“We can throw the ball, man.”

Is there angst over Georgia’s passing game in the wake of its anemic showing last Saturday?  I think it’s safe to say there is.

“We’re still getting it down,” Davis said of the passing game. “It’s not what we want it to be. …We’ve just got to better as a whole unit and receivers, we’ve got to catch the ball.”

“Honestly, I think we will get better,” Lambert said Saturday. “I will take it upon myself to make sure that happens, to make sure we’re getting in rhythm earlier and getting completions early on to kind of keep us going.”

Richt said he and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also can help by not being overly reliant on a rushing attack that averages 262 yards per game behind Chubb.

“Just be free to call whatever we think is good,” Richt said. “Don’t feel like we have to run for x amount of yards or we have to get the ball to Chubb so many times. When I’ve called plays over the years, you certainly want to use your skill players the best that you can and use the talent that you have. Just feel free to attack the defense in the game the way we attacked it all week in the film room. Call what we believe in. Let’s go.”

Richt goes on to point out what should have been obvious, but evidently wasn’t.

“Now that we’ve decided who our quarterback is, who our starter is, I know that playing that position you don’t just become super proficient overnight,” Richt said. “I know he’s played a lot of college ball, but he hasn’t played a lot of college ball for Georgia in this league and quite frankly in this system. There’s a learning curve and things take time and you get better as you go. Sometimes you’ve just got to show a little patience and guys will catch on and really play well.”

So how concerned should we be about what happened against Vanderbilt?  Here’s Bill Connelly’s take:

First things first: it must be noted that Vanderbilt’s defense might be awesome. A week after holding Western Kentucky’s potent attack to 14 points, the Commodores held Georgia’s offense to just 17. Two return touchdowns (a 77-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie and an 88-yard interception return by Dominick Sanders) made the 31-14 final scoring margin more drastic than it should have been.

That said, I’ve been looking for answers regarding Georgia’s quarterback situation, and this wasn’t the most encouraging answer in the world.

My 2015 Georgia preview was a pretty funny one to write; the sentiment was basically “Georgia’s loaded! They’re easily the SEC East favorites! They just have two minor little questions … at quarterback and offensive coordinator. You know, those tiny, unimportant positions.”

That Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert won the starting quarterback job didn’t fill me with confidence since he was a bit error-prone in Charlottesville. He was fine against ULM, but this was his first real test. He went 11-for-21 for 116 yards and a sack. Average yards per attempt: a meager 5.0.

Granted, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined to rush 31 times for 245 yards and catch four passes for 43 yards. When you’ve got that running game in your back pocket, you don’t need much from the passing game. But you probably need better than 5 yards per attempt. This wasn’t a failed test, but it wasn’t really a pass, either.

Throw in Brice Ramsey’s series, and Georgia averaged a whopping 5.6 yards per attempt.  Do that against any other school besides Vanderbilt and it’s a recipe for losing, amirite?

Not so fast, bacon breath.

I scoured the last nine seasons of Georgia’s passing stats in cfbstats.com to see how the Dawgs fared in games when they averaged less than 6 yards per pass attempt.  The result?  A less than embarrassing 10-6.  And before you chalk those ten wins up to cupcake opponents, here are some of the games Richt managed to wins despite anemic passing:  Clemson, Tennessee and Missouri from last season; 2013 Tennessee; Florida in 2011; the “we run this state” win over Georgia Tech of 2009.

That being said, I wouldn’t want to make a living doing that.  And there’s little question that Georgia is off to an atypical start in that department, at 33rd in the country.  For context, over that same period I reviewed, the Dawgs have only finished lower than that once –  35th in Joe Cox’ pick-filled 2009 season.  (And in that time, Georgia’s managed to finish as high as first and fifth nationally.)  Given that Georgia hasn’t thrown an interception in its first two games of 2015, that should give you some indication of how things aren’t exactly clicking yet.  There is still plenty of time, though, to get the passing attack moving in the right direction, which is Mark Richt’s point.

45 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

45 responses to ““We can throw the ball, man.”

  1. 202dawg

    I re-watched Vandy (yes, I know, AGAIN) and, honestly, I feel worse than I did the first time re-watching. This season is going to make my ulcer come back. I can feel it…

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  2. Gaskilldawg

    The funny thing is that our yards per attempt is better than the following SEC schools, all with QBs who were subject of pre-season hype: Tennessee, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama. Also, it is better than Missouri, whom is without its returning leading rusher. Our passing efficiency rating is likewise better than those teams with hyped QBs. We poke fun at Auburn’s QB but we did not poke fun at Prescott, Hobbs and the Alabama guy.

    Our QB play has not been up to where we want it to be and we need to perform well in all phases of the game but our passing game has it been the disaster that some folks claim it is.

    By the way, we rushed for 281 yards last weekend. That is a heck of a lot of yards in an SEC game. That comment has nothing to do with the topic but the rushing game got overlooked in the post game threads and I thought it deserved mention.

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    • Macallanlover

      Very solid comment. Sometimes those stat thingys can block your view of the forest.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Spot on Gaskill…but I am still worried about my hat.

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        • Cojones

          Sending my favorite white one with DAWGS written in a little rainbow on front. Gonna put a real rainbow on each side and secrete a little piece of foil under the back inside label. Maybe a fluffy little trim around the edge (I’ll consult my tranny friend on the color) – just short of frightening little kiddies oughtta do it.

