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October 6, 2010


Two days prior to the 2006 Georgia-Georgia Tech game, Coach Richt told Mike Bobo that he was turning over the play calling to the young offensive assistant - a change Richt said he had thought about making "for a while."  

Soon afterwards, some of the Bulldog Nation were already questioning the move.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, many Bulldog backers feel Bobo's play calling is a major reason for the football team's recent downward spiral.

Even The Smartest Bulldog online trivia game is getting in on the discussion, asking the other day in its Daily Question, "Who should be calling Georgia's offensive plays?"  At the time I played the game, only 13 percent of those that answered believed Bobo should be running the offense while "Coach Richt" was selected by an overwhelming four times Bobo's amount.

Over the last couple years, I'm often asked the exact same question and, somewhat unsure of my answer, usually don't have a response. 

I decided to conduct a statistical comparison between Richt and Bobo as far as the production of their offenses, which I realize (and let me emphasize)doesn't necessarily equate to each coach's play-calling prowess

This past Saturday at Colorado was Bobo's 46th game calling the plays.  I thought a fair comparison with his tenure would be Richt's final 46 games as the Bulldogs' play-caller, which began with the 2003 Alabama contest until the Tech game of 2006.

Admittedly, I was rather surprised with the results I found.

Apparently, Bobo's offenses have averaged more yards per play - both rushing and passing - than Richt's, while scoring 15 percent more touchdowns and settling for less field goals:

*Off. TDs (Rush/Pass): RICHT- 137 (67/70); BOBO- 158 (76/82)
*Field Goals: RICHT- 75 of 96; BOBO- 65 of 82
*Yards per Off. Play (Run/Pass): RICHT- 5.66 (4.01/7.73); BOBO- 5.96 (4.42/7.89)

With Bobo calling the plays, the Bulldogs have committed less turnovers and been sacked less frequently, while the number of times settling to punt is near equal, but still in Bobo's favor:

*Turnovers (Int/Fum Lost): RICHT- 80 (37/43); BOBO- 73 (41/32)
*Pct. of Pass Plays resulting in Sack: RICHT- 6.26; BOBO- 4.42
*Punts: RICHT- 204, BOBO- 200

Bobo's offenses have been more efficient converting on both third down and when third and fourth down are combined.  And, although Richt's offenses made more trips into the opposition's red zone, Bobo's is much more productive, scoring more points per red zone visit.  The average time of possession is nearly identical: 

*3rd Down Eff.: RICHT- 39.9%; BOBO- 42.0%
*3rd/4th Down Eff.: RICHT- 41.5%; BOBO- 42.8%
*RZ Visits/Points Per Visit: RICHT- 185/4.68; BOBO- 160/5.24
*Time of Possession: RICHT-29:47; BOBO- 29:38

I often mention YPP (yards per point) and how an offensive YPP is a good indicator of how hard a team had to work to score its points.  Although a team's defense and special teams unit certainly play a role in the same team's offensive YPP, the ratio is an excellent representation of an offense's overall efficiency.  The lower the offensive YPP, the better:

RICHT: 13.53
BOBO: 12.62

An argument could be made that my analysis is like comparing apples to oranges; the Richt and Bobo offenses faced different defenses and armed with different talent, including the extraordinary Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford while primarily Bobo was calling the plays.  

However, in my opinion, the opposing defenses faced by and offensive talent present for Georgia during the two 46-game spans was presumably at or near the same level.  Remember, Richt's period includes David Greene's senior season and most of his junior year, and D.J. Shockley's senior campaign of 2005 - perhaps, the best season ever [statistically] by a Georgia quarterback.

Nevertheless, perhaps the main criterion for an offense's production should be the end result - whether the game was won or lost.  This is the one measurement where there was a decided advantage - by 3 games overall, 3 1/2 games in conference - when Richt was calling the plays:    

RICHT: 35-11 overall, 21-9 SEC
BOBO: 32-14 overall, 16-11 SEC

Notwithstanding, an argument could definitely be made that this difference in results was hardly the fault of the Bulldogs' recent offenses.

I'm not necessarily arguing Mike Bobo should continue to run the offense;  however, the numbers don't lie.  It is apparent Georgia's offensive production while Bobo has been calling the plays appears to have been just fine, at least comparatively speaking.

Alas, after conducting my analysis, I still remain undecided on who I believe should be calling the Bulldogs' plays.  Part of me now feels that perhaps Bobo has been used as a scapegoat for the entire team's demise.

On the other hand, it's almost understandable why 35 percent of players at The Smartest Bulldog answered the Daily Question not selecting Bobo or Richt, but "NEITHER."


Anonymous said...

This goes to show what I've been saying (and loudly) for some time: it's not the offense's fault, or Bobo's, but the defense. VanGorder was himself a difference maker, Martinez sucked. Let's just hope the team is now learning while under Grantham. Patrick, great post as always!

Anonymous said...

Interesting and surprising results!! Although your Richt-Bobo comparison is rough at best, as you suggest--it is an indication. Good work,
Old Dawg

Otto said...

Patrick, I want to see the # of 3 and outs listed pre and post Bobo as well average length of time per drive/ # of drives over 4min.

Clock killing 2nd half long drives were a trademark of the CMR playcalled teams. They have since vanished.

As for you CMR vs Goff comparisons I grew in a family that was a season ticket holder during Goff's time as HC. I remember back then a soft spoken UGA coach who did not ruffle feathers in the SEC dront office and a UF coach who said what he thought, won the game, paid a fine and moved on. I see the same now.

Anonymous said...

how do they compare to the rest of the ncaa at that time? i think that's why you see less wins.

joe_h said...

"it's not the offense's fault, or Bobo's"

Perhaps you didn't see the South Carolina and MSU games. The offense is precisely the reason we lost both games. 6 points and 12 points respectively is beyond pathetic, and one of those TDs against MSU was in junk time, after the game was already over.

This comparison is not very good, considering Bobo has not only had better offensive talent, but he also didn't have the extra responsibility of being head coach. I'll also add that Richt faced better defenses as well.

Anonymous said...

Why cut out 30 games and call it a comparison, pray tell ?

Mike Bobo's games vs Coach Richt's games, calling plays.

That is the question.

And, you totally fail to compare to the 2.

Who gives a rat's behind if you are comparing 76 Coach Richt games to 46 Mike Bobo games ?

Patrick Garbin said...

Otto and Anon 11:53,
Exactly. I could make a better comparison by analyzing the data you mention. I kept things somewhat simple... Thanks for reading and posting.

Patrick Garbin said...

As I mention in my post, my comparison is not necessarily apples-to-apples but a simple observation of how Bobo's offenses have been more productive than the previous. I'll add, although Bobo might (and I use "might" loosely)have had better talent, it's interested that nearly ALL of the criteria is in his favor. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have bothered posting the data.

I appreciate your feedback but, with all due respect, Richt having "extra responsibility of being head coach" is absolutely irrelevant as far as which coach's offenses have been more productive. And, "Richt faced better defenses"? Really??? How can you justify that?

Patrick Garbin said...

Anon 5:32,
I thought it'd be rather obvious: I cut out Richt's first 30 games so his final 46 would equal Bobo's first 46 - so there would be a 1:1 comparison, like Bobo's 158 touchdowns to Richt's 137.

That's a difference of 21 touchdowns...

I think even a rat's behind would find that difference near staggering. Thanks for your feedback.

Otto said...

Patrick, thanks for the response. I always enjoy your views (especially being a bit of history despite being close in age to yourself)

Sorry for my typos and keep up the good work.

Otto said...

*bit of a history nut

urgh I hate txt boxes