Monthly Archives: November 2018

Kirby Smart Won’t Beat Nick Saban on Saturday…But Not For The Reasons One Might Expect


I think Alabama has clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff. I don’t think that’s a hot take, and I also don’t think it has anything to do with Georgia. Bama could beat Georgia by a ton and get in. Bama could barely beat Georgia and get in. Bama could lose by a small margin and get in. Bama could lose by a billion and get in. Honestly, that’s not a gripe. Alabama is undoubtedly one of the four best teams in the country. They’re favored by way too big of a margin against Georgia. They’d be rightfully favored against everyone in contention even if they got blown out be Georgia.

It also goes without saying that if Georgia, currently #4 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, beats the top-ranked team in the country during the last week of play, the Bulldogs will be in the playoff. At that point, the Bulldogs would be favored against whoever they draw (likely Notre Dame in a #2 vs. #3 matchup).

If/when that comes to pass, Georgia and Alabama will be on a crash course for a re-match with Alabama seeking revenge. But Kirby Smart isn’t going to let that happen.

I re-watched the national championship game last night and it’s as painful as it was in January. Georgia lost the game in truly unique fashion. It’s not as simple as “Tua came in and did magic things.” It’s not as simple as “Tyler Simmons was onsides.” There were freak plays (the Fromm pick on the first drive wouldn’t happen again if he threw the same ball nine more times; the Raekwon Davis interception off a helmet was one-in-a-thousand), missed calls (not just the Simmons thing but also a flagrant face mask missed on the ensuing drive, etc.), atypical blown coverages (Malkom Parrish is noted for being beat on the game’s final play, but he was beat several times—including Tua’s first TD pass—despite a stellar career in Georgia’s defensive backfield).

It hurt. Bad.

Kirby isn’t going to let that happen again. There is no way he’s going to lose to Bama in the National Championship two years in a row. He won’t do that to Georgia. He won’t do that to his players, his coaches or the program’s fans. He just won’t.

But he’s also not going to end Nick Saban’s career, and beating his former mentor twice in a matter of six-and-a-half weeks would surely be the end of Saban’s career. It might literally KILL Nick Saban to lose twice to the same team on such little turnaround. And I don’t think Kirby Smart wants Saban dead. At least not yet.

So if he can’t rip out the hearts of Georgia fans in the National Championship Game and he can’t let Saban die on the field, his only other option will be to lose to Notre Dame. That’s obviously not an option because Notre Dame is still Notre Dame dammit. That would make the entire SEC look bad.

So there’s really only one option: Kirby has to remove himself from the situation as a whole. And the only way to avoid this whole godforsaken scenario is to lose to Alabama on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.

If—and this is a big if—Georgia loses to Alabama this weekend, it’s because Kirby did the noble thing. He refused to decapitate his washed up mentor. He refused to let the conference down. He refused to break his alma mater’s heart. If Georgia loses Saturday, it’s because Kirby says, “This is more than a game, and there’s always next year.”

And what’s more Georgia than that?

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Tua Tagovailoa is Overrated and He Does NOT Scare Me – THIS IS NOT A DRILL


 

Tua is a good football player. He’s a great player. He’s probably going to win the Heisman. But I think a lot of quarterbacks could put up video game numbers against the passing defenses Alabama has faced this year. But first, a look backwards…

Most people (Georgia fans in particular) seem to think Tua Tagovailoa finished last year’s national championship game 1-for-1 for 41 yards and a TD. Well fine, that’s technically how he finished the game. But prior to that moment here’s how his game was going:

  • 13 of 23 (56.5% completion rate)
  • 125 passing yards
  • 5.4 yards per attempt
  • Two TDs (one thrown to someone other than the guy who caught it)
  • One INT (into a field of red jerseys)
  • Two sacks for combined losses of 20 yards

He finished the game (in its entirety) with a QB Rating of 149.4. That’s a good number. Maybe even a really good number. But that’s not what we would now consider a TUA NUMBER. You see, this season Tua has posted a year-long QB Rating of 212.5. That’s not only tops in the country, it’s the highest by nearly 6 points (Kyler Murray is second at 206.8). Further, here’s 15 years’ worth of historical context. These aren’t just random dudes. These are the national leaders in each of the past 15 seasons.

Year Player Rating
2018 Tua Tagovailoa 212.5
2017 Baker Mayfield 198.9
2016 Baker Mayfield 196.4
2015 Seth Russell 189.7
2014 Marcus Mariota 181.7
2013 Jameis Winston 184.8
2012 A.J. McCarron 175.3
2011 Russell Wilson 191.8
2010 Kellen Moore 182.6
2009 Tim Tebow 164.2
2008 Sam Bradford 180.8
2007 Sam Bradford 176.5
2006 Colt Brennan 186.0
2005 Rudy Carpenter 175.0
2004 Stefan LeFors 181.7

Nobody is even close!

Tua is not human!

Except…when he is.

