The early tale of the tape isn’t pretty.

Jason Butt points out a few statistical shortcomings.

Georgia has given up 18 plays of 20 yards or more through its first four games of the season. Eight of those big plays came against Ole Miss, which included a 23-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram on the Rebels’ first play from scrimmage and a 41-yard rushing touchdown by Kelly in the third quarter.

Taking it a step further, nine of the aforementioned plays have been 30 yards or more. Four have been longer than 40 yards.

Through Georgia’s first four games a season ago, the Bulldogs only gave up nine plays of 20 yards or more. Of course the schedule was significantly lighter, with games against Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Southern to open the season.

The Bulldogs did begin to give up big plays last season in October as they surrendered 23 plays of 20 yards or more in games against Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida. But that stretch can be considered tougher than what it has gone through this year, with North Carolina, Nicholls State, Missouri and Ole Miss up first.

To put it more bluntly:  last season, Georgia finished tied for sixth nationally in opponents’ long plays from scrimmage; this year, the Dawgs are tied for seventy-sixth in that category.  Not a good trend, in other words, even taking scheduling into account.

Of course, that got me started wading through  Here are three more depressing rankings on the offensive side of the ball — depressing, but not necessarily surprising:

  • Sacks allowed:  14th in 2015; 109th in 2016
  • Passer rating:  57th in 2015; 107th in 2016
  • Offensive yards per play:  40th in 2015; 99th in 2016

It’s early, I know.  And we can hope Georgia is merely going through a transitional phase.  But while some of the decline can be chalked up to scheme changes on the o-line and in the secondary, as well as the growing pains being suffered with a true freshman starting quarterback, it’s also a little disturbing to hear a Process disciple acknowledging a third of the way into the season that there are issues with his team’s mechanics.

Kirby Smart offered a simple solution to Georgia’s big-play problems during the first third of the season.

Coming off a game in which Mississippi gashed the Bulldogs with big-yardage gains, Smart knows his defense to hold up better with Tennessee coming to town at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“Tackle better,” Smart said. “I mean, the offenses we play, they get explosive plays on everybody. It’s more about limiting those. Like you mentioned, how do I give up less? If we tackle better, and you take nine of the 15 missed tackles away, then you take away about seven big plays. I think that’s the most important thing.”


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

59 responses to “The early tale of the tape isn’t pretty.

  1. Bright Idea

    Lots of these big plays aren’t directly related to missed tackles as much as wide open space.

  2. Greg

    All of those points on the board ain’t just tackling, they have to be in position to make plays….the right defensive call – to recognize offensive sets and make adjustments and etc. Pruitt got the most out of them, we have coaching issues imo. Sounds to me he his just deflecting blame to the players again, or the lack of. Reckon the players are getting tired of hearing it yet??

  3. Grathams replacement

    Those offensive stats are a direct result of the OL play. Eason and the RBs are getting used to defenders in the backfield. Pruitt had better pass rushers to help the DBs out. There are no pass rushers on this team and the opposing QB has plenty of time to find someone open. DB/LB coverage could be better but finding a pass rush is the priority.

    • Greg

      You’re probably right. Heck, we don’t even need coaching or direction….just better players. Just think of the savings…..

    • So. IL Dawg

      the pass rush is the most important thing we need. if the DB’s only have to cover for 2 seconds, it’s much easier on them. however, if the QB has 4 or 5 seconds to survey the field; someone will get wide open. and this is what’s happening. it all starts on the LOS for both the O and D.

      • Can it also be that we should be giving the D-line some help with generating pressure in obvious passing situations (2nd and long and 3rd and 5+)? Unless you have the reincarnated Purple People Eaters or the Steel Curtain, you aren’t going to generate consistent pressure with just the defensive front (3 or 4). You don’t have to all out blitz, but some zone pressure probably would help these guys out. The problem is we aren’t making teams throw in front of the sticks especially on 3rd down because the QB is given the time to survey the field and find the guy open beyond the 1st down marker.

        This ain’t rocket science or brain surgery …

        • Biggus Rickus

          Third down isn’t their problem. Teams are converting at a 35% rate, worse than last year but not alarmingly so. Especially considering three of the offenses they’ve faced appear to be very good.

