It’s run the damned ball time again.

If you look at SP+, you’ll see that there’s one area of clear separation between Georgia and Notre Dame.  (I know sample size is relatively small, but it’s all we’ve got to work with.)

Screenshot_2019-09-17 SP+ rankings after Week 3 Georgia moves ahead of Clemson

The Irish have been solid on offense and special teams, but there’s a noticeable gap on defense.  And that, in turn, brings us to a place where the early numbers suggest Georgia has a sizeable advantage Saturday night:  Georgia’s run game versus Notre Dame’s run defense.

The story of the latter isn’t pretty.  This week, at 4.96, ND sits an almost unbelievable 107th in defensive yards per rush.  (For comparison’s sake, Georgia’s 2.14 ranks tenth.)  That’s barely better than Arkansas State, for point of reference.  That defense is tasked with stopping a rushing attack that currently ranks fifth nationally, at 7.61 yards per carry.  (Again, comparing the teams, Notre Dame averages 4.84 ypc, good for 49th.)

On paper, that’s a tall order.  To start with, those stats were compiled against Louisville and New Mexico, neither of which are going to be confused with offensive powerhouses.  Beyond that, the situational stats aren’t good.  It’s not the result of ND having relaxed in the second half after building big leads, either.  In fact, that defense yielded at a rate of 6.91 ypc in the first half and 3.57 in the second half.  It’s also gotten creamed on third down (9.24 ypc!), regardless of distance.

I don’t want to sound too confident here, but if that defense can’t stop Georgia’s rushing attack or at least slow it down considerably, barring some craziness on the turnover front, I don’t see a path to victory for Notre Dame.  It’s the number one point on any defensive coordinator’s list for beating Georgia.  Allowing that running game to function successfully essentially drives everything a Smart-coached team wants to do in terms of clock management, not taking big risks in the passing game and keeping Georgia’s defense fresh.

Your thoughts?

43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

43 responses to “It’s run the damned ball time again.

  1. I expect the Irish to sell out early against the run. Would opening the game with the Mississippi State flea flicker be a way to send the message to back off?

    If we’re in 2nd and medium all night, they have no chance.

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    • Cousin Eddie

      Had the same thought, since it will be single coverage on the outside with most likely no or one safety over the top.

      Like

    • TimberRidgeDawg

      I agree that ND is going to try to stop the running game. I watched the Louisville game and they had a hard time dealing with the running of the Lousville QB, who was very quick. Against us, they will pretty much know what is coming with our backs but can they slow it down with just their front seven?

      My impression of their defense was that they had some size but it wasn’t very quick.

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  2. SpellDawg

    Man, I’m getting some creepy Dawgja Vu reading this. I can’t put my finger on the exact game(s), but I swear I’ve read the same stats before heading into a top-10 match-up, feeling nearly the same confidence, only to see the Dawgs get pantsed.

    Please oh great & wise Kirby, cure me of this horrible affliction!

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    • Bama 2015? This ND team isn’t close to that Bama team.

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      • SpellDawg

        Hell, maybe even Bama ’08, but I think it’s more from the Boise State opener when we wore spiderman unis.

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      • Athens Townie

        Bama-Georgia 2015 also featured an undisciplined, mentally weak Georgia team with glaring weaknesses on both lines of scrimmage and overall lackluster depth. Roster and coaching staff then-now is night and day. It’s a whole different ballgame these days.

        I’ve got the usual big game concerns, but I also have a dose of confidence that I never had before the Smart era.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Derek

      1998 vs. Tennessee perhaps? Game day in town. They are #4. We are #7.

      Yeah, that sucked….

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      • SpellDawg

        The late 90’s were my traveling years, working around the country in a field that always had me busy on weekends. I can thankfully say I don’t recall much of anything about that one. Please don’t bother to enlighten me… 🙂

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    • Mayor

      Texas maybe?

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      • SpellDawg

        Nah, nothing at stake other than pride in that one to really twist the knife. Don’t get me wrong, it sucked, but I was over it and on to better things quickly. Something more like our ’07 loss to Tennessee. While not a top 10 match-up, that one still stings to this day (and surely cost us a shot at a Natty).

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  3. ASEF

    Honestly, after watching the Louisville game, my impression was that Georgia Notre Dame 2019 might resemble Alabama Notre Dame 2012.

    I’ve seen nothing to shift that opinion. I think Georgia runs the Domers out of the stadium and pushes in front of Alabama in the Pundits and PolLs circuit.

