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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Good News, Bad News: Week 5

Here's what the typical reactions I've heard following Georgia's 20-17 win against Arizona State have been so far:

"Well, we won... But man we looked bad... But A.J. Green is really good... But we'd probably be 0-4 without him... But the players really kept spirits up to make that comeback... But man did they shoot themselves in the foot too many times... But the defense played better... But the offense looked awful... But Blair Walsh had a nice game... But what are the coaches doing?"

Actually, I think this clip from "The Simpsons" sums it up well…

Anyway, the bottom line is that emotions following the game are all over the place. So what better feature to roll out on this fine Tuesday morning than the much-loved "Good News, Bad News"?

As always, we start with bad news first...

Bad news: Georgia ranks 11th in the SEC in rushing offense, averaging just 112.5 yards per game on the ground. That numbers has been made worse by Richard Samuel's 2 yards-per-carry average in the last two games, if you exclude his one long run.

Good news: Justin Houston earned Georgia's first SEC defensive lineman of the week honors since 2006 and played spectacularly.

Bad news: The Bulldogs still had just one sack last week against a mediocre-at-best offensive line.

Good news: LSU isn't any better. The Tigers are tied for last in the SEC with Georgia with just five sacks this season. And they have games against Vandy and Louisiana-Lafayette under their belts.

Bad news: Mike Bobo's play calling remains as mysterious as the conclusion to "Lost." It's almost as if he can't get beyond the big picture. He wants "balance" so he'll call four straight passes to even things out. He knows the toss-sweep is a winner for Georgia, so he calls it with a notoriously vertical runner from the 1-yard line. It's like he calls what looks best in the big picture rather than deciding what play has the best chance of working at that moment. Here's a test: If I've tossed a coin 99 times, and it always came up heads, what are the odds that the next toss is a tails? If your answer is, "pretty damn high!" then you're of the Mike Bobo school of playcalling. If your answer is, each toss has the same 50/50 chance of turning up heads and is no way dependent on what happened before or what might happen after, well, you a.) might have better luck than Bobo in play calling and b.) would have done better than me in my probabilities course in 1997.

Good news: Georgia is 20-5 all time under Mark Richt against the SEC West and has won three straight against LSU.

Bad news: Georgia's turnover ratio this season: 12 giveaways, 3 takeaways. LSU's? 10 takeaways, 3 giveaways.

Good news: With Trindon Holliday returning kicks for LSU, you might think kickoffs would be an even bigger concern than usual for Georgia this week. As it turns out, however, LSU is actually 12th in the SEC in kickoff returns and 117th nationally, averaging just 15.67 yards per return. In fact, LSU's special teams have been a disaster so far this season, highlighted by last week's narrow win over Mississippi State in which the Tigers missed a 19-yard field goal.

Bad news: Back to the turnovers for a second… Six different Bulldogs have turned the ball over already this season, including all three of Georgia's primary tailbacks. This quote from Mark Richt says it all: "The problem is, if every guy takes a turn, that’s a whole lot of turns. That’s a whole lot of issues."

Good news: A.J. Green will be around for a while. I had a few inquiries about Green's potential draft eligibility because he was 19 when he enrolled. Doesn't matter. NCAA rules require a player have been out of high school for at least three years before they are eligible for the draft. So no worries.

Bad news: While Green has made opposing corners look silly, Georgia's corners haven't been much better. The Bulldogs rank 11th in the SEC (and 90th nationally) in pass defense, allowing 243 yards per game through the air, with a particular vulnerability to the big play. Despite its offensive struggles last week, LSU completed passes of 39, 40 and 58 yards against Mississippi State. Oh, and MSU has been allowing, on average, 71 fewer pass yards per game than Georgia. And yes, I know Arizona State only mustered 116 yards through the air last week, but Danny Sullivan's arm makes Joe Cox look like Matthew Stafford. In fact, despite playing two nobodies prior to Georgia, ASU still ranks 89th nationally in passing offense.

Good news: Back to Green for a second. Through 17 collegiate games, Green has 81 receptions, 1,391 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. That averages out to nearly 5 catches for 82 yards per game. Now, it's safe to say he'll get better as he gets older and more experienced (heck, he's already a much better player than he was last year), but assuming he stays just three seasons, his career numbers if he continues at this pace will be 186/3,198/28. The 186 receptions would place him second all time at Georgia, 18 behind Terrence Edwards and four more than Brice Hunter. The 3,198 receiving yards would blow away Edwards' career mark of 3,093. And the 28 touchdowns would be just two shy of Edwards' mark of 30 and a full eight better than Fred Gibson's second-place total of 20. Keep in mind, Edwards, Gibson and Hunter all played for four years. Those numbers for Green are projected through three years. Is it already safe to call Green the best receiver Georgia has ever had? (Just as a side note, if by some miracle Green stays for four years, here's what his projected totals would be: 248 receptions, 4,264 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns.

