Daily Archives: September 13, 2018

Should Georgia be concerned about its sack rate?

If you haven’t seen Bill Connelly’s 2018 college football statistical profiles data dump — and, yes, it’s massive — by all means, take a gander at Georgia’s.  If you do, you’ll find Georgia’s sack rate on all downs ranks 118th nationally and on passing downs 108th.

If you’d prefer raw numbers, Georgia has one sack through two games.  That’s tied for last in the conference, as well as nationally.  Yeah, that’s not good.

It’s led to some Twitter concern, too.

So, should we be worried, even if it’s still a small sample size?  Honestly, at this point, it’s hard for me to say, for more than one reason.

To start with, it’s an echo of 2017.  Remember?

Pay no attention to that sack number, the coaches say. Or at least don’t pay too much attention to it. Don’t be alarmed that Georgia, even with its vaunted defense, is on pace for the least sacks this century.

That point has thus been made. Now move on to the trend that is, by all accounts, real: Georgia’s pass rush needs to get better. A lot better, if this team hopes to be truly special.

“We aren’t rushing like we were the first couple of games,” senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy said. “I don’t know why that is. But we have that bye week to figure it out.”

Georgia has 10 sacks this season, tied for the least in the SEC with Arkansas and Mississippi State. That would put Georgia on pace, even in a 14-game season, for just 20 sacks, the lowest since, well, it’s not that clear, but definitely since the start of the 2000 season.

Things picked up and Georgia finished the season with 34 sacks, good for sixth in the SEC.  So, yes, it’s early.  That’s reason one.

Next, consider the first two games.  The first was a cupcake opener against a team that primarily runs on offense (including the quarterback).  Georgia showed nothing un-vanilla on defense and the game was a rout.  As far as South Carolina goes, there was plenty of passing, but it came from an offense that ran a lot of shotgun, quick-draw passes, not particularly conducive to sacks.  Not to mention, it, too, developed into a lopsided affair before the end of the third quarter.  The settings haven’t been sack happy, in other words.  That’s reason two.

Interesting thing, though about that South Carolina game.  Even though the Dawgs only recorded one sack, they did manage pressure.  Take a look at this chart.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest little of that pressure came from Coastal Carolina.  (If anyone has access to data that suggests otherwise, please let me know.)

I mention this because it leads into reason three, Kirby’s defensive philosophy.  Smart is a Saban disciple and for Nick Saban, playing good defense always begins with stopping the run and making your opponent’s offense one-dimensional.  Sure, it would be nice to deploy an otherworldly defensive line that lets you have it all, but otherwise, if you have to make a choice, it’s going to be stop the run first, every time.

Which is why Smart says stuff like this:

“(Stopping the run) probably takes a little bit away from the pass rush, to be honest with you,” Smart said. “I think it’s really important for these guys not to give the quarterback a lot of time to sit back there because he’s really good at it.”

If stopping the run is the top priority, pressuring the quarterback is next, but pressuring doesn’t mean sacking necessarily.  The goal is to control the line of scrimmage, take away the run game and squeeze the quarterback.  The end game is to take away the big play.  Cue another Kirby quote:

“You have to be careful how many times you overdo the rush because they have an incredible screen game, and the quarterback is a very good decision-maker. He knows where he’s going with the ball.”

He’s talking about Middle Tennessee, a team Vanderbilt just waxed, but it doesn’t matter.  He’s not changing his philosophy to suit a cupcake opponent.  No matter what, he’s not going to let the big play beat him.

Besides, why should he change?  He’s got an offense that’s proven itself explosive, given sufficient opportunity.  Hem your opponent in, deny the big play and let your offense do its thing eventually has proven to be an effective formula so far.  (Not to mention Georgia’s offensive line has done its job keeping the pressure off its quarterbacks.)

That all being said, and recognizing that sacks won’t be a major thing this week, either, the time is coming quite soon when they will be.  Like the week after this, when they face a quarterback who’s humming along.

After losing offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to UCF, some fans were concerned that Missouri’s offense would take a step back. After two games, it’s probably time for them to admit this offense at least as much a product of the talent as the coaching, if not more. Through two games, Drew Lock is 14-20 with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions on throws 10 or more yards downfield. His completion percentage on those throws (70.0%) is better than all but three other SEC quarterbacks’ overall completion percentage.

And as that CFB Film Room chart I posted shows, Lock’s getting excellent protection.

A critical component to Missouri’s success is its dominant offensive line. Lock has been pressured on just 12.3 percent of his dropbacks, the lowest rate in the conference. Left tackle Yasir Durant, who was named to our preseason All-SEC team, has picked up where he left off last season. He has yet to allow a QB pressure in 76 snaps in pass protection.

That’s against UT Martin and Wyoming, though, both of which have combined for a 1-4 record to date, so it’s not like Mizzou’s been particularly challenged by a defense yet.  You have to assume that’ll be something the Dawgs want to change.  That’s when we’ll get our first solid clue about whether it’s time to worry about sacks.



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

New nooner

If you’ve made Saturday plans that worked around a 7:15 game time start, Florence just changed those for you.


Speaking as one of those folks, all I can say is ah, hells.


