Author Archives: dudeyoucrazy
In the wake of Georgia’s 23-17 victory over Notre Dame, two narratives emerged.
The first gets us essentially nowhere. That trope is that this was, in fact, a heavyweight title fight. Two big, bad teams fought each other; there could be only one winner. Yahoo (Pat Forde), CBS (Barrett Sallee) and ESPN (Kirk Herbstreit) all referenced the heavyweightedness of the game as something of a qualifier or even definer of the matchup.
With all due respect to Narrative One: Duh.
Notre Dame and Georgia represent the only two programs not named Clemson, Alabama or Oklahoma to make a Playoff appearance over the past two seasons. Both Notre Dame and Georgia entered the game ranked in the Top 7. It was a big game. Got it. HEAVYWEIGHTS!
The second narrative to emerge has been a bit more surprising: Georgia is not quite ready for primetime, but Notre Dame proved its place as a national power. Somehow, Notre Dame has managed to gain more in defeat than Georgia gained in victory. Somehow, Georgia was disappointing in victory but not so disappointing so as to invalidate the mounds of praise being heaped on Notre Dame. Georgia was just bad enough to be exposed by a Notre Dame team that was just good enough to merit playoff consideration without beating a Georgia team that was exposed. Makes sense, right?
Herbstreit finds himself in both narrative pools, but really shines in his duplicitously stupid defense of Narrative Two.
Herbstreit, does not have Georgia in his Top Four after the win over Notre Dame. That is truly baffling—especially in light of the broader consensus for the media. For context, 61 of 62 AP Poll voters have the Dawgs in the Top Four; the 62nd voter has the Dawgs fifth. And yet, Herbstreit had these things to say about then-No. 7 Notre Dame’s loss to allegedly not-top-four Georgia:
- SO IMPRESSED by Notre Dame football tonight!!
- Did NOTHING to hurt their case-only strengthened their position.
- Irish on the road gained some national respect!
For what it’s worth, Herbstreit isn’t the only one pushing this theory or some watered-down version of it. The Athletic’s coverage (admittedly from a Notre Dame beat writer), as another example, lauded the “worthy reward” the Irish found in the fight, noting, “Notre Dame was good enough to scare a Georgia team that doesn’t scare easily.” Was that really the takeaway? As I’ll point out later, I think it may have actually been a lack of fear that actually played a hand in the final score.
Reading game recaps on Sunday morning actually made me question my own sanity. Had Georgia not won? I know it wasn’t as pretty as some wanted. But didn’t the Bulldogs pull it out? Hell, didn’t the Bulldogs lead for a longer period than Notre Dame?
So while we’re over-reacting with things that may not quite make sense, I’d like to join the cause with this third narrative: Georgia is the best football team in the country.
Let’s start with a simple defense of this claim.
Ultimately, the College Football Playoff Committee cares about resumes. Voters (be it coaches or the media) may have differing motivations in their polls (Who would win a hypothetical match-up? Who has the highest ceiling? Who’s playing best right now?) and formulas are often used for projections. But we’re kidding ourselves if we think the Committee doesn’t care, first and foremost, about who has won the biggest games while displaying the fewest blemishes.
No one in the country has a single better win than Georgia’s win over Notre Dame. Contrary to popular belief, Georgia —not Notre Dame—was the big winner on Saturday night. I know, because I saw it with my own two eyes. Georgia scored more points than Notre Dame.
Given that radical revelation, let’s dig deeper. No one in the country has defeated a team that was ranked higher than Notre Dame (then ranked seventh by both the AP and the Coaches polls). What’s more, nobody has defeated a team currently ranked higher than Notre Dame (10th in both polls). This is the best win of the season…for anybody.
- LSU beat Texas when the Longhorns were ranked ninth (when Notre Dame was ranked 8th, by the way) and the Longhorns are still ranked lower than Notre Dame. Georgia’s 6-point win over Notre Dame was more impressive than LSU’s 7-point win over lower-ranked Texas.
- Auburn defeated Oregon by six points when the Ducks were ranked 11th and Texas A&M by eight points when the Aggies were ranked 17th. Neither of those wins were more impressive than Georgia’s win this past weekend. Though in terms of volume, sure Auburn has two better wins than Georgia’s two best wins.
- Southern Cal beat Utah by seven points at home when the Utes were ranked 10th. Is that supposed to mean more than Georgia’s win?
- Cal beat Washington when the Huskies were ranked 14th. Sure.
