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November 1, 2011

Grantham's Guard Dawgs

Prior to the start of this football season, the general consensus regarding the outlook on Georgia's defense was that there was only room for improvement.  By year two of Todd Grantham's scheme, surely and hopefully, his defenders could only get better from the previous year.

Through the first eight games of the 2011 season, you could certainly say the Bulldogs' defense has improved.  In fact, the unit has generated some noteworthy figures in which few defenses in the nation, and even in Georgia's football history, are comparable.

Now, I realize the Bulldogs have been fortunate to face several near-stagnant offenses thus far, and there is still lots of football yet to be played.  Georgia must still defend against a Georgia Tech offense which currently averages a staggering seven yards per play, a bowl opponent, and possibly the champion from the SEC West.  Of course, the Bulldogs also have New Mexico State to play and two offenses - Auburn and Kentucky's - which both currently rank in the bottom one-third of the FBS.     

Regardless, what Georgia's defense has achieved thus far in 2011 is rather remarkable, specifically when compared to Bulldog teams from yesteryear. 

For the following defensive statistics, unless indicated, considered are Georgia teams from 1969 to the present.   I chose to start at that particular year to keep yardage comparisons on somewhat of an even keel.  Around that time, because of a couple new rule changes in the game, offenses went from averaging roughly 60-to-65 plays per game to 70-to-75.    

3rd-Down Defense (Since 1979)
1) 2011- 25.7%
2) 2004- 27.3%
3) 2006- 27.4%
4) 2003- 27.5%
5) 2000- 31.5%

Rushing Defense
1) 1981- 72.5
2) 2011- 86.8
3) 1971- 98.0
4) 1985- 99.5
5) 2003- 102.4

Tackles For Loss per game (Since 1980)
1) 1985- 11.1
2) 2002- 8.3
3) 1989- 8.1
4) 2011- 8.0
5) 1999- 7.9

Total Defense
1) 1971- 234.3
2) 2006- 258.2
3) 1981- 262.1
4) 1970- 264.2
5) 2011- 267.0

Yards Per Carry allowed
1) 1981- 2.0
2) 1985- 2.49
3) 1971- 2.54
4) 1970- 2.7
5) 2011- 2.8

Pass Efficiency Defense (Since 1976)
1) 1982- 84.1
2) 1980- 92.9
3) 1992- 94.8
4) 1981- 97.6
5) 2011- 98.9

To me, the first thing that stands out is the Bulldogs' stop percentage when their opposition is facing third down.  Remember, it was only last season when stopping opponents on third down was a major Achilles heel of this team.  Suddenly, only one year later, Georgia is forcing fourth down to a greater degree than ever before (or at least since the school began keeping the statistic 32 years ago). 

In addition, notice the Bulldogs' defense has had success in both stopping the run and defending the pass.

Temple is shutdown by Georgia's defense of 1981 - one
the greatest defensive units in Bulldog history. 
No other Bulldog defense from the past ranks in the top five with the 2011 defensive unit in all six categories.  The 1981 defense is ranked in the most categories with four.  Notably, the 1971 defense is present in all three of the categories it could possibly be ranked in.

Besides being two of the greatest Georgia defensive units of all time, what else did the '81 and '71 defenses have in common?  Simply, they were integral parts of very successful Bulldog teams, each achieving a 10-1 regular-season record.

As they say, defenses do win championships.

To some, all of this could mean very little.  As indicated, there are still as many as six games left to be played and the ideal comparison would come in early January instead of November 1st. 

Nevertheless, what many hoped would be merely just an improvement of Grantham's defense from 2010 has been undeniably more – more like an inconceivable advancement, which possibly could result in the 2011 Georgia defense eventually being distinguished as one of the best in school history.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Let's see how they do against Michigan. I have high hopes.
I've gotten some Outback Bowl tickets for this December. This is going to be fun!