Georgia’s offseason “honey do” list

There’s always room for improvement in every facet of the game, of course, but I thought I’d itemize what Georgia was really, really bad at in 2011.  It turns out that there are five statistical categories in which the Dawgs found themselves outside of the top 100 teams in the country (stats, as always per  In all their glory, they were:

  • Field goal percentage:  101
  • Opponents’ long punt return plays (30+ yards):  110
  • Tackles for loss allowed:  112
  • Opponents’ punt returns:  116
  • Opponents’ red zone conversions:  116

It’s nice to see contributions from all phases of the team there.  The first four illustrate the shortcomings we’re all nervous about – offensive line and special teams.  It’s the last stat that surprises, given how well the defense played overall.  But you could argue that it was the most costly.

How many of those problems do you see big improvement on from Georgia this year?


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

25 responses to “Georgia’s offseason “honey do” list

  1. GaskillDawg

    I womder if the opponents’ red zone scoring was skewed due to opponents starting drives in the red zone due to punt returns and turnovers.

    • JunkYard Dawg '00

      You know, at first I thought your question was simple Senator and I was going to equate Opponents’ red zone conversions with critiquing Grantham’s coaching ability (which I am very optimistic about by the way) but Gaskilldawg’s point got me thinking. Those first four stats equal big momentum plays for the other team, right? Wouldn’t it reason to extrapolate those stats as big momentum swings for the wrong team, typically right before our defense takes the field?

      So, to answer your question- Barring an equal meltdown in offensive turnovers to offset improvement in those areas, I think an improvement in FG % and tackles for a loss allowed would really help the defense and red zone conversions allowed in a number of ways. One, it would keep the field position game more in balance, if not in our favor-assuming we have a competent punter. I would have to believe this would help limit the opponents’ momentum since they will have further down the field in order to even reach the red zone. Two, with greater FG%, we should be putting more points on the board and therefore more pressure on the other teams’ offense, which should make them more predictable and hopefully somewhat easier to stop.

    • David

      Know who else had a terrible red zone defense percentage last year? LSU. They were pretty good on defense as I recall. Worth mentioning that only seven teams allowed opponents to reach the red zone fewer times than Georgia’s 32. Red zone defense (judging by percentage) is kind of a dumb statistic.

      • BrettDawg

        The last part of your statement is especially true considering that particularly deceiving statistic doesn’t even consider whether the opponent was held to a FG, not to mention “junk points” at the end of games against our 2nd/3rd string.

  2. Krautdawg

    Special teams ought to improve, given the attention & live drills it’s getting in practice. Tackles for loss … improvement there might depend on play selection & strategy. A solid screen, swing-pass, or shovel-pass game would leverage a lot of agressive run-stop defensive calls to our advantage — but IF we can run against those calls, the sides of the field open for big plays.

    Also, I’d guess that a good many of those TFLs came after we had scored several TDs, when everyone knew we were handing off for the rest of the game. In those situations a TFL isn’t exactly contrary to our strategy — it also takes time off the clock — but it risks leaving the game within reach of a solid opponent (i.e. MSU). Since I doubt this part of Richt’s strategy will change, we’ll see if his focus on finishing can create a close-out running game.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      KD, I just don’t see any improvement coming for STs. The HC is in denial about this and refuses to assign a ST coordinator or accept that role himself. We lost the best punter in the country to graduation and (for at least the first 3 years of his career) the best kicker, too (who got screwed up because of lack of coaching it seems). From a personnel standpoint there likely isn’t going to be any improvement. ST performance has been an open wound for the Dawgs for years and there does not appear to be anything being done about it other than spending a little more time during practice running up and down the field replicating kick coverage. I hope that I am wrong but it’ll be deja vu all over again in 2012.

      • charlottedawg

        I disagree with the point that Special teams have always been a gaping wound at Georgia. Watching replays of the 2002 season i’m immediately struck by how good our special teams were back then. Very few of the embarrasingly bad punt and kick off coverages taht became common place in 2011, we blocked at least 3 punts off the top of my head. (Arkansas, UT, tech), and Damien Gary and Fred Gibson were electric return men. To me that is even more frustrating that if we had never had good special teams play under Richt. We shouldn’t go from Special teams being a strength to being abysmal. But I’m holding out hope that Richt and or the coaches know how to and will fix it.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          CD, thanks for pointing that out. I did not mean to imply that Georgia has NEVER had good ST play under CMR–we have! It’s just that in the last few years it has gone downhill dramatically.

          • gastr1

            Mayor, they were pretty good in 2010. In fact, so good that some believed we’d have the best STs in the country in 2011–maybe Steele? Seems like there was someone.

          • Krautdawg

            Mayor, I think you’re right to point out that our gold-standard specialists are gone. But I still think we’ll see ST improvement for two reasons. 1) Even with a freshman kicker, it’s going to be tough to do *worse* on field goals than we did last year. 2) On punt returns, it’s not so much about putting the ball 50 yards down the field as it’s about having 5 guys surrounding their returner the second he catches it. And that’s trainable.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      TFL in exchange for time off the clock is the strategy that kept our opponents in many of the games last year. The last series in the bowl game was a variation on that strategy. If the passing game is working, keep mixing it up, passing and running, breaking their spirit and hanging points on them, until the game is statistically next-to-impossible to lose.

