despite a 6-7 finish.

Georgia ranked last in the Southeastern Conference last season in total offensive plays. The Bulldogs averaged 62.6 per game. Alabama wasn’t far away at 63.8

Georgia ran 60 offensive plays against Boise State. The Bulldogs had less than that in three of their losses last season. Georgia ran 47 offensive plays against South Carolina, 52 against Auburn and 59 against Colorado.

It’s worth pointing out that last year Georgia ran 51 plays in its win against Kentucky and 48 in the Georgia Tech win.  In both cases, the Dawgs scored over 40 points.

“We’re trying to get going a little faster,” Murray said. “We just want more plays pretty much. … We’re trying to get 80 and 90. We believe you get more plays in, more chances for more guys to touch the ball, more chances to score points. That’s why we’re speeding things up. … We still have the same plays, the same formations, we’re just speeding it up a little.”

It sounds logical, but if you look at Georgia’s offense last year, there’s wasn’t the kind of correlation between scoring and the number of offensive plays run that Murray is hoping to see with the new approach.  More of the same isn’t necessarily going to be a recipe for success, in other words.

If you’re looking for the real issue that plagued Georgia against Boise State, it wasn’t that the Dawgs didn’t run enough plays.  It’s that they didn’t run enough effective ones.

  1. This game was decided by the passing game. Neither run game was altogether impressive — Boise was semi-efficient but less than explosive, while Georgia was explosive and inefficient — but Boise State’s Kellen Moore led a downright clinical pass attack, while Georgia’s Aaron Murray just couldn’t get out of the way of Boise’s pass rush.
  2. To further this point, look at standard downs and passing downs. The two teams were similar on standard downs (BSU was more efficient, Georgia more explosive), but when the teams fell into passing downs, a) Kellen Moore made plays for BSU, and b) Georgia’s drives died quickly.
  3. Boise State actually didn’t do very well at all on third downs, but they executed so well on second-and-long that they were able to leverage their way back on schedule. Georgia did not.
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61 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

61 responses to “Quantity versus quality

  1. heyberto

    This analysis just begs the question.. why are we concerned with running more plays when we ran enough to score what should be an effective number of points to win a game. Boggles the mind.

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  2. JBJ

    We have averaged more points under Bobo than we did under Richt as OC. Roughly 29 points per game from memory. That along with the evidence here would seem to indicate to me that the real problem is the defense.

    People can defend it how they want with the no huddle not giving the D time to rest, but I watched the game again last night and it was clear our defense was confused and disorganized. Not only that, they were taken to the woodshed by a smaller BSU team up front as the game wore on.

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    • heyberto

      This is what’s so boggling sometimes. We can win under Bobo, I’m convinced of that. If our defense does its job, we can score enough points. (Saturday night’s game notwithstanding). What Bobo absolutely cannot seem to do, is adjust. I’m tired of brining that up, but it’s true. The guy has shown he can make it happen on offense, and I think our defense is poised to bail us out, so long as that production happens. It’s maddening. I’m really hopeful that our running game can overcome the problems that our o-line has this year and be an effective threat. I’ll be surprised if that happens in time for the SC game this weekend.

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      • gastr1

        Bobo called a pretty poor game against BSU though, I think. And this desire to open it up and run more plays…it seems to run counter our strengths, to some extent. Big offensive line being taught to man block for power, bunch of good TEs, giant FB, big, strong RBs…don’t we look like a power team this year, if any?

        Gawd, man…before we had an offensive identity, to some extent. What is this now?

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        • James Stephenson

          I agree. I think he read too much bad press over the off season. I think last years Offense beats Boise the other night. And I wish Richt would have chosen to kick off. The way the Defense was playing Early, it would have been GA with good field position early.

          Sigh, I think they outsmarted themselves.