          Don’t think there’s enough room for “SC Blows!” on the back, but I’ll think of something. Maybe a brownie shaped like a dog turd under “SC” will do. Would put a few well placed pieces of white chocolate melted in to make a chicken turd, but someone would think it’s a legitimate SC hat.

          Where can I send it?

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          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Hats are intensely personal, Cojo, while I awfully appreciate your thought, I gotta pick it myself. Using a borrowed, or provided hat is like borrowing a wife.

            I may make a trip down into the wilds of North Georgia Friday to interview some hats…you never buy a Dawg hat in Tennessee…It might stab you in the back.

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    • Uglydawg

      Don’t recall the Alabama QB getting pre-season hype. Seems like they were percieved to be in pretty much the same situation as UGA.

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      • Gaskilldawg

        Jake Coker got preseason All-SEC and Heisman love last year. My memory is that Prescott got all the first team all conference love with the next best votes split between Coker, Hobbs and Johnson.

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  3. Gaskilldawg

    Damn auto fill. I meant to type “our passing game HASN’T been the disaster some …”

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  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    I think I’m gonna do a TM and lay in a supply of high gravity beer before the game.

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  5. To reply to Connelly, Sanders and McKenzie should have stepped out at the 1 because those scores then would have been “offensive” scores for his statistical model. Also, tell Morgan to make the 2 other field goals rather than miss.

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  6. Todd

    Be real interesting to see stats around the SEC after this week.

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    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Pardon me if this sounds like something Steve Spurrier would say, but the only stat that matters is the one on the scoreboard as the fans are filing out of the ball park.

      Unless you lose, then those numbers become something else.

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  7. paul

    I think we’ve all pretty well covered this subject. And apparently we’re all generally in agreement. So, we just have to see what the weekend brings. Despite my my misgivings to date based on our less than overwhelming quarterback play, I’m starting to feel somewhat optimistic about our game against the OBC. Perhaps it’s because we have a house full of people coming to visit for the weekend. Perhaps it’s the Shrimp and Grits festival on Jekyll. Perhaps it’s the beer. Or perhaps it’s simply the general unwarranted optimism that infects me every year at some point. Whatever it is, I’m starting to feel okay about this one despite the knowledge that Spurrier usually finds a way to make our lives miserable.

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    • Uglydawg

      My angst, as usual, is at an ebb on Wednesday…I’ve accepted that nothing about a game is perfect..except a win. If CMR can win this game with a run-heavy attack..great…and I suspect he can. Did not a lot of us say that perhaps the only QB skills that were going to be essential this year would be “game management”..with comparisons to the 1980 situation and Buck Belew running the O. My angst will build again as the game appoaches and we dont score on every play.
      Consider this my backing off the critical rhetoric and declaring my intention to stay on the bus.
      Nick Chubb gets 200 yards this Saturday.

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  8. PTC DAWG

    I am pretty sure punt returns and int returns for TD’s count in the final score. Correct me if I am wrong. The nit picking by some is laughable.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      They are also rare occurrences. You can’t bank on getting 14 points out of your defense and special teams. You CAN bank on an efficient offense scoring. If you’re trying to figure out what a team is going to do as the season progresses, you ignore anomalies.

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      • Mayor

        I’m not so sure about that Bro. Some teams have STs that run back at least one KO or punt a game plus blocked punts. 2011 LSU immediately comes to mind. Plus some teams routinely score points on D–INT returns, fumbles returned, etc. I see this years’ version of the Dawgs as being that kind of team.

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        • Biggus Rickus

          LSU in 2011, which is the team I think of for scoring lots of odd TDs too, had the following return scores:

          Game 1: Fumbled punt return
          Game 2: Nothing
          Game 3: Nothing
          Game 4: Kickoff return
          Game 5: Fumble return
          Game 6: Nothing
          Game 7: Nothing
          Game 8: Interception return
          Game 9: Nothing
          Game 10: Nothing
          Game 11: Interception return, Fumble recovery in end zone
          Game 12: Punt return
          Game 13: Punt return, Interception return
          Game 14: Nothing

          They had no abnormal TDs in half their games, and only two games had more than one. And that was from the most memorably opportunistic team in at least the last decade.

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    • Cojones

      What’s even more laughable is everyone forgetting about the big fakes that Spurrier pulls with us. It’s almost as if “gullible” is written on our foreheads.

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  9. zdawg15

    Senator, I want to propose a question to you and the other readers and if someone has already brought this up, please forgive me for the rant: Are you a process kind of guy or results kind of guy (or gal, to be politically correct)? I heard someone talking about this on the radio about an NFL QB and thought to myself that I’m not sure what kind of viewer I am. The ‘process’ guy looks at what actually happened in the game. So for the Vandy game as an example, the process guy would say that Lambert should have had 2 turnovers or more,the fumble he recovered and the stone hands dropped interception. I could be missing something. The process guy would say that the Vandy qb played the same game as Lambert, only unluckier. The results guy says they won the game, they are 2-0, close game but they won a road game in the SEC. Football is the only sport that seems to be analyzed in this matter. There’s probably room for both as a viewer. Just curious how you and the others perceive Lambert viewing it as the process or the results. I’ve seen both views in the comments section after the game Saturday.

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  10. Big Ol cup of STFU

    that’s “Chocolate” bacon breath to you, Senator

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  11. Chadwick

    I guess we’re going to see if Lambert is error prone due to the supporting cast or himself. I hope it’s the former, but as Bill Parcells said, “you are what you are”….

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