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February 24, 2012

UGA Helmet History

...and that!
Yes, UGA players actually
once wore that... 
Whether The Helmet Project, Infinite Helmets, or SWC Helmet History, among others, I utilize and enjoy a variety of college football helmet history sites for my full-time job.

For my work, I've searched for a complete history of UGA football helmets for some time and have found little.  I decided to put together a helmet project of sorts for Georgia football, beginning with the program's first teams and including the numerous decals/stickers the Bulldogs have displayed over the years.

You can find my UGA Helmet History here at my website.

If you have any additional details/information on Georgia's helmet history or believe I've made some sort of error or omission, please email me at patrick@patrickgarbin.com or comment directly to this post.  Thanks.

February 14, 2012

More "Stars" than those that are "Super"?

Including Isaiah Crowell, four Rivals 5-star recruits played for the Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl. 
That's one more than the Giants and Patriots had COMBINED on their Super Bowl rosters.

Just prior to the Super Bowl, this article was posted at Rivals.com, breaking down its recruiting rankings for both the New England Patriots and New York Giants' 53-man active rosters. 

On a personal note, I feel Rivals' "star" system and ranking process can be somewhat flawed; there are a couple other football recruiting sources/experts I prefer.  Nevertheless, I found its linked piece on the two Super Bowl teams relatively intriguing.  So much in fact, like most anything else, I attempted to apply it to UGA football.

Georgia finished its 2011 season with its own 53-man active roster of sorts; 53 different Bulldogs just happened to see playing time in the Outback Bowl.  Like in the article, I divided these players into their recruiting "star" rankings according to Rivals:

No stars (6)
PK Brandon Bogotay, ST Taylor Bradberry, ST Cory Campbell, SN Ty Frix, ST Connor Norman, ST Blake Sailors
Two stars (1)
P Drew Butler
Three stars (17)
OL David Andrews, WR Michael Bennett, DB Sanders Commings, WR Chris Conley, DB Marc Deas, FB Bruce Figgins, OL Kenarious Gates, DL Kwame Geathers, OL Cordy Glenn, OL Ben Jones, FB Alexander Ogletree, DB Bacarri Rambo, RB Carlton Thomas, LB Chase Vasser, LB Kosta Vavlas, PK Blair Walsh, DB Shawn Williams
Four stars (25)
OL Justin Anderson, DB Brandon Boykin, WR Marlon Brown, OL Chris Burnette, TE Orson Charles, LB Michael Gilliard, LB Amarlo Herrera, DL John Jenkins, DL Abry Jones, LB Jarvis Jones, WR Tavarres King, TE Arthur Lynch, RB Ken Malcome, DB Nick Marshall, WR Malcolm Mitchell, DB Corey Moore, QB Aaron Murray, LB Alec Ogletree, LB Christian Robinson, DL Garrison Smith, LB T.J. Stripling, DB Damian Swann, DL Mike Thornton, LB Cornelius Washington, TE Aaron White
Five stars (4)
RB Isaiah Crowell, LB Ray Drew, DB Branden Smith, RB Richard Samuel


Although not surprising, what first caught my eye is of the six Bulldogs who had no star value prior to their arrival to UGA, all of them played solely a special teams role against Michigan State.  Furthermore, evidently roughly half of Georgia's kickoff coverage consisted of no-star players. 

And some of us wondered why the Bulldogs had such a difficult time covering kicks all season...

At any rate, if Georgia's 6 no-star players, 1 two-star, 17 three stars, 25 four stars, and 4 five stars are averaged, that equates to 3.26 stars per "active" Bulldog player.  In comparison, the players on the New England roster, who were college recruits from 2002 and later (36 of 53), had a lowly recruiting average of only 2.44 stars (and thus the reason for the "underdog" article).  

The New York Giant players who, according to the piece, "were held in higher regard as recruits [than New England's]," did have a higher average, but it was still less than three at 2.97 stars.

Realizing Georgia had a good amount of turnover in player personnel from 2010 to 2011 and this could translate to a significant difference in perceived talent, I figured the Bulldogs' star value for its final "active" roster from the year before -- the participants in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.  Georgia did indeed have turnover from the losing 6-7 season of 2010 to the next.  Of the 53 players who appeared in the Outback Bowl, only about half (27) had played in the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida.  Still, the 2010 Georgia team had an average recruiting ranking of 3.18 stars, or nearly the same as the following season's squad.

At first, I had a rather difficult time comprehending all of this.  You mean to say the last two Bulldog football teams, one of which had a losing year, were more highly regarded as recruits, on the whole, than the players that made up supposedly the two best teams in all of professional football?

I think it's safe to say that if you were to take any "active" roster of a college football team that annually ranks in Rivals' top 10 to 15 nationally, its average stars per player would be roughly 3.0 to 3.5.  Likewise, if you were to take an active roster of any random NFL team, my guess its average recruiting stars per player would be similar to that of the Super Bowl-winning Giants, or at least a quarter of a star lower than the college team's average.