- Wisconsin dismantled a Michigan team (then ranked 11th) that is now ranked 20th.
No one in the country has a better win—as defined by rankings—than Georgia. That’s indisputable.
As for blemishes outside of Georgia’s win over the Fighting Irish (which made Georgia look irreparably broken to some), I’m not sure what would detract from the Bulldogs. There obviously aren’t any losses. Beyond that, Georgia defeated Vanderbilt 30-6 in a game that was paced quite differently but every bit as uncontested as LSU’s 66-38 win over the Commodores. Nobody has beaten Vanderbilt worse. The Dawgs beat Murray State by 46 points (the Racers largest deficit this year). Georgia handed Arkansas State, a team riding an 8-year Bowl streak, 55-0. The last time the Red Wolves lost by 55 points was in 2003 (a 55-0 loss at Ole Miss). Since that time, the following ranked teams failed to hand Arkansas State a 55-point defeat.
- 2004: #18 Missouri (52-20), #6 LSU (53-3), #25 Memphis (47-35)
- 2006: #6 Auburn (27-0)
- 2007: #4 Texas (21-13)
- 2008: #2 Alabama (35-0)
- 2009: #22 Nebraska (38-9), #13 Iowa (24-21)
- 2010: #22 Auburn (52-26)
- 2011: #13 Virginia Tech (26-7)
- 2012: #5 Oregon (57-34), #25 Kent State (17-13 WIN)
- 2015: #8 USC (55-6), #21 Missouri (27-20)
- 2018: #1 Alabama (57-7)
Arkansas State isn’t an elite team. But nobody in the country has hammered the Red Wolves this way over the past 15+ years.
If a resume is built by signature wins without setbacks, Georgia has to be at the top of the list.
But for a bit more nuance on just how good this Georgia team might actually be, let’s revisit the Notre Dame game itself. I don’t think most Georgia fans felt the Bulldogs played all that well on Saturday. Dawgs247 graded Georgia’s position groups as follows:
- Quarterback: B+
- Running Back: A-
- Receivers and Tight Ends: B
- Offensive Line: B
- Defensive Line: A-
- Outside Linebackers: B
- Inside Linebackers: A-
- Defensive Backs: A
- Special Teams: C-
- Overall: B
If anything, I’d peg the team a tick lower. Seemed like low-B / high-C execution to me. Credit to Notre Dame for forcing some of the hits to the GPA, but not all of it (terrible punts, the muffed punt, a refusal to commit to the run early, a refusal to throw the ball downfield early) was a byproduct of Notre Dame. And these problems aren’t necessarily recurring.
But let’s presume, just for a moment, that this report card is accurate and accurate solely for one performance. If that’s the case, then a B-effort from Georgia, playing much of the game without two starters on the offensive line and down three guys in the secondary, was driving and in a position to go up by as much as 17 points with under seven minutes to play against the nation’s seventh-best team.
If the portion of media that thinks “Notre Dame is for real” is in fact right, then Georgia is the scariest team in the country—as least based on what we’ve seen so far. After all, with a less-than-stellar performance, the Bulldogs damn-near ran away with this thing. So why didn’t they? Some (myself included) have accused Kirby Smart of being too conservative and “playing not to lose.” That could be it. In particular, some (see: me) question:
- His decision to kick a field goal from the 26-yard line on fourth-and-one after the spot was close enough to mandate a video review. I hated that.
- His refusal to call a timeout as Notre Dame marched down the field on the ensuing possession. That was maddening.
But given the B/C-level performance from everyone not named Rodrigo Blankenship, maybe the field goal was the right move. What do I know?
Hear me out on this, though. It seems like if the two teams’ best performances were truly on display and as evenly matched as the game’s final score and final statistical line ended up, there would have been a larger premium placed on getting seven points (as opposed to the three the Bulldogs got). In other words, if the best effort from Georgia was truly only six points better than the best effort from Notre Dame, don’t you think you’d chase points any chance you had?
Georgia was not terribly opportunistic on Saturday, but the Bulldogs didn’t have to be (failing to cash in on opportunities still yielded a win). Maybe the urgency to create an opportunity for seven points didn’t exist because it didn’t need to exist.
Perhaps there was insecurity in Smart’s faking of the field goal. Or maybe the field goal actually had a bit of confidence behind it—confidence in recognizing that a sub-par effort was enough to beat a Top-7 team. Get the win and move on. After all, that’s what Georgia did.
Or maybe Georgia doesn’t belong. Believe what you want.