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          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            I completely agree with your post. CMR also failed to kick a field goal in an obvious field goal situation (4th and 2 at the 22) and instead unsuccessfully went for a first down when kicking it in would have given the Dawgs the lead. Plus the Dawgs would then have gotten to kick off and possibly pin Boise in its end of the field with a good kick-off from our All American kicker. CMR made bad decisions all game that actually cost the team points. The reason why almost every football coach in the US defers until the second half is to prevent the very thing that happened to UGA in this game–Boise scored at the end of the half, received the kick-off for the second half and scored 2 touchdowns without the UGA O having a real chance to answer with a score of its own. Tied–then 2 touchdowns down. That’s where that game was really lost.

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          • Cojones

            James- NRBQ professed more than once that Richt had won the coin toss 11 times and elected to receive. He contended last week that his failure to receive put us behind at the gitgo and it was hard for the team to catch up in those games;therefore, that led to our demise last year. I disagreed and responded that now the coin toss was being blamed on Richt. So now, after he elects to receive first, the coin toss election is still used to blame Richt for the loss? You and NRBQ should get together and figure out which side of the coin-toss-blame game can be analysed to show how Richt’s at fault.

            No matter what, Richt is blamed for electing to do the wrong thing when he wins the coin toss. What’s next, Richt’s receivers are too short or not tall enough and that’s why they drop passes?

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            • Cojones

              Make that “elected NOT to receive”.

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            • NRBQ

              Actually, Cojo, you’re full of dogshit (pun!).

              I never posted those numbers even once (someone else did in support of my position). I know Richt’s tendencies from watching UGA football, not digging up stats.

              If *you* dig a little, you will find direct quotes from Coach that he didn’t think taking the ball hurt him, because neither team got anything going the first couple of possessions, and it all evened out.

              How can you draw conclusions from a possession that included three penalties in four snaps?

              For what it’s worth, I would still take the ball, then run a quick slant to one of our great tight ends, or a toss sweep to Crowell, with Figgins leading on the outside, or even a revers to King or Mitchell, etc. But since Georgia didn’t do that all night, I guess its a moot point.

              I’d like to see some statistical evidence indicating that the team that kicks off first tends to get the ball last in the first half.

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        • heyberto

          I agree.. which is why I’m so frustrated. They didn’t need to change the philosophy on offense from last year. The offense wasn’t the problem. Is this what McGarity freeing up Richt to focus on football yielded?

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          • AlphaDawg

            The defense looked Good until Moore realized Tree was out, then he put on a clinic of dink and dunk passes to exploit the middle. Field position and 3 and outs really hurt our defense Saturday night. We still he Boise well below thier average point and yardage total. We have to have sustained drives next weekend, because the OBC and Lattimore will grind our D all day long.

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          • Will (The Other One)

            But the offense was part of the problem last season. Sure, we scored 30+ against Auburn, but we settled for a FG in a game we should’ve known was a TD race, and let our foot off the gas a bit trying to establish the run once we had the 21-7 lead. That was a game where more passing plays could’ve helped. Points can’t be looked at in a vacuum.
            Look at Utah St. last week. They had plenty of yards, and scored nearly 40 points. But their OC took his foot off the gas and tried to milk the clock instead of sticking with what worked and gave them the lead in the first 3 quarters and the damned wartigerplainseagles came back and won.

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    • Russ

      I agree, JBJ. A stout defense fixes a lot of problems. The only improvement I saw last Saturday over last year was slightly better in the middle against the run. Other than that, we still got picked apart by the short passing game (which really makes me nervous about this week against the Ol’ Ball Sack).

      I am scratching my head about the offensive changes, though. I guess I’m old enough to remember when we just lined up and pushed the other team down the field with running plays out of the eye. We seem to be built that way again this year, with a 270 lb FB, a 240 lb RB and another 215 lb RB. However, we seem to want to play against our strengths instead of to them. We’ll see….

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      • Russ

        If they want to hurry up, why not hurry up out of the I formation? You can run that just as fast as anything else, I’d think. Plus, there’s more chance of the DL getting tired of being pushed on every play.