What do such results suggest?  Probably just about anything from college teams need to somehow hire a Tom Coughlin or  Bill Belichick as their head coach to take advantage of the extraordinary talent they're apparently signing, to Rivals' recruiting rankings are a bunch of bunk and darts might as well be thrown at a dartboard in designating star values to most high school players, to the results are mere circumstances and suggest absolutely nothing at all.

Perhaps the only thing clear is of the combined 29 four- and five-star Bulldogs that appeared in the Outback Bowl, a whopping 25 will be returning for the 2012 season.  And that, considering how talented these players were coming out of high school and according to Rivals, could only be a good thing... I guess.

February 11, 2012

The Day when even the Faculty went "Bonkers"

Like many of you, I'm a Bulldog fan who recently had to bust out the credit card to donate to the Hartman Fund for the right to later actually buy season tickets.  During the most recent occurrence, I thought about the number of different areas in Sanford Stadium I've sat and watched Georgia football since I began attending games 31 years ago.  During this time, my most frequented seat has been among a group of faculty members in the lower level on the South side.  My dad - a former sociology professor at UGA - has had these same seats since he started teaching at the university in 1968.  It's where I primarily sat until I went off to college, and where I still sit on occasion even today. 

The faculty section consists of a rather obedient and tame group of individuals.  Unless getting up for the bathroom or to buy concessions, most of the faculty seldom stand.  After the North side declares "Georgia!"  only a few of the faculty will actually respond with "Bulldogs."  Some time during high school, when I experienced a different location at the stadium for the first time, I remember thinking how the new location was "crazy" and near deafening.  On the contrary, whenever I've brought a new guest to sit with me among the faculty, they seemingly always ask me something on the order of when are these people going to wake up?

On a personal note, the faculty members around my dad's seats, who I'd be willing to guess have been sitting there since the 1960s as well, were awaken for the LSU game in 1999.  The following is something I'm certainly not proud of, and speaking for an ex-girlfriend of mine, I have a feeling neither is she. 

My girlfriend at the time drank a little too much prior to the Bulldogs-Tigers meeting; WAY too much for a 12:30 kickoff.  Towards the end of the game, the "excitement" first began when my ex-girlfriend passed out in her own lap.  Soon afterwards, she "got sick" at her own feet, which was followed with her getting sick all over mine.  At this point, she was promptly carried up the stairs and towards the exits, before we were stopped by stadium security and escorted to a First Aid station.  

As we all know, this type of thing happens all the time in other parts of Sanford Stadium, but not in the faculty section.   

As I sat in a First Aid room at the stadium, I missed Will Witherspoon tip away the Tigers' bid for a victory on a two-point conversion attempt and Georgia escape with a one-point win.  Nevertheless, things could have been much worse (like her getting sick at the beginning of the game, getting better, and us returning to our seats).  I swear, I still get dirty looks from the section regarding my old-girlfriend-got-sick-in-the-stands incident from more than a decade ago.

As far as pure excitement amongst my faculty friends, there's only one other personal moment I can readily recall that has the LSU incident beat: Kevin Butler's 60-yard game-winning field goal to defeat 2nd-ranked Clemson in 1984.

video

As many of you are fully aware, following Butler's field goal, legendary Larry Munson blurted, "the stadium is worse than bonkers!"  Included in this chaos was indeed the faculty, who might not have been "worse than...," but they were most certainly "bonkers."

I remember the aftermath of Butler's game-winner like it was yesterday...  At nine years old, I was nearly terrified as I watched these people around me, who had been near-stagnant since I had been coming to games, instantly come unhinged.  When all the screaming and jumping about finally ceased, I don't think a single soul was standing in front of their rightful seat.  At one point, a man from behind who didn't know me from Adam, tried to lift me in the air in celebration.  I was somewhat of a husky fellow back then, so I didn't get very high; nevertheless, in the attempt by a complete stranger to toss me around, I was then more confused than ever.

Suddenly, a couple of white plastic cups featuring one of those classic drawings by Jack Davis skipped through the section, spraying ice and drink on everyone within distance.  Someone had dropped, or thrown cups of Coke from the top level above.  Under normal circumstances, the faculty would have been appalled and a security guard likely would have been summoned to seek out the culprit.  But not so for the 1984 Clemson game. 

Those drenched in drink seemed to relish in the moment, especially the elderly professor who sat right in front of me that never, and I mean never, made so much of a peep for years.  As Coke dripped from his check, the old man looked to the overhang above, licked the side of his mouth, and loudly hollered "thanks" to the group above for putting "something extra" in their Coke.  At the time, I had no idea what he meant by "something extra."  All I knew is something mighty special must have occurred to turn the meekest of fans into raving fanatics.

