Bill Connelly doesn’t paint a pretty picture here. The big problem seems to be that, on average, the defense is leaving offenses with a shorter distance to convert than most teams.
Category Archives: Stats Geek!
There he goes, using statistics like… um, well, statistics.
One of the Vanderbilt beat writers throws out some impressive statistical information about the defense: “In SEC games, Vandy leads the conference in total defense and ranks second in scoring defense.”
Well, shit, says I. Georgia is an SEC team, right? That don’t sound too good. But note the qualifier in the sentence above: “Vandy’s defense was thrown off kilter a little during a three-game stretch against vastly different offenses in Middle Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky…”
“Off kilter a little”? Yeah, well, that’s one way of putting it. Check out the game log for Vandy’s defense, and you’ll see an amazing disparity in yards per play. All three of their SEC opponents averaged less than the 5.56 ypp Vanderbilt’s defense is yielding on the season, while all three non-conference teams managed to average more — in some cases, like Georgia Tech’s, quite a bit more.
This is worth keeping in mind as well. Only two of the teams Vandy has faced so far rank in the top 70 in total offense. The bad news is that Georgia goes into Saturday with the 78th-best mark in that category.
Doesn’t sound pretty, does it?
Boy, talk about your cognitive dissonance.
Georgia: Nine turnovers. Georgia’s defense hasn’t been especially good overall, but it has managed to stifle its share of opponent possessions with nine takeaways, a total that is second in the SEC and tied for 14th nationally. In fact, if Georgia hadn’t gotten turnovers on four of Missouri’s last six possessions on Sept. 17, there is no way the Bulldogs would have slipped out of Columbia with a 28-27 win. Another telling turnover-related statistic: Georgia is 110th in points-off-turnover margin (minus-18). The Bulldogs’ struggling offense has turned those nine takeaways into just 13 points, while opponents have turned their seven takeaways into 31 points.
That’s… hard to do. Factor in Tennessee’s incredible good fortune this season with fumbles (twelve total fumbles, only one fumble lost), and tomorrow’s shaping up potentially as one of the more frustrating games you’ll ever see.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence.
I have to admit there are times when I wonder if Mark Richt would still be coaching in Athens if Bobo hadn’t left for Colorado State. Not that it matters at this point…
Jason Butt points out a few statistical shortcomings.
Georgia has given up 18 plays of 20 yards or more through its first four games of the season. Eight of those big plays came against Ole Miss, which included a 23-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram on the Rebels’ first play from scrimmage and a 41-yard rushing touchdown by Kelly in the third quarter.
Taking it a step further, nine of the aforementioned plays have been 30 yards or more. Four have been longer than 40 yards.
Through Georgia’s first four games a season ago, the Bulldogs only gave up nine plays of 20 yards or more. Of course the schedule was significantly lighter, with games against Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Southern to open the season.
The Bulldogs did begin to give up big plays last season in October as they surrendered 23 plays of 20 yards or more in games against Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida. But that stretch can be considered tougher than what it has gone through this year, with North Carolina, Nicholls State, Missouri and Ole Miss up first.
To put it more bluntly: last season, Georgia finished tied for sixth nationally in opponents’ long plays from scrimmage; this year, the Dawgs are tied for seventy-sixth in that category. Not a good trend, in other words, even taking scheduling into account.
Of course, that got me started wading through cfbstats.com. Here are three more depressing rankings on the offensive side of the ball — depressing, but not necessarily surprising:
- Sacks allowed: 14th in 2015; 109th in 2016
- Passer rating: 57th in 2015; 107th in 2016
- Offensive yards per play: 40th in 2015; 99th in 2016
It’s early, I know. And we can hope Georgia is merely going through a transitional phase. But while some of the decline can be chalked up to scheme changes on the o-line and in the secondary, as well as the growing pains being suffered with a true freshman starting quarterback, it’s also a little disturbing to hear a Process disciple acknowledging a third of the way into the season that there are issues with his team’s mechanics.
Kirby Smart offered a simple solution to Georgia’s big-play problems during the first third of the season.
Coming off a game in which Mississippi gashed the Bulldogs with big-yardage gains, Smart knows his defense to hold up better with Tennessee coming to town at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Tackle better,” Smart said. “I mean, the offenses we play, they get explosive plays on everybody. It’s more about limiting those. Like you mentioned, how do I give up less? If we tackle better, and you take nine of the 15 missed tackles away, then you take away about seven big plays. I think that’s the most important thing.”
No, it’s not getting any better.