Remember, against Georgia in January his QB Rating was actually 149.4. That figure wouldn’t have been anywhere close to leading the country at any point over the past 15 years. Further, it would rank 32nd this year.

“But that was last year,” you may be saying to yourself. “That was true freshman Tua against a much better Georgia defense.”

Well, Tua has looked human a few times this year as well—against LSU and Mississippi State in particular. Here are his lines from those games:

  • LSU: 25 of 42 for 295 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT (rating: 129.5)
  • Mississippi State: 14 of 21 for 164 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT (rating: 138.5)

What do LSU and Mississippi State have in common with last year’s Georgia squad as it relates to passing defense? Well, all three defenses are pretty darn good against the pass. Case in point: the 2017 Georgia Bulldogs and both the 2018 LSU Tigers and 2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs all gave up fewer than 6.0 yards per pass attempt. That’s pretty damn good.

  • 2017 Georgia – #2 nationally, 5.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • 2018 Mississippi State – #3 nationally, 5.4 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • 2018 LSU – #14 nationally, 5.9 yards per pass attempt

Tua has been relatively ho-hum against three top-15 pass defenses. What’s that have to do with this Saturday’s game? Well, Georgia (this year’s Georgia!!!) ranks 12th in the country at 5.8 passing yards allowed per attempt. By that measure, these Bulldogs are more alike than different from the past three teams that have brought Tua down to earth. But what’s wild is this: Tua hasn’t really seen any other defenses anywhere close to this—at least not this season. Here’s how the rest of his 2018 FBS opposition shapes up.

  • Arkansas State – #49 nationally, 6.9 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Auburn – #51 nationally, 7.0 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Tennessee – #87 nationally, 7.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Missouri – #92 nationally, 7.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Ole Miss – #100 nationally 7.9 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Arkansas – #114 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Texas A&M – #117 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Louisville – #119 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Louisiana – #121 nationally, 8.5 yards allowed per pass attempt

Tua has played exceptionally awful passing defenses. Period. Even with Mississippi State and LSU included, the cumulative average of these figures is that Tua has played eleven FBS defenses this year who have, on average, given up 7.5 yards per pass attempt. For what it’s worth, Georgia Tech’s passing defense has allowed exactly 7.5 yards per pass attempt and ranks 81st in the country. This has nothing to do with Tua, but Jake Fromm posted a passer rating of 255.6 vs. Tech last week. Good quarterbacks have good games against bad pass defenses. That’s a tale as old as time.

This is what matters:

  1. Tua Tagovailoa is a really good quarterback.
  2. He looks unapproachable because he’s played terrible defenses.

What’s that have to do with this game? Again, Georgia’s pass defense is not terrible. Further, if you’re looking for Tua to be worth a 14-point spread by himself because he has put up crazy numbers, you’re looking for a false indicator. For even more context, consider Georgia’s passing game. When adjusted for context, Tua becomes a bit more relatable – even to a Georgia QB (Jake Fromm) that some Bulldog fans don’t want starting (shoutout to the Fields Fanboys).

Why does Fromm lag Tua so much in national perception? A few reasons:

First and foremost, Fromm doesn’t pass as much as Tua. Much has been made of Tua “never playing four quarters.” Fromm doesn’t always play four quarters either. But irregardless of how much either player plays, the fact remains that Tua has attempted 269 passes this year and Fromm has attempted 233. That 36 pass gap may not seem like a lot, but Tua has thrown about 15.5% more times than Fromm. Put another way, Fromm has never attempted 36 passes in a game – so he’s more than a full game behind Tua in attempts. In fact, in his last two games Fromm has attempted just 21 total passes. Further, since the loss to LSU, Georgia has five games (all against FBS competition, three against Top 25 teams, two away from home against Top 25 foes). Fromm has averaged just north of 15 pass attempt per contest over that period. Why? Because Georgia’s average margin of victory in those contests has been north of 23 points per game. For what it’s worth, Fromm is a combined 62 of 85 (73 percent) for 827 yards (9.7 YPA) 11 TDs, 1 INT and a rating of 195.02.

But sure, it’s Tua whose numbers suffer because his team crushes opposition so badly.

If you throw more (as Tua does), you should throw more completions (and Tua does). But the completion percentage of these two is roughly equivalent. Fromm has hit on 69.1 percent of his attempts. Tua has an edge at 70.3 percent. Where Tua runs away with this thing is that he has a lot more touchdowns (36 to 24), fewer interceptions (two to Fromm’s five) and a higher yards-per-attempt average (11.9 for Tua; 9.6 for Fromm).

