Georgia’s stats do tell a story.

Tyler does some more digging at cfbstats.com (I always love it when somebody else does the heavy lifting), and uses stats to paint a pretty accurate portrait of Georgia’s defense five games into the season.

Because when you look at the stats, there is nothing in them, besides the points per game, that make me freak out, and that isn’t terrible. We are thoroughly average.

And even the points per game are an improvement over last season.

… We are bend, but don’t break. Then we run out of field. Throw in the four rushing TDs we’ve given up, opponents are scoring touch downs on about one of every four plays from inside our red zone. This is reflected in our S&P defensive ratings being ranked 52nd.

Basically, this is VanGorder ball, without the All-American players.  BVG’s defense worked, like all great defenses do, because it could consistently generate a four-man pass rush.  That’s not something the current defense is capable of providing.

One last thing: we are abysmal, last in the nation, defending the pass when teams are 3rd and 4-6 yards. The line: 11-15, 9 of those for first downs, a 243.60 passer rating, and 5 of our 7 passing plays allowing 30+ yards. All other third down situations and we are average or better. Again, not sure what I can take away from that, but it is something to think about going forward when we see 3rd down and 5.

I think everyone can visualize what’s happening in those situations.  The rush can’t get to the quarterback and there’s probably an ILB in pass coverage.

I don’t want to make this sound overly bleak.  It’s not.  In fact, you can make a good argument that the stats show Georgia is making the best it can out of its talent.  Pruitt’s philosophy makes sense in context.  And that context is (1) Georgia is scoring points at a high clip; (2) Georgia is being extremely careful holding on to the football; and (3) while punting average is mediocre, Georgia’s punt coverage is outstanding.

What that indicates is Mark Richt’s team is doing a fantastic job managing field position.  That’s a sign of good coaching.

But it’s also a sign of how narrow the margins are for Georgia.  Tennessee was close because the Dawgs didn’t have much of a field position advantage throughout the game (consider what they did when Tennessee was pushed back on its side of the field, though).  Georgia enjoyed advantages in field position and turnover margin in Columbia, but inconsistent defensive play, a questionable holding call that reversed a Gurley touchdown and two missed field goals combined for a close loss.

The formula is there for winning ball.  It’s just a matter of whether the Dawgs can hold it together enough when it matters.

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

26 responses to “Georgia’s stats do tell a story.

  1. In my humble opinion the story of the defense will rest on:

    1) whether we can still generate a pass rush on the road when we bring 5 or more. That’s been a success so far but I’m not sure we have shown road-readiness;

    2) whether our defensive backs improve. Sounds obvious but we are super young and getting real experience. I do think there are lots of signs of improvement. Rarely are guys wide open, rather they are covered but get separation on us. That said, it may be me and The Senator playing cb by the end of the year.

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  2. Charles

    Posts like this are one of many reasons I love this blog. Love it. Thank you so much for your time and insight, Senator.

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  3. charlottedawg

    Flawed team that needs to minimize mistakes on order to mask it’s deficiencies pretty much sums it up. Hope we’re ready for some dog fights because I have a feeling the difference between an 11-1and 7-5 regular season will be decided by less than 21 points (next 7 games will be decided by on average 3 points a game).

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  4. Great Post and it sums up this team nicely. If we could just get a consistent pass rush and more pressure up front this team can make it through the stretch of road games.

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. Our inside pressure still seems tentative. I was hoping Mayes would kick into a higher level this year, but haven’t seen it yet. Although Thornton and Mayes try hard, we recruited DTs poorly the last few years under garner/grantham, and it shows.

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  5. BCDawg97

    Awesome analysis as always.

    This whole post sums up UGA 2001-2005 vs. 2006-2013 (minus 11/12) – the pieces have almost always been there. I know it is homerish to say, but it really feels like 2006-2013 has been more about us finding a way to lose rather than the other team beating us. The Georgia Way/We. Are. Georgia.

    Hopefully, we are getting back to the 2001-2005 ways

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  6. joe

    What happened to the dime that we saw in the 2nd half against Clemson? That seemed to be the remedy for both the pass rush and for getting Wilson and Herrera out of the game on passing downs.

    Did we simply run out of bodies at db?

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    • Moe Pritchett

      looking back, that second half v Clemmons….seem like there may have been some Cole Stoudt working in our favor.
      But I still like the kool aid; keep it comin.

