Phil Steele will be the first to tell you that returning starts on the offensive line is a big deal.
There’s always an exception to every such rule, though. Let Patrick Garbin explain.
Next, I wanted to see if there was a correlation between a Bulldogs squad’s offensive line starts entering a season and its winning percentage at the end of the campaign. Therefore, I used the trusty correlation coefficient measurement. A few times before, I’ve used/explained this quantity, ranging from -1 to +1, like how there is a strong relationship between Rivals’ team recruiting rankings and how a team performs in terms of their final placement in the AP Poll, a moderate relationship between Georgia’s time of possession and winning percentage, and a near-strong relationship between the average Rivals rating of Georgia’s starters from 2008 through 2015 and the winning percentage of each respective team.
Yet, as far as offensive line career starts and winning percentage, there’s no positive relationship at all. In fact, there’s a moderate negative relationship of -0.318. For instance, take a look at the table above. Georgia’s top four seasons of career offensive line starts returning yielded an average record of just 8 wins and 5 losses, whereas the bottom four remarkably wound up with an average record of 11 wins and 2.5 losses.
So, as far as a good indicator over the last 27 years in terms of how a Georgia team will perform, “a returning offensive line” has not necessarily equated to wins for the Bulldogs. In fact, if anything, the opposite has been the case.
Gee, why am I not surprised?
The more interesting question is how Georgia has managed to buck Steele’s trend. Bad line coaching? Good enough offensive scheming to offset substandard line play? Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb?
Honestly, I have no idea. I just hope they’re not wasting their time with Coach Pittman and a great recruiting class.