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        • heyberto

          This is a good point.. why isolate the hurry up to the Shotgun? I’m guessing the offense can get set quicker in that scenario, but it’s pointless if you can’t get it off right away, which we didn’t. We were often looking to the sideline for the play to be called in and it was a moot strategy. If you can’t snap it right away once you’re set, why run it at all?

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          • Griff

            The point of hurry up is not always to snap it faster. Sometimes it is to keep the defense in the same personnel group and not allow substitutions. There is a play called but if the QB doesn’t like it when he gets to the line, he checks with the sideline to change it. Also, when you are in the I formation the lineman have to be in a 3 point stance…for a big boy bending over for 20 seconds is tough!

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            • too bad that we were waiting on the defense to set up then looking to the sideline to call the play. defeats the hurry-up concept completely

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              • heyberto

                This. +1

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              • Cojones

                I thought that by rule you have to wait for the D to set up before snapping the ball. I thought there was a penalty if you tried to dash quickly to the line and snap as soon as the O line is down. There has to be reasonable time given for D to approx their position .

                “Hurry up offense” is to provide time for more plays to be run and to keep their D personnel from substituting. “Hurry up” is not a trick play to try to snap the ball before their D can get to the line.

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                • Will (The Other One)

                  Not anymore. The D gets a few seconds, but doesn’t have to be “set” (I also recall some of the crazier defenses at MSU when Joe Lee Dunn was there being predicated on the defenders not being set prior to the snap in an effort to confuse the offense.)

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                  • gastr1

                    How can the D ever truly be “set” anyway? They’re allowed to move around as long as they don’t cross the line of scrimmage.

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                  • Cojones

                    The words were approx their position, not “set”. Seems I’ve seen refs hold for a second or two before blowing the whistle after a team rushes out of a huddle to the line. That’s done to allow D to approximate their playing area. But rushing to the line in a surprise move isn’t what’s meant by the term “Hurry up offense”.

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  3. Turd Ferguson

    Almost makes me think that Richt and Bobo don’t have enough faith in the defense. Pretty clearly, we were already averaging enough points to win ballgames. Why not just trust that Year 2 of the Grantham defense is going to turn those points into more wins by keeping the opponents’ scores down where they need to be?

    And doesn’t a hurry-up offense pose a greater threat of wearing out your OL? If so, maybe this should have waited until we have more depth … ?

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  4. The number of plays is such a red herring. It doesn’t matter how many plays you run. It matters how efficient your possessions are at producing points. If you only ran 12 offensive plays, but all 12 scored touchdowns, then you aren’t really gnashing your teeth about not getting to 80 plays.

    Barring some unusual circumstance, the number of possessions will be relatively even. The goal is to be more efficient at scoring points on your offensive possessions than the opponent. If you do this, and not turn the ball over, you should win… regardless of the number of possessions, or the number of plays in each possession.

    This brings me back to wondering whether they (those in the arena) know what is broken and/or how to fix it. It doesn’t sound like the fix they are trying to deploy matches the strengths on either side of the ball, and in fact actually exploits their own weakness (thin numbers on O-line & defense).

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    • AusDawg85

      +1 These proposed “solutions” don’t make any sense. If you want more plays that get you into the Redzone because of your scoring efficiency, then you need to:
      – sustain offensive drives
      – rely less on big hitting plays
      – have your defense control the field

      I suppose a hurry-up pace could be an effort with assisting on the first two points, but would go directly to “taking what they give us”. Saturday,BSU stuffed the inside and hurried/sacked Murray on plays with long developing pass routes. We had size and speed to beat them on the outside, and seemingly never opted to hit quick slants, hitches, screens, etc.

      Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot…..

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  5. Normaltown Mike

    Billy Beane would NOT approve of this strategery.

