Throw the damned ball, defensive coordinators

These are quite the stats from Seth Emerson ($$):

Last year passing yards accounted for 77.5 percent of the yards Georgia’s defense allowed. That was up from 72.9 percent in 2019. And in both years that was the highest such percentage in the FBS. Opponents figured it out: Running on Georgia is a lost cause, but passing offers an opportunity.

By “opponents”, Seth didn’t mean just Alabama and Florida.

Even last year, when Georgia seemingly faced two great offenses and eight middling ones, the passing percentage of Georgia’s yards given up is almost equal: 78.5 percent by Florida and Alabama, 76.9 percent by everyone else. The same deal with 2019, when Burrow and LSU gained 72 percent of their yards against Georgia via the air, the same percentage as the rest of Georgia’s opponents. (These numbers are way up from only a few short years ago: 59 percent of Georgia’s defensive yards were via the air in 2018, and 57 percent in 2017.)

And that was with several experienced defensive backs who were talented enough to be drafted this year.

No, against those middling attacks, it wasn’t enough to cost any games, but we all saw how the ‘Bama and Florida offenses gouged Georgia’s passing defense.  Modern college football is a game that favors the pass, so it’s not that I expect shutdown coverage week after week.  But last year’s pass defense was, to use a term, middling, with a defensive passer rating of 132.72, only 56th nationally.  When you’ve got teams like Oklahoma (112.87), Alabama (119.37) and West Virginia (121.52), all playing in pass happy conferences and all putting up better ratings, there is clearly room for improvement.

Remember, YPP says that Georgia’s offense is going to have to produce at program record setting levels in order for this team to have a legitimate shot at a national title.  Logic suggests that better defensive production gives the offense a little more margin for error in that regard.  Since the run defense is coming off a season in which it was far better than middling, that improvement is going to have to come against the pass.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

28 responses to “Throw the damned ball, defensive coordinators

  1. mp

    If we were getting thrown at more than most, I do not think our sacks kept up on a relative basis. Need more qb pressures to offset, I would think.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Is that because most OCs decided running the ball was fruitless or is it that our secondary gave up too many plays on the back end? Interesting breakdown of total D stats especially in wins vs. losses:


    • originaluglydawg

      Yeah. Doesn’t it stand to reason that if you give up on running the ball and throw it more, and have specifically planned for that, you’ll get more passing yards? (asking for Tony Barnhart).

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This has to be answered with pass rush. You can’t contest any pass, especially vs Alabama and Florida without PI being called.

    You just have to get home with the pass rush.


  4. Derek

    Todd Bowles vs. the KC Chiefs needs to be studied very closely imho.

    Rush 4. Don’t let anything get behind you. Neutralize the advantages offenses have been given. Make them hit short ones and tackle them there. Rinse and repeat.

    We had two highly selected corners last year, a great pass rushing end in Azeez and we still sucked statistically in passing yards allowed.

    Time for new answers.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think I’ve posted this before, but I don’t believe it’s been a scheme problem as much as it’s been a personnel problem.

      Last year saw teams spread UGA’s defense out with 4 and 5 WR sets and UGA was often forced to counter with ILBs in coverage. More than anything else, that’s why Smart dipped in the transfer pool the way he did this past offseason. Georgia can now play dime with a legit 6-man set of DBs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Derek

        All those yards didn’t come from exploiting out of position LB’s tho.

        A lot came from beating tight man coverage on the outside and beating our star to death.

        I’m just not sure man coverage is the answer against some qb/wr combos.

        You aren’t going to find a guy to cover tyreek hill and when mahomes is throwing it to him, you’re in trouble. Sometimes you just gotta Sun Tzu this shit.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s a valid point.

          West Virginia played a lot of zone last season under Addae, which means Smith played a lot of zone last season. I’ll be curious to see if UGA adapts with the new blood.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Derek

            …and West Virginia was No. 1 in pass defense nationally in 2020.

            We certainly have quite the brain trust on d. Hopefully, they’ll pull in one direction and figure it out.

