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September 13, 2010

Tell-Tale Numbers

I was checking out the final statistics of the 17-6 loss to South Carolina, and four figures, in particular, really caught my attention. Show me a team that could win a game when being held to/allowing similar numbers and I'll show you a Bulldog defender that was able to stop Marcus Lattimore.

Following the victory over UL-Lafayette, I posted some statistical accomplishments attained by Georgia's defense for the first time in a long while. Against the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs reached a couple more "milestones" for both sides of the ball, but these were ones a team would want to avoid...

Speaking of Lattimore, the 'Cock rushed for 182 yards, but even more impressively, on 37 rushes, one short of USC's school record. I searched and scoured my seemingly endless, geeky files of UGA football statistics and found only 10 or so other times in history where one individual on an opposing team carried the ball 37+ times in a single game against the Bulldogs, the last by Auburn's Carnell Williams in 2001 - a 24-17 Georgia loss.

Of those games when an opposing player had a Herschel-like amount of rushes, only twice did Georgia come away with the win.

South Carolina converted 9 of 14 third downs. That's a 64.3 percent conversion rate, and that's mighty impressive. So impressive, you have to go back 162 games and nearly 13 years to the Tennessee game of 1997 when Georgia yielded a greater third-down rate.

In that game, Peyton Manning and the Volunteer offense converted 7 of 9 third downs in gaining 628 total yards and drubbed the defenseless Bulldogs, 38-13.

An offense converting nearly two-thirds of its third downs combined with its capability to hand the ball to one individual nearly 40 times will usually equate to an opposing offense rarely seeing the field, and sure enough, that's what occurred on Saturday.

Georgia ran only 47 total plays. Forty-seven plays... that's unheard of in modern-day college football and the Bulldogs' lowest amount since 1997 (again) when Georgia hosted Kentucky on Homecoming.

In an unusual game, the Wildcats' Tim Couch played keep-away from the Bulldogs, as did Mark Schlabaugh's dog (which ran out onto the field). Still, thanks to Robert Edwards' 189 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Georgia somehow prevailed over Kentucky 23-13 despite running just 45 plays.

Against South Carolina, when the Bulldogs did have the ball, they weren't able to do a whole lot with it as Georgia tallied only 11 first downs...yet another rare and dubious distinction achieved by the Dogs over the weekend.

Georgia hasn't gained fewer than that many first downs in a regular-season game since the Bulldogs had only 9 against the Gamecocks in the very same stadium, with a very similar result (21-10 loss), 10 years ago.

So there you have it: Whether a team allows an opposing back a boat load of carries, a tremendously high third-down conversion rate, runs very few offensive plays, or gains first downs rather infrequently...although, like in Georgia's case, one of these misfortunes may happen only once every decade, said team will most likely lose.

If all four happen to transpire, like in Georgia's case on Saturday, said team is doomed.

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