“When they hold the ball, it’s tough on you.”

Michael Elkon mentioned in yesterday’s comments that if there’s a reason to question Georgia covering Saturday’s 17-point line, it’s the triple-option and its goal of dominating time of possession.  It may be obvious to state, but fewer possessions for Georgia’s offense mean fewer chances to score.

Georgia Tech will enter Saturday’s showdown in Sanford Stadium with a 7-4 record and the nation’s top rushing offense, averaging 353.7 yards a game. The Yellow Jackets also rank among the top five in time of possession, maintaining the ball for 34 minutes and 12 seconds per game.

The Bulldogs led Georgia Tech 27-14 entering the fourth quarter of their 2016 meeting but lost 28-27. In those final 15 minutes, the Yellow Jackets ran 24 plays for 166 yards and consumed nine minutes and 34 seconds, leaving Georgia essentially a third of the final quarter to produce just 15 plays for 29 yards.

“With the offense they run, they hold the ball and chew up clock,” Georgia junior tight end Isaac Nauta said. “That’s what they want to do, because it takes away possessions from us. Offensively, when we get the ball we’ve got to go score, because our possessions will be limited based off what they do.

“Our defense will have to stop them or take the ball from them to give us the ball back, so that aspect of the game is definitely a challenge, and it’s different from what we see every other week.”

Making things more extreme is that Georgia wants to run the ball, too.

Georgia has a top-10 rushing offense nationally that averages 257.5 yards a game, and Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart believes that could be just as advantageous as a stout performance by his defense.

“I think our number of opportunities or series or drives may be less in this game,” Smart said, “but we probably have less than most people because we’ve been a ball-controlled, time-of-possession offense. Maybe not to the extent that Tech is, but we understand these kind of games. Every offensive possession is critical, but when is it not? It’s always that way.

“I don’t think you ever panic. You take advantage of your opportunities. You just may have less opportunities.”

Ironically, as Pete Fiutak notes, “… over the last three games, Georgia has rushed for more yards than the No. 1 rushing team in college football.”  Just as ironically, despite all the chest beating at Stingtalk about the Jackets being able to run on Georgia’s 55th-ranked run defense, Tech’s 64th-ranked run defense actually sports a higher yards per rush average.

So, yeah, there will be plenty of running on the menu come Saturday noon.

All of that is reflected in the teams’ time of possession numbers — in FBS play, Tech ranks fifth and Georgia is currently 22nd.  What that really means is both teams’ opportunities are going to be limited.  In turn, that should make two things that are generally crucial to winning, explosive plays and turnovers, even more significant.

Explosive plays happens to be one area where Georgia can claim a clear advantage over the visitors.  In offensive plays of 20+ yards, Georgia ranks 13th nationally; Georgia Tech is 44th.  Just as telling, when it comes to defensive plays of 20+ yards, the Dawgs are the nation’s best, while Tech is 16th.  Everything else being equal, more big plays should lead to more possessions.

As for turnover margin, Tech is +8 and Georgia is +4 in FBS play.  In all games, the won/loss splits for both teams are most revealing.  The Jackets are +10 in their seven wins and minus-2 in their four losses.  Georgia was minus-4 in Baton Rouge and +8 everywhere else.  Quite simply, with possessions being limited, giving any up via turnover is a killer.

Can Georgia hang on to the ball and make its share of big plays?  If it can, it should have a good day.


Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Stats Geek!

43 responses to ““When they hold the ball, it’s tough on you.”

  1. Jared S.

    Smart’s ready for this game. Dawgs will easily cover.


  2. Fromm and Fields are going to carve up this Fech defense like the namesake for the Genius’s neck. They are going to have to run blitz every down and leave their back end matched up against Mecole, JJ, Riley, Nauta, Simmons, etc. one on one. Swift is going to make a big play in the passing game on Saturday.

    What QB doesn’t love that? We’re going to dominate them like Clemson did.


  3. Hogbody Spradlin

    I recall that last year we stationed Roquan a little deeper to let him run side to side, and he was an absolute one man wrecking crew.


  4. Biggen

    Explosive plays against Tech will be their undoing. They won’t be able to score quick enough to keep up.


  5. Derek

    We run this state! The scoreboard and the damn clock too. Come get your whuppin’ bugs!


  6. JoshG

    Clemson didn’t seem to have trouble with that.


  7. Busta

    Fry will be tripping over his neck all day come Saturday.


  8. Dave

    Only real concern I have is the LSU scenario in terms of allowing them to get just close enough on 3rd down to go for it on 4th (and make it).

    CPJ knows that they are not going to win a low-scoring game, so he’s going to be calling plays with 4 downs in mind any time there near midfield or beyond, imo.

