From boom to fizzle

Ah, those were the days, my friends.

I don’t want to say I’m obsessed about what happened to Georgia’s offense last season, but I do remain curious about finding some reasons why a ten-win season felt disappointing (beyond the obvious head-scratcher about what was behind the game plan against Florida).

I spent some time yesterday scrounging around in that regard and did turn up one thing: the demise of the big-play passing game.  Here’s Georgia’s national ranking for pass plays of 40-yards or more over the past four seasons:

  • 2012:  1st
  • 2013:  42nd
  • 2014:  103rd
  • 2015:  117th

Georgia survived not having a quarterback who could make big passing plays in 2014 because of its running game, Mason’s school record setting pass completion percentage, its ability to convert on third-down and superior starting field position.  In other words, it substituted greater efficiency for explosiveness.  In 2015, it lost its edge in efficiency as well, and the end result was serious scoring atrophy.

I don’t bring this up because I’m living in the past, or because I feel the need to rehash things some of you no doubt don’t want to hear.  What I’m trying to see at this point is what steps Chaney has to take to revive Georgia’s offense, because finishing ninth in the SEC in scoring at a little more than 26 points per game isn’t gonna cut it.  I don’t expect Georgia’s offense to be all things to all men this season, but it seems to me that the big call Chaney and Smart have to make is whether it suits Georgia’s personnel better to chase being more efficient than the offense was a year ago, or whether looking for a more explosive passing game is the way to go.

Which is kind of the quarterback debate in a nutshell.

One more thing… what really got me started on this yesterday wasn’t looking at offensive stats.  It was looking at how good Georgia’s defense was at preventing the big pass play.  Check out the national rankings in that regard over the same time period.

  • 2012:  107th
  • 2013:  73rd
  • 2014:  1st
  • 2015:  14th

I’m not surprised at the jump registered after Grantham’s departure, given Pruitt’s stated philosophical emphasis on not giving up the big play.  But I am a bit gobsmacked at how bad the defense was preventing the big pass in 2012, when there were future NFL players all over the place.

What’s really interesting to me, though, is that last season Alabama ranked 73rd nationally in that regard.  Was that the price paid for having a lock down run defense, and, if so, is that a trade off we should expect from Georgia this season?



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

56 responses to “From boom to fizzle

  1. I'm right, you're wrong

    Horse dead. You can stop beating.

  2. Derek

    We may have “survived” in 2014 or whatever that means but we had exactly the same record and Alabama wasn’t on the 2014 schedule.

    This does illustrate our offensive weakness the past two seasons though: bad qb play. We haven’t been able to stretch the field which leaves us helpless against the teams that can reasonably control our run game i.e., the good teams on the schedule. There may be some statistical differences between the 2014 and 2015 teams, but neither were championship teams because neither fielded a qb who could consistently threaten a quality defensive secondary.

    As far as Alabama’s defensive stats, given the fact that you couldn’t run the ball at all against them and most teams were playing from behind, I’m not surprised their defensive passing statistics are mediocre. If we give up 74 yards per game rushing, I won’t worry too much about passing defense stats. You force a team into “Chuck and duck” and you’ll give up some yards but you’ll win most of those games. As much as football changes, this never will: run the ball, stop the run, win the game. Football is and always will be a LOS game.

    • I would call going from 8th to 85th in scoring offense more than “some statistical difference”.

      • Derek

        I’m shocked, shocked to find out that a team with Gurley AND/OR Chubb is more productive than a team with neither. The 2014 had one or the other or both available for each and every game. The 2015 team had neither for 8. That’ll have a statistical impact as surprising as that might be for some.

    • MGW

      Forgive him for not being Tom Brady but Mason doesn’t deserve a comparison to any of the QB’s on last season’s team. Chubb and Gurley are not the only things separating 2014 from 2015. We at least beat Tennessee and probably Florida if Mason was the QB last season.

      We won 10 games last year because the schedule was garbage, and we still needed a lot of luck with several of those wins. We won 10 games in 2014 because the team was good, including Mason.

