Focused on focus

From Marc Weiszer’s mid-season stock taking piece:

1. Turnover margin

No area on the team has seen as dramatic rise than this key category. Georgia leads the nation after ranking 102nd last season. The Bulldogs are plus-13 now and have improved from 12th in the SEC in turnovers gained to second and from 11th in turnovers lost to first (with only four).

2. Kickoff returns/punt returns

From 108th in the nation last year on kickoff returns at 18.6 yards per return to 20th at 24.4. The Bulldogs now rank 34th in the nation in punt returns at 11.05 after a dismal 122nd last year at 2.9.

 

Bonus: Rush offense/rush defense

Take your pick. The Bulldogs went from 11th in the SEC last year in rushing to first (from 169.9 to 265.9). The Bulldogs improved from 148.2 yards per game in run defense to 105.1 (from 41st nationally to 16th).

Gee, it’s almost as if Richt sat down with his staff and noted the statistical areas that had to be shored up for Georgia to be competing for titles again.  Better yet, everybody’s paid attention.

I’ve long maintained that 2003 was Richt’s coaching masterpiece.  I know that year’s defense was great, but to take a team with the worst offensive line of his tenure (47 sacks!) and a no-name running back group to the SECCG was mighty impressive.  Well, if you think about the areas he had to see fixed and the way they’ve managed the quarterback succession, he’s got a chance to better that effort in 2014.

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Focused on focus

  1. Senator, I agree this could be Richt’s finest coaching job especially if we make it to Atlanta. The key difference in 2003 was that he had a proven QB who could run the system and had been successful and a salty defense that could erase mistakes from game 1. The difference Pruitt is making with Grantham’s players minus the knuckleheads grows more significant with every game. Ekeler and Lilly are doing a darn good job with the special teams. Turnover margin is a little luck and a lot of teamwork because both sides of the ball have to do their jobs. While the winning coach of the Egg Bowl will probably end up as SEC (and possibly national) COTY, the Dean of SEC coaches has done a pretty darn good job himself especially after the loss of TG3II.

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    • .Dash

      While the stats turnaround is promising, we may be jumping the gun here a little bit. This team hasn’t really played anyone and lost to a very suspect USC team. I’ll buy in to the hype when we beat AU.

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  2. sUGArdaddy

    Senator, so far, it’s hard not to think if this isn’t his best. He set his jaw when Todd went down and it has shown. We were fundamentally sound by then, though, and ready to compete.

    Here’s some fun stats:

    Rushing Offense

    2008
    1. Florida (SEC & national champ)
    2. Ole Miss
    3. Bama (SEC west champ)

    2009
    1. Miss. St.
    2. Florida (SEC east champ)
    3. Bama (SEC & national champ)

    2010
    1. Auburn (SEC & national champ)
    2. Miss. St.
    3. Ole Miss

    2011
    1. Bama (national champ)
    2. LSU (SEC champ)
    3. South Carolina

    2012
    1. Texas A & M
    2. Bama (SEC & national champ)
    3. Florida

    2013
    1. Auburn (SEC champ & national runner-up)
    2. Mizzou (SEC east champ)
    3. Arkansas

    2014
    1. Georgia (Leads east – ranked #9)
    2. Miss. St. (Leads west – ranked #1)
    3. Auburn (ranked #5)

    You know, we say that the league has changed and that Spurrier and then the spread changed things. They certainly did, but it ain’t all that different. You gotta run the ball to win. In fact, what is unequivocally true is that the SEC champ has finished in the top 3 of the league in rushing in the last 5 years. Many times, both division champs were in the top three. BTW, we were #4 in 2012. It really shows what a mess that 2010 season was. It is the outlier as South Carolina finished 8th and won the East at 5-3. It was an unheard of year. It’s the only year BOTH division champs didn’t finish in the top 4. Alabama is 5th this year. Hard to imagine that top four deal won’t continue to hold form. That doesn’t bode well for Ole Miss, which currently ranks 11th. Their stuffy defense might can offset that, but my guess is that it will catch up with them.

    It ain’t changed much from Dooley, Bryant, Vaught and Jordan’s day. You wanna win in this league, you better run the football.

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    • Good post, enjoyed all those stats.

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      • sUGArdaddy

        I missed us in 2011, too. We finished 7th. But that year was a weird one, too, in which the best team in the nation didn’t even go to the SEC. Shows you how good Aaron Murray was that year because South Carolina finished 3rd and was a superior team to us in a lot of ways.

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      • yes indeed….good work. hope still resides. ( I could not maintain a straight face and type “Hope Floats.”

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    • El Dawgo in Evans

      Nice comparisons.

      What is funny to me is that Spurrier’s spread, instead of being pass-happy like it used to be, has morphed into a way to better run the ball.

      I concur that RTDB and stopping the opposing team’s ability to do the same is a formula for successful football.

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    • Charles

      Damn strong. Thanks.

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  3. GATA

    The stats (known facts) and my eyeballs do not jive concerning kickoff return yards. Going into this season, I would bet that if you told a Dawg fan that our team’s kickoff return results would improve from 108th to 20th nationally, all concerned would have been ecstatic. However, if the fans were told that our kickoff return yardage would improve by +5.8 yards, the collective reaction would be, yawn. That is less than 1 first down. Watching the games, it seems to me that the team’s improvement is far greater than 5.8 yards per return. My eyes tell me that we are now raked 20th as a unit this season as compared to 108th last year. The two prior sentences are accurate and reflect the same information. I guess this is another example of lies, damn lies, and statistics…My simpleton mind thinks the improvement seems like a big deal, yet +5.8 yards doesn’t seem like much. I know that 5.8 yards improvement, coupled with the threat that a UGA returner could get chunk yardage if not score at any time, is a huge deal.
    I too, believe that this season could be our coaching staff’s best result (from CMR to the most recently hired GA – all deserve credit for identifying, addressing, and improving upon team weaknesses). Time will tell.
    Going forward, here are UGA’s items worthy of Munson and Dooley worry: bye-week, UF (always), at KY (improved athleticism), AU (South’s Oldest Rivalry), Charleston Southern (long snapper), GT (cut blocking), refs, College Football Playoff Committee, recruiting (Tunsil-like last minute change of heart / wallet), possible poaching of our coaching staff (please no), the next great QB controversy meme pinnacle on 4/11/15 (G-Day), post Spring Break drug testing…the list could go on…

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  4. Charles

    So this is what “regression to the mean” feels like?

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  5. W Cobb Dawg

    Said it before and I’ll say it again – UGA should do whatever it takes to keep this coaching staff together for as long as possible. Don’t hand me any excuses about money, this staff is a cash cow, money tree, geese that lay golden eggs, etc., etc.

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  6. Got damn special teams and turnovers. Amazing how the “little” things can affect things.

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