From Bill Connelly’s statistical preview of tomorrow’s game:
… If you have been reading the weekly Heisman Watch column, you’ve noticed that Georgia’s passing rankings are high enough to get Aaron Murray on the candidates list. This level of quality has not been obvious, in part because Georgia began the year playing two of the best pass defenses in the country. Murray completed 35 of 58 passes against Boise State (first in Def. Passing S&P+) and South Carolina (seventh) for 484 yards, six touchdowns and just two interceptions. (Granted, he was sacked about 16 times in the process as well.) Averaging 8.3 yards per pass against two elite pass defenses will give your opponent-adjusted numbers a hefty bump.
Strangely enough, Murray hasn’t really done any better against lesser pass defenses — against the Dawgs’ other six FBS opponents, he has averaged 8.1 yards per pass with 13 touchdowns to six interceptions — but Georgia’s passing game has been consistently solid. This is particularly impressive considering Murray really has no go-to receiver and little experience around him, and only one of his top five targets qualifies as anything resembling explosive.
Can I get an “I blame Bobo” from the congregation? Amen, brothers and sisters.
As far as the game itself, Bill’s keys for Georgia are two: stay out of obvious passing downs on offense and make good use of the early downs.
… If the Tigers can leverage the Dawgs into passing downs, however, the advantage quickly shifts. While Georgia is 13th in Standard Downs S&P+ (second passing), they are just 48th in Passing Downs S&P+ (27th passing). The draw game doesn’t fool anybody, and the passing game is a bit too conservative. None of the top three passing downs targets — King, Charles or freshman Michael Bennett — average even six yards per target on passing downs, and perhaps the team’s best deep threat (Marlon Brown) is very hit-or-miss.
Georgia’s early-downs offense holds a significant advantage over Auburn. If they take full advantage of this matchup, and if they are sharp on standard downs, then it is difficult to imagine the Dawgs losing…
The scary part is that the Tigers hold a big advantage over the Dawgs in special teams and controlling field position.