If you don’t bend, you can’t break.

Let’s get the easy thing out of the way first:  Georgia’s defensive red zone conversion percentage for the 2016 regular season stunk on ice, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  It was also a stunning drop from its third-place national finish from the season before.

The question I’ve got is how much does that matter to Smart and Tucker?  I’m not being facetious.  Check out Alabama’s national ranking in that stat over the past few seasons:

  • 2016:  40th
  • 2015:  63rd
  • 2014:  74th
  • 2013:  4th
  • 2012:  3rd
  • 2011:  1st
  • 2010:  3rd
  • 2009:  3rd

It sure seemed important for a while, but it’s almost like Saban’s lost interest lately (which, admittedly, is still a long way from finishing 127th out of 128 teams).

But look at where the Tide ranks in red zone attempts defended over that same period.

  • 2016:  1st
  • 2015:  2nd
  • 2014:  49th
  • 2013:  1st
  • 2012:  3rd
  • 2011:  1st
  • 2010:  7th
  • 2009:  1st

Now that’s consistent excellence there.

What’s Georgia’s story?

  • 2016:  26th
  • 2015:  7th
  • 2014:  30th
  • 2013:  73rd
  • 2012:  54th
  • 2011:  21st
  • 2010:  35th
  • 2009:  70th

Okay, that’s not as abysmal as next to last, but it’s pretty mediocre.

I joke about the Auburn game that the key to keeping Auburn from scoring regularly from the red zone was to keep Malzahn’s offense out of the red zone, but that’s actually how things played out in Georgia’s most impressive defensive effort of the year.

The trick to that, though, isn’t simple or one-sided.  You have to think turnover margin and field position play major roles in aiding a defense in keeping opponents from crossing its twenty.  So does stopping teams on third downs, though.  All of which has been a mixed bag for Georgia over the past few seasons.

All I’m saying here is, if indeed this is something that matters to Smart — and his track record at Alabama would indicate that it does — there’s a lot of work across the board left to be done.

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19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

19 responses to “If you don’t bend, you can’t break.

  1. Atticus

    Yep and it helps if you can get players on the field that will be in the NFL within a year or two like Floyd and Jenkins. You need game changers, playmakers. This defense is the youngest and worst defense we have had in 15 years imo. Not one outstanding player. No senior leaders, no draft picks for next year (Carter, Bellamy and Sanders can play but they aren’t close to elite) and very little depth at DB and LB. I think the DL has been addressed in last year,’s class LB and DB in this years. We will get there.

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  2. AusDawg85

    …there’s a lot of work across the board left to be done.

    Great insight there Anderson Cooper. 😉

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  3. doofusdawg

    Alanama’s aggressive blitzing defense vs. our base read and react. They give up some big plays outside redzone then bow up when the field shrinks. We don’t have the size or talent to bow up yet. Hopefully the kids get more comfortable next year and Tucker gets a little more aggressive.

    Same thing on offensive side for us imo.

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    • The Dawg abides

      I agree. The only time I remember the D bowing up was Kentucky’s last drive. They were running it down our throats and had 1st and goal, and we use a timeout to adjust. Kirby said the freshmen D-linemen weren’t lining up properly. It worked and we forced a field goal. I know it was Kentucky, but that was a huge stop. It allowed us to use the clock perfectly without the pressure of being down four to set up the winning field goal.

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  4. Bright Idea

    Lots of missed tackles in the red zone especially by Sanders and so much nickel coverage leaving a thin LOS were the culprits.

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  5. Field position and 3rd down defense make more difference in this than anything. If a team drives the length of the field especially converting 3rd downs along the way, it wears the defense out and doesn’t matter how much rotation you do. Giving up cheap field position with turnovers and special teams doesn’t help matters. The best you can hope for when a team gets into the red zone is to force a field goal attempt because you aren’t going to cause turnovers regularly (those are a bonus).

    In other words, there may be something to limiting the number of trips into the red zone as a better indicator of defensive efficiency.

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  6. DawgPhan

    The defense was pretty good at getting turnovers this year. We finished 20th.
    16th in INTs

    Seems like I saw this type of scenario several times this year.

    Def gets a stop @ around midfield> drive starts inside the 15 > 3 and out > 35 yard punt > 17 yard return

    Seems like I also remember a couple of punts on 4th down on their side of the field that netted less than 5 yards. During the games with no kicker.

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  7. Macallanlover

    Have thought our read and react has been an issue for years. We never seem to get that big, TFL from any of our interior guys. Sometimes you gotta roll the dice. Too often we make initial contact 3-4 yards beyond the LOS and then they fall for two more. Would prefer a big surge in the middle occasionally, we should have some athletes capable of disrupting other lines occasionally, we sure seem to face some from other teams regularly.

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  8. 69Dawg

    Kirby’s waiting for the 350 Mount Cody before we can exert our will on the other team. If they pass for a TD in the red zone that happens but when they just hand the ball off and run it right up the middle on you that just sucks. It happened over and over.

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  9. AthensHomerDawg

    Vandy game….sigh.

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  10. RCBRick

    What reason do we have to believe that red zone defense matters, and isn’t just noise? What percentage of time does a defense spend in the redzone? 20%? It’s the equivalent of trying to judge a team’s full season based on 2-3 games, which is a pretty pointless exercise.

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