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October 2, 2012

Whatever You Want to Call It, It Ain't Good

After trying to hand the game to the Vols in the 1st half,
UGA's defense buckled down a bit following halftime. 
Shooting themselves in the foot, can't get out of their own way, beating themselves, or trying to give the ballgame away...  Whatever you want to call it, the Bulldogs were up to it again against Tennessee on Saturday, particularly in the first half.  Just when we thought perhaps Georgia was over its terrible tendency of the last several years of handing the opposition points, the Dogs yielded 30 to the Vols by halftime and didn't make them work that hard for the plethora of points.  

Allowing 30 points, yet yielding just 177 total offensive yards as Georgia did doesn't say much for a team, but it does factor into a revealing statistic I've raved about since starting this blog, Defensive YPP.  Defensive YPP, or yards per point, is simply that how many yards a team allows per point it yields measuring how hard a team makes its opposition "work" to score points, and the higher the number, the better.  It's truly a telling statistic, and one I've found is always favorable for the annual conference champion

Entering this week, here are the SEC rankings in terms of Defensive YPP:    

Texas A&M (28.81)
Alabama (27.37)
Miss. State (26.42)
South Carolina (25.79)
Florida (23.92)
Auburn (17.84)
LSU (17.29)
GEORGIA (16.83)
Vanderbilt (14.91)
Tennessee (14.39)
Missouri (14.11)
Ole Miss (13.22)
Kentucky (12.66)
Arkansas (12.57)

It's certainly no coincidence that the top five teams in Defensive YPP have a combined 21-1 overall record, while the bottom six are a combined 0-11 in the SEC.  And then there's Georgia...

The Bulldogs actually had a respectable ratio of just over 20 entering the Tennessee game, that is, until they started handing out points like candy during the first two quarters.  But this trend is certainly nothing new something us Dawg fans have come to expect from our teams during the latter half of the Coach Richt era. 

Notably, of the last six full seasons of play (2006 through 2011), only once (2007) did Georgia record a Defensive YPP of higher than 15.  In fact, of the program's 11 worst Defensive YPPs over the last 66 seasons (1946 through 2011), remarkably FIVE all lower than 14.9 have resulted in the last six campaigns. 

So, what does this all mean? 

Beginning in 2006, the Bulldogs, while usually ranking towards or at the bottom of the SEC in Defensive YPP, are giving up points to the opposition without putting up much of a fight in historic proportions.  And although their lowly ratio is a "Defensive" one, it reflects poorly upon the entire team: the offense giving opponents good field position, committing turnovers, poor special teams play, bad coaching calls, etc.

Even last year's team one with a renowned defense filled with all-conference players and two All-Americans   had a lowly Defensive YPP of 13.48, or the FOURTH worst in school history since 1946.  And, after Saturday's game, it looks like 2012 could end in similar fashion.  However, there is some good news.  Maybe there is a silver lining to this Defensive-YPP dark cloud...

While Georgia allowed a consistent number of points/yards through all four quarters in 2011 in other words, the Bulldogs handed out points as it related to yardage at will from the start to finish of games a year ago   Georgia appears to buckle down, and how, during the second half of games this season.  This was even evident versus the Volunteers when the Bulldogs yielded 301 yards in the second half, but only 14 points.

This season, Georgia may have a dreadful Defensive YPP of 12.97 during the first half of their five games, but respond with an excellent 24.43 ratio following halftime.  In addition, of the 10 turnovers the Bulldogs have forced this year, SIX have resulted in the fourth quarter alone.

Now, for the bad news.  In order to defeat South Carolina this Saturday, Georgia most likely needs to eliminate in both the first and second half, or at least put on hold, its seven-season tendency of handing its opponent easy scores.  We saw first hand in Athens a year ago what happens when you try to give a ballgame away to the Gamecocks... Spurrier and his squad will gladly take it from you.

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