Does Georgia Throw the Ball Too Much? One Guy Thinks So. But is it True?


Earlier this week I received a series of comments from Bulldawg20 who asserted that Georgia’s offense was too “pass-happy” and that the Bulldogs would have been better served running the football more often.  I briefly disputed that notion as Georgia runs the ball more often than not, but Bulldawg wasn’t having it.  He combated the argument with statistics that included sacks as pass attempts, and cited other teams rushing totals before ultimately going so far as to criticize the Georgia defense for its failure to stop the run.

He made a lot of valid points, and I have a lot of valid rebuttals.  So rather than go back-and-forth with him I figured I’d take some public space and dedicate it to answering some questions and ultimately determining if Georgia passes the ball too often.

So, let’s answer some small questions and work our way to the answer.

 

At the most basic level, is Georgia’s offense a too reliant on passing?  

At the most basic level the answer to this question is “no.”  Through 13 games this season the Georgia Bulldogs have thrown the football on 42.91% of their offensive snaps.  Bulldawg20 would dispute this stat by including sacks in the “passing” category, but I will not do so.  Why?  Because the NCAA officially records a sack in the “rushing” category, not the “passing” category.  And this is a college football article, so I will use the standard set by college football.  The NCAA does not want to make a judgment on whether a QB was out of the pocket and scrambling with the intention of running or scrambling with the intention of passing – so I’m not going to make that judgment either.  Accordingly, anytime a player (quarterback or otherwise) is tackled behind the line of scrimmage it goes down as a rushing attempt on the NCAA’s stat sheet and on mine.  Again, if it is good enough for the NCAA then it is good enough for me.

So, with that in mind I cannot in good faith say that Georgia runs a “pass-happy” offense as the Dawgs throw the ball 14.19% less often than they run it.

 

Is Georgia’s offense pass-happy relative to the rest of the nation? 

Again, that would depend on how you define “pass-happy,” but if you’re evaluating on a raw “how often was this team passing as opposed to running” basis the answer is a resounding, “no!”  Georgia’s 42.91% passing rate (rate of throwing passes, not passer efficiency rate) ranks 81st in the country.  That’s pretty darn low (the NCAA lists the statistics for 120 FBS teams and excludes a few that are in transition to that level).  I have a hard time labeling a team that ranks 81st out of 120 teams in any category as a leader in that area.

Washington State throws the football on 71.23% of their offensive plays.  That is pass-happy.

It should be noted, that the inverse to a team’s plays dedicated to passing is the number of plays that it dedicates to running.  Georgia ranks 40th in the nation in that category.  That’s a respectable figure for a pro-style offense.  Certainly not a diminutive figure that Bulldawg20 would imply.

 

Does Georgia’s offense pass too often to be successful in the SEC? 

Bulldawg20 references the run/pass ratios of Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in an effort to show identify shortcomings of the Georgia offense.  Again, I will not include sacks as passes because the NCAA doesn’t do that.

The SEC’s fourteen teams ran 11,579 plays of offense this season.  5,130 of those plays were passes.  That 44.30% figure is greater than Georgia’s 42.91%.  Georgia throws the ball less often than the league’s average.  And, if you remove Georgia from that and compare the Bulldogs to only the thirteen other institutions the numbers become more lopsided.  The thirteen other schools throw the ball on 44.42% of the time.  Again, Georgia throws on 42.91% of all offensive plays.

With that in mind, here is how Georgia stacks up within the SEC:

  • Arkansas: 55.57% Pass
  • Tennessee: 53.60% Pass
  • Mississippi State: 50.25%
  • Kentucky: 48.99%
  • Missouri: 47.75%
  • Texas A&M: 47.65%
  • Georgia: 42.91%
  • Ole Miss: 42.69%
  • South Carolina: 40.97%
  • Vanderbilt: 40.07%
  • LSU: 39.88%
  • Auburn: 36.98%
  • Alabama: 36.36%
  • Florida: 33.72%

 

What does this show?  Georgia is right in the middle of the conference as far as passing percentage is concerned.  Now, do I wish Georgia was in the National Championship Game in a few weeks like Alabama?  Of course I do.  But Georgia doesn’t have an offensive line that is as ridiculously good as Alabama’s (two first team All-Americans).  And, saying that Alabama’s offense is good just because they run the ball and drawing the conclusion that everybody should run the ball more is crazier than I’m willing to be.

