Key Offensive Team Stats in SEC Play:
The most important stats for Georgia to maintain against SEC defenses are its Sack Rate and Run Havoc Rate. Despite their reputation, Georgia’s offense was more mediocre than good in SEC play last year. But they still protected their quarterback phenomenally and didn’t let fronts affect their ground game too often. Both were crucial for their conservative offense to plod along. But even if UGA leans into being more aggressive and modernizes its scheme moving forward, the Dawgs will still have to keep their passer clean and provide a good amount of room for their backs to operate. Staying ahead of the chains and avoiding drive-killing plays is a good place for this offense to start to get back on track.
The most important stats for Georgia to improve against conference defenses are its Passing Success Rate and Touchdown Rate. Though UGA posted a top 5 Passing Success Rate in league play last year, their clip failed to crack 40%. In order to be a title contender that needs to drastically improve; especially if they want to contend for a title of any kind. Being good relative to your conference is one thing, being one of the best around is another. Georgia’s muted offense only generated a 3.35% Touchdown Rate, which was a bottom5 figure. Sure they managed to get by thanks to an elite defense. But again, this offense needs to display more potency and potential to put points on the scoreboard looking at the big picture. While I still have my concerns about Jamie Newman, Pro Football Focus has him as the nation’s 3rd-best quarterback (I shouldn’t have to remind you on who the top 2 are). His homerun arm is a big reason why. If it’s as good as advertised, he should be able to help UGA in both aspects.
Key Defensive Team Stats in SEC Play:
Per ESPN’s SP+, no team in all of college football has a defense as superior as Georgia’s entering this season. In SEC play last year, however, they sported the 4th-best Success Rate. Still like their SP+ Rating suggests, they held the best Yards/Play, Explosive Play Rate, Touchdown Rate, and rush yards before contact average. UGA was a stifling bunch, and there’s plenty of reasons to believe the Dawgs will get back to doing that to opponents in 2020. Of course, maintaining all those elements will certainly help. But this unit still could shore up a few of its weaker traits.
Though this unit doesn’t have to change too much to keep up their dominance, Georgia must improve its Sack and Takeaway Rates to help create a preferable room of error for its fairly green offense. Last season, both clips finished inside the SECs bottom 4 in league play. The best defense in the land perhaps can become the best offense in the land if these two aspects can see significant gains year-over-year. Down-to-down prowess is great. Sometimes, a truly great defense needs to be more apt at executing game-altering plays.
Weak spot is Georgia’s offensive line, which is quite the take after what was supposed to be perhaps the team’s strongest suit in 2019. (Which is not to say StatCat is wrong about 2020.)
As much as the conventional wisdom three weeks ago was about Florida’s scheduling advantage, that pretty much has disappeared in the wake of the revamped conference schedule.
Georgia’s 2020 Schedule:
According to ESPN’s SP+ Ratings, Georgia enters 2020 with the SEC’s 2nd-easiest schedule. Thanks to the Gators only facing two top 30 offenses, they just edged out the Dawgs for the weakest slate. Though Alabama dons the top spot overall, Georgia is right behind them and rocks the No. 1 ranked defense by the SP+. In terms of Success Rate, the Bulldogs were top 5 in conference play on both sides of the ball. Thanks to a bunch of departures offensively, they’ll enter this fall ranked 33rd. Georgia’s most trying part of the schedule is from Week 2 until their bye week. All four of UGA’s opponents are ranked in the top 30. All have top 25 defenses with three being top 8. Not to mention, the Dawgs travel to Tuscaloosa in Wee4. For a team sporting a rather green offense, it’s easy to see the Dawgs dropping a game before their bye. Florida no doubt will be formidable. But from Week 8 on, its all downhill. Over that span, the SP+ projects their average margin of victory to be over 20 points. All in all, the metric favors them in nine games, which favors the over to hit on their win total line.
Georgia’s defense is set to face two top 20 offenses in Alabama and Florida. Though certainly difficult, the Bulldogs don’t look to be tested too much defensively outside of those two games. Half of their opponents fall outside the top 40 in the initial SP+. Those five also happen to be the conference’s worst offenses. Kirby Smart’s defense is expected to be just dandy. The question, again, is whether a mostly new group can produce right away. While Week 1 will be a decent tune-up game, there’s not a whole lot of time for this unit to gel before shit gets real. With six defensive foes ranked in the SP+ top 30, a few teams could upend them on any given Saturday. Still, let’s not pretend this isn’t one of the best overall teams in the nation.
It’s becoming a recurring theme for me, but Todd Monken certainly seems to have his work cut out for him. Luckily, he’s likely to have a comfortable margin for error to work with thanks to Georgia’s defense.