The momentum thing

I think that if you wanted to distill all the pundit wisdom about the SECCG matchup into its purest bare essentials, you could do it in six words:  Georgia is good.  Alabama is better.

The stats don’t argue with that assessment, either.  Take this, for example.

Like I said, Georgia is good but Alabama is better.

That being said, I’m here to make the case that maybe Georgia is in stronger shape than it’s being given credit for.  With the 12-game perspective we have now, I’d suggest looking at Georgia through the LSU game and Georgia post-LSU to evaluate what the Dawgs will put on the field Saturday.

In other words, if you ask this Georgia team “what have you done for me lately?”, the answer is going to be “a lot”, particularly on offense.

For example, in the month of November,

The Dawgs are ranked ahead of the Tide in all four statistical categories.

You can find areas where though Georgia doesn’t rank ahead of ‘Bama, at least it’s showing significant improvement, like these:

  • Georgia’s defense, which was once at the bottom of tackles for loss, is a middle of the pack 72nd.
  • Similarly for sacks, Georgia’s defense is 36th nationally.

Groo provides one more example of note.

But the level of play we’ve seen from the Georgia offense over the past month has been extraordinary. Georgia’s success rate of 72.4% against UMass was tops nationally last week, but it’s easy to shrug that off due to the quality of competition. Tech is no great shakes on defense, but Georgia was able to follow up a 72% success rate with a 68% success rate – the best in the nation for the second straight week…

Success rate is a measure of a team’s ability to stay ahead of the chains…

Forget about imposing your will, staying ahead of the chains is really what Georgia wants to do on offense every time it plays.  That the Dawgs have been better at that than any other team in the country over the past two weeks is more than decent evidence of the validity of Groo’s header.  Georgia very much appears to be peaking at the right time.

Is that in and of itself enough to take down Saban and Company?  Beats me; it’s not like I’m planning to put any money down on the game.  But it’s certainly enough to make me believe the pundits’ take isn’t the whole story.


UPDATE:  I’m not gonna say great minds think alike in this instance, because Bill Connelly is sharper than I am, but he has some similar fodder for the discussion.

In almost every regard, Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has had a fantastic year.

After losing stalwart running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, No. 1 receiver Javon Wims, and all-conference left tackle Isaiah Wynn, the Dawgs have actually improved from 14th to third in Off. S&P+, a remarkable accomplishment.

Plus, for the second straight year, the Georgia offense has responded to a loss with near-perfection.

  • Last year, the Bulldogs lost 40-17 to Auburn but averaged 41 points per game and 7.9 yards per play over their next four games to reach the National Championship.
  • This time, they got smoked by LSU, 36-16, and responded with … 42 points per game and 7.8 yards per play over five games.

In their five-game streak, the Dawgs have looked the part of a national title contender. Per the Football Study Hall college football stat profiles, their average S&P+ percentile performance in that span has been 93 percent, their average post-game win expectancy 98 percent.

Alabama’s averages over that same span have been almost identical: S&P+ percentile average of 94 percent, average post-game win expectancy of 100.

There’s a but, though, and it’s a pretty big one.

The closer you get to the goal line, the more it changes your options. How has Georgia dealt with that so far?

  • In open play (snaps between the offense’s 10 and the defense’s 30), Georgia’s success rate is 54.1 percent, third in FBS.
  • Between the opponent’s 21 and 30, Georgia’s success rate is 48.8 percent, 19th.
  • Between the opponent’s 11 and 20, Georgia’s success rate is 46 percent, 26th.
  • Inside the opponent’s 10, Georgia’s success rate is 40 percent, 116th.
  • Inside the opponent’s 3, Georgia’s success rate is 28.6 percent, 129th.

As the goal line nears, UGA changes from one of the country’s best offenses to one of the worst.

Yikes, I say.  Even worse, according to Bill, “(t)he Dawgs’ overall performance has improved down the stretch, but the red zone offense has gotten worse…”.  Yikes, squared.

It’s nice that Georgia has the better kicking game, but you aren’t going to beat Alabama trading field goals with touchdowns.

One thing I disagree with Bill about is that he lays the blame for Georgia’s red zone woes on Chaney’s shoulders alone.  I think Mr. Impose Your Will has to share a little of that.  That being said, Bill is spot on when he says Georgia sorely needs a dose of creativity in the red zone.  Let’s hope the coaches are thinking along the same lines.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

32 responses to “The momentum thing

  1. Greg

    Thought Chip Towers article he wrote was the best I have read about the game….but not sure if you hate him, so I won’t link it.


  2. Derek

    One thing that gives me hope are Bama’s offensive stats vs. the best defense they played. 305 total yards vs. State? I can live with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Godawg

    We only have to be better than them for one game. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben

      Probably two, which is BS, since it’s not a double-elimination tournament, and I, for one, don’t think UGA needs to get into the final four, as it is, with a loss this weekend.


      • dawg

        But what if Ohio State and Okla both were to lose? Then should UGA get in with a loss? FWIW, I think UGA wins this weekend.


        • sniffer

          Tonight will tell a lot, but if all three lose (OSU, OK, UGA), I think the committee goes with UCF. What better time to allow a mid program into the CFP and silence the critics.


  4. ASEF

    It’s a coin flip game imo, unless Bama gets a running game in between the tackles going. That would be a bloodbath (same thing in theory applies in reverse, but Georgia isn’t running up the middle on Williams). But Bama hasn’t been very effective running between the tackles. Don’t know if they’re tipping things with formation, but they get outnumbered every time they try that.

    I’m expecting your standard SEC war where turnovers and yards per carry tell the tale.


