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.
On Saturday morning, I postulated that billing the Georgia / Oklahoma matchup as “Baker Mayfield vs. Georgia’s Defense” was shortsighted. I theorized that the real storyline wouldn’t be who won that battle between Baker and the Savage Dawgs. The game would actually come down to the other side of possessions.
As it turns out, I think that was correct. In fairness to the Georgia defense, it ultimately responded and made the plays Bulldogs needed to come back. I’m going to write about that later today. But I don’t think the Dawgs were savage enough defensively to simplify the narrative to Georgia won this game on defense. I do think, however, you could make a case for Georgia winning it offensively.
In Saturday’s article I projected a yards-per-play output of 6.33 for Oklahoma. This was well below the Sooners’ season-long (and nation-leading) average of 8.3 yards per play. As it turns out, Oklahoma did slightly better than that projection and racked up 6.56 yards per play.
But Georgia also handily out-performed my projection for its offensive yards per play. I projected the Bulldogs picking up 7.84 yards per play. They actually picked up 8.37. That’s unreal. In the biggest game of the season, Georgia’s offense performed at a staggering level of efficiency.
For context, consider Georgia’s yards-per-play outputs this year. Look how damn strong Fromm, Chubb, Michel, Wims, etc. were in the Rose Bowl:
- Auburn (First Game): 3.07 Yards Per Play
- Notre Dame: 4.53 Yards Per Play
- Tennessee: 5.25 Yards Per Play
- App State: 5.75 Yards Per Play
- South Carolina: 5.84 Yards Per Play
- Samford: 6.65 Yards Per Play
- Auburn (Second Game): 6.68 Yards Per Play
- Mississippi State: 7.48 Yards Per Play
- Georgia Tech: 7.85 Yards Per Play
- Vanderbilt: 8.07 Yards Per Play
- Oklahoma: 8.37 Yards Per Play
- Kentucky: 8.68 Yards Per Play
- Missouri: 9.03 Yards Per Play
- Florida: 9.36 Yards Per Play
You could blame that offensive dominance solely on Oklahoma’s weakness on defense, but that too requires further examination. The Sooner defense was suspect at best coming into this game, but Georgia’s 8.37 yards per play ticked almost 30% higher (well, 28.77%) than Oklahoma’s defensive mediocrity would typically mandate. And look at how that figure compares to Oklahoma’s other games (as measured by yards allowed per play):
- Kansas: 2.54 Yards Allowed Per Play
- UTEP: 3.48 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Tulane: 3.93 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Ohio State: 5.07 Yards Allowed Per Play
- TCU (Second Game): 5.20 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Texas: 5.22 Yards Allowed Per Play
- West Virginia: 5.54 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Baylor: 6.15 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Texas Tech: 6.24 Yards Allowed Per Play
- TCU (First Game); 6.95 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Kansas State: 7.36 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Oklahoma State: 7.51 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Iowa State: 7.61 Yards Allowed Per Play
- Georgia: 8.37 Yards Allowed Per Play
Georgia’s offense was better and more efficient than any offense Oklahoma faced this year. Period. How’s that for narrative destruction? Turns out the Big 12 can’t play offense like the SEC.
And what’s unreal is how Georgia did this to Oklahoma.
The Bulldogs ran the ball more than they threw it, which is downright befuddling given the offense’s staggering output. A team total of 317 rushing yards on just 34 attempts is ridiculous in and of itself, but it’s downright unfathomable when isolated for Georgia’s top two backs.
- Sony Michel: 11 carries for 181 yards (16.5 yards per attempt) and 3 TDs.
- Nick Chubb: 14 carries for 145 yards (a mere 10.4 yards per attempt) and 2 TDs.
Michel and Chubb combined for seven runs of 20 or more yards. Twenty-eight percent of the two-headed monster’s attempts went for 20+ yards. That’s insane.
Oh, and Jake Fromm did Jake Fromm things. He completed 20 of 29 passes (a nice 69% completion percentage) for 210 yards, two TDs and no turnovers.
Javon Wims was every bit the reliable play-maker that he’s been all year long, and Georgia cruised.
I tweeted my confidence at halftime and most of that stemmed from the fact that I thought:
- Georgia’s defense would adjust, and
- I knew Oklahoma couldn’t contain Georgia’s offense.
The second point above was a theme for the entire game. The first point was a change in the second half. That’s why I’m giving the game ball to the Georgia offense.
