What do you get when you cross advanced stats with the GTP comments section?

Why, Bill Connelly’s Georgia preview, of course.  I mean, tell me this doesn’t sound familiar:

Georgia blew it last year. Badly.

Mark Richt’s Bulldogs spent most of the last two months playing at an absurdly high level. They crushed Missouri in Columbia, then bolted out to a huge lead and hit cruise control in Little Rock against Arkansas. They laughed at any sort of upset bid Kentucky thought it could make in Lexington, then made the most of a revenge attempt against Auburn. And in the Belk Bowl, they shoved Louisville around like a set of 11 rag dolls.

Combined with a season-opening pasting of Clemson, Georgia had the distinction of being one of the most frequently awesome teams in the country, despite losing surefire Heisman candidate Todd Gurley pretty early.

This frequently awesome team also got thumped by Florida, 38-20, thereby blowing the SEC East.

Hell, it might have been the most befuddling result of 2014. A team that allowed 443 combined rushing yards against Missouri, Louisville, Clemson, Tennessee and Arkansas, gave up 418 to Florida. Florida! A team that otherwise rushed for 167 per game!

If you keep nodding vigorously, it makes it harder to read the rest of his post.

The thing is, Bill keeps coming back to the same perspective most of us have about Georgia in 2015.  The Dawgs should win the SEC East, but do you really want to bet the ranch on that happening?  Even if most of the arguments against Georgia aren’t that strong when you look at them?

All of these are possible. But Georgia’s odds of winning a division title are as strong as almost anybody’s in the country. Let’s go ahead and walk through some rebuttals.

But Tennessee’s been recruiting so well for two years. So has Georgia. For more than two years. Tennessee peaked with a No. 4 ranking in this year’s 247Sports Composite. Georgia’s recruiting average over the last five years ranks sixth.

But Georgia has to play at Tennessee. True. Auburn, too. And Tennessee has to play at Alabama, Missouri, and Florida. In this year’s Football Outsiders Almanac 2015 (college-only version available for only $6 in PDF form), Georgia’s projected conference strength of schedule ranks 20th in the country; Tennessee’s ranks ninth.

But Missouri’s won back-to-back East titles. True. And the Tigers’ conference SOS ranks only 35th. But no one’s won an SEC division three times in a row in nearly 20 years (Florida, 1994-96), and the Tigers’ defensive line, such a strength in recent years, is rebuilding.

But the Dawgs choke every year. No, they really don’t.

  • 2005: Won it
  • 2006: Lost out to a better team, eventual national champion Florida
  • 2007: Blew it with a dumb loss to South Carolina
  • 2008: Lost out to a better team, eventual national champion Florida
  • 2009-10: Weren’t good enough to blow anything
  • 2011-12: Won it
  • 2013: Lost out to a better team, Missouri
  • 2014: Blew it with a dumb loss to Florida

Georgia has been the best team in the East five times in the last 10 seasons and has won the East three times. I realize that means they should have won five times, but I’ll take those odds.

And Bill doesn’t even mention there that Georgia’s done more than okay on the road in Auburn over the last decade.  But you get his drift.

The bottom line is that Bill is a stats guy.  And the stats shriek pretty loudly in Georgia’s favor.

I get that picking Georgia makes you nervous. And maybe it should. But even with a new quarterback and offensive coordinator, the Dawgs are the second-surest thing in the SEC behind Alabama. And considering they play in the weaker of the two divisions, maybe that makes them the surest, period.

The Football Outsiders Almanac 2015 projects the Dawgs fourth overall — ahead of Baylor, Auburn, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and other national favorites — and gives them a 77 percent chance of 6-2 or better in the SEC. For other teams in the East, those are 45 percent (Missouri), 14 percent (Tennessee), 12 percent (South Carolina), and 2 percent (Florida).

Tennessee, et al, might be capable of a run. Georgia simply is.

But Florida… but Florida.

Again, if you want to doubt the Dawgs because of this game, I can’t stop you. I have minimal explanation for it.

In the end, it’s not that Georgia isn’t without its share of flaws.  It’s that Georgia is less flawed than any team in this season’s SEC East.

Georgia has enough legitimate questions to make you doubt. The quarterback situation has not sorted itself out yet, the new offensive coordinator isn’t the slam dunk that Pruitt appeared to be a year ago, and the run defense was downright bad at times last fall.

Still, the other East contenders have at least as many concerns and lower upside. Tennessee’s offensive line isn’t guaranteed to improve, and there are serious depth concerns throughout. Missouri is starting from scratch at receiver and on the defensive line. Florida barely has enough offensive linemen to fill a two-deep and has the same quarterback questions as the Dawgs, with fewer potential answers.

You have to go out farther on a limb to pick some other contender to take the East for the third season in a row.  Which isn’t nearly the same thing as saying that can’t happen again.

… just because they blew it last year doesn’t mean they will do it each year. Remind yourself of that, even as visions of Kelvin Taylor running wild fill your head.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves if we tried.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

34 responses to “What do you get when you cross advanced stats with the GTP comments section?

  1. Dolly Llama

    Senator, you don’t just feed your trolls, you give them MetRx bodybuilding shakes while injecting them with steroids.


  2. Hey, senator- the piece in Bulldawg Illustrated about Kublanow at Center would be a good addition this morning. Just sayin’.