UPDATE:  By the way, good luck on viewing or taping this now.


Filed under Georgia Football

The last line of defense

Georgia’s secondary, for all the talk of being in the process of figuring things out after the loss of some senior talent, has acquitted itself well after two weeks.

LeCounte has really stepped up his game and Reed is so consistent.

Then there’s this number 18 kid at one corner position.  He’s not bad.

At the other corner spot, Tyson Campbell is an immensely talented true freshman, which means the ride will be bumpy early on, but his upside (hopefully) should pay dividends by later in the season.

Before the start of the season, the secondary might have been an area of concern, but that doesn’t seem to be as much of a worry now.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

This hobby of ours ain’t cheap.

According to SunTrust-sponsored analysis by Wakefield Research (h/t), the average cost for college football fans in the Southeast this season will be $1,212. The average cost increases to $4,232 if hotel stays are included.

Cost is defined in the study as

The Southeast college football fan cost analysis was created by Wakefield Research using publicly available data. Each of the 14 teams included in the study were assessed across 14 variables (seven major and seven sub-variables). Unless otherwise stated, “ticketing” includes “ticket price” and “donation”. Data was collected between August 13-23, 2018. Ticket Price: The lowest priced season ticket providing access to 7 home games per team.

  • Donation: The lowest priced season ticket donation amount.
  • Parking: The sum of individual parking passes for each home game of the season, available through StubHub.
  • Merchandise: The average price of a jersey plus the average of the highest and lowest priced cap listed at the official store of each team.
  • Tailgating: The price of a single cooler and portable grill plus the price of seven purchase (one for each home game) of: a case of beer, a 10lb bag of ice, a bag of 50 plastic cups, and two packs of 10 hot dogs.
  • Stadium Concessions: The price of a hot dog plus a regular soda at each team’s home stadium.
  • Hotel: The average cost of a one-night stay in a minimum 3-star hotel within 3.5 miles of the stadium. Two games are used as a proxy for the season: The Saturdays when each team plays their second and third game in their home city against an SEC opponent.

SEC schools are ranked in order of total costs minus hotel expense.  Topping the list is our beloved University of Georgia.  (UGA drops to third when you add hotels to the equation.)  It’s a decent chunk of change.

In connection with the study, a survey was conducted asking people what they were willing to forego to meet the expense of going to games.


SunTrust didn’t survey ADs about this, and, frankly, I’m more interested in hearing what, if any, data like this portends — particularly, the notion that fans have to weigh on what essentials they spend their disposable income.

It doesn’t sound like a question keeping Greg McGarity up at nights these days, but Ole Miss’ Ross Bjork has evidently been giving the matter some thought.

Might as well be speaking a foreign language, methinks.  Sigh.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

“I’ve got the best seat in the house to watch a football game.”

Reading this piece about Jake Fromm’s appreciation for his massive offensive line, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of careers Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley might have enjoyed had they received similar support — or Knowshon Moreno, for that matter, who was Gurley’s equal in turning nothing runs into something.  Ah, well.


Filed under Georgia Football

“The board obviously can have influence on the president.”

Maryland’s president felt a need to work the refs he charged with investigating the death of Jordan McNair.

A day after he addressed reporters, Loh sent an email to his three new commission members, as well as a handful of school officials, laying out the assignment. He told them “to interview a sufficiently large sample of current and former players, their parents, athletics staff , and any other relevant stakeholders, in order to make an assessment on whether the relatively few (but deeply troubling) cases of alleged ‘abuse,’ reported anonymously in the media, indicate the existence of a widespread ‘toxic culture’ . . . or, do these reported cases represent only a small portion of the population of football players, present and past.”

Loh told the members that “arguably, a hyper-masculine and insular culture is the norm, rather than the exception, in college football.” Furthermore, he advised them that “some of the alleged verbally abusive or demeaning behaviors probably occur in every football program. It is part of the ‘football culture.’ There is, of course, an imprecise line between training practices that aggressively push players to the limit and are acceptable, and practices that most reasonable persons would deem to be physical and/or emotional abusive conduct.’”

Note two things about that — first, the commission is not tasked with delving into McNair’s death specifically, but is asked instead to inquire into the broader topic of “football culture”, whatever the hell that is, and, second, to set that inquiry in the overall context of college football, rather than simply looking at what happened at the school.  A cynic might be forgiven for believing that to be an attempt at muddying the waters.

Interestingly enough, Maryland’s board of regents stepped forward soon afterwards.

Almost immediately after the commission’s unveiling, the University System of Maryland’s board of regents took control from the College Park campus, adding five additional members to the three named by Loh and suggesting that key decisions about the football program’s future would be made by the regents, not necessarily the school president.

The direction of the commission may have changed, too.

The commission’s review is expected to also look at the actions of other prominent coaches and staff members, including Damon Evans, who was promoted to athletic director less than two weeks after McNair’s death. Loh, too, could find himself scrutinized by one or both of the external probes. He nixed a plan recommended by the school’s athletic director to fundamentally change the way athletes receive medical treatment and athletic training less than a year before McNair died.

Sounds like this is going to get messy.


Filed under ACC Football