Steele sez… on the SECCG and Florida’s turnovers

Keep in mind this isn’t Phil’s computer talking, it’s his gut, but here’s what he says about Saturday’s game:

In what is, in essence, a national title semifinal, the winner here will advance to play #1 Notre Dame in the national champ game in Miami on January 7th. These two have not played since ‘08 when #8 Bama beat #3 Georgia on the road 41-30, a game that many Bama fans point to as one of the key wins which got the Crimson Tide’s recent run of dominance started. The Tide/Bulldogs have played just 6 times in the last 20 years (3-3 split) and have not met here in the SEC Championship game. In fact, this is the Tide’s 8th appearance in the SEC Title game (3-4) but first against a team other than UF. UGA makes its second straight trip here and its fifth appearance in the Richt era (2-2). While not many can argue that these two don’t deserve to be here as Bama beat LSU on the road 21-17 and UGA handed UF its only loss 17-9 (thanks to 6 UF TO’s), it should be noted that both benefitted from rather fortunate SEC scheduling as UGA skipped out on the top 3 teams in the West (Bama, LSU and A&M) while Bama didn’t play the top 3 teams in the East (UGA, UF and SC). Both come in off blowout wins of their rivals as Bama crushed Auburn 49-0 (most lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years) rolling up 25-7 FD and 483-163 yard edges and led 42-0 at the half. Meanwhile, UGA rolled to a 42-10 win over GT as they led 42-3 midway through the 3Q but were outgained 426-379 and outFD’d 26-18. They did average an astonishing 10.5 yards per play in the 1H. Both teams are led by veteran QB’s as Murray and McCarron are #1-2 in the NCAA in pass eff and have combined for a 55-9 ratio! They also have stout D’s as while Bama’s ranks #1 in most categories, one could argue that UGA’s is more talented and since S Williams called out the D prior to the UF game, they’ve allowed just 9 ppg in the last 5 games. The Bama D did give up 400+ yards in back-to-back games vs LSU/A&M earlier this year while UGA OC Bobo has called this UGA offense the best he’s ever seen as they are avg a school record 38 ppg. While each has Top 20 units on both offense and defense, Bama does have the significant ST’s edge (#22-71) and Saban is 7-2 in his last 9 games vs Top 20 teams while Richt is 1-6 in his last 7.

As a summary goes, that’s pretty fair.  And he’s picking Georgia to cover, so there’s that.  But I’ve got to get to something he says that echoes what a number of others have said or written:  “UGA handed UF its only loss 17-9 (thanks to 6 UF TO’s)”.  This drives me crazy.  I was at that game and I wonder if I missed something.  Did the Gators politely hand the ball to their opponent and bow?  You’d think from the sound of it, that the Dawgs were mere bystanders to a series of Florida gaffes that basically occurred in a vacuum.  (Come to think of it, that’s actually a pretty apt description of Murray’s third interception.  But I digress.)

Here’s the reality.  One reason Florida finished the regular season 11-1 – one of the main reasons it did so – is that it turned in a stellar turnover ratio of +17.  The Gators lost a total of twelve turnovers all season.  Look at the game log.  Only one of Florida’s other opponents, LSU, forced more than one turnover.  In other words, Florida was in the habit of holding on to the ball.

This year’s Georgia-Florida game, particularly the first quarter, was the most physical football game I’ve watched those two schools ever play.  No quarter was asked and none was given.  Was there a sloppy exchange or two?  Sure, but there was also a lot of hard contact and smart play (Rambo’s pick, for example).  By and large, those turnovers were earned.

This has all the sound of the excuse of Tebow’s shoulder in the 2007 game.  Florida didn’t lose because it was outplayed; it lost because of forces beyond its control.