      • Derek

        Mason had a chance to beat UF with Chubb. He lost to tech. At home. He didn’t have to play Alabama. He didn’t have to play 8 games without either Chubb or Gurley. Mason never had a game on par with Lambert’s performances vs. USC and Southern. I can’t find much to put Mason above Lambert. They’re both very average at best. You aren’t winning anything of consequence with either.

        • Sh3rl0ck

          The Mason led teams never lost because of an inability to score. The team had a bad habit of losing when the defense gave up 38 points.

          The real conversation here shouldn’t be Mason vs. Lambert, it should be Bobo vs. Schotty and how Chaney will game plan with our QBs this season in comparison.

          • Derek

            We went 40 minutes without scoring against Florida.

            We scored 17 offensive points vs. Tech.

            We lost these two games. Where we struggled to score.

            The facts are exactly the opposite of what you said they were.

            • Will (The Other One)

              Lost the starting center for a good stretch vs UF too.
              But yeah, there’s no excuses for the offensive output against a terrible Tech defense in Bobo’s last game. He’d been brilliant all season, but that game…it was like the linemen had never seen a run blitz.

  3. doofusdawg

    Part of the lock down run defense is the press corners and having at least nine defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage. When you don’t have receivers that can get off the line of scrimmage you get the train wreck we had in Nashville and the absence of big plays for consecutive years. I blame cmr for allowing Coach Ball to decimate our receiving corps.

    Hopefully a couple of guys can step up on the outside this year and create some big play options. The good thing is that we have the tight ends to get the job done on the inside if necessary. And hopefully the coaches with the balls to call the plays and the quarterback with the balls to throw it… deep as well as over the middle.

  4. Juan

    A mobile QB that can make the big play on the move while escaping pressure is the big difference. Lambert is completely incapable of doing that. Hell, he couldn’t make the big play from the pocket.

    • Which brings me back to this quote from Smart:

      Ramsey “did a really good job in the spring, picking up the offense, throwing the ball around. He gives us a little bit of mobility, a good athlete. He’s got to improve and compete and outcompete those two guys.”

      • Macallanlover

        Hate to use the Spring Game as a proof source but Ramsey did look much more comfortable at QB than I have seen him at any time before. After that game, and based primarily on that (I know), I thought he should be moved ahead of Lambert on the depth chart to start fall camp. I could see him to start the season, and stay there as Eason is given his chance to develop in a relief role. Just feel, IF his head is better, his arm justifies the move.

      • paul

        And yet Lambert was able to knock Ramsey off the top spot after just a couple of weeks in Athens. I think Kirby, unfortunately, is simply trying to do exactly what the coaches found themselves doing last year. Say nice things, encourage everyone and hope to God somebody steps up. The key words I see in in those sentences are “[h]e’s got to improve and compete and outcompete those two guys.” Something he hasn’t done for how many years now?

        • I’m not advocating that Ramsey is in line as the starter, just pointing out that in the eyes of his head coach he does possess an attribute.

          • paul

            He does. And I really, really wish he would develop that talent. When I first moved to St. Simons five years ago Ramsey was playing in Camden county. High school football being a big deal around here, everybody said “you have to go see this kid Ramsey!” I was stoked to know he had committed to UGA. His failure to develop continues to be a big disappointment. Unfortunately, it’s a common story throughout both college and professional football.

            • GATA

              3 different coordinators in 3 yrs doesn’t help the kid. Neither did running the Wing T and throwing like 9 passes a game in hs.

    • Uglydawg

      I often wonder (see my post at 8:45 below this) if CMR and Scotty just gambled that Chubb was unbreakable, and thus chose the mature and settled Lambert to “manage” the offense. Had they imagined that Chubb would suffer such an awful, season ending injury, maybe they would have built a really, hot fire under Ramsey and “refined” him to reach his potential. This may have been their largest error…When they bought Lambert in, Ramsey may have decided the writing was on the wall and decided he was just along for the ride. Losing Chubb exposed the error of that whole scheme…it was probably the one thing that could have.
      If CKS can get Ramsey’s motor running it can only help Georgia. We’re really right back in the same situation…if Chubb is as healthy as they say, KS can choose Lambert and hope Chubb stays healthy. If he goes down, we’re right back to last year’s situation. Ramsey is the solution, whether he starts or not…but that he is ready to play and play well.

