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January 23, 2015

Living Low On the Hogs

Anyone else find it mind-boggling
that Georgia continues to land a
 low number of OL signees?
With less than two weeks remaining until Signing Day, I was reminded yesterday that the Bulldogs had just two offensive line commitments for this year's class. Granted, Georgia is certainly well represented as far as non-offensive line commitments, including national top-10 prospects DT Trent Thompson and ATH Terry Godwin; however, the Bulldogs have seemingly once again failed to land an adequate number of offensive linemen, or the all-important "Hogs" upfronta curious trend that has persisted now for four consecutive years. 

The following are the number of annual offensive line signees during the Coach Richt era broken down by Rivals' star value (5 star-4 star-3 star-2 star):

Year: # of OL Signees- 5*-4*-3*-2*
2001: Four- 0-1-3-0
2002: Six- 0-3-3-0
2003: Seven- 0-2-4-1
2004: Three- 0-1-2-0
2005: One- 0-0-1-0
2006: Seven- 0-2-5-0
2007: Eight- 0-3-5-0
2008: Four- 0-2-2-0
2009: Four- 0-3-1-0
2010: Three- 0-1-2-0
2011: Six- 0-0-5-1
2012: Three- 1-0-2-0
2013: Four- 0-1-3-0
2014: Three- 0-2-1-0

Notably, for the first 11 years of the Richt era, Georgia signed an average of 4.8 offensive linemen per year, or 21% of its incoming classes; however, from 2012 to 2014, those figures dropped by roughly one-third to 3.3 and 14%, respectively.

In addition, beginning more than three decades ago in 1982or, the first season UGA linemen signees were consistently differentiated between offensive and defensiveand through 2011, there were only five occasions of back-to-back years where Georgia's annual signing class was made up of less than 16% offensive linemen (1986-1987, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1999-2000, and 2004-2005); it resulted just once for three consecutive years (1992-1994), and never four years in a row... that is, until likely this February 4th when it appears the Bulldogs will sign a low number of offensive linemen for the fourth consecutive Signing Day.

Recent UGA offensive lines haven't suffered 
consequences for the insufficient number of 
OL signees, but is it only a matter of time? 
Continuing to geek-out on data, I again present the "Hog Index"originally, an NFL comparative measurement for offensive line performance which I tweaked for the college game. A team's offensive line ranking is determined by its average of the following three rankings in comparison to other teams being measured: yards per rush (sacks omitted), percent of passing plays (pass attempts + times sacked) resulting in an interception or sack, and third- and fourth-down combined conversion rate.

For each of the aforementioned occasions of back-to-back years where offensive linemen made up less than 16% of Georgia's signees, the Bulldogs followed with an annual poor-to-below-average offensive line performance within two seasons, which certainly makes sense: if a team signs few offensive linemen in consecutive years, it should be expected that the team will have an inferior offensive line within a couple of seasons. And, as indicated at the link, according to the Hog Index over the last 20 years, there is a positive correlation between Georgia's annual Hog Index and its winning percentage that same season. Therefore, the worse the Bulldogs' offensive line performance, generally, the worse the overall team.

On the contrary, although Georgia signed a combined 10 offensive linemen from 2012 to 2014, it's evident that the Dogs' lowly number of Hog signees did not result in repercussions the last two seasons: in 2013 and 2014, Georgia's offensive line performance was the the 3rd-best and the very best, respectively, during the last 20 years.

Finally, perhaps the most glaring evidence concerning the Bulldogs' upcoming offensive line units: heading into the weekend and according to Rivals, although the top five non-offensive line recruits in the state of Georgia all are currently committed to become Bulldogs, nonenot a single oneof the state's top nine offensive linemen have committed to UGA. Baffling!

In summary, although Georgia's offensive line has been admirable the last few seasons on the field, off the field, those responsible at UGA for signing offensive linemen have done a dreadful joban unprecedented lackluster effort in landing the Hogs upfront. And, despite the line's recent annual performances, and the unit should be excellent in 2015, as well, history has shown if Georgia consistently doesn't land the Hogs, it could take a couple of seasons or so, but consequences eventually come back to bite the Dogs.


Anonymous said...

also, something i noticed-->look at 2001-09, lots of 4-star lineman. then look at 2010-15, hardly any. and, we all know what happened around 2009-10...this program started going south!--Shakes

Ray Shiver said...

You sound like the coach,s Don,t know they are short on the hogs for their line but they do they can,t be as dam dumb as that, maybe the kid,s want to go where they can do as they want to and still play ball