To be fair, I’ve not heard Muschamp making excuses.  But there are plenty of others out there who keep trotting out this six turnover stuff to diminish the Georgia win.  Funny how none of those folks have much to say about the turnover margins in Florida’s games against South Carolina and FSU.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

31 responses to “Steele sez… on the SECCG and Florida’s turnovers

  1. Florida was 7-6 last year with a -12 TO margin. In 2012, with their anemic offense, Florida is an 9-3 team (or worse) if their turnover margin is 0. Since it is +17, they are 11-1 and Georgia’s only meaningful win. So, there’s that. Alabama is +14. Georgia is +9. But, by all means, let’s chalk up Georgia’s success to fluky turnovers.

    Something about if’s and but’s, and you can all bite my ass… no, that’s not how it goes. How about Bama was outplayed in the only two games they had against substantially equal opposition, but needed a poorly-coached effort by the Hat to not lose them both? No, that’s not it either. Oh, I remember… Georgia should be honored to be on the same field as the greatest team ever (to be fielded in the state of Alabama in 2012). Yeah… that’s it.


  2. Bulldawg165

    Wow. I didn’t realize Florida was +4 against BOTH south carolina and fsu. That’s pretty ridiculous. Turnovers can make a blowout out of two otherwise equal teams and is an often overlooked stat. My biggest concern heading into this game is turnovers, specifically Aaron Murray interceptions and the biggest key IMO is the turnover battle. We at worst lose a very close game if we’re +1, and I honestly can’t see us losing if we end up +2.


  3. UFTimmy

    I guess I view turnovers as determined by the offense, not the defense.

    Some teams turn the ball over more than others, if they hold the ball loose, or if they have a quarterback that likes to force things. But defenses receive turn overs, they don’t force them. I realize that’s not entirely true, that defenses which excel at disguising coverages probably force more TOs, but that’s my summary view of it.

    So, in my eyes, you guys received 6 TOs, and didn’t force them. Just like we received some bad passes from Murray.

    So I don’t think we forced Carolina (or FSU) in turnovers, I think they gifted them to us. I think we played disciplined football and largely did not give them the football back.

    My view of turnovers does not diminish the view that you guys beat us. But considering half our turnovers came from one game, it does make me view that game as an outlier. If you guys were forcing 6 TOs from all or several teams on your schedule I would reconsider the view that you forced them.


    • The Lone Stranger

      Defenses take advantage of opportunities presented to them by less prepared offenses. And the teams that is better prepared and equipped for a football game tends to be the one which places the most importance on that week’s matchup. But then, I’ve always thought TOs played an even more crucial part in Cocktail Party games through the years.

      That was never more evident than the 2012 edition.


    • King Jericho

      Jarvis “received” that football right out of Reed’s hands.


      • Merk….Reed was tripped by the 5 yard line and fumbled as JJ got to him. JJ had nothing to do with it…NOTHING.


      • UFTimmy

        If Reed doesn’t jump there he doesn’t fumble. And that’s a perfect example, as Reed has a history of jumping when he does not need to.

        The Lone Stranger put it well. For the defense to receive a turnover, the offense has to do something stupid. Then a good defense will capitalize and turn that into a turnover.

        But if an offense holds the ball properly and doesn’t make stupid throws, even the best defense won’t get any turnovers.


        • and if everyone did everything there were supposed to do exactly all the time, what then? the team with the best athletes would win the most games, so i guess we could call it quits after the recruiting classes come in. hell, what you’re telling me is that any team that didn’t finish number one in recruiting and wins the NC game has been fortunate enough to ‘receive’ wins from other teams?

          you sir, are an idiot.

          for what it’s worth, good defenses disrupt good offenses and make them make mistakes


    • Gravidy

      FWIW – I mostly agree with you. There’s no doubt that good, agressive, hard-hitting defenses force some turnovers that other defenses wouldn’t. But the same is true for offenses, only moreso in my opinion. Good offenses hold on to the ball in some situations where lesser offenses wouldn’t.