That’s all I got/
Here’s a list as of end-of-day on September 2. This includes “final” cuts but cuts don’t stop in the NFL. Neither do signings.
A few things of note:
- Davin Bellamy was cut by the Texans and NOT signed to the practice squad. Mr. Humble Yourself may lose this one to Baker Mayfield.
- Rookie WR Terry Godwin is not on a roster. I’d expect that to change.
- Rookie RB Elijah Holyfield made the initial 53-man roster at Carolina, was subsequently cut and then later added back to the practice squad. Welcome to the NFL.
- Garrison Smith, one of my favorite former Dawgs, is not on a roster after 5 years in the league.
- Marlon Brown and Taverres King remain MIA and Brown seems unlikely to resurface at this juncture.
- Orson Charles is currently without a team after being cut by the Browns and later the Broncos.
- A few other names not on rosters (after playing last year): Corey Moore, Ramik Wilson (shocking), Maurice Smith (somewhat surprising) and Tyler Catalina.
The data is below. Salaries are from Spotrac. Note that career earnings includes this year’s cash earnings (which assumes a full season at current status).
In total, former Bulldogs will earn more than $150 million this year. This crew has taken home career earnings of nearly $895 million.
Good on ya, boys.
Let’s start here: Georgia did not belong in the playoff. Hear me out.
Was Georgia a Top-4 team on Saturday? Absolutely. Were the Dawgs a Top-4 team down the stretch, when they cruised by Florida, Kentucky and Auburn? Probably. But Georgia wasn’t a Top-4 team all season long, and that shouldn’t be too hard for you to wrap your mind around. After all, up until last Tuesday (we’re talking literally six days ago), the Bulldogs weren’t a Top-4 team in the College Football Playoff Rankings. This was not an unjust travesty or failure by the system. It just wasn’t.
I hear all the arguments for putting the Dawgs “in” loud and clear and I agree with most of them. But the reality is no man-made committee will ever appropriately reach a consensus on something as subjective as who the “best” teams are. That’s why the BCS system was created in the first place. So, a panel of experts retreat into a room and do what boards tend to do—act in the interest of self-preservation. Anyone with a lick of common sense knows it would not have been a politically popular move to put Georgia into the playoff. And that “anybody with a lick of common sense” qualifier applies to Kirby Smart, who contrary to the bad fake-punt call he may never live down, does in fact have a functioning brain.
Smart did his best to lobby for Georgia but he knew the odds were stacked against the Dawgs after Saturday’s heartbreak. That’s probably part of why the aforementioned punt call came to be in the first place. It’s certainly why the Dawgs played like a team with no margin for error down the stretch of the season, because after the LSU game two narratives were abundantly clear as it relates to the Playoff:
- Georgia did still, technically, control its own destiny.
- Georgia had zero room for mistakes.
And to be clear: Georgia wasn’t in any greater of a predicament than any other team in contention.
Ohio State couldn’t afford another mistake after losing to Purdue. The Buckeyes completely checked the big boxes thereafter (crushing Michigan for arguably the most impressive win of the entire college football season and winning a conference title by 21 points). But my guess is the committee perceived lackluster performances against Nebraska and Maryland as mistakes. If you lose a game you shouldn’t lose in ugly fashion, you get a second chance, but you have to be perfect.
Oklahoma couldn’t make any mistakes after losing to Texas. And though you may not like how the Sooners won games, they won them all. And ultimately, Oklahoma was more deserving, from the standpoint of accomplishments, than Georgia. Oklahoma lost only once, to a rival away from home during the regular season and avenged that loss in a conference title game. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how Georgia got into the playoff last year. We’re kidding ourselves if we think the committee was going to eliminate a team for style of play. That’s not how the committee operates.
Georgia is probably one of the four best teams in the country. But Georgia doesn’t belong in the playoff—at least not in this current reality. If we’re being honest, the playoff is a lot less about the nit-pickiness of who the best four teams are and a lot more about ensuring with certainty that the best team comes out on top. And frankly, that’s how it should be. That’s the point of playoffs in general. The BCS formulas weren’t about the gap between number 17 and number 18, they were about making sure the best team was standing at the end. The same is true of the playoff. That’s part of why I’m opposed to expanding to eight teams, even though doing such a thing would have benefitted Georgia this year. I don’t think the wrong champion has been crowned in the Playoff Era (and I don’t think the wrong team took the crown during the BCS Era either for that matter).
