Georgia's running game, or at least its yards per carry average, finished the 2009 regular season in fine fashion. (Photo: AP)
With just the bowl game remaining in the 2009 season, Georgia and some of its individual players are approaching or could uphold certain team statistical milestones--several good, a few bad, and some very ugly.
Most team statistics are available since the 1947 season. Statistics are from the regular season only from 1948-2001; stats include postseason games (i.e., bowls and SEC title games) from 1947 and 2002-2008.
- Rushing Average: For all the negative attention the running game and offensive line received for most of the year, as it turned out, Georgia's rushing attack turned out to have a respectable regular season. After averaging less than 100 rushing yards per the first six games, the Bulldogs averaged 217 during the final six. Impressively, Georgia is currently gaining 4.631 yards per carry for the year, benefiting from a 7.8 average against Tennessee Tech, 7.7 versus Georgia Tech, and getting sacked just 12 times all season. If the Bulldogs can raise their average just a tad in their bowl game and surpass the 4.633 yards per carry the 2005 team gained, it would be the best average by Georgia in 15 seasons since 1994 when it rushed for 4.8 yards per carry.
- Sacks Allowed: Another testament to the offensive line, Georgia is allowing just 1.0 sacks per game. This currently is the team's second lowest, behind 0.55 in 1994 and ahead of 1.09 in 2000, in 18 seasons since 1992 when Georgia began keeping sack totals for the opposition. Unless the Bulldogs allow three or more sacks in their bowl, they will not fall out of their second-place ranking.
- First Downs: Georgia is currently averaging only 17.4 first downs per game--its second-lowest amount in 19 seasons since 1991, behind a 16.7 average in 2006. As long as the Bulldogs can pick up nine first downs in their bowl, they'll remain ahead of the '06 team.
- Scoring Defense: The Bulldogs are yielding 26.4 points per game--the fourth-worst average in 116 seasons of UGA football history (includes ALL games during the seasons), and the second highest since the 1906 season, only behind a 26.6 average in 1990. A good defensive performance in its bowl could drop the scoring defense of 2009 behind 1993 (26.3), 1999 (25.8), and 1994 (25.7); however, if 30 or more points are allowed in the bowl game, 1990's scoring defense is unfortunately exceeded.
- Scoring Defense Part II: Georgia has allowed 38 touchdowns this season or 3.17 per game. The 38 touchdowns are the second-most yielded in a single season, behind last year's 42, in 33 seasons since 1977 when Georgia began keeping track of opponent touchdown totals. The 3.17 average is currently fifth from the bottom since '77, behind 1993 (3.36), 1994 (3.36), 1999 (3.27), and 2008 (3.23).
- Turnovers Forced: This season, Georgia's defense has forced only 10 turnovers (eight interceptions, two fumbles), or 0.83 per game--both, by far, team lows since 1947 and likely since the beginning of Georgia football in 1892. The second-lowest turnover totals are 16 and 1.23--both from last season. Remarkably, in the last two seasons combined, the Bulldogs have recovered only seven fumbles. For 2009, Georgia's two fumble recoveries are the lowest since 1947 (1997 is second lowest with four) and eight interceptions are tied with 1956 (intercepted just eight passes but in only 10 games) for third lowest behind five in 2004 and seven in 1990.
- Turnover Margin: Over the last 63 seasons, only the turnover margin from the 1951 team (-1.90)--and this game sure didn't help--is worse than Georgia's current -1.42 margin. In their bowl, the Bulldogs would need a turnover margin of minus-eight or worse to fall below 1951's margin. I think the '09 team is safe from the record low.
- Penalties: Georgia is currently averaging 8.25 penalties per game (average has been just 4.67 the last three games). I was surprised to see this is not the worst in Georgia history. Since penalty statistics have been kept since 1949, the 8.25 average is the fourth highest behind 2001 (8.73), 2008 (8.62), and 2003 (8.5). Unless the Dogs are penalized 15 or more times in their bowl game, 2001's team will remain the holder of this undesirable record.
Tomorrow I'll post the "milestone watch" for Georgia's individual players. Unlike above, it's mostly "good"...