Bad news: OK, Green is good, we know that. But how about LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. He's just a sophomore, but he has already established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He's essentially the SEC's defensive equivalent of Green. OK, maybe not that good, but Peterson will easily be the best corner Green has faced this year. Of course, the matchup won't even be so much about Green vs. Peterson as it is Joe Cox vs. Peterson. Cox threw two picks against Arizona State's Jarrell Holman trying to force the ball to Green and the senior QB has five interceptions already this season. He'll need to play a lot smarter this week and find a way to maneuver that delicate balance between getting A.J. his touches and not giving Peterson an easy chance at a turnover.

Good news: Remember Darryl Gamble's breakout game against LSU last year when he returned two picks for touchdowns? Well, this year's up-and-coming linebacker, Marcus Dowtin, has put together four good games in a row but is still looking for a breakout performance. Hmm.

Bad news: Georgia's offensive line has looked downright bad in two games so far, and has been less than impressive in the other two.

Good news: LSU's line is even worse. Despite having a trifecta of returning talent at tailback, the Tigers are just 74th in the nation in rushing offense and 10th in the SEC.

Bad news: Georgia still ranks 119th in Division I in total penalties with 41.

Good news: The Bulldogs had just one flag in the second half against Arizona State -- an offensive holding call in the fourth quarter.

Bad news: LSU's defense stopped Mississippi State three straight times from the 1-yard line last week. Coincidentally, Georgia was stuffed at the 1-yard line last week by Arizona State and also came up short on a fourth-and-inches. Dawgs fans might want to hope this game doesn't come down to too many short-yardage situations.

Good news: "Mustache Marshall" was a new "How I Met Your Mother" highlight last night. Absolutely hilarious.

Bad news: I'm not sure if "Flash Forward" is going to stay on my DVR list for long. It wasn't awful, but it was much as I feared -- a watered-down "Lost." The opening scene, in particular, was virtually a complete knockoff of the opening scene from "Lost," just replacing a plane wreck with a car wreck.

Good news: It's not supposed to rain on Saturday.

Bad news: The last time Georgia hosted a top-10 ranked team, Alabama went to the half with a 31-0 lead. This stat absolutely stunned me, however: Did you know this is just the third time since Richt has been head coach that Georgia has hosted a top-10 team? The only other time was an 18-13 win over No. 6 Tennessee in 2002. LSU, which is ranked fourth in both the AP and Coaches' poll, will be the highest-ranked opponent ever to play at Sanford Stadium during the Richt administration.

Good news: I'll have more than 12 minutes to write my story after the game thanks to the early kickoff. So here's to having a more delightful live blog, more time to get quotes after the game, and a game story with fewer than seven grammatical or spelling errors!


Columbia Dawg said...


Just wanted to say thanks for your articles and blogs. Top drawer quality! You have become my first choice when I want to read a story about the Dogs, whether it's the just-completed game or the upcoming one.

Anonymous said...

I've got a bad feeling about this game. While it seems like we should end up with a shootout like last year, I feel like this is the game where the luck runs out.

David, is there any reason to believe that these execution mistakes can be fixed mid-season? While it seems theoretically possible, I have an off-season and four weeks of football that says it can't. :-(

Anonymous said...

Can I go now?

Anonymous said...

we need Akem Dent back

Roninjinn said...

Through all that, I got that AJ Green is a beast, we're in for a hell of a game on Saturday, and that you may love Lost as much as I do. BTW, give FF a chance, the season preview made it look like it could stand the test of time.

Anonymous said...

That is the second time I've read about the "top 10 in Athens" thing. What was LSU ranked in 2004 when they came to Athens and we beat them 45-16?

Unknown said...

With all the talk of where we rank statistically in the conference and nationally, I hope everyone can keep in mind we haven't had any cupcakes to pad our stats like nearly everyone else in the Top 25.

I was hoping ASU would be our first stats-padder, but it was just a soggy mess (and calling an undefeated BCS team coming off a bye-week a cupcake might be a stretch).

If you could measure heart, fight, and team pride/unity, those would be the stats I would go by (especially 4 games in). I love the FIGHT and UNITY in this year's team, THAT is what UGA football is all about to me. If this team stays together as it matures, I like our chances against anyone (and I'll save any talk of coaching changes for the off-season, where it should be)!

DH- the effort you are putting forth this season is second to none. You should be richly rewarded for such effort! Can you add a Donation feature to the blog?? The single ad at the bottom of the page can't be making you rich...

Travis said...

to the anon above - LSU was unranked when they came into Athens on October 2nd of 2004 and lost 45-16 to the dawgs.

Matt said...

Good news: Even with three interceptions and a fumble, Mississippi State was within a yard of taking the lead (and maybe beating) LSU last weekend in the fourth quarter. That might give us some leeway on the turnover ratio. We have to have more talent than Mississippi State, right?