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    • What happened to the dime that we saw in the 2nd half against Clemson? That seemed to be the remedy for both the pass rush and for getting Wilson and Herrera out of the game on passing downs. Did we simply run out of bodies at db?

      Great observation, Joe.

      We haven’t seen it very much lately, and we did get some good stops using it. Usually it’s been Swann at the Money (lined up like a Will), in the box with Herrera, the only ILB. So it could be the numbers have caught up with us, and we don’t have the corners to run it much.

      Interested to see how much Pruitt plays Langley, who has some natural ability as a corner. And if some others (maybe Parrish, Terry, or Green) get a shot at Money.
      ~~~

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  7. Bright Idea

    Without looking at the stats we can see that our pass rush is mediocre at best and our ILBers hustle like hell but are way too slow in coverage and even defending the draw play. I fear Mauk scrambling for big gains.

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  8. Cosmic Dawg

    When you have games like Clemson and SC, with both teams scoring 60%-70% of their possessions or so, it is difficult for me to think there’s much chess being played with field position.

    Ultimately, when your kicking game is average, what strategy is there except what is already logical – your offense tries to move the ball and your defense tries to stop them?

    I guess there are some 4th down decisions (punt or FG or go for it) but I wonder how much the field position stats are correlated to simply how good your team is at scoring or stopping scoring in general.

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    • Here are the drive charts for the Clemson game. You really don’t think field position made a difference?

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      • Cosmic Dawg

        Let’s put it this way – I think coaching during practice affects field position more than any sort of strategy during the game specifically meant to change field position (except the regular ol’ offense and defensive playcalling, which is only designed to improve field position so far as it encourages / prevents scoring).

        And maybe that’s what you meant by good coaching.

        So if you have a great coverage team and return game, and are calling good plays on offense and defense, then yes, that helps you score/prevent scoring. But that’s not a field position strategy, per se. Field position seems to me to be the happy accident of how well your offense, defense, and special teams are clicking rather than in-game coaching decisions.

        Now, obviously, if a coach routinely makes horrible decisions on 4th down (go for it, FG, or punt) then yes, FP makes a difference, and these are decisions a coach can control, but coaches tend to be fairly homogenous in how they make a lot of those decisions, even with the wildly varying talents of their kickers and other athletes.

        So maybe by good coaching you meant the overall picture, not improved 4th down strategy. CMR’s in-game strategy seems similar to me as other coaches, and I think good FP for the Dawgs in 2014 is probably a case of an improved team overall (esp. special teams) rather than field position strategy from the sidelines.

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      • Mayor

        Field position was probably the difference in the GA-Clemson game, until the final quarter.

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      • Cosmic Dawg

        You guys are going to have to help me. What does FP mean other than “our offense and defense and special teams are working better than their offense and defense and special teams” so we are naturally playing more on their side of the 50 than our side,

        • 5% of “our coach makes more correct playcalls on 4th down than their coach”

        How can FP be “bigger” in one game than another? You can have great FP and never score and sometimes have avg FP and score enough times to win.

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        • Cosmic Dawg

          that was meant to be a plus sign not a bullet.

          but now that I know how to make a bullet I am gonna be dangerous around here

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    • Cosmic Dawg

      ps – and I way over-stated the scoring percentages, of course. Even Georgia was only scoring about 50% of the time in the Clemson game and Clemson perhaps 20% or less. But Georgia and SC were probably at a 50% clip in their game.

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  9. Rusty

    Flawed team for sure. But still a pretty good team, nonetheless. Hoping our offense can continue to score enough the rest of the way. But I can’t see being hyper critical, the coaches will have to continue to figure it out. Plus, as the last couple of weeks have shown, looks like most of the top ten were/are flawed. I think we can run with just about all of them, including FSU.,,,Just hope we get bettah. 🙂

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  10. CannonDawg

    Agree with your comment, Senator, about the narrow margins for Georgia. It will take exceptional coaching and continued improvement in pass coverage for the Dogs to win out. Perhaps a smile or two from Ole Lady Luck, as well. And lest I overlook the obvious, the offense and STs will have to continue their scoring and field-position trending. We’re only a red-zone score away from being unbeaten, so there’s plenty of reason for encouragement. While we’re not the only team in the SEC with an average defense, we are the only team in the SEC with Todd Gurley. Stay thirsty, er healthy, my friend.

