Takeaways takeaway

This certainly goes against the grain:

Going back and look at Georgia’s defenses under Kirby Smart, I came across a pretty incredible trend over the last four years. Georgia has created fewer and fewer turnovers each year since Smart arrived all while the unit, for the most part, has gotten better.

The Bulldogs generated 27 turnovers in 2016, a really good defense but one that wasn’t close to as good as it was in 2017 when it created 20 turnovers with two extra games to do so. That number fell to 17 in 2018, a defense that wasn’t quite as good as the group the year before and then 16 turnovers in 2019, the best of them all.

Outside of the fact that the Bulldogs just aren’t intercepting as many passes as they did in 2016, there’s no real way to explain it. There’s an element of fortune involved in creating turnovers. It also helps to have a veteran group, especially when it comes to creating interceptions because those guys are rarely out of position.

We’re also not interested in taking a deep dive into why the turnovers have trended downward over the past four years because it hasn’t really impacted the performance. Some how, some way, UGA led the nation in scoring defense in 2019 while ranking 60th nationally in sacks per game, 89th nationally in tackle for loss per game, and 84th in number of turnovers created.

The three best teams in college football a season ago. LSU, Clemson, and Ohio State all ranked inside the top 23 when it came to turnovers created, each having at least six more than the Bulldogs.

Still, without the benefit of creating negative plays at a high clip or turning teams over, Georgia held opponents to 12.3 points per game.

It’s like bend but not break on steroids.  Imagine what that defense might be capable of if they reversed that trend.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

31 responses to “Takeaways takeaway

  1. Econdawg

    A good defense gets off the field quickly, so perhaps we are giving opponents fewer opportunities to turn the ball over.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. MGW

    Wait now, has Georgia finally gotten to the point where regression to the mean might actually…. help?


  3. A 3 and out in today’s game is the equivalent of a turnover but without the sudden field position change. The power of a turnover is in the sudden change in the field position. If you force a turnover in plus territory, you have saved your offense the equivalent of making at least 3 first downs. If you force a turnover in minus territory, you have typically erased a minimum of 3 points off the scoreboard.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. siskey

    Is it because teams are more cautious against the defense? Last year I could see why they would be after the South Carolina game, of course, LSU was not cautious but they had no reason to believe that we could score with them barring something unforeseen taking place.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I blame Coley. Let me explain…

    Another reason is possibly because UGA’s offense didn’t really scare other teams, so other teams’ offenses did not have to play as aggressively (which leads to more turnovers). There is evidence out there that shows that the more a team falls behind in a game, the more likely they are to turn it over. This article mentions the 3 other teams (LSU, Clemson, and Ohio State) which all had extremely explosive offenses, so other teams knew they had to play aggressive offense to stay in the game.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The other Doug

      This. UGA’s offense didn’t scare anyone into thinking they had better push it to score early and often. Most teams played us to hang around and maybe win he 4th qtr or last drive.

      Don’t get me wrong, Kirbs was more than happy to bend but don’t break their ass.


      • The thing is that the defense wasn’t “bend but don’t break” during normal play. We weren’t giving up yards or points. The Florida, Auburn and Texas A&M games were well in hand until Kirby told Lanning to back off and we gave up yards and points.


  6. Ozam

    It’s hard to intercept passes when our corners are taught to play the man rather than the ball. 🤣

    Our overall philosophy is fine. The offense just needs to help out more. The off-season changes were instituted to address this shortcoming.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. josh hancher

    UGA Defense EPA was 5th behind OSU, Bama, Clemson and Utah… OSU, Bama, and Clemson had negative Defensive EPAs and UGA (10.4) was closer to Oregon and Mizzou than the Buckeyes and Bama.. Those are TOs are big time negative EPA for offense and that is why this stat doesn’t favor UGA more. Those are havoc plays, too. Coach Smart hammered havoc all season and didn’t get a lot of them percentage wise, but this Dawg fan isn’t complaining.. I think this maturing defense will be allowed to be more aggressive in 2020.

    … After UGA/OU/Mizz – defensive EPA falls off into 20s and 30s quickly. These top D’s were elite.. (I sorted only P5 stats and)


  8. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    There are so many legitimate things to worry about right now – will there be a season?(of course:$$) and when the season starts will there be players out because of illness (instead of injury) – to worry about this right now.