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  4. Bright Idea

    As long as Georgia doesn’t see those stats and slam into the middle of a loaded box on every first down ND should struggle to stop this offense.

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    • Otto

      Agreed and was expecting to see the rushing stats come up in yesterday’s topics. If Coley calls a good game Swift should be getting Heisman press.

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    • Russ

      Yeah, I think (hope?) we’re past just stubbornly trying to impose our will by running into a 9 man box. I expect Coley to have enough play action/trickeration to keep ND honest, and then we will grind them down.

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      • Brandon M

        I think a lot of that has been removed from the Coordinators hands and placed into Fromm’s. He now has the ability to go to the line, survey the Defense and check into whatever play he thinks is going to work best.

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  5. Biggus Rickus

    Both Louisville and New Mexico have run games that involve the QB, so it’s not exactly apples to apples. That said, New Mexico averaged basically the same per carry as they did against Sam Houston State, and that was with no passing threat whatsoever. Louisville under Satterfield may be a truly good run team this year. However, they did average over a yard per carry less against Western Kentucky than Notre Dame. Georgia will likely need to run the ball well, because Notre Dame’s pass defense is probably good enough to limit Georgia if they don’t have to sell out against the run.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pedro

    These stats are now the vernacular. Everyone knows that they haven’t stopped the run. They are likely game planning for the run. We do need to stuff it down there throat but after we have opened them up a bit with a little number 1 number on the outside, 87 slant, and 7 to the flat passing. (Or whoever they are all good 5,15, 8 and 6 to the flat). I just hope we are more flexible in our play calling should something not work.

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  7. 3rdandGrantham

    I said before the season started that this was the best UGA team in history, and that they would win the title this year. Nothing that I’ve seen thus far has given me pause in those two bold predictions. As a result, I predict a sound UGA win on Saturday after a relatively close start and perhaps somewhat close halftime score. I’ve watched the entirety of ND’s two games and, simply put, they don’t have anywhere near the horses we do.

    I’m thinking a 34-13 type score, and while the final score might end up closer than that, it also could end up being a complete and total trucking as well.

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    • Henry Jones

      I’ve held my powder until this game. This is the game that tells us the probability of the rest of our games. While things change (Tenn found the paydirt finally, SC played D like banshees against ‘Bama) with all teams during the season, don’t forget that they change with us as well (you get better, we get better) and if we were any better, not sure I could stand it.

      We’re pulling for what you are saying, 3rd. We all have seen our Eastern brethren stumble over their dicks and we have waited sufficiently to say that won’t happen to us. Looking forward to this game and what it will mean to the team’s confidence to win, but cringing that it may cause swelled heads among the Freshmen. If we win, I won’t give a shit about anything for several days (he said, as he slowly twisted the towel in his hands).

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  8. Uglydawg.

    Just don’t lose the turnover battle. Fumbles worry me when you have a lot of young backs trying to make that statement with extra yards….hold on to the ball, Kiddos. ND will be trying to pull and knock it loose. That’s the one thing.

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  9. My thoughts?……Pain

    Liked by 1 person

  10. willypmd

    I just don’t see a rational path to victory for ND in this game. With what Coley has added to the run game (horizontal plays/speed sweeps/ RB screens), defenses can no longer just run blitz us up the middle with the LB’s into oblivion.

    Add to that the use of the tight ends which holds LB’s in coverage and prevents aggressive run blitzing, and I just don’t see a team hanging with us without a dominant and deep front 4. Nothing to date suggests that ND has that.

    I also think their offense is one dimensional. No explosive RB threat and I’m sorry but Book does not scare me as a dual threat. They are left trying to win with a precision passing game and good luck with that against our pass rush, coverage, and crowd noise. They will score, but they won’t score consistently.

    The spread is double digits for a reason and with what I expect the crowd noise to do on Saturday, I think the dawgs cover in a Auburn blackout sort of way

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    • Joe Schmoe

      I totally agree with this. Coley has already shown a much greater propensity than Cheney for getting the ball outside. This was my biggest complaint with Cheney – it’s all well and good to be a run heavy offense. That doesn’t mean you have to run it between the tackles all the time. Press the ball outside with sweeps and screens and force the defense to cover the width of the field. I think Saturday is going to be a big win for UGA.