Florida runs the ball even more often than Alabama does.  I don’t want Georgia’s offense to be as poor as Florida’s.  Auburn is pretty darn close to Alabama’s run/pass ratio.  I would stop watching games if Georgia had an offense like Auburn’s.  Running the football more often than tossing it does not equate to being a better offense or being a better football team.  And for what it’s worth, neither does throwing the ball more often.

The chart below illustrates that point.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

 

As you can see, there are good offenses that run more than Georgia and good offenses that run less.  A few weeks ago I pointed out that Alabama is a much better team when they run the football.  I stand by that statement and I believe it to be true.  But, as this chart shows, that is not the case for every team in the SEC.

 

Would Georgia have been better served running the football more often? 

This is a hard question to answer.  Georgia certainly ran the ball well this year, and I love the Gurshall tandem, but the Bulldogs threw the ball pretty well too – and I would assert that they threw the ball better than they ran it.  Here are a few measuring sticks on which I stake that claim.  And, since running and passing numbers are going to differ by the very nature of the play, I’ll include a national ranking with each statistic.

  • Yards Per Attempt: Georgia averaged 9.74 yards per pass attempt (1st in the Nation).  The Bulldogs averaged 4.92 yards per rush (34th in the nation).  Georgia is the best team in the nation at getting yards out of pass attempts, they aren’t in the top-30 in doing so out of rush attempts.
  • Yards Per Game: Despite ranking 80th in pass attempt percentage, Georgia ranks 33rd in passing yards per game with 274.15.  Despite ranking 40th in rushing attempt percentage Georgia ranked 42nd in rushing yards per game with 184.15.  Georgia’s offense outperforms its pass attempts with passing yardage.  Georgia’s offense slightly underperforms its run attempts with running yardage.

 

Those statistics are pretty hard to argue with.  And, for what it’s worth here is how Georgia’s best passer and Georgia’s best runner stack up relative to their respective peers:

  • Aaron Murray ranks 2nd in the nation in passer rating, 14th in yards, 1st in yards per attempt and 8th in TD passes.
  • Todd Gurley ranks 22nd in yards, 30th in yards per attempt and 13th in touchdowns.

 

Should Mike Bobo have altered the offensive scheme to better accommodate for the talent on the roster? 

Bulldawg20 asserted in one of his comments that Georgia relies on a system that is in place and fails to adjust to talent that is on the roster.  He suggests that Georgia evaluate the talent on hand year-in and year-out and ask the following questions: 1. Who do we have?  2. What is the best play call based upon their unique talent?

There are a number of problems with this.  First and foremost, it works on the assumption that Georgia is continually recruiting different styles of athletes at each position.  Are the running backs Georgia currently has in its backfield any different – in skill set – than the running backs we’ve had in the past?  They may be better at certain things or worse, and they may be better overall (and I think they are) but for the most part Georgia recruits elite running backs with elite skills in speed, agility, strength and vision.   Georgia evaluates talent the same way year-in and year-out, just like almost every other school out there.  (A notable exception would be a school that is transitioning to a new scheme, like Georgia Tech when Paul Johnson arrived.  Elite passing QBs were no longer needed, running QBs were.)

So, for the most part the “skills” at hand are similar each year.  Secondly, there is a huge danger in dramatically altering an offense to fit just a few players.  If Aaron Murray spent three years learning a system only to have to change and learn how to feed both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall out of a wing-T, dual back option set up (which would certainly still suit the two freshmen backs’ capabilities and would yield a whole lot more rush attempts), he would struggle tremendously.  So would the offensive line and receivers who would have to embrace new blocking schemes.  Remember the growing pains of the 3-4 defense?  Without the correct personnel the switch from 4-3 to 3-4 is impossible.  And even with the right folks it still takes time.  The same goes for changing offenses.

 

In this particular year was the system right for this particular group of talent? 

The answer to this question outweighs all other issues that have previously been discussed, and the answer to this question is quite clear.

It’s pretty hard to question Georgia’s offensive production this year and therefore it’s pretty hard to question the run/pass balance.  Georgia’s offense set the school record for points in a season before the Dawgs even made it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.  The Bulldogs are averaging 458.3 yards of offense per game – that’s eight yards shy of the school record.  The offense is good.