    While every defense can get better, ours ain’t broke by a long shot. I wish we had more turnovers, I really do, but not at the expense of the overall defense. I watched some early 2000 games against UT. I think it was in the 2003 game, UT was driving to score with seconds left in the first half, and we weren’t able to stop them at all. Luckily – and I do mean luckily – Claussen untied the hand behind his back and used two hands on the play where they fumbled the hand off and Sean Jones was able to pick it up and run the other way. That was really fun to watch, but I would have been much happier with a 3 and out way back when UT first got the ball.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lostdawg3

      Munsons call on that play was just another 5* diamond gem of radio broadcasts! I had just graduated and left Athens that summer for Chapel Hill, NC and could only listen to the game on the radio. My new neighbors found about the new Dawg in the yard that night. I was out on my back porch barking like a rabid junkyard Dawg. Also, my new boss just happened to be a vowel, which in turn led to me finding other gainful means…but totally worth it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        To save time, dial it to about 1:12 or so to get the full feeling. I hate Bill Curry, but he said it best, “An unforced error by Casey Claussen. Period”


  9. Tony Barnhart

    As some have sort of echoed, I happen to think a lot of football stats ARE ACTUALLY mutually exclusive. We play such nasty, base fundamental defense that we probably take away many OCs play-calling options because the opponents’ staff in the skybox with their analysts and binoculars aren’t seeing our guys miss key reads and take unnecessary gambles. It’s like trying to rob Fort Knox, not smart—and, as mentioned, since we weren’t exactly lighting the scoreboard up, why give our pedestrian offense a short field by throwing at guys who have shown few weaknesses on film or during the game. Unless Joe Burrow is your quarterback.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. BuffaloSpringfield

    “For What its Worth”, Really Notre Dame, Florida and Auburn were the only games I thought that CKS took his foot off the offense and played clock football and the defense was vanilla to the bend but don’t break philosophy. Precluding the stump of Dawg paws against the cocabooses. As CKS said pregame and duly noted throughout “We aren’t ready to f_ _ _ in’ play.
    Turnovers are contagious, sometimes as Munson said its “Old Lady Luck” smiling on you and not the x and o’s of concepts. Some are just miracles like Pollack’s strip TD vs.the Cocks. Look what I found type situations.
    For some statistics you may use analytics to prove said point. Just like UGA’s defensive stat against the nation at 12.3 points a game but not being able to sustain any offensive punch against LSU was like putting Earnest T. Bass in NASCAR. There was going to be a wreck just a matter of time of when it happened. CKS philosophy of taking his foot off the offense in the could have been a loss against the aforementioned teams. Rational thought lead him to believe in his defense without turnovers and play clock football won those games. How would we Dawgs perceive expectations if those 3 single score games did not work out the way they did. There is a thin line of perception vs. reality. Statistics vs. Analysis……

    Liked by 3 people

    • I got this sinking feeling when Hot Rod missed the PAT during warm-ups right before the team went in, and Kirby made his comment about being ready to play. Something didn’t seem right all day.


  11. We gave ATM? …negative….yardage.

    That’s way more awesome than fewer TOs. Hard to get turn overs when you shut down your opponent so fast and hard they cant even snap the ball.

    It’s a non issue


  12. TN Dawg

    Personally I think Kirby took the “go ahead and beat us if you can” approach last year, an approach emboldened by playing against a lot of backup quarterbacks.

    Most of the time it worked well.

    Until it didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. WIll (the other one)

    Most of his Bama defenses were like this too — but his final Bama defense had something like 40 sacks or so. I think part of it is needing to trust the secondary and non-pass-rushers in the front 7 to do their parts well before he’s ready to turn the rest loose. Here’s hoping that happens.


  14. willypmd

    I would bet that statistic reverses this year, if nothing else because offenses are going to be behind the eight ball even more from missing so much installation time.

    The talent on D is the best we have had in Smart’s time here in every single position group. There is elite 5 star experienced talent in every single position group. I’m not sure a single freshman off what was a top 2 class will crack the two deep, which is insane.

    I expect multiple 1st team SEC players off the front 7 with a couple of possible all Americans in the secondary.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is how you thread. Great stuff


  16. Classic City Canine

    In my opinion, the big difference is we haven’t had 1st rounders on the D-Line. If Trey Scott figures out how to recruit and a develop one of those guys every year, we’ll have a lot more havoc plays.


  17. Granthams replacement

    Kirby wants more turnovers but his defensive philosophy is stop explosive plays. Most offenses cannot sustain 10+ play drives to score, especially against a talented defense. I don’t think he is going to shift much, as mentioned better D line play is the key to turnovers in his system. Think the opposite of what Grantham does.


  18. Mayor

    I thought you said getting turnovers was luck Senator.