“The ultimate Alabama vs. Georgia preview”

I give Bill Connelly credit — he’s not overselling his preview of Saturday night’s game with that header.

If you’re grasping for straws on how Georgia’s defense can slow down Alabama’s offense…

Basically, you need Georgia’s help to score, either via good field position or penalty. And if or when the Dawgs are benevolent enough to allow you to convert a third down, you absolutely, positively must turn that into points. They aren’t going to be that generous very often…

The Tide have gone three-and-out on 19% of their drives so far — not bad by any means, but 14th in FBS (as opposed to all those categories for which they’re in the top five), and 45% of their third downs have involved seven or more yards to go (23rd). This is what constitutes a weakness for such a great offense, but it’s one that Georgia could theoretically take advantage of.

That’s not much to hang your red and black hat on, I’m afraid.

Strangely enough, the largest ground for optimism on this front comes from Bill’s take on last year’s SECCG.  He states that Georgia’s defense played better than most of us thought it did.

Against Georgia’s top-ranked defense last year, LSU scored 37 points and averaged 6.5 yards per play. Those are excellent totals, but LSU averaged 48.4 points per game and 7.9 yards per play for the season — the Dawgs held the Tigers far below their otherworldly season averages, and they might have fared even better had the game state not gotten away from them.

Georgia had forced three-and-outs on two of LSU’s first four possessions, but the Bulldogs’ offense drove more than 21 yards only once in its first five drives, and the score was 14-0 LSU after the first quarter. Things snowballed in the second half as the Georgia defense was forced to take more risks, but it still performed better than almost anyone else against that devastating Tigers attack.

I don’t think this year’s Alabama offense is better than last year’s LSU offense and I do think Georgia’s 2020 defense has surpassed the 2019 version, so there’s that.

On the other side, like so many, Bill wonders what Ole Miss’ performance last week says about the Tide defense.

Having to survive at least one crazy track meet is becoming part of a national champion’s journey at this point, but while Alabama’s defense was first in defensive SP+ six times in nine years between 2009 and ’17, it’s an awfully mortal 22nd right now. The Tide were occasionally vulnerable against both Texas A&M and Missouri, but the defense was so definitively beaten last week that it’s worth exploring what Ole Miss did that was so devastating … and how much of it Georgia can imitate.

And the answer is… not that much.  Maybe.

The Dawgs do not tend to spread defenses out formationally like Kiffin and Lebby do, UGA quarterback Stetson Bennett doesn’t have Corral’s rocket-powered arm and Smart definitely doesn’t endorse Lebby-level tempo. You still see plenty of Smart’s defense-first tendencies when it comes to run rates (Georgia runs about 3 percentage points more than the national average on standard downs, five on passing downs) and the occasional third-and-long draw play. One figures the main thing Smart likes about Bennett — a former walk-on who has taken control of the job over former blue-chippers JT Daniels and D’Wan Mathis — is not his play-making ability so much as his ability to avoid screwups. Smart is infinitely more risk-averse than Kiffin, and when you’ve got the defense he has, that makes sense. Bama should be able to crowd the box more than it could against Ole Miss.

If that space over the middle of the field becomes available, however, Georgia will try to take advantage.

“Smart is infinitely more risk-averse than Kiffin” is the understatement of the year.  That only pays off if Georgia doesn’t screw up Saturday.

Bill’s model projects a 28-24 Alabama victory and I can’t say that’s unreasonable.  But as he goes on to note, there are a lot of possible scenarios for this game.

There’s a lot more there, so take some time to read it.

29 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

29 responses to ““The ultimate Alabama vs. Georgia preview”

  1. Remember the Quincy

    Am I the only person nervous about the Braves playing for the NL crown the same weekend as this game? Georgia based sports teams are so, so good at letting us down…the potential for a “super doom” scenario is right in front of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DawgFlan

      I’m not as worried about this weekend as it isn’t make or break to the rest of the season, but I’m thinking the opposite… It would be so Georgia to only win championships in a year this messed up, giving everyone the opportunity to asterisk, Dawg-grade, and belittle them. And if it means World Series and CFP trophies, I’m OK with it.

      Liked by 6 people

    • Russ

      Let’s just close out the Dodgers tonight so we can focus solely on the Dawgs tomorrow night.

      Liked by 3 people

    • charlottedawg

      So after the braves broke their own record for runs allowed in an inning in game 3, I thought the georgia sports curse was setting up it’s 2020 grand finale on Saturday where a) the braves would be eliminated in game 6 AND b) dawgs get ktfo by Bama. Obviously with the braves game 4 win a Saturday georgia sports meltdown is no longer possible (but a weekend meltdown still is). But here’s what I think the curse is gonna do.

      I think georgia and the braves win this weekend. The curse just states that a georgia team can not and will never win a championship (world series, super bowl or NC, nl or secc doesn’t count), so this weekend I think the curse let’s have some fools gold to really protract the pain later on. Our game with alabama frankly isn’t even the most important on our schedule so the curse let’s us have that because how much more gut wrenching would it be to be upset by florida, lose the SECCG or worse blow a 28-3 lead in the national championship game. Along those lines the braves can’t do something like blow a 3 games to nothing series lead leading by 5 runs in the ninth of game 4 if they don’t get to the world series.