          • That’s fair. I’m just responding to the pass rush question. Sure on early downs or in unfavorable down & distance for the defense, a guy on the front 4 needs to make a play and beat the guy in front of him to get pressure. You can’t live on all-out pressure in those situations. I definitely haven’t charted it, but it seems in obvious passing situations we aren’t giving those guys some help. Sacks in particular are momentum changing plays, and pressure produces turnover opportunities. I still think about those 3rd down plays in Jacksonville where Grantham brought a safety blitz late in the game. Rambo timed it perfectly in 2012. Corey Moore did the same thing in 2013.

            I would also like to see how many 3 and outs the defense has generated so far … once again, those are momentum changing series.

            • Biggus Rickus

              I’ve seen some five and six man pressures that generated next to nothing, but yeah, I haven’t looked at in any detail.

  4. Russ

    I’m not sure what he’s supposed to say, but those quotes about tackling better (“buttah”) don’t inspire confidence. Starting to sound like another ex-letterman head coach from south Georgia.

  5. RandallPinkFloyd

    If Briscoe turns his head around in time on Saturday, he breaks up the pass and 3 of those big plays don’t occur. Or if Lorenzo Carter doesn’t fall out of his shoes trying to tackle Kelly. Would like to see Walker get some looks off the edge at this point.

    The OL is a disaster and I don’t see how it gets much better this year. Wynn should be playing LT, Dyshon should be RT and Pyke needs to go back to G.

    • Otto

      Yes if Carter tackles better UGA gets another sack or 2, if the WRs catch better UGA gets a few more explosive plays, and if the kicker makes a FG UGA gets a few points. Dropped balls by the WRs is my biggest disappointment thus far.

      OL play isn’t shocking, I hope Pittman and recruiting will turn it around in the next few years. As bad as last Saturday was Smart needs time to recruit the talent needed to compete. I like the size Smart is recruiting across the board. Why are UGA’s best WRs so short?

    • Sh3rl0ck

      Dyshon should be RT

      Have you been hanging out with Cojones? Did he not warn you about the brownies?

  6. DawgPhan

    those offensive stats are pretty bad.

    How on earth were we 14th in sacks allowed last year?

  7. On one side, we have the crowd who blames the coaches, and on the other, we have those who blame the players.

    Can everyone agree that both really aren’t where we want them right now? Players are breaking down fundamentally when plays are there. Coaches likely aren’t putting these guys in position to be successful consistently or drilling on fundamentals enough.

    Bottom line is the team looks like it’s running with about 4 of 8 cylinders firing right now.

    • DawgPhan

      On the one side you have professionals making millions of dollars to perform a service.

      On the other you have kids playing a game.

  8. ASEF

    I was hopeful that the coaches could find some work-arounds for the roster holes. Georgia’s roster right now is a car with some very expensive tires and a nice leather interior – but the engine needs an overhaul, and the transmission is glitchy.

    Tennessee’s defensive line is going to eat Georgia’s offensive line for lunch. Florida worked around that for a half with some misdirection and screens, and then Tennesee blew them out of the stadium. Florida, by the way, has had a year to acclimate to McElwain on offense and a defense that many consider to be one of the best in the country.

    Our offensive and defensive lines are just bad. No one that makes opposing coordinators adjust their schemes. No depth. Not even much experience. There’s just nothing to work with there right now.

    Right now, I think this team should beat South Carolina, Vandy, Kentucky, and ULL, and Tech. I don’t see any possibility with Tennessee or Florida, given their advantages in the trenches. And Auburn’s defensive line against our offensive line will probably be decisive, unfortunately, but their offense right now is reason to give any opponent hope.

    8-4, maybe 9-3. I’m not saying I would happy with that, but I’m kind of mystified at people who expected 10 or 11 wins this year.

    • Daniel Simpson Day

      Florida also had a 5th year QB like Lambert – which still managed to come to a screeching halt after halftime. For someone that can’t stand either team, it was surprisingly painful to watch the second half.