The Georgia Bulldogs aren’t passing too much.  I can’t find fault in something as broad as run/pass balance when Mike Bobo and Mark Richt are trotting out the best offense in the school’s history.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on December 16, 2012, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. UGA should run the ball more in 2013 as the offensive line will be much better as well as the running backs. In 2012, the obvious offensive plan was to take advantage of Murray’s passing accuracy to a talented group of wide receivers. The offense was a quick strike one that often forced the defense back on to the field sooner. I would like to know the number of plays the UGA offense ran this season against the number their opponents ran and the amount of time UGA’s offense was on the field versus it’s defense.

    • Great points. I will research and write on that this week. Thanks for reading.

    • Maybe you should look more closely to the ratio when the balance of the game is still in doubt. I would think the numbers are skeewed because we run it 90% of the time when we are ahead by 3 TDs, which was quite often this year

  2. Andrew, great analysis with numbers that reflect offensive efficiency. When our offense is clicking, it is beautiful to watch because we can run almost any play in a down/distance and expect results. The only hazard is that we have tended to score very quickly this year and put the defense right back on the field. It’s a great problem to have. We aren’t pass happy, and we aren’t run happy. We run a balanced offense with elite skilled people who want to play here because they get developed for the next level.

  3. Despite arguments to the contrary, the Dawgs certainly did well enough in their pass and rush efficiency to be able to get to the SECCG. And had we not been able to score more quickly via the pass, we may not have been able to put ourselves in position to possibly win the SEC Championship.

  4. Very good points. But here is my take. With the talented receiving corps we had this year, how do you not pass it to them. We can pass the ball because we actually are a threat to run the ball. I still don’t think we have the ability to go one dimensional and force our will on great defenses, ala Alabama in SECCG. I think as the OL matures and Gurly has the opportunity to grow and become stronger, our run offense can be the best in the country

  5. Stats r Dangerous when they r in the Hands of a Couch HC! The 1 thing I think Bobo & CMR fail to do in the SECCG ,was feature Marshall more! Would have loved to see Gurshall in the backfield together! Their game plan didn’t throw Saban any new wrinkles! I can care less if they pass more, or ran more! What ever gets u the W, do it!

    • Agreed. I am 100% in favor of the pass/rush balance this year for what it’s worth. I thought the play calling was great. But like you, would have liked to see more Marshall in that game. Maybe some slip screen passes or something.

  6. Thanks for speaking for me DudeYouCrazy, however you left out the most relevant point which is that the 7 SEC teams I discuss all will end up in the Top 25 plus our bowl opponent – and here is how I presented us compared to them, sir :

    Georgia out-rushed for the season as we will’ve done this season
    Alabama 300 % more rush than their opposition
    Florida 2 to 1 more rush than their opposition
    LSU 180 % more rush than their opposition
    Texas A and M more than 1 and two-thirds more rush than their opposition
    South Carolina 120 % more rush than their opposition
    Vanderbilt 115 % more rush than their opposition
    Nebraska 130 % more rush than their opposition

    I do not appreciate you attempting to speak for me, and judging from the comments, all of whom you said you would get back to them on their comments, we could have and should have emphasized running the football more 2012 and should again in 2013 and 2014.

    Georgia is the only team of the 7 probable SEC teams to make the AP Poll Top 25 plus our bowl opponent up-coming who was

    out-rushed for the season as we will’ve done this season.

    How many of the let’s say teams who make the AP Poll Top 25 will have ended this season being :

    _____________________________________________________________
    OUT-RUSHED FOR THE SEASON AS WE WILL’VE DONE THIS SEASON?
    _____________________________________________________________

    When you are out-rushed for the season in football in The SEC, you are a

    PASS-HAPPY TEAM whether you consider a SACK as a play where we were not intending to pass the damn football again, or not.

    _____________________________________________________________
    OUT-RUSHED FOR THE SEASON AS WE WILL’VE DONE THIS SEASON
    _____________________________________________________________

    How convenient that you left that out, speaking for me DudeYouCrazy that of all 7 SEC teams making the AP Poll Top 25 for this season and including our up-coming bowl opponent, we are the ONLY team to be OUT-RUSHED :

    _____________________________________________________________
    OUT-RUSHED FOR THE SEASON AS WE WILL’VE DONE THIS SEASON
    _____________________________________________________________

    There. That what you want ? No. What you want to do is to discredit every bit of research I’ve ever done, while you speak for me in so doing from your own soapbox.