      Like

    • originaluglydawg

      If all of the negative Karma Bitches will go haunt the Braves and leave the Dawgs with Old Lady Luck smiling on them, I’ll take it. We never expect the Braves to win anyway.

      Like

  2. classiccitycanine

    “Infinitely more risk averse,” is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. It’s what’s holding us back from being all we can be.

    Like

  3. Derek

    I could have done without the fake punt vs. alabama. The fake fg vs. lsu. The onside kick vs. south carolina. The 4th down attempt vs. UT.

    If thats risk averse, I’d like to see some additional aversion.

    Liked by 7 people

    • gastr1

      Those are the kinds of risks the risk-averse take: the kind everyone else can see coming and/or didn’t include the sound preparation a real risk requires in order to be pulled off.

      It’s like, you take the dive off that 30-foot cliff because you know how to dive and swim. Or, you do it without knowing and without confidence, and end up with a serious injury.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Derek

        None of them were anticipated. Because they didn’t make any damn sense.

        The one that worked vs. TCU in the bowl game, I called because it made sense.

        Close game. Struggling offenses. Ball at their 45 or so. It worked.

        When you have the best roster almost ever week “risky” = “stupid.”

        Just play the fucking 60 minutes and understand the recruiting you’ve done will pay off.

        Like

    • RangerRuss

      Maybe SBIV needs one of those electroshock therapy devices like Cliff Clavin had attached to him. When Kirby decides to do something silly such as go for it on 4th and 1 at the Dawgs 36? Derek can hit the button and say, “Dance Mailman”. Better yet, hook it to Kirby’s testicles.
      His occasional lapses in judgement are baffling.

      Like

  4. I agree with all the above but the smart-ass in me has to point out that word “infinitely” makes understatement well nigh impossible.

    I’m totally being that guy. Setting the tone for the weekend.

    Like

  5. ASEF

    I honestly don’t see how Alabama wins this game.

    Their offense is built a lot like Oklahoma’s back in the Sam Bradford days. Against most defenses, they have mismatches everywhere and an accurate QB who is excellent at identifying those mismatches. Very few teams can cover all their playmakers.

    But against elite defenses who can, who match them athlete for athlete across the board, that approach doesn’t work. They’ll score, but it won’t be video game numbers.

    Unless their defense has some how been fixed in a week, they’re in trouble. They haven’t been able to cover RBs or consistently set an edge for a couple of years now. Monken is salivating.

    And with Nick out with the ‘Rona, plus the pressure of a home game (visitor always has an edge in games like these, especially this year), none of the intangibles are working in the Tide’s favor.

    Bill’s right about the wide range of possible outcomes (playmakers everywhere on both teams in all 3 phases), but I lean towards an outcome a lot like the Bama Clemson title game – Bama racks up yards but can’t find the end zone, while Kirby baits Jones into a couple of picks, while Georgia’s offense tees off on 3rd downs.

    Game over by end of the 3rd. No Bama comeback this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. siskey

    I may be whistling on my way to the electric chair and it is certainly in my DNA as a Dawg fan to be both pessimistic and arrogant at the same time but I think that we have a good chance. I don’t expect a blowout or anything resembling one but I think (hope/pray/etc) that we are going to win. The situation with the Braves does not concern me because though I am a big Braves fan I would happily trade a win in Tuscaloosa for 10 World Series championships.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. TripleB

    I didn’t know how good I had it in high school when the Dogs won the Natty and seldom lost, often beating good teams like Alabama. I wasn’t nearly as invested. By the time I got fanatical I was out of school, out of Athens, and Spurrier was at Florida. Since then we have been to the mountain, beating really good teams at times, but not over the top. There has always been an elite team we couldn’t quite topple (i.e. Florida and now Alabama).

    Since Smart arrived I always feel we have a good chance to win, and so far we’ve won some really big ones–just not the big one. I honestly believe we will get to the top of the mountain soon. To be the man you got to beat the man. The man is Alabama. When Smart breaks the seal on that monster win, the sky’s the limit.

    I hope its this weekend, and I hope they let Saban in to be there!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. uga97

    2 things amiss with Bill:

    1.)Bama doesn’t kick touchbacks often and we are 3rd in nation in kickoff return category…so based on that we should bust a few long ones to keep us in pace as a “shoot out” (maybe even a few of those to the house). Many of Saban’s losses came down to either his own special teams snafus, or the opponent making the big play.
    2.) Connelly works for Mickey now, and much like Vegas, ESPN want close games for ratings sake (obvious). But more importantly, what drive those ratings: an upset. If he is hedges the Victor & score then Mickey comes out shiny when the dogs win by scoring more than 24 this weekend. And Mickey’s

    Liked by 1 person

  9. stoopnagle

    FUCK BAMA.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sniffer

    After much anxiety, I have decided that I don’t care about the outcome of Saturday’s game. Sure, a win would be great, but the conference championship is where my interest lies. By then, our offense should be jelled and in fine form. If we play all our games and have a full roster, I want Bama in the ATL. That’s a win to talk about.

    Like