Tale of the tape: bend and break

Interesting notion from Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer about what he considers to be the most relevant way to track a defense’s prowess:

Like many coaches these days, Spencer doesn’t pay much attention to total yardage stats. He feels like the most apt barometer to measure a defense’s worth is points per possession. It’s not something the NCAA keeps tabs on officially. Brian Fremeau (@bcfremeau), a writer for Football Outsiders, does chart such advanced stats. Michigan ranks No. 1 in the points-allowed-per-possession stat at 0.83, followed by Alabama, Wisconsin, Clemson and Boston College. Spencer’s defense is a respectable No. 31.

Well, you know what comes next, right?  To the Statmobile!

If you click on the link in that quoted passage, start by reading Brian’s definitions:

Points Per Drive data are a function of all offensive possessions in FBS vs. FBS games in the given season, excluding first-half clock kills and end-of-game garbage drives and scores. Teams are ranked by net points scored per drive (NPD), the difference between points scored per offensive drive (OPD) and points allowed per opponent offensive drive (DPD). Points per value drive for the offense (OVD) opponent offenses (DVD) are calculated on possessions that begin on the offense’s own side of midfield and reach at least the opponent’s 30-yard line. Points per long drive for the offense (OLD) and opponent offenses (DLD) are calculated on possessions that begin inside the offense’s own 20-yard line.

You want to familiarize yourself with those terms before you read how they illuminate Georgia’s season to date.

Georgia is a mediocre 49th in net points per drive, which is an accurate reflection of a 4-3 record against FBS opponents.  It’s the breakdown between the offensive and defensive sides that’s the eye opener.

On offense, Georgia is 94th in points scored per drive, 116th in points scored per drive that reach the opponent’s 30-yard line (hey there, red zone offense!) and 57th in drives that begin inside their own 20.

It’s quite the opposite story for the defense:  22nd in points allowed per drive; 14th in points allowed per drive that reaches Georgia’s 30-yard line; 5th in points allowed per drive starting inside the opponent’s 20.  In other words, the Dawgs’ defense is plenty good when it’s allowed to do its job of keeping points off the board.  It’s just not being given the circumstances to do so.  Constantly losing the field position battle  – Georgia has fallen in Brian’s FEI field position rankings from first last season to 87th in 2015 – is killing this team.

Explaining this season doesn’t take a degree in rocket science.  You can see it in the stats. You can see it in the stands.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

26 responses to “Tale of the tape: bend and break

  1. Field position = the combination of poor offensive line play and “special” special teams

    When you struggle to make first downs, you can’t flip the field even if you have Ray Guy as your punter. When you run kicks out of the end zone from 7 yards deep (unless your name is Gurley, Todd), you end up with the field tilted against you all day long.


  2. Macallanlover

    Excellent find Senator. This is a better way to view performance than total yardage, imo, and looking at the top teams on defense confirms its validity. The only caution I see about putting UGA’s defense in such rare air is the SEC is so sub-par at QB it is masking how pathetic we are at pass offense. If we played a team with the explosive passing that a Baylor, Memphis, etc.possesses we could be looking at giving up 60+….easily. Fortunately, our remaining schedule doesn’t expose us to a team like that as we would be helpless, thank you GSU and GT for attacking us on the ground! Now the wrong bowl could still expose us. I give credit to the rush defense, they have been much better than expected.


    • The only caution I see about putting UGA’s defense in such rare air is the SEC is so sub-par at QB it is masking how pathetic we are at pass offense.

      Maybe, Mac. But it’s worth pointing out that Georgia is the only team in the conference in the top ten in Brian’s DLD rankings. Everyone’s facing the same QBs, right?


      • MGW

        To say nothing of the youth in the secondary. Pruitt’s earned his check, it just doesn’t look like much cause the offense doesn’t do squat so the defense gets an average of like 4 plays off between drives.


  3. Part of the same story is short-field drives versus opposition short-field drives (defined as offensive possessions starting at midfield or on the opponent’s side of the field).

    Georgia’s SFD is .167 — meaning that 16.7% of Georgia’s offensive drives start at midfield or on the opponent’s side of the field. That’s good enough for 17th in the country and is a good reflection of that defensive efficiency when the other team gets the ball inside its own 20.

    The Opponent’s SFD is .133 — bad enough for 85th in the country. This is a pretty good indicator of a couple things: inept offense that turns the ball over and a punting game which does not “flip” field position due to not having a good punter/good punt coverage.


  4. JT (the other one)

    Yep not rocket surgery….


  5. Athens Dog

    All the stats seem to lead back to a lack of leadership, especially on offense and special teams.