      • Otto

        I found it rather enjoyable, a Florida loss is almost always a great thing, and UT coming in after breaking a decade long streak sets up great for a hangover.

  9. illini84

    Ol Mis had 421 yard passing against the greatest defense evah!

  10. Daniel Simpson Day

    If you look at defensive production in 2014 it was all Herrera and Wilson (both seniors). In 2015 the production shifted outside to Floyd and Jenkins (both seniors – at least in time playing in Floyd’s case) and that was matched with an experienced D-line. Together, they accounted for nearly all TFL and sacks etc. and were the “protection” afforded the secondary by Pruitt. Now that they’re gone, we have a new line (sans Thompson and Atkins) and no senior experience in the LB core. Carter regressed in production from his freshman year to his sophomore year and that trend seems to continue unabated – with his same position coach. While the DB’s have some experience, none are the class of athlete that can go man to man on top end receivers.

    As for the offense, we lost both tackles with 4 years experience and our best receiver who accounted for over 1/3 of all receiving yards. We have no one taking his place. A true freshman QB is not going to be able to account for this much less run much more than a read-option offense right out of the gate. Somebody has to step up and help him out.

    One more thing, if you look at our OL recruiting over the last 4 years, you’ll notice that not only did we not sign much talent, but that (development notwithstanding) we’re only retaining about 65% of the signees.

    I don’t care who the coach is, it’s going to take some building time.

  11. Go Dawgs!

    Where have you gone, Leonard Floy-oy-oy-d, Dawg Nation turns its lonely eyes to you… boo hoo hoo…

  12. The Bulldogs did begin to give up big plays last season in October as they surrendered 23 plays of 20 yards or more in games against Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida. But that stretch can be considered tougher than what it has gone through this year, with North Carolina, Nicholls State, Missouri and Ole Miss up first.

    2015 YPP: Alabama, 49th, Tenn, 70th, Missouri 125th, Florida 102nd.

    2016 YPP: UNC 6th, Nicholls (FCS…so we’ll say 129th, or last in FBS), Missouri 17th, Ole Miss 15th.

    So the bolded section is simply false by any measure. Not saying this year hasn’t been bad, but saying it was harder facing offenses averaging 86.5 in the nation in YPP compared to this year, where that number is 41.75 (which includes an FCS school) is patently absurd.

    • DawgPhan

      you really only listed the one measure, so can’t accept the by any measure statement.

      Also comparing a YPP stat that compares games played. Do we really think that Missouri will be 17th in YPP at the end of the season? UNC 6th?

      • Uh….yeah. I do, actually. I would bet both are top-25 teams when it comes to YPP, and that’s how you judge an offense, not YPG.

        • DawgPhan

          Alright. I guess we can see at the end of the season. I dont think Mizzou is a top offensive team this season, but they might be.

          • Mizzou has an uptempo offense with a very good WR corps plus a QB that can sling it. They also play in the SEC east. They’ll be much, much better offensively this year.

            But that’s not even the point of my critique. The four-game stretch Butt points out from 2015 included two of the worst offenses in the nation plus Tenn. Bama at 49th in YPP was clearly the best offense UGA faced over that stretch. Saying that was a tougher stretch of offenses faced is just untrue.

    • hailtogeorgia

      I was going to say the same thing. Mizzou last year was a dumpster fire, offensively. They’re much improved this year. North Carolina is strong offensively, and of course Ole Miss is as explosive as anyone. If you cancel last year’s Mizzou with this year’s Nicholls, I’d have to say the group in this year’s stretch are tougher.

  13. doofusdawg

    so much for dying of a thousand cuts… wait… forgot that’s what we were trying to do.

  14. paul

    I can’t believe I’m typing this yet again. I was hoping these days might be behind us now. I just want to see us get out on the field, look like we know what we’re doing, play hard on every play and be competitive. We simply cannot keep allowing ourselves to get curb stomped while acting like we’re not really sure what’s going on. It’s maddening. I’m don’t even think the real question is whether or not our issue is primarily talent or coaching. Even with inferior talent and less than optimal coaching we ought to look better than we have the last three weeks. This team, and I use the term generously here, doesn’t appear to believe in itself.

