Speaking on Georgia's performance at Kentucky, yesterday, I heard a disgruntled Bulldog fan on a sports-talk radio show declare:
We didn't even gain 300 yards against a bad defense and, if you take away the 4-to-0 turnover margin, we lose!"
Very true and probably true...
However, there's something to be said about not gaining an abundance of yardage but scoring a significant amount of points, as Georgia did Saturday night in gaining only 290 yards of offense but tallying 44 points.
I discovered that since 1966 - the first Georgia football season where game yardage totals are readily available - the Bulldogs had averaged nearly 500 yards of total offense (497.3, to be exact, or greater than 200 yards more than Saturday's output) in the 69 previous games Georgia had scored 42 points or more.
In fact, the 290-yard offensive output is Georgia's lowest over the last 44+ seasons when scoring 42+ points. Of those 69 games, only one other time did the Dogs gain less than 300 yards (295 yards in 48-13 win over W. Kentucky in 2006) and on just seven other occasions were less than 400 yards gained by the Bulldogs.
If a team is scoring points but not necessarily gaining yardage, it most likely is having success in its return game, forcing turnovers, and/or committing very few turnovers (if any) - all of which Georgia accomplished versus the 'Cats.
For the third consecutive game, the Bulldogs did not commit a single turnover. Do you know how rare that is? For Georgia, like any other team, extremely rare.
I found that since 1980 - the first Georgia football season where turnover totals for individual games are readily available - or a span of 373 games, only one other time have the Bulldogs gone three consecutive games during a season without losing a turnover (1997 vs. Tennessee-Vanderbilt-Kentucky). There has been just one other three-game, no-turnover occurrence if merging seasons are considered (Georgia Tech-Michigan State in the final two games of 1988, Baylor in 1989 season opener).
Since the Bulldogs, like most every other team, committed turnovers with more frequency on a yearly basis prior to 1980 than afterwards, it's safe to say the aforementioned three 3-game spans of no turnovers are probably the only such times in Georgia football history.
While the Dawgs haven't been losing the ball, they've certainly been getting after it, forcing nine turnovers in the last three games combined.
Remember all the discussion a year ago concerning Georgia's poor turnover margin? This year, the Bulldogs currently rank second in the SEC and 18th in the nation with a +0.88 margin. No SEC team and just nine FBS squads have committed fewer than Georgia's 8 turnovers for the entire season.
The bottom line is a win is a win, whether a team has many or few offensive yards, and turnovers are a part of the game of football - a very big part. Winning the turnover battle should never be discounted.
Georgia is displaying signs of winning in a manner that has been unconventional for the Dogs the last few seasons. After much hope, they are FINALLY starting to force turnovers while not committing any, while discovering you don't necessarily need a lot of yardage to outscore your opponent.