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    • Agree with your comment, Senator, about the narrow margins for Georgia. It will take exceptional coaching and continued improvement in pass coverage for the Dogs to win out.

      And a well-played, fundamentally sound, smart, solid game. These games are easy to give away, as we did in Athens last year.
      ~~~

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  11. Dawg151

    “The formula is there for winning ball. It’s just a matter of whether the Dawgs can hold it together enough when it matters.”

    Isn’t that pretty much every team (save one or two here and there) in the Mark Richt era? Even when the formula seems to be working to perfection, there always seems to be one or two spots during the season where it breaks down ever so slightly and ends up ruining everything…Florida in ’02, UT and USC in ’07, USC in ’12…

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  12. NoAxeToGrind

    How about first and goal from the four? Did that have anything to do with it? Just curious.

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  13. mdcgtp

    I vacillate each day between half full and half empty on this team, and I imagine not one of the factors that cause my variation in thoughts are unique to any informed Dawg fan. So the question becomes…what is the probability that major areas of our team get materially better or worse?

    1)Despite a bunch of in season attrition in among DBs, we really have not lost anyone (save Fenteng) who we might have expected anything from. The question how much improvement can we expect out of Swann, Davis, Bowman, Sanders, Mauger, JJ Green, and Moore? I think Mauger/Moore are “what they are” which is to say mediocre at best. I think Swann has found his equilibrium, which is neither a “shutdown” corner nor the liability he was a year ago. He is tackling well. He is generally in position on short routes on slot guys. That leaves Davis and Bowman on the outside, which is a bit of a mixed bag. I have to admit Bowman has been better than I could have ever imagined. Davis looks like a solid, smart player for a handful of plays and then whiffs on a tackle or a gets beat in coverage (though the TD last week was on Sheldon Dawson) such that its very obvious that he is not physically gifted by SEC standards. My sense is that the swing factors here is JJ Green. If he can play Star, we can have Davis and Sanders at safety and Swann and Bowman at CB. I would feel a LOT less nervous about that defense than I do about Davis at CB and Moore/Mauger at S. Davis will cover more guys at S than Moore will. I think can get a LOT better, and I think there is a 50% chance or so that my scenario plays out.

    2)ILB coverage – it’s almost completely ineffective, and if I were a TE/H Back, I would demand to be targeted 10 times if I was playing UGA. While the major breakdowns last week were on Carter/Kimbough, Hererra and Wilson are not very good either. I don’t have much hope we improve here. I would put this at a very low probability.

    3)ILB run stoppage – reasonably effective. Wilson still misses a ton of tackles and Hererra is not particularly fast. that said, we probably wont get worse.

    4)Pass rush – I think there is a bit of a chicken/egg thing here with the secondary. If we can hold off just a little more in the secondary, our front 7 might create a few more plays. The upside is if Floyd/Jenkins get better and Bellamy and Carter give us 2003-4 Quinton Moses-like production off the bench. Hard to put any estimate on that scenario. Floyd and Jenkins alternate between teasing us, amazing us, and frustrating us. Not sure what to think.

    and now the toughest for last

    5)overall passing game….do we break it into WR/TE improvement, focus on Mason/Ramsey OR look it all together? I am not sure. I think Mason’s second half was once again alarming. On the other hand, look how much better Conley was in the slot. If we can get MM26 and JSW back to full speed, I suspect Bennett will exit the witness protection program as well. Add to that we have a receiving option at TE that appears to be reliable and a capable QB should be able to produce a consistent, if not, dangerous passing game. The problem is I am at a loss for estimating what Mason will do, and it is impossible to know what Ramsey’s impact would be if he played full time. At this point, after the “let it rip” game which included a terrible INT and should have been pick 6, I am inclined to believe that we are stuck with Mason as is, but again, he did not have MM26 or JSW to play with. Thus, I am inclined to think we might get better here, but i dont have a lot of conviction in that view, which is sad because it is a waste of a GREAT WR group (when healthy)!

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    • Very nice post, MDC.

      FWIW, I think Carter and Kimbrough are significantly better in pass coverage than Wilson and Herrera. But we still have to wait until Pruitt’s ILB’s get here, and he gets them ready to play.
      ~~~

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