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 cfbstats.com 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?