That’s all I got/
There is Absolutely, Positively, Mathematically No Chance Georgia Loses to Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl
To hear most punditry, the Rose Bowl matchup between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Oklahoma Sooners will come down to a stout Georgia defense and an explosive Oklahoma offense. Though it’s hard to argue that that half of the matchup is strength vs. strength, expecting that side of play to determine the outcome of the game is completely misguided. There is, after all, another matchup that will happen during the same game—Georgia’s offense against Oklahoma’s defense.
Therefore, saying this game will come down solely to Baker (Faker) Mayfield and the Sooner offense vs. Roquan Smith and the Georgia defense implies that Georgia’s offense and Oklahoma’s defense must be even. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The greatest mismatch in this game actually occurs when Georgia’s offense (12th in the nation in yards per play) lines up against Oklahoma’s defense (65th in the nation in yards allowed per game). Frankly, if Oklahoma’s porous defense can’t figure out a way to stop Georgia’s offense, what Mayfield & Co. do won’t really matter.
Want a deeper dive? Let’s do this.
Numbers Used and the Process
For this study on offensive and defensive efficiency, I used Yards Per Play as a proxy. Lest I be accused of unfairness, it should be noted that Oklahoma’s offense is staggering by this measure at a nation-leading 8.3 yards per play. For what it’s worth, Central Florida is second in the country at 7.5 yards per play and only three other schools (Memphis, Louisville and Oklahoma State crack the 7.0 mark). The last time a team averaged 8.3 yards per play was was Hawaii in 2006. So, I’m not screwing Oklahoma over by using this metric and it’s defensive equivalent (Yards Allowed Per Play).
I only used data for both Oklahoma and Georgia’s FBS opponents. If an opponent was played twice, its underlying efficiency was also counted twice. Oklahoma played TCU twice; Georgia played Auburn twice.
Ultimately, I care about four co-related (though not correlated) things:
- How did Oklahoma’s Offense (as measured by Yards Per Play) perform relative to its Opponents’ Defenses (as measured by average Yards Allowed Per Play) this year.
- How did Georgia’s Defense (as measured by Yards Allowed Per Play) perform relative to its Opponents Offenses (as measured by average Yards Per Play) this year.
- How did Georgia’s Offense (as measured by Yards Per Play) perform relative to its Opponents’ Defenses (as measured by average Yards Allowed Per Play) this year.
- How did Oklahoma’s Defense (as measured by Yards Allowed Per Play) perform relative to its Opponents Offenses (as measured by average Yards Per Play) this year.
Averaging points one and two above should give us some kind of read on the offensive efficiency we can expect from Oklahoma against Georgia’s stout defense. If that’s all that matters, then points three and four should be ignored. Obviously, that’s not all that matters. So, points three and four should show how Georgia’s offense might perform against Oklahoma’s lackluster defense.
Oklahoma’s Offense vs. Georgia’s Defense
Here’s the data on Oklahoma’s offense, opposition and performance.
|Oklahoma Yards Per Play||8.3||1st in the Nation|
|Opponent||Average Yards Per Play Allowed||Rank|
|Relative to Average||146.80%|
Meaning: Oklahoma’s 14 opponents allowed an average of 5.65 yards per play this year. Oklahoma racked up 8.3 yards per play, or 146.8% more than expected.
And here’s how Georgia’s defense performed.
|Georgia Yards Per Play||4.3||7th in the Nation|
|Opponent||Average Yards Per Play Gained||Rank|
|Relative to Average||76.44%|
Meaning: On average, Georgia’s opponents averaged 5.63 yards per play. Georgia held these foes to 76.4% of their season average—4.3 yards per play.
Conclusions: If Oklahoma racks up 146.80% of Georgia’s season-long average for yards allowed per play, the Sooners will average 6.31 yards per play. Similarly, if Georgia holds Oklahoma to 76.44% of its season average for yards per play, the Sooners will average 6.34 yards per play.
The average of these two co-related outcomes is a yard-per-play output of 6.33 for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Georgia’s Offense vs. Oklahoma’s Defense
Again, this whole game won’t be Georgia’s Defense vs. Oklahoma’s Offense. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why that narrative is being pushed. So, how will Georgia’s offense do against Oklahoma?
Here’s the data on Georgia’s offense, opposition and performance.
|Georgia Yards Per Play||6.6||12th in the Nation|
|Opponent||Average Yards Per Play Allowed||Rank|
|Relative to Average||123.56%|
Meaning: Georgia’s 6.6 yards per play represent a 23.56% premium above its opponents’ average for yards allowed (which was 5.34).
