Daily Archives: January 29, 2021

Mo’ sco’

Bud Elliott revisits a subject he posted about before, the scoring increase we saw from the SEC this past season.  To start with, he notes a strange pair of stats:  points were up 16 percent from 2019 to 2020, but yards per play only increased by about 4 percent year over year.

To explain the anomaly, he looks at a few factors.

  • Pick-sixes per game and per-pass doubled.
  • Part of the reason interceptions and pick-sixes are up is the SEC is throwing more.
  • Increased red zone scoring.
  • Teams played faster.
  • All four new head coaches were offensive-minded and embraced pace.

You know what didn’t add to scoring?

Interestingly, explosive plays did not increase.

The rate of 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-yard plays per game stayed almost exactly the same year over year. And on a per-play basis, explosive plays are actually down slightly. So the idea that teams are bombing it over the top more, or breaking more explosive plays, is simply not true.

Efficiency on first down was a big part of the SEC’s offensive success. Fewer teams senselessly run the ball into the line on first down when the defense expects it. They are more competent than ever when it comes to throwing the ball around on early downs.

Sure, there are a few manball lessons to take away from all that.  (And questions:  greater red zone scoring efficiency in a spread era cuts against what we thought you have to do to be able to score close in.  How is that happening?) But I’m interested in pace and how it affects the number of plays an offense runs.  Here’s more from Bud:

Teams in the SEC are operating at a quicker pace than they were in 2019. In 2019, teams ran 67.1 plays per game. In 2020, the number rose to 69.6.

Points per play is also up in the league, but with each team running about three more plays per game each, increased pace alone accounted for about 2.2 more points per game than it did last year. Pace is a big factor in this. And of course, if teams are throwing more, that means more incompletions, which stops the clock more as well.

Looking back at this post, Georgia’s ppg average was essentially at league average in plays per game in 2019, and slightly below average in 2020.  (It was at the median, in that it was eighth in plays per game.)

Georgia finished fifth in the conference in offensive yards per play in 2020, and, as we saw, did so on an upwards trend.  (In December and January games, the Dawgs led the conference in offensive ypp.)  If you’re improving your ypp number, then running more plays would seem to be advantageous.  And that would also be a byproduct, as Bud mentions, of your defense forcing more incompletions and interceptions.

Neither of which were particularly strong suits for Georgia’s defense last season.   Georgia was eighth in SEC defensive completion percentage and tied for seventh in interceptions.  Focusing on havoc is good, but havoc is only a means to an end.

I guess what I’m saying is that there is more than one way to skin this particular cat and in Georgia’s case, there appears to be a way to do it that fits in with Kirby Smart’s overall approach.  The catch may be that with an inexperienced secondary and a new position coach, using the defense to help the offense (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a new thing for Kirbs) may be a tough order in 2021.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Don’t cry for me, Tuscaloosa.

Brandon Marcello ranks the 2021 SEC schedules from hardest to easiest.  Clocking in at number fourteen is a certain defending national champion.  ‘Bama starts with the benefit of not having to play itself, but that’s not all.

Nick Saban hasn’t lost more than two games since 2010. The toughest stretch? Ole Miss and at Texas A&M in the first two weeks of October.

Brutal.

15 Comments

Filed under Alabama

Your Daily Gator returns.

Some people see a commitment of another 5-star quarterback recruit as a plus for Kirby Smart.  Then again, some people aren’t Florida fans, like this guy.

Screenshot_2021-01-29 Gunner Stockton to UGA

Cool, man.  And how did your team make out in its bowl game?

22 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

“Levels.”

Here’s a fun piece from David Hale, ranking this season’s playoff contenders by tiers.  He’s got Georgia in the top group, albeit with a caveat.

The wild card in the bunch is Georgia. While the Bulldogs don’t crack that 80% barrier and have made just one playoff appearance (2017), they also hold the fifth-best record of any Power 5 program during the playoff era (.783) and return a roster that screams “now or never” for Kirby Smart. QB JT Daniels appeared to have finally provided the missing piece in Georgia’s offensive attack, averaging better than 10 yards per attempt in three of his four starts — a mark UGA hadn’t hit against a Power 5 opponent since 2018. Add in the return of wide receiver George Pickens, a deep corps of running backs and a ferocious defense, and there’s a lot to like about Georgia in 2021. But beyond that, we’re believers that talent eventually wins out, and UGA will likely finish with a top-three recruiting class for the fifth straight year, giving the Bulldogs as talented a roster as there is in the country.

Nothing particularly thought provoking there, right?  What’s more interesting to me is his comment about Cincinnati, which he lists as a Tier 3 program (“Teams we’ll spend a lot of time making a case for who won’t actually make the playoff”).

The Bearcats finished the regular season undefeated in a COVID-19 year, but didn’t sniff the playoff. The reason was the conference. Never mind that the AAC was every bit as good as the ACC, which produced two playoff teams. There’s a stigma to playing outside the Power 5, and the committee has made it quite clear with its rankings of Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina in 2020 and UCF in years prior. But perhaps 2021 really is the year that stigma can be overcome — at least for Cincinnati. The Bearcats return star QB Desmond Ridder, have an exceptional defense, have the preseason pedigree that comes with nearly upending Georgia in the Peach Bowl and, most importantly, can actually prove something on the field in 2021 with road trips to both Indiana and Notre Dame. Think it can happen? We doubt it. The committee hasn’t shown a willingness to take a Group of 5 team seriously…

Maybe he’s right.  Do you think the selection committee keeps a 12-0 Cinci out of the CFP semis?  If the committee does, prepare yourself for another round of screaming for playoff expansion.

22 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Ain’t played Jawja, Pawwwlll.

So, how badly did Clemson want that opener against the Dawgs?  This badly ($$).

Typically, when Clemson does its scheduling, it has a set of priorities it aims to accommodate. The first is to have seven home games per year, which is usually nonnegotiable.

I’m glad the Tigers swallowed that priority in the interest of scheduling an entertaining start to the season.  Although I imagine the spoonful of a $5 million to $7 million payday helped make the medicine go down easier.

By the way, if you need a morning chuckle, check out this hot take on the game, from a Clemson fan’s perspective.  It’s too stupid to even make for good bulletin board material.

46 Comments

Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

Envy and jealousy, money to burn edition

This made me laugh out loud.

16 Comments

Filed under Envy and Jealousy