TOP of the world

Like you, I find time of possession to be a pretty meaningless metric in the vast majority of cases.  It really doesn’t tell you much, with one exception.  It’s a good indicator on the extremes.  For example, if I were to tell you that somebody held Paul Johnson’s offense under thirty minutes of possession time, you’d have a strong likelihood that the game didn’t go Tech’s way.

You know who else runs an extreme offense?  Josh Heupel.  Listen to what Kirby said about UT’s offense yesterday:

I think it’s the most in the country, when you look at it and talk to people, because everybody talks across the country and tries to defend it. It’s so fast you can’t really simulate it in your practices, so you have to try and find a creative way to practice for it. It’s so different than the triple option, I’m not trying to compare it to that, but it’s so different that it’s hard to prepare for. You can’t simulate it with your team unless you do it. We don’t do that as well as they do it, so it makes it tough to prepare for. Your players really have to buy in, they have to know it’s important to play that way against that tempo and you’ve got to work really hard at it…

All that’s missing there is a reference to cut blocking.

Anyway, what I want to discuss in this post isn’t the Vol offense, at least not directly.  It’s the Vol defense.

As you can probably guess, Tennessee is last in the SEC in time of possession, at a tick over 24 minutes per game.  What you might not guess, though, is that on a per play basis, Tennessee’s defense is actually playing respectable ball.  The Vols are fifth in the conference in defensive ypp.  However, they’re eleventh in defensive yardage.  If you can do basic math, the problem is apparent:  they’re playing a lot of plays.

And when I say a lot, I mean a lot.  They’re last by a wide margin in the SEC in plays defended.  (The Vols are 128th nationally.)  For comparison’s sake, Georgia’s defense has been on the field for 168 fewer plays.  In nine games!  That’s almost nineteen more plays a game, week in and week out, UT’s asking out of a very thin defense.

Luckily for them, their offense has managed a middle of the pack performance in third down conversion percentage.  They’re also above average in the conference when it comes to explosive plays.  If they were bad in either area, it would be disastrous for their defense.

The problem they’ve got this week, of course, is that they’re facing a defense that’s very good at stopping third down conversions, as well as preventing the big play.  If Georgia is able to impose its will in those two areas, Tennessee’s defense is going to be beyond gassed in the fourth quarter.

The Dawgs run the conference’s most deliberate offense, last in plays run.  (A lot of that stems from how the fourth quarters in most of Georgia’s games have played out.)  Kentucky is twelfth in the SEC in plays run.  Kentucky ran 99 plays against Tennessee’s defense last Saturday.  That’s 99, as in one less than 100.  That was dictated by the frenetic pace of the game, by Kentucky’s situation needing to keep up with a Tennessee offense that gashed them with big plays, and by Kentucky’s weakness on the d-line and at safety.

Georgia doesn’t have those same weaknesses and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that Smart’s and Lanning’s number one priority is to make the Vols dink and dunk their way down the field.  And if you don’t think they can get their defense prepped to handle this extreme version of an offensive scheme, let me remind you Smart did a damned good job shutting down Georgia Tech in Johnson’s last three seasons there.

I don’t think Georgia will run 99 plays, because I don’t think Georgia will be forced to play a game of keep up with UT.  But I feel pretty confident when the game is over that the Dawgs will have run at least seventy five plays Saturday, and will have a huge edge in TOP.  Barring a rash of turnovers, that looks like victory math to me.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

35 responses to “TOP of the world

  1. practicaldawg

    Great analysis. We need to take them out of the game early so their fans leave with their garbage. We don’t want to be dumpster diving for TDs late in the 4th quarter while dodging golf balls and mustard bottles on the field.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gastr1

      If we keep them under 14 points I’ll feel like this defense will withstand everyone’s best shot. This is a real test– that offense, they have some momentum, and at their place.

      I might even feel that way if we keep them to 20.


      • Dawgfan Will

        Considering they’ve only been held under 40 points 3 times all season, I’ll definitely feel good about the rest of the season if we hold them to 20.


  2. Great article Senator. To add, check out UTk’s opponents 3rd conversion rate in conference play only… it jumps from 48% to 58%!

    Dawgs should roll Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Biggen

    99 plays! That is crazy when I saw that stat last Saturday.

    Cine said yesterday during player interviews that they were practicing against this fast tempo by having two scout team offenses take turns running onto the field after each play to keep the defense out there. In other words, no substituting on defense for those quick series.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s awesome – because that’s exactly how I was gonna say you should do it. Don’t ask the scouts to run back down the field and get ready again… have the second group break the huddle or run to the line the moment the previous play is over. They’ll be at a decided advantage against our D, giving our D better work.

      Great job, UGAStaff!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Texas Dawg

    Reading (I thing it was) Lewis Cine’s comments about how they were fearing practice this week more than the game tells you they will be ready for that fast pace. He said there would be 2 scout teams on the field running plays as fast as they could so they could simulate going even faster than UT to get the D ready. By Saturday, hopefully the pace of play by UT will feel pedestrian compared to the hell that Kirby is going to put them through this week.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. bucketheridge

    Excellent points. 99 plays against Kentucky’s o-line takes a toll. That was also an emotional win for UT. They’ll be on an emotional high to kick off Saturday, but it’s going to be awfully hard for UT’s defense to keep that up for a full game.