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  6. Bobo is starting to remind me of one of those guys who devours the “How to pick up women” books and columns in Maxim and whatnot. The book says “Chicks love it when you order dinner for them.” OK, but what happens if you’re out with a woman who wants to order by herself and is put off by you trying to do it for her? Never mind that, the book says order for her. This column says chicks love to be touched on the arm! OK, but what if she just wants it to be a casual date and you’re creeping her out? Nope! Sorry! The magazine says touch her on the arm, so you touch her on the damn arm!

    Bobo is doing the same thing — obsessed with “rules” that aren’t even rules, to the point where actual outcomes go out the window. You’re supposed to have a balanced offense! OK, but what if Murray’s really in a rhythm and the running game is going nowhere? Too bad! We will run 40 passing plays and 40 running plays and that’s the end of it! We wil also run exactly 80 plays total or die trying!

    I’m hoping someone on this coaching staff will learn to see the forest for the trees, but it’s been a while. Like a lot of people on this blog, I’m almost fresh out of hope that anything will change at this point.

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  7. The more first downs you get the more plays you get. You can run hurry up all you want and it won’t give you any extra plays if you don’t get first downs. I am not against running the hurry up just that we should be most concerned with blocking, catching the ball, hitting the open receivers and running backs hitting the right hole.

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    • David

      Exactly. Get more 1st downs and sustained drives and you’ll run more plays. Going 3 and out faster works against us. Lets perfect running our offense at a normal pace before deciding to speed it up.

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      • ZDawg

        I just don’t understand this thread at all. Like df17 said, get more first downs and you run more plays on offense. Rushing through a overcomplicated offensive system that your players are failing to execute does not achieve that end.

        Why on earth are Bobo and Richt even talking about a hurry up, other than to drive people crazy???

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        • Cojones

          We have used the Hurry Up before and it has worked well. The concept seems new to some fans, but that doesn’t mean it’s new to Richt and players. Why should speeding up the offense have anything to do with calling “overcomplicated” plays? If it’s too complicated for the players to begin with, speed has nothing to do with it. Why would any coach send in any “overcomplicated” play. I don’t know what that word means.

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  8. Go Dawgs!

    For all the chirping that our fans like to do on the internet about Mike Bobo, the offense wasn’t the problem last year. In fact, it was fairly prolific, as Weiszers’s stats bear out. If Georgia had stopped anybody last year … hell, if they’d just avoided handing the ball to the other guys in the games where they did have an occasional defensive stop or two … they would have won at least four more ballgames last year, and everyone would sniffing Richt’s jock. This idea that we’ve got to revamp the offense in order to score even more? It’s a joke. And it completely ignores the make up of our team. We don’t have the receivers to run this system. It goes away from the strengths of our quarterback and makes him a rookie again. It shows me that these coaches very much listen to what the fringe folks in the stands are shouting, and even going along with it. That’s disturbing. It tells me that things may have to change at the end of the year.

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    • Scott W.

      Yes, yes a thousand times yes. If the CMR/CMB can’t realize that now that the defense is catching on that changing the offense is the last thing to do, we have problems. I just keep praying that last week was gamesmanship and we are pulling the rope a dope on ole visor.

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    • Will (The Other One)

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on what a “prolific” offense was because I do not see the 2010 UGA offense as “prolific” at all. Auburn 2010, Florida in 2007/2008? Those were prolific offenses. UGA was just statistically better than average.
      Now: that doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts that Grantham is not really earning his $750K/year as well. For all the talk about an “attacking 3-4” we’ve seen very little of it. Maybe our suckitude at defending passes in the middle Saturday was related to losing ‘Tree and with a week to prepare we can get a better replacement, because if not it could be a long season.

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  9. Will Trane

    Three quick, long , striking TDs…all from a shotgun set…one a run, two by pass. An opposing head coach and defensive coach has to be concerned when teams do that to an experienced highly ranked opponent. Playing a team with the lead late in a game substitution and field position go out the window because of the concern for them to score quickly. I’d bet Peterson at Boise has issues about his defense giving up those kind of plays. You run 60 plays, you are inexperienced and young to a degree, you make mistakes along the line in assisgnments, and you score 21 points. I see a team that once it gets things on track could light your ass up on a Saturday.

