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

33 responses to “Should Georgia be concerned about its sack rate?

  1. ugafidelis

    They’ve played UT Martin and Wyoming.


    • Not concened. We play a stop the run first approach not attack the QB. Also – QBs are looking at us going to try to get rid of the ball quick. With Baker and Campbell playing tight and agressive – that will either result in a sack or picks. Against the gamecocks – we got turnovers.


  2. 69Dawg

    I’m still seeing the bombs Lock threw against us last year. Lets hope our DB’s are close enough to at least get pass interference calls.


  3. CPark58

    Just Win, Baby


  4. Biggus Rickus

    Remember when Georgia lit up South Carolina and Southern and everyone though the offense was fine with Schottenheimer? I’ll wait to see at least what they do against Purdue this weekend before I assume everything’s fine at Missouri.


    • ChiliDawg

      Don’t include me in that “everyone.” I was passionately against Schottenheimer from the day he was announced. The game against South Carolina didn’t change that.


  5. Uglydawg

    Hasn’t Georgia got several tipped or batted passes to it’s credit this year? And SC threw it so quickly it negated the rush almost as much as it negated the effectiveness of three yard passes.
    I like the tight coverage. How good is Missouri’s run game? IDK..if it isn’t very good, then the defense can lay their ears back and go after Lock.


  6. Biggen

    I’d much rather have our DL knock passes down, stop the run, and let the back end pick balls or bat them down. Sure, sacks are nice, but stopping the run is what its all about.


  7. If we’re forcing QBs to go to their checkdown receivers rather than down field because of the rush and coverage, I’m ok with not getting sacks because we’re making the offense work hard to drive the ball.


  8. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I am not particularly a stat guy, although I acknowledge that they are relevant and useful. But I will worry about a bad single stat when we lose the game because we were bad on that point.


  9. Jared S.

    I’m not concerned in the least.


  10. Spur 21

    The Cocks got away with holding many many many times.


  11. ChiliDawg

    I ain’t even worried, bro.


  12. David K

    A lot of sacks come from rushing an extra guy. If Kirby and Mel can get pressure and disrupt the QB’s rhythm with only bringing 4, even if it doesn’t result in a sack they’ll take that all day long.


  13. UGA '97

    QB hurries and tackles for loss are equally as important as sacks. GATA. Wait til Anderson, Reese, Cox all get going…


  14. Yeah, we should be worried. We are going to need a big sack or two to help flip momentum in some games and I don’t see that happening. We can get by without it, but man, if we had a Nkemdiche….hoo boy.


  15. Need to get home against Missouri, but after than that, the pass rush can come along through the year


  16. Idlewild Dawg

    Seemed like last year UGA sacks came either when pocket collapsed due to excellent coverage in secondary or on Roquan delayed blitz


  17. AusDawg85

    Never before has so much been written about so little (of a concern at this point in time).


  18. Cousin Eddie

    Looking at the “Under Pressure” numbers for LSU so far I see a correction in the stat on the horizon.


  19. I’m not too concerned. We’ve been doing a lot of base stuff, keeping everything in front of us and letting skills, athleticism and coaching take over. I never expected this D to be sack happy tbh.

    I could see us going after Locke more but I could also see us kinda shutting them down with coverage.


  20. HiAltDawg

    As for me, I say:
    It’s a small office, Raylan, I’m concerned when we change brands of coffee.
    –Chief Marshall Art Mullen–


  21. Will Trane

    Crunch these numbers we compiled from UGA site re South Carolina game.
    QB Jake Bentley, a three year starter.
    2 INTs
    7 Pass Breakups
    3 QBH…that is known as quarterback hurries.
    Defense had 7 points including the PAT off a turnover [INT].
    Their alleged star player…6 catches, 33 yards.
    Do not have the pass plays where SC had an incompletion.
    Plus factor in TOP.
    So Connelly should run an algorithm on the Dawgs. Then we would know where they really stood, other than 2-0, and 1-0 in SECE, and #3 NR.
    And sometimes, well most often in today’s schemes, sacks are hard to come by.
    QBs are coached to unload the ball rather than take a sack.
    So who was number one?


  22. Yurdle

    No. Next question.


  23. PTC DAWG

    Y’all keep doubting Kirby