  3. Heathbar09

    I am assuming punt returns are the times a return man actual returned it instead of calling for a fair catch. Or is that just the number of times we punted? If it is actual returns, I am willing to bet it will go down. Hopefully because our coverage will be better. But, more than likely it’ll be because we will have a freshman putting versus a Ray Guy winner. I hear he’s got a good leg, but I am willing to bet his gross average is atleast 5 yards less than what it was last year. Which means our gunners will have 5 less yards to run to cover someone.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      So a worse punter = better outcomes? I’m not necessarily arguing with you, but I think you may not be figuring *height* in your analysis…

      • Heathbar09

        Good point. But there is such a thing as out kicking your coverage, which I am willing to bet will be less likely than it was with Butler.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Actually, Butler had just about the best hang-time in all of CFB. I can only imagine what returns will be like with a shorter, lower punter.

  4. DawgPhan

    I believe that if UGA is 4-5 plays better than they were last year then we could make some serious noise this season. I think we all know what 4-5 plays we need to improve upon.

    these stats will fix themselves if you fix the worst 4-5 plays from last year.

  5. IveyLeaguer

    Two things … at least 2 Punt-Return TD’s and several other long plays were primarily the fault of one of our gunners, Marc Deas.

    When he left the team, I wished him well but knew we wouldn’t miss him. Now that he’s back, it’ll be very interesting to see of he makes any of the ST, especially the Punt-Return team, seeing how Richt has resolved to use first-teamers if necessary.

    Second, the Red Zone problems we had on defense is one of the reasons I’ve been repeating all year that we’re not a dominant defense, YET. We have that potential this year, but we’re not yet there.

    FWIW, I agree with many of you that, whatever the ST solution might be, Richt doesn’t seem have a handle on it. Some of it can be attributed to depth problems, I get that. But a lot of it is coaching.

    Also, I’m not really worried about kicker and punter. Morgan and Barber look like the best tandem we’ve ever brought in. And Butler was not the best punter in the country the last two years, IMHO. I’ll be very surprised if our gross punting takes a significant drop. Of course, net punting has nowhere to go but up.

    But there is no excuse anymore for not having great ST’s. Great punters and kickers are a Georgia tradition, going back many decades. Solid ST’s should be as well.

  6. WWF

    The key stats I’ll be looking for are those where Ala & LSU finished in top 4 in SEC against ranked teams, and we finished much worse. Like:

    1- defensive scoring against ranked teams
    2- rushing offense against ranked teams
    3- opponent red zone TD CONVersion rate vs. ranked teams
    4- Turnover Margin vs. ranekd teams
    5- opponent long punt return vs. ranked teams
    6- offensive red zone scoring % vs. ranked teams

    • IveyLeaguer

      I’m not a big stat guy and never trust them to tell the whole story, though sometimes they come pretty close. But I’d like to see those, because they are more of a reflection of 2011 than the combined stats.

  7. Cojones

    I believe that Grantham has great room for improvement and that we probably will see that this year. No one seems to give the D it’s proper perspective in team losses. Simply reread Grantham’s statements after each one and the end of the season where he takes the responsibility that belongs in his court.

    Before we cover over the red zone conversions, you need to look at how many occurred by opponents driving the field. LSU and MSU spring to mind. They weren’t short distances left on the field by ST and the O as some state. My point is that D has to go further in their climb toward Junkyard Dawg status. They share fully (with the O) in the victories and losses last year. Annointing Grantham early may lead some to try to fire him if he doesn’t have the perfect season that some have projected in their minds. Because he wants to be a head coach someday doesn’t mean he is yet near that status. And I am in no hurry to see him leave control of D war plans in someone else’s hands.

    This year I will enjoy projected improvements in all facets of Dawg play. That includes the O line, STs, and a D that can play well through the 4th qtr vs Mizzou, So Car and the SECCG opponent.

  8. 17FlightPatterms

    I think the #1 thing going in to 2012 is all on how the defense does, in big games. No excuses. You got teams like Alabama, finding a way to hold good solid ranked teams down to under 8 points a game, LSU holds to under 18 points per game, yet Todd Grantham’s defenses coughed up 38 points a game against good solid ranked teams. That’s just unacceptable. If you break out the season, if Grantham’s defense hold teams to 29 points or less, Georgia wins 12 games in 2011. If Grantham’s defense holds teams to 20 points or less, you win 13 games in 2011. The offense just flopped against LSU, 10 points isn’t enough, but 42 against South Carolina, 30 against Michigan State, 21 against Boise, should have been enough to win those games. The red zone defense just rarely stopped anyone from scoring touchdowns. The defense has to really improve to have a shot in 2012.

    • IveyLeaguer

      Didn’t realize we gave up that many points to ranked opponents. IIRC, the Defense only gave up 28 to Carolina, which is still too many. And no more than 23 to MSU, but again too many.

      It would help a lot if the Offense didn’t give up any points. They need to do their job, and be more effective and consistent .. it’s a team game. ST’s the same .. points and consistency.

      But your point is well taken.

  9. shane#1

    My ST and D advice for the Dawgs. 1. Directional kicking is not always bad. If you are playing a team like LSU there is nothing wrong with kicking out of bounds, even if you give up some yards. 2. Watch for the fake! 3. Put Alex Ogletree on the wing. The kid blocked 11 kicks in HS, and he could bust some butts on the return team. 3. The best way to improve your putting is to land the ball closer to the hole. Getting closer probably helps in kicking too. 50 yd FG equals 50ft putt. Now for the D. 1. There is a pass route called the wheel route. Bobo should run this play in practice until Grantham is making choke signs at him, maybe even really choking him. Just pull him off though, Mike has all those kids you know. 2. Help a brother out, keep pressure on the QB. With Jones and Big John and Washington you should be able to get pressure without the blitz. I think I left out a Jones, but you know what I mean. I would send Mr Ogletree now and again just to say hello. In the interest of good sportsmanship. 3. No law says you can’t put two 350 pounders in in the red zone. You got’em, use’em.