And here’s a look at the Oklahoma defense.
|Oklahoma Yards Allowed Per Play||6.5||65th in the Nation|
|Opponent||Average Yards Per Play Gained||Rank|
|Relative to Average||115.75%|
Meaning: Oklahoma gives up 6.5 yards per play, which is 15.75% more than its opponents’ average for yards gained per play—5.615%.
Conclusions: If Georgia racks up 123.56% of Oklahoma’s season-long average for yards allowed per play, the Bulldogs will average 8.03 yards per play. Similarly, if Oklahoma allows 115.75% of Georgia’s season average for yards per play, Georgia will pick up 7.64 yards per play.
The average of these two co-related outcomes is a yard-per-play output of 7.84 for the Georgia Bulldogs.
I’m showing a mighty Oklahoma defense meeting its match with a Georgia defense to the tune of just 6.33 yards per play for the Sooners. And from my perspective, Georgia may beat that by more than a yard and a half.
Yeah, the Strength vs. Strength matchup matters. But what really matters here is that there is only one weak unit in this game, and that’s Oklahoma’s defense. For that reason, the Oklahoma Sooners don’t stand a chance against the Georgia Bulldogs.
That’s all I got/
Welcome to the Kirby Smart Hater’s Guide to Georgia Bulldogs Football, where we give a voice to the fans who will never be happy with Kirby Smart at the helm in Athens.
Yesterday a bunch of manchildren signed their names on sheets of paper. What an incredible accomplishment! No one has ever seen anything like this. Sure, it happens every day in kindergarten classes across the country, but never before has such a worthy group of people gotten together and signed their names. I mean it was kind of cool when life insurance salesman John Hancock, brewmaster Samuel Adams and a bunch of other fathers founded America with the Declaration of Independence. But, boy…that time all those teenagers wrote their names in 2018 was way bigger. Committing to the G was a much bigger deal than De-committing from an oppressive English monarchy.
It’s really kind of pathetic when you think about it. The emphasis on Five Stars during the week of Christmas just shows how quickly this Georgia program has fallen away from its Mark Richt Era Christian roots. Any true biblical scholar (and Kirby Smart obviously is not one) can tell you that there was only one star that mattered at the original Christmas. Can you imagine how confusing that would have been for the Wise Men, the original lead recruiters, if they had to pursue five stars just to find a talented youngster. Personally, I don’t think that would have been feasible. What were they going to do—mix up the gold, frankincense and myrrh into a makseshift trailmix mumbo jumbo of gifts and split up? I don’t think so.
But who did Georgia actually sign? And will the Bulldogs get better? Let’s take a look at the “best of the best.”
Justin Fields, No. 1 QB in the Country, No. 2 Overall Player
If you have two five-star quarterbacks, you don’t have one. And now, Georgia has three. I can’t begin to imagine the challenge this is going to create for Jim Chaney. I bet his brain is a total pretzel right now, and for an apparent carb lover like Chaney that can’t be good. Seriously, he may eat through his own skull to get a bite of that pretzel brain if you tempt him with some melted cheese. Chaney already has one quarterback he doesn’t use (Jacob Eason) and one he doesn’t really trust (Jake Fromm). So the better quarterback (Eason threw for 2,430 yards as a freshman in 13 games, Fromm has thrown for 2,173 as a freshman in 13 games) sits on the bench while the lesser quarterback doesn’t really throw the football all that much (Eason attempted 60% more passes than Fromm as a freshman). I’m sure Justin Fields will really make the decision-making process more logical.
Zamir White, No. 1 RB in the Country, No. 6 Overall Player
Georgia always signs a lot of running backs. White and 4-star signee James Cook (the nation’s 3rd-best running back) represent an extension of that. But including these two fellows, Georgia has now signed five running backs in the past four classes. None of those players has ever run for 600 yards in a single season. Something tells me this White and Cook combo won’t be as successful as when Walter White was cooking meth.
Jamaree Salyer, No. 1 OG in the Country, No. 10 Overall Player
Salyer is a lose-lose signee for Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman. Either he comes in and add values and all yesterday’s self-back-pats are proved worthwhile or he doesn’t. But if he jumps into the starting lineup then it’s time to address the elephants in the room: Georgia’s offensive line was trash in 2017. No self-respecting offensive lineman should ever lose his or her job to a freshman.