    This was a really good piece, btw. Kinda hard to Argue facts.


  3. If this team had Aaron Murray, Eric Zeier, David Greene, Matthew Stafford, or DJ Shockley (or even Mett) at QB this year, I would suggest this team would be playoff bound. I just can’t get there with until I see one of these three in live action. I’m not even sure I can call for us to go to Atlanta at this point. I’m worried …


    • And UT didn’t win the National Title with Peyton Manning, one of the five best QB’s ever, but with one Tee Martin.

      This team has enough talent at key spots to make the playoff. Heck they probably have enough to win the National Championship.

      It may take us getting a break or two in a game. It may take a team or two from the West not performing up to predicted expectations. It may take OSU losing all three QB’s to a series of injuries, agent related suspensions, and missed plane flights.

      But the talent is there and “imperfect” teams have won before.


    • Uglydawg

      You never saw one of those until you saw them. Everyone was a question mark until they started taking snaps. Why assume the three highly rated QB’s onboard are somehow sub-par?
      Of these three, at least one will step up and be accomplished.


      • I didn’t say I thought they were sub-par. What I meant was that we would be on everyone’s playoff favorites list with one of those guys as experienced QBs. I think one of the three will get the job done, but I think it’s premature to identify us as a playoff team at this point with an unproven QB.


  4. Bright Idea

    So Schotty is not the grand slam hire that Prutt was? Tell that to the Bobo haters.


  5. BF

    Most Dawg fans remember well the UF and GT games last year for letdowns. The more likely and typical scenario this year is for UGA to win 9, maybe 10 and thrash gators. Richt will put huge emphasis on the cocktail party but will appear to forget how to coach/motivate against one or two others and we’ll get run.
    Hopefully the culture has truly changed as we are led to believe and consistency by staff and players will be different.


    • Uglydawg

      BF..your last sentence…”the culture”. I’ve harped for years that the culture on this team is to relax when you’re a heavy favorite. That is the primary thing that has held CMR’s teams back…Some call it a “face-plant”, but I call it not taking every opponent as seriously as you should.
      Fix this…and Georgia will grow into the great program we know it should be.


      • DawgPhan

        havent we already seen the stats about how no team in the country brings their A game every week. All teams take lesser teams lightly. its just a thing that happens everywhere not just at UGA.


  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    “the Dawgs are the second-surest thing in the SEC behind Alabama.” Oh my God….Larry????? Larry?????? they are saying that thing, there, Larry?


  7. Ed Kilgore

    The “dumb loss to South Carolina” in 2007 reference brought back bad memories of the one time I joined the Bobo- and Richt-haters. Knowshwon is unstoppable in what looked to be winning drive, then Bobo calls three straight fades (with a penalty thrown in) and Richt calls for a completely meaningless field goal. Still upsets me.


  8. UGA85

    I think the reasonable pick for UGA is 9 and 3, win the SEC East, then a chance for 10 wins in some bowl game. The problem is, I see such a season as underachieving. We need to win the SEC this year, go to a real bowl game, then build momentum for a run of championships over the next few years. I can see no reason why such expectations aren’t common for us. The past is done; the future is now.


    • JCDAWG83

      For the majority of Georgia fans today, 10 wins is considered undefeated. Expectations of championships simply aren’t there. Most fans enjoy the “if only”, “almost” and “wait til next year” talk after every season.


    • Bazooka Joe

      Now, expectations to “compete” for championships should certainly be there every year. But an expectation of winning a title every year is just plain foolish. Not in the environment we live in now – too many good teams to expect to win it every year. Compete for it, absolutely… and maybe that’s what you were saying and I interpreted it wrong (wouldn’t be the first time…)


  9. DawgFaithful

    I agree with everything he says but I think this is a premature assertion:

    “the new offensive coordinator isn’t the slam dunk that Pruitt appeared to be a year ago…”

    While all reports out of practice so far point to a more consevative, lowering scoring offense, I’m not ready to rule Shottenheimer out as a “slam dunk.” We’ll see. We’re definitely going to have more 2 and 3TE/jumbo sets. Probably will run it out of the shotgun-spread a lot less. I need to see it before I can make my evaluation.


    • Mayor

      I’m not so sure Pruitt was a “slam dunk” at DC for a whole lot of folks before the season 2014 started either. After the season started and people saw the improvement on D, particularly in the DBs they jumped on the bandwagon, but not before.


  10. Agree with everything he said. But like you said Senator, we’ve been saying the same thing for six months.


  11. Ed Kilgore

    Went back and re-read Murf Baldwin’s hyper-optimistic piece about Schottenheimer from back in January and felt better, though I must admit all the talk about the complexity of his schemes and formations reminds me of the “adjustment problems” the D had when Grantham came in.


    • Richt has said consistently that we aren’t going to change a whole lot. There’s some change in terminology, but I would imagine formations and personnel groupings are going to be very similar to what we’ve seen since 2001.

      If we see a bunch of wasted timeouts and a lot of hand waving, then I’ll get nervous.


  12. I know this is nitpicking but was Mizzou really a better team than us in 2013 . I know they beat us at home but 2013 was a damn good team offensively . Play that game 10 times we win 6 or 7. Other than that nitpickery (had to disable spell check for that word) thought the article sums it up pretty damn well.