    We may be blessed to see another 10 play 10 run fourth quarter soul crusher to finish out this game.


    • PTC DAWG

      The all run drives to salt games away in the 4th are a thing of beauty.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Russ

      They gave up 107 plays to Ole Miss the week before (or whenever it was), so yeah, the 10RC defense is probably tired, but they’ve been tired all season. I don’t think we’ll see a 10RC defense that’s any more tired because of Kentucky.

      That said, we need a few quick stops on defense, and couple of good long scores on offense and take the crowd out of it early. Make them quit and make it a first half game.


  6. This is another game where if we are who we think are, we go take care of business. Kentucky helped Tennessee a lot on Saturday night. I doubt they get the same kind of assistance from our guys.

    There are a lot of guys on this defense who remember what Cade Mays did and will want to beat him down again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ran A

      Completely agree with the first paragraph. Respectfully disagree with the 2nd. Mays was a good teammate that played hard and played multiple positions at Georgia. He only played one game where his heart wasn’t in it and that was the Sugar Bowl.

      Pretty clear that his parents forced him to leave. And will remind everyone that when that BS article came out claiming that Mays was forced to play in a game after having his wisdom teeth cut out, that the kid came out and debunked that within minutes of finding out about it.

      Kids leave programs for different reasons. The players sift out rather quickly the ones that don’t fit. No one shed a tear when a certain 5 star left for the Gators. That wasn’t the case here and the players know it. They will want to beat Mays because he is on the other side of the ball – not because he left the team.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. rigger92

    I just hope we can run the ball better, in this game especially for all the reasons you cited in this post. I watched the FL/SC game again last night and SC just ran right through them. I know it’s not necessarily transitive, but dang, SC was so much more explosive and consistent than we were against them in the run game. Here’s looking at you Luke.


  8. spur21

    I think we will see a heavy dose of manball to eat clock and keep their offense sitting on the bench watching us run run run.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great article Senator.


  10. moe pritchett

    Just friggin win. I can’t relive another 07’ and a half assed Erik Ainge doing a Joe Montana on us


  11. Great analysis Senator. I would note that no one they (Cincinnati) have played so far has our running back room. That coupled with a mobile quarterback may change the equation some what. One thing I know is having all of our receivers back will make a huge difference no matter who is throwing it to them.


  12. Whiskey Dawg

    This will be the first time Georgia has been to Knoxville since the city ban on dangerous folding chairs. It’s the strictest law in the state. Most cities in Tennessee still allow folding chairs, but require folding chair operators to go through a State certified program of instruction first.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m more worried about US dinking and dunking. Our O needs to put the foot down on the gas pedal and put points on the board. I’m far less worried about our D.

    Kentuck lost the game on that last drive because they seemed more interested in running clock for 4 minutes than scoring the winning TD or tying FG.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Salty Dawg

    Just win and shut those one tooth wonders the hell up! That and please stay healthy while playing on that landmine of a playing field. GO DAWGS!


    • mddawg

      I was about to post the same thing. Just get out of there healthy. Preferably with a win, but healthy above all. I joked with a friend yesterday that if we suffer a couple of injuries in the first half we should just pack it up and call it a day. Forfeit, take the L, but preserve the season. Again, I said that in jest, but a part of me still has nightmares about the injuries we suffered there in 2013. And there’s no need to mention any other injury that’s happened there. Nope nope nope!


  15. This will be an interesting challenge…playing on that slippery shitty field always concerns me…but if the defense sets the tone early, gets a few 3 and outs and shuts down the crowd, I can see us methodically pressing 10RC into submission, and we wear them down, by the 3rd quarter they effectively quit. If we can hold them to 7 points or fewer, that will be a banner day for our defense.


  16. Texas Dawg

    If they score more than 13, will they declare a moral victory?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Isn’t this like what Gus used to run 8 years ago?


  18. uga97

    Forcing UT to dink & dunk just means more opportunities for the D to pick & six.


  19. This will be a test for #99….how do we rotate that DL? I’m sure the coaches have made it clear this week in practice…you want to tap out? Then make them go 3&out. There may be some “leg cramping” in this game folks, so don’t prematurely freak out about injuries.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Tony BarnFart

    The problem with going at such a frenetic pace against a great defense that has a nose for the football is not just the 3 and outs gassing your defense, but the potential for disastrous turnovers. A missed assignment by an O-Line that doesn’t have time to communicate and Jalen Carter or Nakobe Dean are wreaking havoc in your backfield. If they’re so beholden to speed that they get repetitive and predictable on certain throws, the ball may be going the other way for 6 or a short field.

    This is basically going to be an all or nothing gamble for Tennessee IMO. Either they unlock the code on our defense and we have a 4 quarter battle, or their own bravado proves extra disastrous and it’s a total bloodbath.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. 69Dawg

    Given the final score in the UT Bama game and the way it played out the UT offense scoring quick is the worst enemy the UT defense has. Bama killed them in the forth quarter. I kept wondering when they would crack against UK but Uk kept shooting themselves in the foot.