            Liked by 1 person

            • GruvenDawg

              I believe we will see more zone concepts and that is one of the reasons Addae was the pick for DB coach. We sure didn’t look good in zone last year relative to our peers.


      • Tony BarnFart

        But wasn’t the big theme moving from 2019 to 2020 how we were transferring from bend-but-don’t-break to havoc havoc havoc. Maybe we should do more bend but don’t break ? (that’s why i’m just a fan). But as the field shortens, so do the offense’s options. Maybe the question is, is it statistically wiser to make a QB hit a whole bunch of short to intermediate throws in the crowded middle of the defense and never give up the deep ball ?


        • Derek

          Kirby has never been “bend don’t break.” No doubt he wants more picks and more pressures. I think we need to stop pretending that our corners are always better than the opposing wrs. Sometimes, especially with rule advantages, its just not a fair fight and our corners/star don’t stand a chance. Why learn that by giving up long td passes? Lets try to prevent short tds and force fgs. Seems to me that a huge goal vs. a top five team is keep them under 28 by any means necessary.


          • Tony BarnFart

            It’s such a fun evolving chess match. The “don’t even try and run on Georgia” may as well be another light bulb to nudge our own offensive evolution. What with, you ain’t gonna pound Clemson and Bama into the dirt so why get too used to it with easier opponents. I want to fly high and fast as anybody, but still at some point I wonder when is it time to do things the easy way and just crush a team and run it down their throat. I’d almost rather do it situationally and not necessarily as a clock killer.


            • Derek

              It was SO frustrating that we could not rtdb with a lead in the big games. Fucking OSU gets an 85 yard td run and we get STONED!

              I don’t know what the answer is but we need to find it.


  5. Spell Dawg

    I’d like to see the percentage of that percentage that came off the damn wheel route. On second-thought, no I wouldn’t…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. IMO, it wasn’t the defensive backs, for the most part. I think it was a linebacker/scheme problem. First, I think the LBs were playing a few yards too deep, and some teams (MSU for one) threw under them at will for 6-7 yards at a clip. Then, they could not stay with the backs coming out on the wheel route.
    The Dbacks got burned some, but not as much as the LBs did.


  7. originaluglydawg

    Georgia probably has enough depth to keep the defense fresh.
    Special teams giving the opposing team consistent poor field position is a key.
    But the O line, keeping the opposing offense off the field with grinding, clock eating drives late in the half and at the end of the fourth is still the dagger in the heart. We’ve heard the quip, “They scored too quickly” used more in the last few years than ever before. You’ve got to kill their spirit by leaving them no time on the clock at the half and in the fourth.
    Today we ask, “Can we win a shoot-out game against team X ?”
    I hope team X is asking, “Can we win a game against Georgia in the second half when our defense is tired and they start road-grading us ?”
    Oklahoma couldn’t. I wonder if SEC defenses are going to go the way of that (Rose Bowl) Sooner defense.


  8. W Cobb Dawg

    “Need more QB pressures…”

    Absolutely! We’ve got studs all across the D line. We need a lot more pressure from our 4 man front. I’d much rather lead the nation in QB pressure and pass defense, than run defense in this day and age.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. rigger92

    That post yesterday (I think) where you said that Clemson is mostly a base dime package surprised me, and, made me think about our advantages there.

    This post today brings home my hopes that the defensive brain trust strikes the same balance where there are accepted costs to an opponent taking any approach they choose. The opponent thinking “well, this won’t work, that won’t work, this might but not for long”. That’s what our O looks to be able to pull off. Maybe the D too?


  10. classiccitycanine

    All off-season I have thought that retooling the defense is one of the three keys to the season (along with getting more out of our five stars and getting the offense fully operational). I just don’t think stopping the run is very important when the best offenses are shredding records with an elite pass-first approach. It does us no good to build a statiscally great defense against inferior teams but get shredded by elite offenses on the biggest stages.