  4. The Lone Stranger

    My impression two years ago was that all this undeniably pro-UF press would ebb away when The Corch went to Slow Football country, but … Beat the Tide handily, Dawgs, then do it again to the Country’s Favorite Catholics and the “love” will come. Not that any of the outside, ESPN promoted public adoration matters.

    I have the sense that there is still the lingering media doubt about the Dawgs inability to close the deal on a nationally relevant game. Do it with the media’s approval of style and the dispatches start to change form.


  5. Brandon

    Yeah and as you point out its not like we played mistake free ball, how often do you win a game that your QB throws three first half picks. If we beat Bama it should shut a lot of this crap up, I’d love to see it.


    • Cojones

      It won’t. The negative comments are not objective, therefore, they will continue with the same “They got lucky” meme that the pundits and ESPN always say.

      Where are the ESPN apologists today? Several months ago and last year, some fans outright disputed the anti-UGA stance from ESPN. They accused me and others of creating an attitude not out of whole cloth. I recalled several incidents off the top of my head, but how could anyone miss this Pome ‘d Rue that’s been around for years? The all Big 10 sympathizing staff they have assembled in Conn are rank with miscreants and aholes.

      Way to go Bluto! Sic’em!


  6. Mike

    In addition to to TOs, I like to look to see if any team dominated the LOS. In the FSU game, Florida clearly did do that. In the USCe game, it is not so clear. In fact, one can make a case the USCe dominated the LOS from pass rush standpoint.

    As for the UGA game? The LOS game looked pretty even, going by both my memory and the stats, save for UGAs pass rush. (That is a BIG qualifier.)They got a lot more pressure on Driskle than we got on Murray. Sans the sacks, the rushing yards to roughly equal.

    UGA beat us fair and square. No excuses.


    • Cojones

      And you sir have continued to prove yourself as a good fan and opponent, contrary to some asshole comments sent your way. If I see some of those commenters back on here, I’m going to call that to their attention.

      Where you been, Mike? Question: Where are you on the Sugar Bowl claims? Do you think one of the teams playing in the SECCG should represent the SEC? Doesn’t it count something to play an extra game deciding the champion? Jus’ askin’.


      • Mike

        I think Ole Nick is being incredibly disingenuous. He forgot last year, I suppose. And if UGA loses and goes to the Citrus Bowl instead of the Sugar Bowl? I say the same thing to them as I say to my team regarding the SECCG: earn the right to be there.


  7. Cojones

    I have had FU fans look like deer in headlights when they say that UGA was lucky when we played them and they assumed the deer position when I explained how the turnovers really happened, one by one. The kudo was to mention the Jarvis play and watch the realization that they weren’t so lucky after all. To be fair, a couple of FU fans backed me up on two occasions.

    The pundits have used it to try and turn sentiment away from UGA. That bolsters their argument for swearing off us after the SC game. Remember?


  8. Solon

    I think people might be overthinking this, at least with regard to Steele’s reasoning. Steele picked the Gators to win the SEC East. He had Georgia second. He’s going to be an apologist for Florida in that situation. In the past, when he’s picked Georgia to win the division and something stopped it, he’s done the exact same thing the other way, rationalizing our defeats.

    In fact, in 2011 he picked us to win the SEC East, so, when talking about last year in this year’s preview, he referenced our ‘amazing loss’ to South Carolina, said that poor ST play was the only reason Florida played us so close, and pointed out the halftime stats of the SECCG. All of these were meant to play up how good we were – and, more importantly (from his perspective), how good his pick was. And he’s doing to same with Florida now.

    (Not sure who was reading Steele way back when, before he was legitimate and he was focused on making picks, but if you were EVERY TIME that dude picked a game wrong he’d launch into some long explanation about how he only lost the bet because he’d gotten screwed in some form or fashion. But it was the same thing in a different context.)


    • Slaw Dawg

      I’ve read Steele for years, and like his stuff, but have to agree that he hates being wrong and will try to excuse it away when he is. Or to put it differently, he’s very confident in his original (usually accurate) assessment of a team, and then tries to figure out how, despite the assessment, that team won or lost.