The SEC Championship Game was a playoff game—at least for Georgia. And though we might think we know how Oklahoma (or later Notre Dame or Clemson) will hold up against the Crimson Tide, we do know (precisely) how Georgia would do against Saban & Co., because we just saw it. We know—concretely—that in a one-game, must-win setting, Georgia lost to Alabama. Because of that, I see why the committee felt compelled to put Oklahoma in. Because we don’t know that the same would be true of Oklahoma—at least not yet.
That’s a bitter pill for Bulldog fans to swallow, but it’s a pill I’ll take nonetheless.
Because this is what we came for.
Georgia didn’t swap Mark Richt for Kirby Smart for anything less; that’s for damn sure. But why, exactly, was the change made and how, specifically, has it already been validated? Surely, no one really misses the Richt Era at this juncture, but still, how do we know this is working? Let’s take a step back for some context.
If Georgia wins the Sugar Bowl, it will mark the program’s 25th win over a two-year period. The Bulldogs have never done that. They’ll have accomplished that partially with Richt’s guys and partially with the youngest roster in the country. But that’s not what we came here for.
We came here, quite frankly, to be disappointed, by that figure. “Georgia should already have 25 wins over a two-year stretch,” we should be saying. “Or maybe even 26.” Georgia should be in the playoff. Georgia should already have its first National Championship since 1980.
We came here for disappointment in anything shy of perfection. Whether we like it or not, that’s what we chose with Kirby Smart and that’s where he’s taken us—already.
I happen to love it, and I don’t know how you could not.
Heading into the SEC Championship Game, I was disappointed in the demeanor of Georgia fans. I talked to a handful who felt the Bulldogs had an outside chance. I heard a few podcasts that kept the Dawgs in the game. But that was about it. Most seemed to embrace the national narrative. Nobody—and certainly not Georgia—was going to dethrone Alabama. That bothered me to my core. I was, after all, somewhere between confident in the Dawgs and misguidedly confident in the Dawgs.
But now that the smoke has cleared and I’ve had time to reflect on a game that was closer than almost anyone would have expected and that somehow went largely how I anticipated, I realize I’ve been a hypocrite. I’m as guilty as the next guy of not thinking Georgia is really there.
I watched the National Championship Game at Miller’s Ale House in Orlando. I was down there for a work thing I couldn’t get out of (booked shortly after Georgia’s 2017 loss to Auburn), and because good things don’t happen to Bulldog fans, the first Georgia national championship game appearance of my lifetime occurred in my backyard and I was in another state listening to investment pitches from small cap retail & consumer companies. It is what it is.
I had at least three drinks that night. It was a rare occasion in which I got to have one-too-many drinks in celebration and one-too-many drinks in mourning on the same damn day.
When the game ended, everything got really dark. Not in a blackout kind of way, more a macabre kind of defiance. I was sitting on the floor at Miller’s commiserating with some recent Georgia grads. They were in Orlando for training with KPMG or Ernst and Young or something. Not long after I sat down (again, on the floor of Miller’s Ale House in Orlando), I grew testy. The tone of the conversation from all other participants was: We’ll never get back here. This is the worst. Being a Georgia fan is the worst. This is unfair. Woe is me.
How dare they! I’d seen worse. They weren’t at Georgia in 2008. They weren’t fans yet in 2012. They hadn’t blogged millions of words about this program like me. They didn’t have the right to be disappointed!
In hindsight, no one has the right to be disappointed in a college football team—not even me. But as Georgia fans, we now have that privilege. And oh, what a righteous indignation it is to be disappointed. And that, my friends, is the new state of Georgia football.
We’re not pissed off just because Florida is running over us time and time again anymore. We’re not annoyed by our Dawgs’ inability to get past Tennessee in a meaningless mid-season game. We’re not bitching about trivial woulda / shoulda / couldas. We’re not wondering why the Bulldogs can’t show up for big games.
Nope. That’s not what we’re disappointed by. We’re bummed out that our team outplayed Alabama for 119/120 minutes of regulation in two meetings and we have no wins to show for it. We’re hot and bothered to not be repeating as SEC Champions while the most dominant dynasty in the history of the sport is happening across the aisle within the conference’s other division. We’re pissed off that we’re not going to play for a second national championship in as many years despite boasting the nation’s youngest roster. And we’re downright irritated that we keep running head-first into a problem that is literally once-in-a-generation.