  6. Ben

    If the Pruitt hire was so good, what do we attribute this offensive hire to? We all though and assumed that our talent on offense would help Schottenheimer look good, but either he isn’t or we’re not talented enough to overcome that.

    I understand that people are pissed off, but this is a brand new offensive staff with quarterbacks that just aren’t SEC caliber (yet, if ever).

    I know you shouldn’t keep a coach around in order to sign a high school kid, but if Richt goes, then Eason ends up at UF, and we end way, unless one of our QBs magically ends up being the Guy.


    • Biggus Rickus

      What do you mean? A person making one good hire (and I’m not sold on Pruitt being anything like a great hire) doesn’t imply he will continue to make good hires. I was skeptical of Schottenheimer from the start, and he’s turned out to be even worse than I suspected. You can fault talent all you like, but the four offensive linemen who returned from last season have gotten markedly worse, and I find it hard to believe Bobo wouldn’t have gotten better production out of the passing game than what we’ve seen the last month.


      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Rick, I have no dawg in the Schottenheimer Sweepstakes, but it would seem to me there are a number of reasons the offense is moribund, or has been the last three games, I am no longer sure play-calling has much to do with it.

        This offense is built around running between the tackles and play action pass. For play action to be effective you have to be effective running between the tackles…have to.

        It is easy to say the offensive line seems to be worse, and I don’t disagree with you that they do seem to be worse…benching Greg Pyke certainly is an indication that validates your, our, argument.

        I am beginning to wonder if the main problem, maybe all the problem, is that we do not have an effective replacement for Nick Chubb. Sony is a good back, works his butt off, but I do not think he is an 20-carry back, between the tackles. His main strength seems to be working in space, or from the wildcat. 🙂

        As has been said before, Nick Chubb had the unique ability to see hole, hit hole, see crease, hit crease. Maybe the offensive line was built for Nick Chubb, and that formula does not work as well with Sony, who, clearly does not have the vision of the field that Nick had.

        And to say losing Nick Chubb had no impact on quarterback performance is naive.

        To me, and this may be the most damning criticism of our offensive braintrust, we have an offense that we designed for Nick Chubb and its proving to be very difficult to redesign that offense for anybody else on the current roster.

        If this sounds like some Schottenheimer apology it is not meant that way, I am just trying to understand the reasons, some of which may be metaphysical, our offense seems so dysfunctional…no, it does not SEEM to be disfunctional…it IS dysfunctional.


        • Biggus Rickus

          I’m not expecting the running game to be as effective without Chubb, but it shouldn’t be completely inept either. My own theory is that players aren’t sure of responsibilities because he hasn’t taught them what to do properly. I think that’s why hiring pro coordinators is a major risk. The playcalling, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been generally bad. You can always find some in every game that didn’t work. Hell, people made a living out of it with Bobo.


          • Scorpio Jones, III

            God help my addiction, but I watched some of the Florida game the other night, we look….dazed and confused. Plays that should work, don’t. Catches that should be made, are not…

            One thing I can point to and wonder WTF…Keith Marshall.


            • Scorpio Jones, III

              I guess South Carolina really is that bad.


            • Biggus Rickus

              On offense at least, they look like the coaches have lost them. If that’s the case, the Kentucky game is going to be brutal. Not a loss necessarily, just hard to watch.


            • So, IL Dawg

              it’s all about the LOS. We’re getting pushed back 3 yards on offense and the defense isn’t getting any push. So, we can’t run it and other teams are able to run on us. Improve the LOS on both sides and the team will play much better.


        • Will (The Other One)

          With a healthy Chubb we went 3-and-out in the first possession vs ULM and were held to 30 yds or so in the first half by an FBS team.

          Losing Chubb made the vanilla playcalling and spotty blocking worse, but they’ve been there from the start of the season.


        • UGA85

          Chubb was healthy for the Bama game, and we were completely outclassed. Worst offensive display I can remember. Until the last few weeks. Blocking, catching, throwing (I.e., coaching) are all deficient on this team.


  7. UGA85

    There are so many ways to lose football games. Putting one’s defense in terrible situations over and over again is one of those ways. Alabama may not be spectacular or flashy, but they run the ball and play field position, making their defense even more impregnable. We need a system at UGA, an identity that looks at all these variables and strategies. We have none right now.


  8. Athens Townie

    Good post that gives even more support to the observation many have drawn:

    Our incompetent offense is throwing our competent defense to the wolves.

    Add in “special” teams incompetence, as others have noted above, and…


  9. But, but, but, he’s not complacent and wants to spend money and stuff!