But let this be perfectly clear: Fromm has played MUCH better passing defenses. Here is where his foes stack up by the same measure as above (yards allowed per pass attempt):

  • LSU – #14 nationally, 5.9 yards per pass attempt
  • Florida – #19 nationally, 6.1 yards per pass attempt
  • Kentucky – #31 nationally, 6.4 yards per pass attempt
  • MTSU – #39 nationally, 6.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Auburn – #51 nationally, 7.0 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Vanderbilt – #68 nationally, 7.3 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • South Carolina – #76 nationally, 7.4 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Georgia Tech – #81 nationally, 7.5 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Tennessee – #87 nationally, 7.6 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • Missouri – #92 nationally, 7.7 yards allowed per pass attempt
  • UMass – #124 nationally, 9.0 yards allowed per pass attempt

Fromm’s 11 FBS foes boast an average defensive YPA of 7.1. Another way to think about it is through the lens of common opponents. Tennessee is the fifth-best passing defense Tua has faced but the ninth-best faced by Fromm. Missouri is the middle-man (number 6 of 11) for Tua. Mizzou is the next-to-last defense Fromm has faced.

Also, I didn’t include FCS opponents because neither QB should really care about showing out against those folks. Tua, predictable, padded his stats (18 of 22 for 340 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs) against the Citadel in late November.  Fromm did little more than a warm-up against Austin Peay, hitting on 12 of 16 passes for 157 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. If you remove those games, Tua’s season-long rating falls from 212.5 to 208.6. Fromm basically stays the same—in fact taking out the cupcake moves him up from 179.4 to 180.8.

I’m not saying Fromm is as good as Tua. I’m certainly not saying he’s better. I’m just driving home the point that the quality of opposition played should matter. So, what’s the statistical prediction for Tua in this game?

I’m expecting something like this: 22 of 36 for 290 yards, three TDs and 1 INT. That equates to a rating of 150.7.

How about for Fromm? Last year he was 16 of 32 for 232 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. He’s a better player and I think Georgia’s offense is better. But I don’t think he’ll throw 30 passes. So give me: 15 of 24 for 225, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. That’s a rating just shy of 169. Nice.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

Hey Georgia Fans: Stop Pretending Auburn is Ever Competitive


I didn’t grow up a die-hard Georgia fan. I watched any and every SEC game I could get my googly eyes on as a kid, and I rooted aggressively against the University of Tennessee. But I did not really dive into Georgia football until I enrolled at the University as a freshman in 2006. In fact, even after being accepted to UGA I didn’t totally commit. Truthfully, I didn’t know where I wanted to take my academic talents. I applied to tons of schools—Georgia, Tennessee (lol), Vanderbilt, Clemson, Samford, you name it. I even applied—and almost went—to Auburn. Ultimately, I chose the University of Georgia over Auburn (my backup school…sorry!). And ever since that day, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry hasn’t been much of a rivalry.

You see, rivalries are supposed to be competitive. Frankly, Georgia/Auburn hasn’t been. Since 2006, Georgia is 10-3 against Auburn. To be sure, this period has featured some pretty decent Georgia teams (and some good Auburn teams as well), but 10-3 isn’t exactly competitive. In fact, Georgia’s winning percentage against the Tigers/War Eagles (.769) is actually higher than Georgia’s winning percentage as a whole over that time period (.728).

My beloved Bulldogs have absolutely dominated Auburn by practically every measure in head-to-head competition.  And that makes me wonder: Is this even a rivalry anymore?

Georgia is notorious for having too many rivals. Florida and Tennessee are longstanding SEC East rivals, but South Carolina gets rival-like treatment as well. Georgia Tech is an in-state rival to some and Clemson was once a bitter rival and may someday soon return to the schedule and heat things up. Some would argue that Alabama is becoming a rival given the heated battles on the field, within coaching staffs and on the recruiting trail. Either way, there are too many rivals!

I’ve long advocated for removing the Georgia Tech “rivalry” from the schedule, because it’s just not competitive. Frankly, Georgia/Auburn is even less competitive.

Since 2006, the only team Georgia has defeated more than Auburn is actually Kentucky (lol).

We don’t really consider Kentucky and Vanderbilt (the only other teams Georgia has beaten at least 10 times since 2006) rivals do we?

Further, among teams Georgia plays somewhat frequently (meaning in this case, at least five times since 2006), Auburn is clearly not in the “rivalry” pool.

 

Missouri, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Auburn. What do these teams have in common? For starters, they’re the only teams Georgia has played at least five times since 2006 while posting a winning percentage of better than .750. That’s actually it. Which of these things is not like the other? Auburn. Why? Because Auburn is allegedly a rival.

What’s even crazier is the cumulative impact of these games. If we look at Georgia’s combined scoring advantage since 2006, Auburn is once again in elite company—right alongside Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

 

And that number isn’t just a byproduct of playing Auburn a lot of times. Since 2006, Georgia has played 27 different Power-5 opponents (this includes independent Notre Dame cuz duh). Auburn has been the 22nd-most competitive opponent from this pool as measured by average scoring differential vs. Georgia. Woof!

 

 

I said this heading into the SEC Championship Game last year, but let’s stop pretending Auburn against Georgia has a chance on Saturday. And when it’s done, we probably don’t need to celebrate.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

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