Georgia Football: In Defense of the Bulldog Defense
There’s not going to be a lot of wordsmithing here. I love Georgia’s defense. Everyone knows that. But, they started slow. And as I observed earlier today, I do think the Georgia offense was the strength of the team on Monday. But was Georgia’s offense as awful as the SEC-haters want it to seem?
I say, “no.”
For starters, the fact that Georgia was able to adjust and respond defensively is a crucial component of that sentiment. It started rough.
But from a mere statistic perspective, Georgia played pretty darn well defensively. In fact, I would assert that the “big numbers” from Oklahoma were as much a byproduct of Georgia’s frantic offensive pace as anything. To dig in on that a bit more, let’s look at Oklahoma’s offensive performance against Georgia, against other opponents and on average. [Quick programming note: My final Rose Bowl recap will specifically address Baker Mayfield’s performance. This is not that article.]
Ultimately, this matters for abundantly obvious reasons. Oklahoma scored 48 total points through regulation and two overtimes, but “only” 41 of those points came on offense. Remember, Oklahoma broke Georgia’s back late in regulation with a long fumble return for a touchdown. That had nothing to do with Oklahoma’s offense or Georgia’s defense.
So, Georgia allowed 41 total points to Oklahoma’s offense. For the year, Oklahoma averaged 43.85 offensive points per contest. So, Georgia was better than average by that measure. Further, 41 points allowed would tie for the sixth-best offensive performance against Oklahoma this year.
Total Offensive Touchdowns Allowed
Georgia had a number of field-goal stands against Oklahoma. Given that, Georgia’s defense looked even better on a touchdown-only measure. Georgia allowed five Sooner touchdowns on offense; Oklahoma was averaging 5.77. This was the fifth-best performance against Oklahoma in 14 total contests this year.
Oklahoma threw for 289 passing yards. This was well below the Sooners’ season average of 364.15 and was the fourth-best defensive performance against OU this year.
This was the lone blemish on Georgia’s defensive record on Monday (or, at least the most discernible). Georgia allowed the Sooners to run for a total of 242 rushing yards. Prior to this game, Oklahoma was averaging 215.92 yards per contest. Only three OU opponents allowed more rushing yards.
In total, 531 yards allowed seems abysmal. But in the context of Oklahoma’s season average of 580.08, it’s a little easier to swallow. Oklahoma also had opportunities in overtime but remained largely bottled up. This was the sixth-best performance of the year against the Sooners high-powered offense.
I mentioned the game’s pace, and the numbers — respectable as they actually are — get much better on a per-play basis.
- Oklahoma managed just 8.03 yards per pass attempt. This was the Sooners’ lowest total of the year and obviously below the season average of 11.95.
- The Sooner ground attack was stronger than some expected, but Oklahoma picked up fewer yards per rush attempt (5.38) versus Georgia than it averaged in its other 13 games (5.60).
- In total, Oklahoma averaged just 6.56 yards per play in the Rose Bowl. In 13 other contests, Oklahoma averaged 8.4 yards per play. No team was better against Oklahoma by this measure than Georgia.
All in all, Georgia’s defense did enough to take Oklahoma off its game (in terms of efficiency, at least), and that did show through in Baker Mayfield’s performance – coming in my next recap.