I’ve mentioned Max Olsen’s stop rate metric ($$) before. If you don’t remember, here’s his definition: the percentage of a defense’s drives that end in punts, turnovers or a turnover on downs.
Week 12, here are the top ten teams in stop rate:
This week’s Georgia game, then, features the number three versus the number ten FBS defenses. Safe to say that sustained scoring drives are going to be hard to come by for both offenses.
That should put a premium on not turning the ball over. (Duh.) The other thing likely to be magnified in a defensive struggle is field position. Field position starts with special teams. And special teams when nobody is scoring much means punting.
On paper, Georgia carries a slight advantage over Auburn, believe it or not. Georgia ranks seventh nationally in punting (46.76 average); Auburn is 44th (43.35 average). Georgia is tied for first in allowing the fewest punt returns, with only four, while Auburn has given up 11, which is only 55th (and, perhaps more alarmingly, has allowed its opponents a return average of 21.91 ypr). Auburn has a slight (12.44 vs. 11.67 ypr) advantage over Georgia with regard to its own punt returns.
That’s all nice, but if there’s one characterization of Jake Camarda’s season, it’s that it hasn’t been one of averages. Here’s what his game log to date looks like:
He has been the proverbial girl with the curl in 2019. When he’s been on, he’s been terrific, and when’s he’s been off, he’s been off. What’s most concerning there is that two of his worst games have come against the toughest opposition Georgia’s faced this season, in pressure packed situations. Auburn surely qualifies as a similar environment, something the team’s veterans have been warning the younger players about.
How Camarda handles that is going to be one of those crucial items that ordinarily might be easy to overlook, but shouldn’t be.