  5. @gatriguy

    That 2012 offense tho.

    • D.N. Nation

      People still complained about Bobo that season.

      “Man, Bobo’s got the confidence to just keep giving Gurley the ball in space, it’s awesome.”
      “Yeah, but the 2010 Miss. State game sucked.”

  6. Today is the day for the rest of Gooooooooooo Dawgs, woof, woof.

  7. Uglydawg

    Reasons “why a ten win season felt disappointing”.
    This is akin to an Auburn fan wondering why Auburn’s win over Jax State seemed dissapointing. It goes down as a “W” in the books, so be proud.?
    Remember last summer we were all saying “We don’t need a great QB with Chubb on the field..just a good game manager” ? “Just hand it to Chubb”? Well, when Chubb went down, that was about it. I think CMR and Schotty put all of their eggs in one basket and it backfired. Neither of them had a decent answer to that occurance, and it showed…and in Jax it glowed. I almost want to say it was a lazy gamble and they lost. One would think that CMR would have learned to count on his best players being injured early and often. Maybe he just thought that it couldn’t happen one is that snake bit. I wonder if he just got tired of dealing with it, leaving Schott to his own resources and schemes.
    I’ve heard Ray Goff referred to as “the unluckiest coach” , because when a game turned on one play, it always went against him. Well, CMR may have been the unluckliest HC UGA ever had concerning injuries.

  8. Gravidy

    College football will be played this month. I’ve been waiting seven months to say that.

  9. Go Dawgs!

    Remember all those yokels out there who wanted to drive Mike Bobo to the airport? That still makes me laugh.

  10. I’ll trade passing rankings for under 80 yards per game rushing. Successful defenses make teams one-dimensional, and I would rather have a team have to pass 50x per game with plays that have a higher likelihood of failure than success.

  11. I hear people defend Schotty and Lambert by saying we won 10 games. I shake my head and say look at how quickly that could have been only 5 or 6 because of lack of points.

    We got lucky in several games and our Defense saved us in almost all of them.

    • D.N. Nation

      Exactly. Mizzou’s first play from scrimmage against us was 1st and goal from the 1. The defense ended up giving up 6 total points the entire game.

  12. PTC DAWG

    To answer your query..we beat nobody with a pulse, and played poorly in two- three other games against very mediocre teams. Hence our lofty final ranking.

  13. Few thoughts…first off I love any clips of the football plays. Second, after watching that first clip, I seem to remember reading that Kirby was looking for more mobility out of his QB’s.

  14. Greg

    In a lot of ways, last years team reminded me of some of Dooley’s old teams (game planning, excluding UF). No way in hell we should have squeezed 10 wins out, I never would have believed it (after TN game). I believe we are REALLY gonna miss Pruitt……offense will get better.

  15. DawgPhan

    CBS was a mistake that cost CMR his job. Seems like CMR was reluctant to step in before it was too late (florida game) and the end of the season was just classic grind these games out and try and win.

    Tech might not have been good, Or Ga Southern, or Auburn, but beating those guys is a lot better than losing to them.

    Some of you act like struggling to beat tech in Atlanta or Auburn in Auburn is the same as losing to Tech or Auburn. I assure you it is not.

    Imagine tech fans coming off one of the worst season in memory, with a 2 game win streak over UGA intact. You think that feels the same as beating those guys?

    • Greg

      Yep……we “struggled” a lot in ’80. Give me an ugly win any day, they all count the same from where I sit.

    • Yep. The offense was pretty awful once Chubb was out. Sony ran for 1,000+, but I would have rather have had him playing the role he did prior to the injury as a set of really good fresh legs and a guy you could move around to get him the ball in space rather than an every down back running between the tackles. The Florida game plan will always be the biggest damn head-scratcher.

      • Greg

        My guess is, Richt probably thought the best chance he had to beat Florida …was with a running QB – a dual QB. Initially, it seemed like a good idea. The only problem was, they did not give him a chance (running). I honestly do not think we would have beat them anyway….not matter who we used at QB. That was one ugly game.