    As your readers have told you, and as you should know yourself, we have a stable of running backs on this roster, the likes of which we have never had, ever. And, we need to run the damn football more.

    Imagine that The University of Ground Attack will have been out-rushed this season !

    In The SEC, not Pac-12.

    • Can you show me the total that indicates Georgia has been out rushed this year? Just a link would be great.

    • You say that you “don’t appreciate me speaking for you,” but in reality all I did was respond to your comments that Georgia was pass-happy. You just didn’t like my response – as I expected.

      I don’t appreciate made up statistics.

      I left out that Georgia has been out-rushed because that statistic isn’t true. I don’t like to mis-inform my readers.

      I left out the phrase you keep repeating, “Out-rushed for the season as we will’ve done this season” for three reasons:

      1. Georgia has not been out-rushed this season. I don’t predict the future, but if I did I would say that I don’t expect Nebraska to out-rush Georgia by 83 yards – which is what it would take for Georgia to finish the year out-rushed.
      2. I hate referring to Georgia as “we” because I’m not on the team this year.
      3. And “Will’ve” is not a word.

      Also not true: “Alabama 300% more rush than their opposition.”

      Alabama’s rushing yards: 2920
      Alabama’s rushing yards allowed: 1037
      Alabama has gained 281.57% of the rushing total that they have surrednered. Not 300%. The Crimson Tide is 191 yards shy of having the 300% edge that you claim they posses. The Tide averages 224.6. On average they would need to rush at their typical average and not allow a single yard for 51 minutes to prove your 300% figure correct. I hope they do that against ND (seriously, that would be awesome), but they need to do that for the 300% figure to be true. Does Alabama have a decisive edge? Yes. Was your statistic accurate? No. I don’t like guesstimating. Guesstimating leaves people with a figure that is six or seven percent away from the truth (300 is 6.55%).

      And if your point is that rushing disparity is more important to being successful than a balanced offensive attack then how do you explain Georgia Tech, Army, New Mexico, Air Force and Tulsa all ranking in the top-10 in Offensive Rushing yards minus Rushing Yards Allowed? I mean GT outgained opponents on the ground by 2142 yards on the ground! The Yellow Jackets must be good, eh?

      How is Georgia ranked at all if the Bulldogs are 64th in this category? Oh, I see how. Because there is more to an offense (and thankfully more to a defense, because we both agree that Georgia’s run-stop has been poor this year) than running the football.

      Georgia is 64th by this standard. The Bulldogs beat the 1st ranked team (GT) in this category, lost to the 3rd best (Bama), beat the 15th best (Florida), beat the 41st best (Ole Miss), lost to the 47th best (South Carolina), beat the 49th best (Buffalo) and beat the 51st best (Vandy).

      The only consistent pattern I see there is that Georgia lost to two really elite teams. I see nothing to indicate that the rushing yards attained to rushing yards allowed ratio matters.

      As for the other comments on the article, I’m struggling to find one that disagrees with what I wrote about the 2012 season. They might have wanted more information (which I will give them, as promised), but none disagreed, except for you. Here are some highlights:

      • Joe Smaha’s comment agrees that the game plan for 2012 was to take advantage of Murray’s accuracy. He would like to see more running in 2013 “as the offensive line will be much better.” So would I. But he didn’t disagree on anything about the 2012 season.
      • WhartonButch would like to see the statistics for when the games were still close (a valid point), but he doesn’t mention anything about passing more or running more or disagreeing with me or agreeing with you. He just wants another set of data. And, I think the teams you mention (like Carolina, Alabama, Florida, etc.) will also be running the ball more when games are out of control – so their figures are probably equally skewed.
      • Eethomasqfnc writes, “great analysis with the numbers that reflect offensive efficiency.” He adds, “We aren’t pass happy and we aren’t run happy. We run a balanced offense with elite skilled people who want to play here because they get developed for the next level.” No disagreement with me is found there, and I can’t disagree with him.
      • Uga70 says, “the Dawgs certainly did well enough in their pass and rush efficiency” to reach the SECCG. And he credits the passing game with giving Georgia a shot at winning the game vs. Bama.
      • Dawgfan336 doesn’t understand how you could not pass to the talented receivers. He also agrees that as the OL matures the run game will be stronger.
      • Sportsguru95 wanted to see Marshall featured more in the SECCG. I wanted the same thing. But that doesn’t mean I wanted more running this season. It means I wanted Marshall in the game as a pass-catching threat and change of pace back.