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  11. Henry Jones

    Our O ranks 4th in the top ten, but surprise!, we have the best D in the Top Ten. Remember also that our SP+ rating has us 4x better than ND’s O and our D is 3x better than ND’s D. Of course, our STs are 37x better, but who’s keeping track?

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  12. Mayor

    Hope you are right Senator.

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  13. Derek

    It will take some doing to make this one competitive:

    Jake goes cold for two quarters.

    We try some dumb ass special teams bs and lose a possession.

    They get confidence and we press and make mistakes: bad penalties and turnovers.

    In other words, last years LSU game.

    If we just pound the rock and play defense until their asses quit, we’ll be fine.

    If there is one thing I worry about Kirby with it’s that I’m not always sure that he realizes that his roster is a LOT better than the other guys. The LSU game last year was the perfect example of that. We didn’t need tricks to win that game. Just grind it out, get the w, move on to Knoxville.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dawgflan

    Good post, Senator, and agree with the caveat others have noted above about UGA being too predictable. Especially without a running threat at QB.

    My guess on O is that we will see a decent number of passes early in the game mixed in with the run, but passes to the flats and seams, and the use of crossing routes that put stress on the front seven to defend the width of the field.

    On D, I think UGA has to prioritize discipline over havoc – keep and eye on the QB, keep contain and the edges, and keep big plays in front of them. ND is definitely capable of hitting a few big plays for scores.

    I think we settle for a few more field goals than we would like, but score between 33 and 40. ND gets a few big plays and takes advantage of 1-2 UGA turnovers to score 24-31.

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  15. HamDawg11

    Look for Pickens and Blaylock to have huge nights.

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  16. Yurdle

    I bet we include a steady dose of outside runs to make the corners play run defense. If ND wants to commit safeties to the box, outside runs and flares can really spring big plays. I like Cook in this one (and obviously Swift, too). I also think the fly sweep motion will get used. Speaking of which, any word on Tyler Simmons, other than he’s onside?

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  17. Charlottedawg

    We’re going to truck Notre Dame, there I said it. Yes that’s going to piss off the football gods but they hate us anyway, sorry Larry Munson that I just made you roll over in your grave. But Kirby’s biggest problem after Saturday night is going to be preventing the team from buying into the hype that comes from a nationally televised dismantling of a top ten team and looking ahead to December. For better or worse Georgia is going to realize Sunday morning what we already kind of suspect, that nobody on the regular season schedule has the horses to hang with us and until the seccg that the only team capable of beating Georgia is Georgia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • FlyingPeakDawg

      Kirby can throw the TAMU game to get their attention back in time for the SECCG and playoffs. * #conspiraciesaretrueuntilprovenwrong*

      Like

  18. BuffaloSpringfield

    Ehhhh Mr. Fromm was a very good runner in high school and even as a freshman. I do also take notice that if he goes down the Dawgs will be maybe the sun will come up tomorrow. The injury bug is a hard thing to predict.
    I have taken notice on several occasions that if Jake pulls the skin after the ride there is a lot of green grass. Kirbs seems to be tolerable to impose His will with those 5 studs horses in the barn.
    I am not sure we have even seen the first five pages of the “Impose Our Will” in these first games. Clem and his Son has Sunshine Superman running at Will but whose gonna hurt ya in the ACC; plus if you notice his passing stats are not exactly up to where you would expect them to be.
    My inner “Munson says Hunker Down Dawgs” those golden domers have pulled off some miracles in the past. I think Joe Montana doesn’t have any eligibility left or does he ?

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  19. TMCDAWG

    Watched ND play Louisville, guys is it me but they don’t have the foot speed we have. Atmosphere will be like no other in Sanford. We win handily and make statement for all to see. DAWG 34 catholics 14,

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  20. practicaldawg

    With what Coley has already shown on offense, I’m thinking ND can’t just sell out to clog the middle. We have too much speed sideline to sideline. A well timed jet sweep or if Fromm hits Cook in stride on a short slant, and it’s a big play.

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  21. Two things bother me for this event….late game where players have to sit around for hours…Knute Rockne bio is on Friday night, them Irish will be tuned in for that…give us another 20-19 win for UGA…I’m good with that

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  22. AceDawg

    To be more precise, I think ND needs to force Fromm to throw the ball over the middle where he has been at his weakest overall. Then on offense, ND needs to push the DBs deep and hope for space in the intermediate passing attack to TEs and RBs. ND is good enough to make plays, but do they have the speed on either side of the ball to consistently do good things?

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