“People think balance means 50-50. Balance is not 50-50.”

If you buy Kirby’s argument ($$), that’s certainly true for Georgia’s offense.

… That all depends on what your definition of balance is. And here’s the key: Georgia, by its own definition, has already been balanced for most of the past two years. Even if the numbers would say otherwise.

Nobody rushed the ball in the SEC more than Georgia last year (567) or the year before (670). That’s skewed a bit because of the blowouts; when Georgia played more close games in Smart’s first year, the Bulldogs had the fourth-most rushes in the league (533).

But if you take just the first three quarters of games last year, Georgia was still run-heavy: Excluding the fourth quarter last season, Georgia ran the ball on 59 percent of its offensive plays and passed on 41 percent, making it one of the 30 most run-heavy teams in the FBS in the first three quarters. According to Sports Info Solutions, Georgia ranked 29th in highest run-play percentage, with Kentucky (64 percent) and Mississippi State (61 percent) the only SEC teams who ran it more in the first three quarters.

For comparison’s sake, the FBS average is to run it 55 percent of the time over the first three quarters.

Call it boredom, call it curiosity, but I decided to take a look at some numbers.  During Smart’s first three seasons, here are the average offensive plays per game run:

  • 2016:  70.69
  • 2017:  65
  • 2018:  65.93

Overall, that averages out to a tick over 67 plays per game.  55% of that number is about 37.  So, what is Georgia’s won-loss record over that time in games when the offense threw the ball at least 30 times?

  • 2016:  3-3
  • 2017:  0-1
  • 2018:  1-3

Believe it or not, my point here isn’t to make a causation argument, or even one of correlation.  (For one thing, Seth is right to note that Georgia had to pass more in Smart’s first season than in the following two because it played more close games in 2016.)  Rather, it’s to note the obvious:  this is how Georgia is built.  It’s Smart’s philosophy.  It’s how Georgia’s recruited.

Most relevantly, it’s worked.  In the last two seasons, the Dawgs are 23-1 when they throw less than 30 times a game.  (They only threw it 29 times in the debacle at Auburn.)  Sure, there’s not much doubt they could throw the ball with success more, as Fromm has a number of games with passer ratings north of 200, but there’s something to be said about a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

Kirby feels balanced.



Filed under Georgia Football

21 responses to ““People think balance means 50-50. Balance is not 50-50.”

  1. Jack Burton

    Great post. It appears that our lack of a “plan B” when Impose Our Will doesn’t work is the major flaw offensively. Maybe we can put that on Chaney? Hopefully we can put that on Chaney.


  2. Greg

    Nothing wrong with any of that, just hope I never see another Florida game where we couldn’t get in….what was it 5 downs ??

    That is called stubborn imo.


  3. GruvenDawg

    It’s going to be hard to run the ball down Bama’s throat, it always has been. We are better equipped with multiple o line that are upperclassman this season. I would rather see us open it up though when the box is stacked. What is the problem with getting the passing game ready for the SEC championship game? Going back to 2015 2 of the 3 losses Alabama had are by putting up 300+ yards passing.

    I am not saying get away from running the ball, it’s what UGA does. But damn according to Smart balance means being able to throw the ball when you have to. Where better to demonstrate the practice and execution it takes than in a game. We have some big bodies at WR. Get them game reps so they are ready. Everyone should feel confident in Plan B if we get stuffed in the run game. It needs to be developed and executed through the season.

    I know the offense probably won’t change much under Coley because Smart sets the direction. But the mentality that we are going to run the ball come hell or high water because were Georgia is wrong. Attack the defenses weakest position group, take what they are giving you. If they are giving the pass then take it, don’t run into a stacked box. Fromm is a junior and I expect him to take the next step. Let him show he is ready before December.


    • SlobberKnocker

      I agree with your statement “attack the defenses weakest position group”. To me, balance means having the ability and willingness to identify the weakness and attack it unmercifully. I do understand the idea of doing one thing to set up another but, the end game of that should be attacking their weaknesses. We have built an offensive roster that should be able to do that.


  4. doofusdawg

    As previously stated… the difference between 65-35 and 55-45 is only 6 more passes per game. Throw them on early downs and we probably have a natty already. Good defenses figured out the way to stop our offense was run blitz on first down. Coley will fix this and our ypc will increase dramatically imo.