Cade Mays, No. 2 OT in the Country, No. 16 Overall Player
Everything I just said about Salyer still applies to Mays. Interesting that Georgia has been touting its “much-improved offensive line” all year and suddenly “has to have help on the offensive line.” This is just wishy washy. I haven’t seen people go back and forth with offensive lines since the time Mario Batali cooked dinner for Matt Lauer.
Adam Anderson, No. 1 OLB in the Country, No. 18 Overall Player
If Anderson is anything like the top OLB Georgia signed last year, we’re all in for a real treat. Jaden Hunter played in two games this year and has registered .
That’s it. No stats were registered. But Georgia is really good at developing outside linebackers—just look at Roquan Smith. Roquan was the no. 5 OLB in his class. Now, just three years later, he plays a different position.
Brenton Cox, No. 2 SDE in the Country, No. 22 Overall Player
I actually really like Cox.
Georgia obviously signed a bunch of other scrubs too, but I wouldn’t count on any of them making an impact in the Playoff, so I’m not sure why you would care.
The Kirby Smart Hater
Georgia Football: A Bulldog Should Have Won The Heisman Trophy This Year – And It Wasn’t Roquan Smith
Baker Mayfield, who will soon be known nationwide as Faker Mayfield after he faces the first real defense (other than cops) he’s ever seen, won the Heisman Trophy. He had a good year. He may or may not have deserved the award. But was he clearly the most deserving person? Let’s go to the dictionary. Per the Heisman Trust’s Mission Statement, this is who should win the award:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
So there are really seven components to winning the award:
- Outstanding Player
- Performance that exhibits the pursuit of excellence.
- Performance that exhibits integrity.
- Great ability.
- Hard work.
What’s interesting is that almost all of those qualities apply the vast majority of college football players. Most work hard, persevere, display diligence and demonstrate great ability. As a result, the pursuit of excellence is relatively commonplace in college football. Relative to the broader population, most college football players are outstanding. But how many really display integrity?
Baker Mayfield grabbed his crotch during a football game. People seem to have forgotten that, and I’m not sure that is a display of integrity. And that’s why a Georgia Bulldog should have won the award. You may think I’m talking about Roquan Smith. I’m not. He may have been deserving as well. But I’m talking about Jayson Stanley.
There’s a moral high ground and selflessness that embodies integrity. Stanley has demonstrated that when it matters most for the Dawgs.
A few short weeks ago, Georgia won the SEC Championship and essentially clinched a College Football Playoff appearance. Boys will be boys and a number of them boys got into trouble immediately thereafter.
Most notably, Natrez Patrick, a beast of an inside linebacker, was arrested for marijuana possession. This was Patrick’s third weed-related infraction—or at least it could have been. It is entirely possible that Patrick’s career with the Bulldogs would have been over had this third charge stuck. Most certainly he would have missed Georgia’s Rose Bowl appearance and all-but-guaranteed National Championship Game showdown with Alabama/Clemson.
Indeed, things would have been bleak for Patrick and the Georgia defense were it not for integrity. Fortunately, Jayson Stanley, who should have won the Heisman Trophy, stepped up. Having never had a previous run-in with the law or marijuana-related infraction, Stanley saw an opportunity to selflessly help his team win a National Championship. That’s integrity.
He pleaded with the arresting officers and insisted that the green bud found was his own. I wasn’t at the scene of the alleged crime, but you can practically hear Stanley saving the day, the season and a young man’s career. “No, officer. If anyone should be punished for marijuana-ing, it is I! That marijuana is mine. I am the weed doer here, not my friend and teammate Natrez. I did the marijuana!”
Amazingly, it worked. Sometimes the good guys do win. Patrick’s charges were dropped earlier this week thanks to Stanley and an excellent lawyer, who astutely pointed out:
When you get into someone’s car, you’re not going to search it to see if there’s marijuana in the car. My client didn’t know the marijuana was there. If you’re sitting on a little piece of marijuana that you didn’t know was there, you’re not knowingly in possession of it.
That attorney is right.
Sometimes we’re not even aware of what we may or may not have possession of. Sometimes, we’re sitting on something. And in Georgia’s case, the Bulldogs have been sitting on a Heisman Trophy Candidate all along. His name is Jayson Stanley. The ultimate teammate. He is the very definition of excellence with integrity.
That’s all I got/