  15. Macallanlover

    TN’s passing attack seems better than Nicholls, but far behind Ole Miss and Mizzou, and slightly behind UNC. I didn’t look up the statistics, this is based on how I see the talent we have matched against what the other side has. Missing Alien from Area 51 is not that good of a passer, their receivers don’t don’t have the huge edge in speed/route running, and their offensive coordinator isn’t much more than we have. (I am convinced they drugged the FU team at halftime because that was a different team thaqt came back out.) I do agree that Walker is our most disruptive player as a front 7 defender, and we need to try someone different for Briscoe, replacement or help, because that is where the attack begins.

    Repeating from yesterday, I am not saying we have a guaranteed win, or even a one score game with TN, but they are not close to being as good as Ole Miss, nor as dangerous/explosive offensively. If we don’t keep this competitive on Saturday, we should be very concerned because UT has some similar issues as we do with bad OL, lack of a running game, and dropped passes from receivers. So I am saying….we have a shot!

  16. Biggen


    It’s talent, a new scheme on both Offense and Defense, and it’s some odd coaching mixed in. 9 – 3 at best and 7 – 6 at worst. 8 wins would match Richt’s 1st year total so I guess that’s not bad. It’s not an upgrade, though, which is what we were sold on with Kirby. If we wanted wanted to settle for less than 10 wins a year we should have never fired Richt.

    I just don’t see how you fix any issues this year. No talent in the secondary (or very little), no talent in the O line, and minimal talent in the D line (Thompson is the exception). How much can you really coach up guys that probably won’t start on any other line in the SEC??

    • Athens Townie

      Yup. Recruiting needs to be elite for during the next couple cycles in order to get the roster right. We have to fill gaps on OL, DL, QB, WR, and more. We’re young and thin. We also have to fill the gaping hole left behind by the Lost Recruiting Classes of 2013 and 2014. Those problems are on Richt, not Kirby.

      What is on Kirby: figuring out how to maximize what we have in 2016. I have a feeling tacking better isn’t the only improvement available.

      • Russ

        “I have a feeling tacking better isn’t the only improvement available.”

        LOL! Yep. And before we start tackling better (has it really been that bad?), the players need to be in the same zip code as the ball carrier.

      • illini84

        But he is soooo mean to the players! /s

  17. Will Trane

    After watching the UT vs UF game I think the Gators much hyped defense had issues with coverage and spacing in pass coverage. Hello, Collins.
    But Mel Tucker and Kirby Smart are hammered after a road game against a very good Ole Miss team.
    Totally baffled by this!
    Dawgs and Tide have some defense in common. Pruitt and Smart and Ole Miss. Care to watch Saban / Smart vs Ole Miss in past three games. Or Pruitt vs Ole Miss.
    Where Smart and staff find themselves is what many of us have said for the past 3-4 years. Roster management re the style you like to play.
    I would like to see the Dawgs put a very heavy emphasis on the Oline for a change. I would like to see them play with an eight man rotation in a hybrid pro style. If they can now, start using the entire field, vertically and horizontally. Create more space,, gaps, and lanes.
    Want to see more Magic 3, three tight end sets, if even they use both full backs. Do not put Chubb or the running back behind the QB. Widen the box for a change.
    The biggest concern with this team for me is lack of quickness and speed. They have none other than Eason’s passes. His release and velocity on the ball. You do not coach that up. Either you have or you don’t. He has both.
    There was a big difference in team speed and quickness between Rebs and Dawgs. Some of that was due to 90+ plays on the road the previous week and back on the road again playing a very good offense and potential defense.
    But how do they match up with Tennessee is still a puzzle for me. Can not wait to see how the coaches game plan this and during the game. Plus I think the constant injuries to Chubb impacts this fragile, young team at present. Chubb has to become more visiable as well as Michel going forward re scoring.

    • 69Dawg

      Will this is Alabama football we’re talking about. We don’t need but one game plan. Exert our will on them, control them, not with a game plan but with talent. I hope I live long enough to see this happen but ain’t going to hold my breath. Until then we lose to more talented teams and some not so much.

  18. W Cobb Dawg

    I miss Jeremy Pruitt.