    I read where A J Green commented about the offense. Here is my take on that. What is your concern Green. You left us. In fact you were a no show for our first games last year in which we lost three of them.

    They have the players to run this offense. I agree with CMR. Execution was not there against Boise. Some was Boise and some was preparation. Like the line play…coming off the ball slow and false starts. The shotgun allows the QB run the play without cadence. Why that happened due to crowd noise, field position, and etc should not have. When they went to the Dome to practice they should have taken noise with them…always when not playing.
    at home.

    When players continue to miss assignments and to make mistakes you have to correct that. Think that is what they are doing this week but not at the rate and the satisfaction of CMR. Players who can not raise the their level of play are recruiting issues. You have to look a little closere at where they came from and the coaching they had in high school. In sports there is a thing called muscle memory. Some guys just never seem to overcome that. Those are guys you have to cut. Something that I think this staff is beginning to do. If you want to play, you practice like you want to play so your coach knows where you are for the coming game.

    Number of plays. I agree they need to run more plays. If you can keep skilled offensive players on the field you will wear down a defense. Scoring changes game plans, the clock, and game management. Rushing the ball…80 yards by Boykin…that came from a shotgun formation. Look at the play. Then look at how close Crowell comes to breaking…just Boykin did on that kickoff. If some of those plays are made. Well it aint going to be 21.

    You score 21 and your opponent scores 35. Why are there no concerns about the defense right now. Well, I have some. Like where was the D line. Can’t talk injuries because the O line has been beset with those. Not once did I see any outside or inside pressure on Moore. He gets the ball of quick, but he sees the plays too good. Did close down his passing lane vision. Think about what Bobo said about Murray’s seeing the field and play. Saw King 2xs but he could not catch the ball. There is your negative play, just like Murray’s 6 sacks…60-8 =s 52 plays. Get the drift here!

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    • Cojones

      Thanks, Will. I thought I was going nuts until your completely sane post came up. My ire from the start and in my postings has concerned the D and I tried to get the anti-Bobo/Richt group to see that. Finally lost my temper and used words I don’t normally use so just skipped blogging for a couple of days.

      Moore got pressure several times and game announcers gave credit for that when he missed. Saw him on his backside at least 3 times and no flags were thrown. Felt there should have been much more pressure, but he had some anyway. Moore has always been the consummate artist on dinks and dunks. That’s why he averaged over 71% last year. That was mentioned here before the game was played. He had a clear view over the line because no one was up waving hands when they weren’t getting to him physically. His vision was not blocked.

      Perhaps the replays on tv have helped some people, but noticed today that many are now agreeing that the D needs the long look, not Bobo’s playcalling. Still doesn’t stop the haters from running up the latest conspiracy theory on O instead of observing it was a down game for the players. They are better than the play in the BS game. I think we will see some of that better play this weekend.

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  10. dean

    What Bobo is saying is eerily similar what Tony Franklin said when he was at Auburn.
    I just don’t understand why Bobo believes he’s going to have success running the hurry-up with this O-line and no depth.

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    • Spock

      The logical strategy would be exactly the opposite. Ball control and slow the game down which would have the effect of minimizing the opponent’s number of touches.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      RE: Tony Franklin at AU.

      I had that same sinking feeling yesterday.

      Seeing the glass half full, this transition year will help when Gus Malzahn or Dan Mullen institute a similar (but effective) offense next season.

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      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        “…when Gus Malzahn or Dan mullen institute a similar(but effective) offense next season.” Where exactly are they going to do that? At Auburn and Mississippi State?