Although I don't remember much of the game-winning field goal  itself, just what followed, probably the greatest UGA football play I've ever witnessed in person is when "the Butler did it" against the Tigers.  The moment reminds me every February while I send off my hard-earned donation dollars that watching a game at Sanford Stadium, no matter what section I sit in, exceeds watching it from my couch.

February 6, 2012

RICHT vs. BOBO (updated)

The numbers don't lie -- Georgia's offense has been more productive in every conceivable
facet since Bobo has been calling the plays, except one (but it's a BIG one).
The last few seasons, there has been much grumbling regarding the play calling of OC Mike Bobo.  Perhaps never was it more evident than during the first half of Georgia's sub-par campaign of 2010.  Following the Bulldogs' loss at Colorado and a 1-4 start to their season, I posted offensive production statistics for the 46 games Bobo had been calling the plays compared to Richt's last 46 in the same role. 

I was quite surprised in the results, which favored Bobo in most every aspect.

Twenty-two games later and as I'm observing Bobo call repeated runs up the middle for lost yardage in the Outback Bowl, I first considered comparing the two coach's again.  After receiving a couple of emails from readers since the loss to Michigan State, asking if I had updated my original comparison, I decided to calculate the offensive production statistics again over the weekend.

This time, I evaluated the entire 144-game Mark Richt era: 76 with Richt calling the plays (2001 season opener through 2006 Auburn) and 68 with Bobo (2006 Georgia Tech through 2012 Outback Bowl).  Considering 52 additional games were being recognized than before, or an increase of more than 55 percent, I thought there could very well be different results than when I compared the two coach's the first time. 

Not so much...

Since Bobo has been calling the plays, the Bulldogs have averaged more than one-half offensive touchdown per game than scored by Richt's offenses.  Bobo has also averaged more yards per play, both rushing and passing, and has settled for less field goals.

Off. TDs per game:
Richt 3.03; Bobo 3.57
Yards per play:
Richt 5.72 (3.98 rush, 7.98 pass); Bobo 5.92 (4.27 rush, 8.02 pass)
FGs per game:
Richt 1.67 of 2.20; Bobo 1.44 of 1.96

Bobo's offenses have turned the ball over less and punted fewer times per game.  Also, despite Bulldog quarterbacks getting sacked a combined 58 times the last two seasons, Bobo's offenses have still maintained a lower sack percentage (times sacked/times sacked + pass attempts).

Turnovers per game:
Richt 1.70; Bobo 1.57
Punts per game:
Richt 4.34; Bobo 4.22
Sack Pct.:
Richt 5.97; Bobo 5.15

Bobo has been better at converting on 3rd down and on both 3rd and 4th down combined.  Bobo has a slight edge in Red-Zone points per game, and even more telling, a significant advantage of +0.66 in Red-Zone points per Red-Zone visit.  Moreover, and perhaps the most eye-popping difference, Bobo's offenses have possessed the ball an average of more than three minutes per game than Richt's did. 

3rd Pct.:
Richt 39.6; Bobo 42.0
3rd + 4th Pct.:
Richt 41.1; Bobo 42.9
RZ Pts per game:
Richt 18.84; Bobo 19.19 
RZ pts per RZ visit:
Richt 4.52; Bobo 5.18
Time of Possession:
Richt 28:45; Bobo 31:56

And probably my favorite stat - the YPP, or "yards per point," or in this case, how hard a team had to "work" to score its points.  As I mentioned in October 2010, although a team's defense and special teams units certainly play a role in the offensive YPP, the ratio is an excellent representation of an offense's overall efficiency.  The lower the offensive YPP, the better.

Offensive YPP:
Richt 13.71; Bobo 12.41

As I also mentioned following the Colorado game a year ago, I realize my comparison doesn't necessarily equate to each coach's play-calling prowess, but more so their respective offense's production.  In addition, obviously each coach faced different defenses while armed with different offensive players; however, it can certainly be argued the opposing defenses faced and offensive talent present for Georgia during the two periods were presumably at or at least near the same levels. 

In closing, since Bobo has been calling the plays, Georgia's offense has been more productive than Richt's offenses for every single measurement I felt was appropriate in comparing the two periods, EXCEPT one -- the most important statistic of them all:

RICHT calling the plays: 59-17 record (34-14 in SEC, 17-13 vs. AP-ranked opponents)
BOBO calling the plays: 47-21 record (26-14 in SEC, 13-14 vs. AP-ranked opponents)  

It's no secret that many in the Bulldog Nation (including yours truly on occasion), during Georgia's last few seasons of mediocrity, have been quick to point the finger at Bobo's play calling as a major issue.  However, at least comparatively speaking, I'm beginning to believe that Bobo isn't necessarily a problem but maybe a scapegoat, and something else besides his play calling, or lack thereof, should be focused upon.