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Forget it, Jake. It’s the offensive line.

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.

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15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

15 responses to “Forget it, Jake. It’s the offensive line.

  1. Probably those backs and some lucky breaks in scheduling for a few years along with Florida coming off of its Urban run.

    When UGA ran into grown man DL with those bad OL, they got manhandled.

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  2. In our case, the quality of the running backs have generally masked the deficiencies along the offensive line. The one exception to that was 2012 where we had both … 2 game-breaking running backs and a solid offensive line with an experienced QB. It should be no surprise why that team was one of the best in yards per play.

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    • Macallanlover

      Excellent point. Football is such a fully integrated game that success is more than having more than any one key component. Having a strong OL is certainly a huge factor capable of influencing success (Wisconsin, Nebraska, etc.) but you have to have the other pieces to mesh well, including the coaches taking advantage of their available talent.

      2012 was having enough offensive talent with an OC that knew how to use the joystick, but not enough depth along the DL to stand up for 60 minutes against Bama. It was a virtual draw as it turned out, but there was a case where an average OL was enough to move the ball consistently against a very talented defense because of the other offensive components.

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      • Chadwick

        Have playmakers across the offensive position groups was the reason Clemson and UGA rolled up points and yards on the Tide. Their defense was forced to herd cats and when they moved to counter what the offenses were doing another breach opened. It’s imperative for Smart to find and sign playmakers at all skill positions. If you’re going to slay the Saban you better have a lot of bullets.

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        • Macallanlover

          True, and be willing to shoot those bullets from all angles at any time. We have lot of playmakers for a defense to prepare for, but can our chess master prove capable of utilizing all of them? That is my biggest offensive concern for 2017, the past season didn’t make us look dangerous to anyone….that has to change.

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  3. JasonC

    Honestly, without doing the stats, I’ve always recognized that since the start of Richt’s tenure almost every time the papers and experts predicted The OL to be a strength for UGA, it’s almost always been one of the weakest links. I think injuries played a part a couple of times (e.g. Sturdivant), but other times it was just a miss.

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  4. sniffer

    Is that good science? I would point out the coaches during the 27 year sample might have as much to do with the results as anything.

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  5. Dawgy

    Phil Steele had the UGA Oline ranked as the 7th best in the country coming into last year.
    My concern…..this,
    “I just hope they’re not wasting their time with coach Pittman and a great recruiting class.”

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  6. DawgByte

    We could be faced with an even worse offensive line this year. I have little faith in the returning group of players. We’ve got a solid group of Freshmen coming in, but the $64K question is whether they’re able to learn the playbook, big boy techniques and be physically ready to play. That’s a lot of IF’s!

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  7. 69Dawg

    A lot of it is changing offensive line coaches. Every position coach is different, even if he is recruited to coach in a system that he might be used to. The two LOS must be the most coordinated of all the position groups. The offensive line has to be trained to perform like a ballet company. Everybody has a job but everybody’s job is dependent for success on the performance of the other players in the company (Oline). A great RB can make the Oline look good if he can hit the holes before they close. The true test of an Oline’s greatness is if they can elevate a normal running back into a star. That old man’s expression “heck even I could run through that hole” says it all. I long for UGA to see the best of both worlds a great line and a great back to run wild.

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  8. Uglydawg

    Mostly it WAS Moreno, Gurley and Chubb…also large was Coach Bobo and his knack for calling the best play at the best time. Last year seemed to be the antithesis of that knack. With Sony and Chubb coming back with an now experienced Eason..and those tight ends….something really good is possible but not promised. We’ve got studs lining up outside the OT’s that can catch and add yards afterward.
    If there was one thing I missed last year, it was seeing a lot of screen passes. Maybe wrong, but it seems like the screens were too few and far between.
    This team will be as good as the game coaching is. If it’s great, this team will be great. If it’s poor, this team will under perform (see 2016). All the coach-speak in the world won’t change the fact that the burden is on the coaches themselves.

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