  5. The Truth

    Bama’s receivers are incredible after they catch the ball — we have to put them on the ground if they catch the ball.

    Fortunately, they have the same problem with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Biggus Rickus

    I’m not saying there’s nothing to the troubles inside the 10, but that Florida series does pretty heavily skew the numbers. It’s still something they definitely can’t afford in this game unless the defense shuts Bama down more than I think they’re capable of.


  7. kfoge

    Damn, its only Tuesday ….reading all of these articles has me ‘pining’ for Saturday (and Christmas).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. CPark58

    There is no hope to be found in analyzing statistics, Alabama is far and away the best team in the country by every metric and probably on the field most days but UGA just needs to be alot better once or a little better twice.

    To beat Alabama Saturday, UGA will need three of the four to happen, anything less will be a loss of expected proportions:

    1) Trade punches and keep swinging. You won’t make them quit or assert dominance but make Alabama play 4+ quarters and see what happens.
    2) Unleash whatever blitz packages you have and hit Tua hard early and often and hope your offense can pick up the tab and keep pace while the defense is landing body blows early. Hopefully you get a turnover but force them out of their comfort zone and make them make adjustments before halftime.
    3) Have a few big calls to go UGA’s way at the right time.
    4) Some football god magic to happen. Lucky bounce, tipped pass, extra second on the clock, inexplicable coverage breakdowns in OT, you know…lucky shit typically reserved for teams from Alabama. UGA has paid their dues and endured in that regard since Jacksonville 1980.

    We know #3 ain’t gonna happen so 1, 2, 4 are your CPark’s Keys to the Game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charlottedawg

      Agree with all of this. At the expense of sounding Tony barnhart, Georgia is going to need big plays on offense, defense, and special teams to beat the Tide. Unfortunately this means we have to gamble, which we should because nobody is going to give a shit if we lost by 3 or 30.

      We have to score 30+ and we need some explosive plays on offense to make that happen. We are not going to dink and dunk bama.

      If we get a lead keep stay aggressive. We might have to pass to set up the run.

      Blitz tua early and often and hope the secondary can cover long enough for the extra guy to get home

      We have to block a punt, a kick, execute a successful on side kick or have a big return on special teams.


      • The Truth

        Micole got behind their secondary in January. He hasn’t gotten worse.


      • Otto

        Explosive would be nice but the most likely way UGA gets an explosive play is a run or short to intermediate pass where the WRs gets some blocks springing the ball carrier. I think those are more likely than hitting a go pattern.

        I like throwing to Swift and Holyfield early as they are so dangerous in the 2nd level and everyone blocks well down field. If their D has to defend them, it could free up the long ball as well slow up a pass rush.

        The areas where I think UGA can flip the game are 1st special teams with a block or Bama flat out missing a FG, a punt return, or getting a turnover from the D.


      • Russ

        I think our best will match up well with them. No need to get tricky or panic. As Tony says, we need to dance with who brung us.


  9. The Truth

    “One thing I disagree with Bill about is that he lays the blame for Georgia’s red zone woes on Chaney’s shoulders alone. I think Mr. Impose Your Will has to share a little of that.”

    Bluto, truer words have never been typed.


    • The other Doug

      Yep. I think Kirby wants to be the team that can always bully their way to a 1 yard gain. Also, I think it pisses him off that we simply can’t do it. We struggled with it against Tech’s crappy DL.

      I’m pretty sure whatever the solution is will be revealed this Saturday. It might be Fields, it might be Nauta, it might be something else, but they have a plan. Kirby and Chaney might love boring but they’re not stupid.


  10. Ben

    Here’s where I come down:

    I’m fully prepared to lose this game by three or four touchdowns; everything I’ve seen of Alabama makes them look invincible.

    However, I’m not going to be surprised if we hang with them, go toe to toe with them, and end up winning. I think we’ve got talent, and I think we’ve got skill, and I think we’ve got the confidence to play with them and beat them. And living in Alabama, it’d make my year.

    I’ll be gutted, though, if we lose like we did last time, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. AceDawg

    I do think UGA might want to roll the dice with Fields on goal to go plays. Yes, he could take a terrible sack like he has done a couple times and would be more likely to throw a pick, but he also could pull a rabbit out of the hat and score in ways the Fromm cannot. Gotta take gambles in this game to a degree, and if UGA gets down to the 10 yard line and struggles even once with Fromm, roll the dice with Fields.


    • The Truth

      Micole was an outstanding high school QB and ran the wildcat to perfection on the goal line against Bama last year. Why haven’t we given him a shot in that situation?

      Liked by 1 person

    • WF Dawg

      I was thinking about a scenario where we score at the end of the game and have the choice to go for 2 and win (like the WVU-UT game) or kick the XPT. On the one hand, we’ve tried the OT route against Bama, so it’s appealing to try to win a single play. But then I read Connelly’s inside-the-3 stats and think we’d be crazy to go for it. Also, in OT we do have the advantage at PK with Hot Rod. So, I say: play OT again, and this time do it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. MGW

    OL health is all that really worries me, but it’s a big worry.


  13. 69Dawg

    Well if we are grasping at numbers, try this at Reddit /r/CFB u/The Peoples Bard, “help me get in touch with Kirby. Using numerology, I cracked the Bama code.”


  14. Uglydawg.

    All it takes for Georgia to win this game is for Tua to have an off game. He’s human and he’s overdue…but I’m not counting on it. I’m counting on the Dawgs having more offensive weapons than Alabama’s defense can contain.


  15. BigDawgT

    We can not be predictable. We have to pass out of run formations and run out of pass formations. This will create the mismatch we need to make a few extra plays.