  16. Big Shock

    Before the knee injury, it sure was fun to watch Justin Scott Wesley run. He could make the DB’s angles disappear. Hope UGA can find another track guy with decent hands.

  17. W Cobb Dawg

    I’ve always felt that whenever CMR had a good DC/defense, he became much more conservative (i.e. took his foot off the gas). CMR frequently left the D to do the heavy lifting. It’s no surprise the offense loosened up and had to produce more when we had a poor or mediocre D.

    I think those stats say far more about the coaching approach than it says about our QBs.

  18. Sh3rl0ck

    I’m not surprised at the jump registered after Grantham’s departure, given Pruitt’s stated philosophical emphasis on not giving up the big play. But I am a bit gobsmacked at how bad the defense was preventing the big pass in 2012, when there were future NFL players all over the place.

    What’s really interesting to me, though, is that last season Alabama ranked 73rd nationally in that regard. Was that the price paid for having a lock down run defense, and, if so, is that a trade off we should expect from Georgia this season?

    I think these numbers just show a difference in philosophy between Grantham and Pruitt. Grantham believed in being aggressive, going for turnovers, and forcing three and outs. This was at the expense of being vulnerable to the big play. Pruitt was a bend-but-don’t-break guy. He didn’t give up the big play, but had a habit of letting teams march down the field.

    The stat that you would expect to have the biggest variance between the two philosophies is long pass plays. Alabama coming in at 73rd just shows that Smart was more to the aggressive side than BBDB. Both philosophies are equally valid and both produce top 10 defenses.

  19. Will Trane

    Jeremy Pruitt is at Bama now.
    Thanks Fran, you FI!
    Remember two games Bama had last year in which they surrendered over 40 points. Ole Miss and Clemson. Frankly when you watch those games you become convinced neither Saban or Smart knew how to stop or even slow down those offenses.
    It will take a lot of work and players for UGA to reach those numbers Pruitt’s defense put in.

  20. CB

    I too, am still flabbergasted that the offense struggled under a brand new offensive staff, with Virginia’s back up qb, after losing the best rb in the nation. It just makes no sense. We should keep looking for stats to see if there is an explanation for these completely unforeseeable results. It’s like we’re in the twilight zone. How could our offense not succeed under those circumstances? Perhaps we’ll never know. It’s a mystery of Scooby Doo proportions. What happened to Amelia Earhart, and how was Georgia’s offense so bad in 2015. These two things are the same.

    • Greg

      SO!!… is indeed the “Jimmies and Joes and not the X’s & O’s”??

      • CB

        No question, especially if you consider the offensive staff to be jimmy’s and joe’s.

        • Uglydawg

          It’s the Jimmies and Joes and Brysons who weren’t worked with or coached up enough to step in and take over when they were needed that bother me.

          • CB

            Is Bryson supposed to be Brice Ramsey? He hit the ground throwing interceptions against cupcakes, and he’s also on his third straight offensive staff, at what point is the kid just a bad player?

            • Uglydawg

              Yes, I meant Brice. You could be right, but I suspect he’s just had trouble maturing..As I said in another post..he needs a fire built under him..he needs some extreme supervision. I would like to see him get another opportunity because I am not sold on Lambert unless Chubb and Sony are really healthy.
              He has been prone to throw to the wrong side. He was just unfortunate enough to throw to the DBs who had hands.

              • CB

                Maybe so. Ramsey has just never shown me enough to even consider buying in. He’s done some decent things, some really bad things, and nothing that is particularly impressive.

              • CB

                Pretty good punter though. I’ll give him that.

  21. Russ

    Sorry to see the Sackerlina highlights end early. I loved that 8 minute drive to close out the game. Just rammed it down their throats. (Or maybe we didn’t. I seem to remember people saying how we haven’t done that since 2005.)

    • CaliDawg

      Loved that drive too, I’ve watched that in its entirety many times. One of my summer rituals is to comb through highlights of previous seasons, except 2015, which was so scarring and painful I can’t bring myself to watch highlights of any of it.