  5. In 2019, if you lose 7 out of every 11 games you play when forced to throw it 30+ times something has to change. Let’s hope that something was Coley becoming our OC, because I think if you look at Fromm’s games of 30+ attempts (so not counting games where Fields/other backups throwing passes) he’s 0-4, three of the losses came last year. Though to be fair, he’s 2-0 when attempting 29 passes in a game (ND, OU) and lost to Auburn (2017 reg season) attempting 28.


  6. Russ

    It’s almost like he learned from Dooley.


  7. Texas Dawg

    Maybe we lost the games where we threw it 30+ times because we threw it when they had forced our hand and EXPECTED us to throw it. It is a lot easier to defend against the pass when you pretty much know what is coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GruvenDawg

      Agreed…In those situations there aren’t more than 6 maybe 7 guys in the box. Get the reps throughout the season when there are only 6 or 7 guys in the box. As someone stated above we are talking about ~6 more passes per game. I know they practice it during the week. There is no better place for confidence building than live game reps though. Is there additional risk? Yes. Can it pay off in the end? Yes.

      We ran for 133 in the first go round with Bama and 153 the second. Bama has the talent to contain a run game without stacking the box and making you beat them with the pass. Get ready for it, prepare.

      “If you think you’ve done enough DO MORE”


  8. Derek

    Running the ball is about controlling the game. If you can’t, you don’t. If you have one of the 5 best QBs in the game you can get away with it, but for mere mortals throwing the ball more means:

    Punting more
    Losing field position
    Losing time of possession
    Losing the ability to physically dominate the opponent
    Losing the ability to ice a game in the 4th with a lead

    You do have to throw the ball too, but throwing it when a defense is dead set on stopping the run is optimal. Throwing it against a team that isn’t worried about your run game is death.


    • That’s like saying “oh, that’s tooo much sausage gravy on my biscuit”…should we ever see CKS blow up a head set after attempting a pass on 1st down, me thinks the plan is tooo RUN THE DAMN BALL!


  9. W Cobb Dawg

    Fromm completes over 67% of his passes, and the average pass play goes for 9 yards. And Fromm is usually pulled before he can pad his stats in blowouts. I’d call that pretty effective. With that in mind, I prefer to see us pass if the D is loading the box to stop the run.


  10. ASEF

    My issue with Kirby’s approach is the way teams learn to win. If you’re out-talenting and out-depthing people, then RTDB is going to work great most of the time. But when you’re up against equal talent and equal depth, and the pressure is on, now you’ve got to win doing something more. How do you develop that gear? By repping the crap out of it.

    Balance is being able to beat teams running or throwing.


    • Derek

      Haven’t we gotten out to leads vs. Alabama twice being pass first?

      The reason we haven’t held on, beyond getting fucked by the refs, is that we couldn’t crank out first downs on the ground.

      The teams that have beaten Alabama in the big games have passed in the first half, gotten a lead and then ran the ball effectively in the second.

      After the pass to Mecole in the natty, including OT, we had something like 24 plays and 26 yards. And that’s while throwing and running pretty evenly.

      (Haven’t had the stomach to do that for last years SEC game, but I’m guessing its close to the same old story.)

      Bottom line is that we haven’t pushed them around enough late to close those games out. Going more finesse won’t get us any closer.


      • Mayor

        +1. I agree. Smash mouth is the way to close out games.


      • ASEF

        The late game numbers are horrific. Bama’s averaging something like 4 yards more per play on top of a pretty sizable play count advantage, not quite 2:1, but in that range. And the score differential reflects it: 27-3 or something along those lines. I posted them here once, don’t have the inclination to do so twice.

        Teams that beat Bama do it by beating their corners. It’s about that simple. At one point in the 3rd Bama was well more than +100 rushing and +12 in TOP on Clemson – and trailed by 21. Because Clemson was averaging over 20 yards per play on 3rd down.


  11. 69Dawg

    Somebody quoted The Dread Pirate Leach. Balance is taking advantage of what the defense can’t cover. Fromm has got to 1. get better at recognizing the defense before the snap, 2. feeling the rush and dropping it off to the safety value and 3. having a coach that trusts him to do it. The jury will be out on Coley until the ND game. He best call plays like his hairs on fire because if he lets the O lose that game his butt will be on fire.
    My fear is that Smart still has the same philosophy for offense that has haunted DCs/HCs just don’t F up. It works great when you are mauling a lesser opponent but if the defense can’t hold them late or at all, the DC thing gets you the Alabama, Auburn, LSU losses.


  12. Anonymous

    I would argue that balance is the ability to run or thrown in situations where you should be able to do either. If you pass 90% of the time on 3rd and 3, then you are not balanced.