    I think we have to get more pressure from our front four and get linebackers that can run. I’m all for rethinking personnel and scheme in the secondary, but that won’t matter if the QB is comfortable. The only solution to the modern offense is to make the QB run for his life the whole game. Look at what we did to Bo Nix last year and what we did not do to Jones and Trask.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Ran A

    Went back and took a quick glance at stats in each game. Easier to do then you would think. Yup, Alabama and Florida just took the defense apart in their games. But the rest of them? Kentucky had no offense – period. Tennessee had 197 yards on the ground, but ran the ball 50 times (this was by far the most successful attempt in the air). Their really only three games of the other 7 that you can point to where throwing worked. Cincinnati, Mississippi State, and Arkansas. Arkansas was the first game of the year – so kind of an outlier, but let’s keep them in. Now… What did all 5 of these teams have in common? Answer: Solid QB play

    Georgia’s schedule:

    Clemson – new QB – 5star – who has been very good in games.
    UAB – doesn’t matter who the QB is
    South Carolina – no QB
    Vandy – doesn’t matter who the QB is
    Arkansas – new QB
    Auburn – three year starter at home
    Kentucky – new QB – but that will be an improvement
    Florida – new QB – four years in the system
    Missouri – 2nd year QB
    Tennessee – TBD
    Charleston Southern – doesn’t matter
    GA Tech – 2nd year starter with 13 TD’S last year and 13 interceptions

    Clemson has a 5 star QB – but it is his first year as a starter and it’s the first game of the season. I think he’ll have success and maybe more than I would like, glad we are getting him early. He’s not going to be TLaw the early and they’ll miss Travis Etienne more than I think the Tigers want to admit.

    Auburn will have a 3 year starter, who is a different player at home – but his WR group is depleted. And Auburn will try to run the ball to set up the pass. That will not work against Georgia – it’s just a bad match up for the Tigers

    Kentucky – new offense – – new OC new QB, veteran O-Line (picked up LSU’S right tackle). Veteran nasty defense, not elite – but solid. This might be Georgia’s toughest regular season game. But they have to run the ball well too (LA Rams offense), and again, that’s just tough to do against Georgia. And the games in Athens.

    Florida – Trask is gone. Emory Jones was a four star from Georgia behind TLaw and Fields. Seems like he has been there forever. You can argue that he has been in the system for four years and should be ready. Problem is that the system is Mullen’s MSU offense, not what Jones has been in. With that said, Jones skill sets are well suited for this offense. The problem – your not going to win by attacking the edge against Georgia. You have to be able to throw the ball down field. Lot can happen between now and this game, wouldn’t surprise me if we are facing a different QB, if a couple of games go South on Mullen and company.

    Missouri – that game felt closer than what the stats showed. They had no success what-so-ever running the ball. They’ll have some success throwing, but their defense gave up 600 yards to Georgia last year and this game is in Athens. Throw all you want and they wll have some success- but the Tigers can’t keep up.

    UT – they’ll throw it all over the place and will have some success. But they can’t run the ball now. And their defense is decimated. Only hope that they have against Georgia is to play perfectly on offense to keep it close and as many times that ball is going to be in the air, I expect Georgia to get their fair share of picks. Can’t see Georgia losing this game and with UT trying to speed it up, they could turn the ball over “a lot”. This game could be 35-7 at half time.

    Tech – we are so used to blowing Tech out. Will be interesting to see where Tech is at the end of the season. They have a talented Sophomore QB, a pretty good offensive scheme and some pretty good receivers and a solid running back. I do think they’ll have some success in the air, but I also think Georgia drops 50+ on that defense.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. (These numbers are way up from only a few short years ago: 59 percent of Georgia’s defensive yards were via the air in 2018, and 57 percent in 2017.) What has the league and national average done in the same time period?


  13. 69Dawg

    Okay this is from the ND beating Clem’s son film curtesy of Brooks Auston
    When the offense is in 10 or 11 personnel Clemson uses Dime. When they see 12 personnel they go to base 4-3. ND was running the ball down their throats by checking to a run when the QB saw Dime. 7 or 8 yards every time.


  14. Using an advanced algorithm I’ve combined net YPP with EPA, ORC, mean STD and LMMOP to conclude…

    …Our D need to be better against the pass and O should score more to help.

    You’re welcome.

    Liked by 1 person