    I think the line is right. 34-17-ish, Dawgs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Randall Adams

    Sep. 1 Alcorn State Football Schedule
    Alcorn State Braves
    Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
    12:30pm ET
    RSN W 41-0

    Sep. 8
    at USF Bulls
    (RM) L 48-38

    Sep. 15 Pitt Football Schedule
    At Pitt
    L 24-19

    Sep. 22 Clemson Football Schedule
    3 Clemson Tigers
    L- 49-19
    Sep. 29
    Bowling Green Falcons
    W 63-17

    Oct. 5 Louisville Football Schedule
    at Louisville Cardinals
    W 66-31

    Oct. 13 Duke Football Schedule
    Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
    L 28-14

    Oct. 25 Virginia Tech Football Schedule
    at Virginia Tech Hokies
    W 49-28

    Nov. 3 North Carolina Football Schedule
    at North Carolina Tar Hee
    W 38-28

    Nov. 10 Miami (FL) Football Schedule
    ESPN2 W 27-21

    Nov. 17 Virginia Football Schedule
    Virginia Cavaliers
    Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
    W 30-27(OT)

    Clemson smoked these guys. Virginia handed them the game. Miami has been playing awful as has Virginia Tech. I know the option is a hand full. I know they’ll play over their heads. It will not matter…

    Georgia 49- Tech 17.


  10. The other Doug

    “In those final 15 minutes, the Yellow Jackets ran 24 plays for 166 yards and consumed nine minutes and 34 seconds, leaving Georgia essentially a third of the final quarter to produce just 15 plays for 29 yards.”

    The problem was they averaged 7 yards a play and we averaged 2 yards per play. Get a couple of first downs and their comeback fizzles.

    That’s why I think the key to this game is…

    Start with a heavy dose of Holyfield to force them to play inside
    Switch to Swift for the gash and passes to the flats
    Go back to Holyfield

    Fromm and Channey are going to be really tempted to take the deep(er) shots, but a string of incomplete passes will end a drive. Basically, don’t get pass happy unless we can’t run the ball on them. I’ll be shocked if we can’t run the ball on them and tire them out.


    • Uglydawg

      Don’t kill a great running drive by getting tempted to take a long shot…must sustain drives against the bugs. Also, PJ will gamble on fourth down more than any other coach. That has worked for him…Georgia should do the same…you’ve got to control the clock.
      This is why I say take the ball first if you win the coin toss.
      Get out to a lead.
      Yeah..they will get it back after the half.. after Georgia’s defense has seen a whole half of the triple option…give it to them to start the game and the defense is on it’s heels green.


    • stoopnagle

      If they play like they did last week on defense (soft, not to give up big pass plays), then I think we’re good. We’ll see that short pass game come in to play.


  11. Debby Balcer

    Aren’t they playing a different quarterback the last four games then they did the beginning of the season?


    • Just for a game or two. Marshall is still the starting QB. Oliver is much more limited in what he can do.


      • stoopnagle

        Fish Fry rotated Oliver in last week vs UVA. I watched that game (the 3rd UVA game I’ve watched this year) and I’m glad I’m not a Hoo. So frustrating to watch them throw away games or just not come to compete (Pitt).


  12. dawgfan

    If we win the coin toss, we should take the ball and run it down their throat. Get up on them early. There is no way the Tech defense holds up. As long as we don’t turn the ball over, we cover. Their defense is not even close to what we faced in Florida, Kentucky, or Auburn.


    • Uglydawg

      I say the same. Take it first.


    • jrod1229

      Always take the chance to have back to back TDs ending the half and starting the next. It’s too much of an opportunity to waste in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The bookend touchdowns are a killer against Tech. That’s largely why we broke them in 2011.


        • Mayor

          ^^This is exactly why you always defer if you win the toss. Not just so you can get the bookend but to keep the other team from having that chance.


      • Uglydawg

        Why can’t you have a TD to end the first half either way? Get the first points and maybe the last points of the first half. With other teams, I can see your point and I agree, but not with the way GT can hold on to the ball. Get the first points and force them to play mistake free football. If they get the ball first, the defense will be off balance and they will most likely get the early lead.


        • dawgfan

          I agee. Normally it’s a no brainer to kick and defer but with these turds I’d like to score first. Put the pressure on the genius aka “fish fry”. Why not challenge the offense to go out and get the go ahead score to start the game if we win the toss? I think they have it in them.


  13. Tony Barnfart

    So you’re saying this game will be a lose-lose for the commercial TV sponsors and our friend in the red hat ?


  14. Excellent post.
    This game sets up well for Tech to have a shot at pulling the upset – on a winning streak, noon kick, shaky Dawg run D, etc.

    Unless we have 3-4 bad turnovers we will be in good shape.


  15. ilini84

    The SEWDC turndown emails have hit!


  16. stoopnagle

    I have to think we can defense them as well as UVA.


  17. UGA '97

    2 things: Techs dead last in nation in fumbles. We should get a few more short possessions/scoring ops. Special teams, they ain’t stopping Mecole.


  18. AusDawg85

    We cover the spread easy when Fish Fry let’s us score an uncontested TD in the final minutes because it’s the smart thing to do.

    Liked by 1 person