Monday, September 28, 2015

Numbers that matter: Georgia w/ a decided edge over Alabama

OK, so we all know that statistics can be viewed, spun, etc. in any number of ways to make a point. As such, allow me to indulge myself with a couple that you maybe weren't as familiar with.

When you talk about SEC and national rankings of certain categories, the most common ones are scoring offense/defense, total offense/defense, and passing a rushing stats. That's all fine and good, and you'll likely hear how Georgia and Bama compare in these categories ad nauseum over the next few days.

With that said, the two numbers I'd like to focus on during our time here today, ladies and gentlemen, are offensive efficiency and red zone defense.

Let's start with offensive yards per play. It's a good indicator of how well an offense has its proverbial crap together, but also how adept it is at explosive plays. Generally speaking, if you have a high number in this category, you're not throwing an abundance of incomplete passes, you're not giving up a lot of sacks or TFL's, and you're not getting stuffed at the line too often.

Here, Georgia ranks 2nd in the nation (!) behind only Baylor. The Bears are light years ahead of everyone at 9.55 yards per play. The Dawgs are 2nd at 8.26, and Southern Cal rates 3rd as the only other team above 8 ypp.

Bama, conversely, comes in at a fairly pedestrian 63rd in the nation, averaging nearly 2.5 yards fewer per play than Georgia.

This is a significant difference, and demonstrates some of the struggles in consistency and big plays that Bama has encountered on the suddenly not-so-young season.

The second statistic I'd like to draw your attention to is red zone defense. Georgia ranks 9th in the nation, holding opponents to a 62.5% scoring rate. Alabama, on the other hand, allows opponents to score 81.8% of the time they get inside the 20 yard line. This is good for 65th in the country.

To be fair, this stat typically takes more than 4 games to flesh out, because 1 stop or one score will drastically change things given the small sample size, but it does go to show that the Dawgs are able to bow up when the chips are down. The Tide, on the other hand, are not just shutting people down the way they have in the past.

I'd be remiss if I didn't do a reality check. Alabama has played some tougher opponents to this point. Wisconsin is solid, and Ole Miss is above average (although we're beginning to see that they love hanging 75 on the paycheck teams, but struggle against SEC competition).

Again, the point is that Georgia is rolling out a very effective, efficient, and at times, explosive offense. The Crimson Tide have had trouble staying in rhythm. Georgia has stiffened when the opposition is driving, and the Tide have, well, meh.

There will be so much that can and will happen, so we can't know what these or any other stats will look like by Saturday night. They wouldn't bother playing the game if we did. But, if you're a Georgia fan, these two statistical areas should make you feel pretty good.

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