      I’ve just never gotten the “turnover as excuse” thing, tho. It’s not as if it isn’t a legitimate part of the game. Good teams don’t turn the ball over, or allow it to be taken away. Why is winning the turnover battle any less legitimate than winning the line of scrimmage battle? Teams work on ball handling all the time, so everybody knows it’s important, and if you don’t do it well, you’re likely to lose.


  9. Irishdawg

    Defenses get turnovers with pressure and confusing coverages as much as offensive mistakes, so I’m not buying the “offense gives the ball away” argument. UGA pressured the hell out of Driskell and were hitting hard, so it’s BS to deny Georgia’s defense any credit. Not to mention we held UF to 9 points, despite giving them good field position with our own TOs a time or two. Who else corralled Florida’s offense like that this season? It sure as hell wasnt South Carolina.


  10. stoopnagle

    Nobody’s talking about Florida’s TO margins vs SC and FSU because UF is sitting at home waiting – at best – for the Sugar Bowl to set them up for a date with OU and watching Georgia play in the SECCG for a chance to go to Miami.



  11. Benito

    On the topic of turnovers, you sound like a Georgia fan from 2011 USC at UGA.


  12. Coach Bobby Finstock

    I said essentially the same thing, with far less eloquence and wit, yesterday on the DawgRun. What’s especially annoying about it is that just a week before the WLOCP, the Gators beat Carolina due in large part to turnovers. ran a fawning story about how the Gator defense had identified the Gamecocks as “Violators,” prone to fumbling the ball in the face of a great defense.

    But when Georgia causes turnovers, it has nothing to do with its hapless defense.

    Not unexpected. Just annoying.


  13. Chuck

    Yeah, this “but 6 TOs” crap makes me crazy, too. Plain and simply, not all TOs are created equal: yes, there were a couple of very sloppy exchanges by the Gators, mitigated by AM’s throw right to their DB.

    But Jarvis’ hustle and strip of Reed is all about JJ’s motor and tenacity and wasn’t in any way a gift. Our guys made a play; good defenses do that.


  14. Mike Cooley

    The amount of horse shit excuses, both from the florida fans, and on florida’s behalf by the WWL and dawg haters everywhere, reminds of how the press has treated the Obama every time he has been fairly criticized. One thing is for sure, we get our chance to stick it to them all this Saturday. If we win they get to try and choke that down for an entire year and FU gets a year of also dealing with the fact that we, UGA and UGA alone, kept them out of a shot at a NC. Boom.


  15. Bobby Fenton

    Not that there aren’t a lot of decent points being made here, but on the topic of UF’s win over S. Carolina, they won that game by 33. Georgia got/forced 6 turnovers and won by 8.


    • gastr1

      Yes, and did you note that UF gained 183 yards, total, in that game? They were up 21-3 or something without having made a first down. Turnovers were the story of that game regardless of the margin.


  16. Lawrence

    Look, we lost because we turned the ball over six times and Georgia’s defense, particularly Jarvis Jones, was outstanding. Jones is a violent bad-ass. I hope he goes to the NFL!

    I have been telling people that if that defense, particularly Jones, plays like that against Bama, then you guys are going to beat them. Aaron Murray should be able to move the ball too.

    I am rooting for Georgia on Saturday and for you guys to beat ND. My in-laws (my grandfather-in-law was on the staff of the 1942 Rose Bowl and one of Wally’s Boys. Grandmother-in-law is an alumna of UGA. Thanksgiving wasn’t fun this year!) are all UGA fans so that’s my I am the rare UF alum pulling for UGA. The Cocktail Party is special. Can you imagine with both teams having won the SEC and a national title relatively recently? Yes, please. Don’t worry about the pundits. Beat the guy that invented college football aka Saban and you all will be fine. Good luck Saturday.