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Category Archives: Stats Geek!
Care to guess which SEC offense has cracked the 500-yard mark more than any other in the past three seasons? I bet you won’t get it on the first try.
Say what you will, but when it comes to offense, Dan Mullen can coach a little.
Jacob Eason finished the Kentucky game with a pedestrian 131.88 passer rating. His sideline passes were erratic; he frequently looked uncomfortable in the pocket despite getting decent pass protection most of the night from his linemen.
But when he was needed the most, he ripped off a 4-4 performance on Georgia’s game winning drive and looked calm, cool and collected doing so. As Seth Emerson reminds us, it’s not Eason’s first rodeo in that regard.
Jacob Eason’s career is still very young, but he’s already led Georgia on two game-winning drives in the final minutes, and he had a third one taken away because of the other team hitting a Hail Mary.
“It’s kinda crazy, because every time we get in that situation we all feel like we’re going to win the game,” tailback Nick Chubb said.
There was the Missouri game, when Eason hit Isaiah McKenzie on a fourth-down, go-ahead, 20-yard touchdown catch in the final minutes.
There was the 48-yard touchdown pass to Riley Ridley with 10 seconds left against Tennessee. Only the even more improbable Volunteer pass completion prevented that from being Eason’s next big moment.
Then on Saturday night, Eason and Georgia’s offense took the field in a tie game with 2:47 left, 75 yards from the end zone. Perfect.
What’s the secret? Well…
It’s no accident. Eason’s background is in a spread offense, and his main adjustment this season has been to a pro-style offense. But when the two-minute offense arrives, he’s back in high school.
“That’s usually his game,” McKenzie said. “Coming from where he comes from, he had the spread offense. Here it’s similar but we’re three-wide, not five-wide.”
So against a Kentucky defense that appeared to be playing too loose inside the first down markers, Eason dinked and dunked downfield, completing four-of-four pass attempts for 42 yards to get Georgia in field goal position.
Eason’s situational stats suggest there may be something to this. On a quarter-by-quarter basis, his best passer rating comes in the fourth. And check out his performance in a tied game setting: he completes more than 70% of his pass attempts and has a passer rating of 171.26.
Perhaps somebody needs to take a closer look at what sort of sets and plays Georgia runs in tight games that allow its quarterback to function so well and incorporate more of that into the game plan on a more general basis. Perhaps.
For as much as last year’s offense was a struggle, Georgia is on pace this year to have less total yards. It has 2,984 through eight games, needing 1,920 over the final four or five games to equal last year – which was the team’s lowest yardage total since 2009.
You read that right. Assuming Georgia goes bowling, it will have to average over ten yards better a game over the remainder of the season than it’s compiled so far to exceed last year’s per game rate. If the team whiffs on a bowl game, well… you don’t want to see the math on that.
The good news, if you want to call it such, is that here are the rankings in total defense for the opponents left in the regular season:
- Auburn: 31st
- Georgia Tech: 40th
- Louisiana – Lafayette: 50th
- Kentucky: 80th
No world beaters there. The bad news is that three of those four are holding opposing offenses to less yardage per game than Georgia’s offense needs to gain to better last year’s pace.
Statistically, the numbers say Georgia’s defense has declined this season. Although, to be fair, as Seth Emerson notes, the Dawgs have seen much better passing attacks in 2016 than they did last year.
The quality of opponents needs to be considered: Last year the best passing offense Georgia faced, at least statistically, was Alabama, and it was only 62nd nationally. But so far this year Georgia has faced three of the top 25 passing offenses: Ole Miss (17), Missouri (19) and North Carolina (21).
So I get the need to qualify any conclusion to be drawn from the numbers. Now if I could only figure out what Kirby Smart is saying about that.
“When you base things on stats, that’s what can mislead you,” Smart said, when asked if he’s seen tangible evidence that the defense has improved. “It’s a tough thing to gauge. I think you have to substantiate it some kind of way, and we’ve tried to do that through less missed tackles. We’ve also had less plays. We didn’t have many plays against Vanderbilt. So less plays should have less missed tackles, less opportunities to tackle.
“So we try to look at it from a statistical standpoint, but at the end of the day it comes with practice, and you have to go by practice. And I feel like because you see practice every day, those defensive players have improved.”
They look at stats even though they know they’re misleading? Yeah, I can see how that would be tough to gauge.
I can hear the siren sounds of Greg McGarity already: nowhere to go but up, Dawgnation! Renew those season tickets today!