Think of it this way: If Alabama only has Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa, Georgia is either 1-1 against the Tide or (more likely) 2-0 over the past 12 months. I truly believe that. The Bulldogs beat Hurts in January when they prepared for him but couldn’t fend off Tua in the second half. Tua was obliterated by Georgia on Saturday (when Mel Tucker and his staff brilliantly prepared), but Hurts found ways to beat Georgia. Never before has college football had a team as generally talented as Alabama and that almost didn’t matter against the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, never before has a college football team boasted two such supremely talented quarterbacks with such differentiated skills. The uniqueness of this situation can’t be overstated.
Jalen Hurts was the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2016. As. A. Freshman. And that wasn’t lip service. He accounted for 3,734 yards and 36 total touchdowns that year. Georgia has fielded some pretty good freshman QBs in recent history, too. For context, here’s how they compare to Hurts (SPOILER: They’re nowhere close):
- Jake Fromm: 1,040 fewer yards of offense, nine fewer TDs
- Jacob Eason: 1,349 fewer yards of offense, 19 fewer TDs
- Aaron Murray: 518 fewer yards of offense, eight fewer TDs
- Matthew Stafford: 1,794 fewer yards of offense, 28 fewer TDs
- David Greene: 904 fewer yards of offense, 18 fewer TDs
That’s the guy who beat Georgia this past weekend.
And he only really beat Georgia this past weekend because the Dawgs were consumed by preparations for another, completely different quarterback: Tua Tagovailoa. Were it not for the curb-stomping (or should I say, Kirb-stomping) Georgia put on Tua this past weekend, he would surely have won the Heisman Trophy while posting the highest passer rating in the history of college football. As it stands at this moment, the Heisman may go to Kyler Murray and Tua may have to settle for the second-highest passer rating in the history of the sport.
And here we are as Georgia fans. We’re frustrated that Georgia is somehow 0-for-2 against this dynasty and those quarterbacks—not just both of them individually, but both of them at the same time.
THIS is what we came for.
We came to be disappointed. Not because we’re masochists. Not because we’re delusional. Not because the expectations are too high. But because we’re ready to watch a football program transcend. Because we know it’s doable. Because we know the expectations are exactly where they should be—our Bulldogs have just set them a little early.
That is what we came for.
I’ve talked a few times with a particular reader of this site about Georgia’s early success under Kirby Smart. This guy is a Mississippi State fan and someone I know personally. His point, and it has merits, is this: Georgia fans will be spoiled by early success under Kirby. They’re going to come to expect this year-in and year-out and that’s going to doom Smart and his staff as such levels aren’t sustainable.
To be perfectly clear: This guy could be correct. Maybe only time will tell. But there’s a certain relative-to-Richt-ness or relative-to-history-ness about that narrative. In other words, the narrative seems to still involve the old guy. Yeah sure, Kirby is winning a lot now and it seems better than what you had. But if you start to expect that you’re only going to be disappointed because it can’t be sustained as evidenced by Richt at Georgia and others elsewhere.
To be clear: I don’t know if the Richt angle is intended in the narrative above or if I’m contriving it, but either way, I would counter with something like this:
You’re exactly right. Georgia—the program, the administration, the coaches, the dozens of analysts/personnel directors, the players themselves and even the fans—have come to expect a hell of a lot more under Kirby. And he’s damn right that pressure is a privilege. But the pace with which Georgia has gotten here isn’t merely fortuitous instant gratification or fool’s gold. It’s actually proof of concept.
This is what we came for. And we’re not leaving.
Immediately following the National Championship Game, I legitimately wondered if Georgia would ever get back in the playoff. As I said at this article’s onset, I never thought the Dawgs would be in the playoff this year and they’re not. But the fact remains that just 11 months after rock bottom for Georgia fans, Kirk Herbstreit and countless other pundits were lobbying for a playoff spot for an allegedly-rebuilding Georgia team.
Can you swallow that pill?
Eleven months later, we’re second-guessing Kirby Smart about a fake punt at midfield in the SEC Championship Game against the team some were calling the best in college football history. That’s the level of nit-picking we’ve reached as a fan base. And no, I don’t think that’s wrong. I don’t think it’s unhealthy. I don’t think it’s misguided and I don’t think it will be short-lived.
This is the new normal. The expectations are now oppressively high, and the program has proved that they should be.
Perfection or bust. Or, as a wise philosopher once said, “Anything less than the best is a felony.”
I’m here for that.
That’s all I got/
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/
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.
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:
- Tua Tagovailoa is a really good quarterback.
- 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/