      Maybe I can predict the future. I said you would disagree with this and here you are – disagreeing with it.

  7. For those of us that missed what started this discussion, can anyone give an explanation on why out rushing opponents is more important than out scoring opponents? I much prefer the latter.

  8. No DudeYouCrazy, sir,

    You did not just reply to my point that we will’ve been OUT-RUSHED for this season. You IGNORED it and stated on THIS BLOG today that I said this and I said that and I said the other. Then, you ignored MY POINT that in The SEC (not PAC-12 you addressed yourself to with Washington or some such team) and including our up-coming bowl opponent, The University of Ground Attack, UGA, will’ve been OUT-RUSHED this entire season and that we’re the only 1 of The 7 SEC teams who might end up AP Poll Top 25 plus our up-coming bowl opponent who will’ve been OUT-RUSHED by our Opponents this entire season.

    As for your BS that I “MADE IT UP” statistics that we’re the only 1 of The 7 SEC teams plus our up-coming bowl opponent who will’ve been OUT-RUSHED, you (1) State Clearly and Succinctly that I “made the statistics up” and (2) AFTER making the statement that I made them up, you ask me for a URL Link.

    Kiss my friqin’ backsides you lazy friqin’ LIAR.

    You can go look them up yourself. Just as I did.

    Your readers told you that we must be Keith Marshall out in spaces. Your readers told you that we rely heavily on passing. Your readers told you that we might run the ball when the score is our favor. Your readers told you that we’ve allowed our opponents to OUT-RUSH us for the season. Your readers told you that we should run the ball MORE 2013, too. Your readers told you that we put pressure on our defense by NOT RUNNING THE DAMN BALL MORE. Your readers told you that they would like to know how many plays our PASS-HAPPY OFFENSE ran compared to our opponents and how long we were on the field compared to them OUT-RUSHING US FOR THE DAMN BLOODY SEASON as we will’ve done this season. Your readers told you that you should calculate the number of passing plays we’ve run all season 2012 when the game is in doubt and disregard the number of running plays when we have the game in hand and then do nothing but run the football. Your readers told you that we put the defense right back on the field. Your readers told you that despite the fact your readers believe we could’ve been and can be and should be the best run offense in the country, instead we don’t impose our will on other teams like Alabama, Vanderbilt, LSU, Florida, Texas A and M, South Carolina, and Nebraska in NOT being OUT-RUSHED BY THEIR OPPONENTS as we will’ve been this 2012 season.

    You left that out because it isn’t true that we will’ve been and NONE of The 7 SEC teams who might make the AP Poll Top 25 will, nor our bowl opponent. At least you ADMIT you left out my ENTIRE FRIQIN’ POINT. And, by the way lazy go look it up yourself while I did the research and was KIND ENOUGH to provide it to your stinking blog, you are a LIAR. Show you the URL Link which proves my point ? Are you unable yourself DudeYouCrazy to go look it up yourself how for the 2012 season, we’re the ONLY 1 of the 8 teams presented (7 SEC teams who might make AP Poll Top 25 plus our bowl opponent up-coming) who will’ve been OUT-RUSHED this entire 2012 season ?

    No. You are perfectly capable of that, no matter how stupid you want to present yourself in public, acting like an idiot that you are wholly unable to figure out how to find out that what you’ve LIED ABOUT here that I made it all up.

    281 percent is not 3 times ?

    Kiss my friqin’ grits it is too when we will’ve been OUT-RUSHED for the damn friqin season as The University of Ground Attack.

    You have such a hard on for me DudeYouCrazy. Why is that ? Have you got some kinda p-jealousy going on there DudeYouCrazy that you have to resort to stating I MADE UP the statistics which you then thereafter clearly are able to look up yourself asking me to provide you a URL Link to them and state that 281.9 % is not 3 times OUT-RUSHED their opponents ? When you are OUT-RUSHED by your opponents for the entire season as we will’ve been this entire 2012 season, you are a PASS-HAPPY OFFENSE.

  1. Pingback: Georgia’s Rush Defense: Statistically Average, Inconsistently Good, Consistently Disappointing « DudeYouCrazy

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