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October 17, 2013

UGA Defense: Getting Off the Field

In a quest to try to figure out some stuff about our defense, I've been crunching numbers.

First, I don't have any sage conclusions. When I embarked on this, I expected something, anything to really jump out at me. Regretfully, other than one thing about 3rd down and medium yardage, nothing did.

Second, we're not good at getting off the field. Very not good.
Fix things just a little bit, boys.
(Image: Hipple)

Third, that has resulted in an awful TD to FG ratio.

Like I said, nothing sage, but there is some interesting stuff here. Carry on....

TDs allowed by UGA:
Rushing TDs 11
Passing TDs 12
Other TDs 4

So, we've given up 23 TDs when our defense is on the field. Taking those 4 TDs away from scoring defense, we'd still only be in the upper 60s in scoring defense in the nation. Part of that is competition: We've faced the number 8 (Missouri), 15 (LSU), 17 (Clemson), and 38 (South Carolina) scoring offenses in the nation. I would expect some of that to moderate through the season as we move into the less daunting part of our schedule.

Still, that doesn't fully explain the very pedestrian scoring defense (27.33 ppg). You know what does? Georgia has only forced teams to kick 5 FGs all season. Contrast that with 27 TDs (23 against the defense). That ratio puts UGA 105th or so in the nation. For comparison sake, Georgia gave up 34 TDs in all 14 games last season. That was against 13 FGs. In 2011, it was 37 TDs/11 FGs. So not only are teams getting more chances to score, they are converting those chances into TDs more, too.

Merely getting to our percentages to 2012 levels (70% TDs on all scoring chances) for the second half of the season projects out to a full point per game improvement.

We've talked a lot about 'getting off the field,' so nothing about this is a surprise. When we've gotten to 3rd down (it only happens on 48% of all 1st downs), UGA has held teams to 3rd and 7+ yards 48 out of 88 times. Overwhelmingly, the book is to pass in those situations. We are yielding first downs on 41% of those plays when teams pass. When we have 3rd and short, it becomes a hodgepodge. Again, not surprisingly, we aren't good at 3rd and under 7 yards. Teams are converting 50%. That number is fairly heavily skewed by teams running the ball with less than 4 yards, converting 60% of those opportunities.

Most damning is we are giving up the same 50% when teams are 3rd and 4-6 yards. Surprisingly, teams are deciding to throw the ball more in this situation, by nearly a 3-1 ratio. Even with all the bad things that can happen when you throw the ball, teams have gained 8 first downs on 16 pass plays when we are 3rd and 4-6 yards. Teams aren't doing anything fancy, with a 136qb rating (although that in itself isn't awesome) and just 2 plays going 15+ yards.

I wonder if that is a result of something offenses are seeing about our sets? Is it QBs checking into a short passing play? Is the crossing route really that effective?

If we tighten up just that one thing, even if it means we always go one on one and bring the house on 3rd and 4-6, that would flip the field some.

I don't have any grand answers for covering receivers better, although we have some success making QBs throw the ball away when we get pressure. The one thing I would say is that when we are 3rd and short, it is paramount we I wish we would press the WRs at the line to disrupt patterns if we aren't going to bring a full out blitz. Nothing drives me crazy like seeing a CB three steps beyond the first down marker on 3rd down.

That's just gift yardage we can not afford to give.


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