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    • Dog in Fla

      Tommy, an expert in major disasters, who is now directing the Aerial Attack at Texas Tech said when he directing the Spread Attack at Auburn:

      “This is what we’re going run,” he said Tuesday without mentioning Franklin. “We’re going to run it, we’re going to keep running it and we’re going to get better at it. Sometimes people will say, ‘Why don’t you go back to doing what you did?’ Well, if you do that, then you are asking for major disaster.”

      http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-10-08/sports/17908329_1_spread-offense-auburn-tigers-new-offense

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    • dupes dawg

      +1 Dean

      Tuberville fired himself when he brought Franklin in to coach an offense full of TEs and power backs…wait, don’t we have a team full of TEs and powerbacks???

      In defense of the spread, the high school team that I coach runs it and first downs are our first priority, as is ball control. The spread does not necessarily mean bombs down the field all game long (see Kellen Moore). We also have problems with depth and not the strongest o-line, so I can see some merit to Bobo’s attempt to implement Spread concepts, but both he and Richt must know that if it doesn’t work out as they hope it will, they’ll be playing golf next fall.

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  11. stoopnagle

    Isn’t the problem that Georgia has no offensive identity?

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  12. SAVBOB

    All the talk is just that, talk; could someone tell me how many of our offensive possessions came to second down and 10 or more? That was our downfall, we rarely did anything worth a damn on first down!

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  13. Dawgsense

    @ anyone still blaming this on the defense…

    Arguing that Bobo’s offense has been prolific or that it has been overall more successful in producing points than Richt’s was in the early part of the 2000s misses the point here. The true problem with Georgia is a bizarre and alarming inability to compete in “big” games (FL, AL, BSU, USCe, Tenn. for example) when it matters most. In such games, the offense either completely underperforms, or disappears for long stretches such that the defense is no longer able to hold us in games. However, folks argue Bobo is not to blame because the stats look good from padding them against Ky and Vandy and such.

    For example, since Bobo took over in late 06, our offense has been held without a touchdown in several games:
    USC ’07 (costs us shot at natty)
    Bama ’08 (blanked in first half)
    LSU ’09 (blanked in first half)
    Tenn ’09 (fail to reach red-zone)
    USC ’10
    UCF ’10

    Can you think of another SEC team that is shut down this often? I cannot. This is not Georgia football. I don’t mind winning low scoring games, but at least pound the ball enough to get in the zone once for crying out loud. The offense can’t keep throwing the defense under the bus with three and outs and poor field position. It just won’t work.

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  14. Slaw Dawg

    Haven’t been a Bobo basher myself, but am pretty much converted. Couple days ago, watched as much of the Sat game replay as I could stomach with my 14 year old high school Freshman linebacker/center son. Says me to son: “Son, I just can’t figure out why a tailback as big and strong as Richard Samuel goes right down on first contact. What do you think it is?” Son watches game for some while with me in between texting. At one point, with Boise on offense, Moore throws @ 7 yarder to a receiver who turns upfield for another yard or so before being tackled, and that barely. Says son to me: “See that, Dad? Their receiver pushed forward with his legs when he got hit, so he got that extra yard. Our coaches teach us that’s how you get leverage. Samuel doesn’t do that–he pushes with his upper body, which won’t get you anything. In fact, looks to me like most of the Georgia players don’t push with their legs.” Then he went back to texting and I sat there watching plays, saying to myself “Sumbitch! Boy’s on to something!”

    It’s pretty bad when high school freshmen football players can spot a flaw in one of the most basic fundamentals of execution–while half-texting–when our coaches had apparently not effectively addressed that flaw over weeks of practice.

    Yeah, maybe we have a problem with coaching.

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  15. RedFalcon

    I’d look for things that help offense AND defense like:
    * time of possession
    *number of plays per drive
    *3rd down conversion rate
    *3rd down yard and distance
    *yards after contact

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  16. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m not going to critique Bobo’s coaching or playcalling, or CMR’s either. They’ve both been on the job for over 10 years. One would think they’d have found a variety of things that work in that timeframe. The problem is, the offense doesn’t look like the work of seasoned coaches. The offense looks like it’s planned and run by novices grasping for something that might work.

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