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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If You Can't Be Good, At Least Be Original

One of the things I think we can all agree with Mark Richt on is this: Georgia's turnover ratio is killing the Bulldogs in every aspect of the game.

But just how bad has it been for the Dawgs?

In a word? Epic.

Here are the worst turnover margins by any FBS team in the past decade...

Team Year TAs GAs
Margin Record
Wash St.
2008 13 38 -25 2-11
New Mex St
2005 15 38 -23 0-12
E Michigan
2002 11 34 -23 3-9
Wyoming 2008 14 36 -22 4-8
Rutgers 2001 20 42 -22 2-9
C Florida
2003 12 34 -22 3-9
Miss. St.
2003 19 40 -21 2-10
Miami (OH)
2009 15 36 -21 1-11
SMU 2004
11 30 -19 3-8
Washington 2004 23 42 -19 1-10
Georgia 2009 8 26 -18 6-5
Buffalo 2000 16 34 -18 2-9

That's right... with two games left to play, Georgia owns the 11th worst turnover ratio in the last 10 years.

But more than just Georgia's presence on that list, there should be two other things that jump off the page at you.

The first is the takeaways. Most of the teams on that list were exceptionally turnover prone, and while Georgia has coughed it up too much this season, the Dawgs aren't close to historically bad.

But on the defensive side of the ball, no other team on that list has done a worse job of creating turnovers. In fact, here's the complete list of teams that finished the season with single-digit takeaways since 2000.

Team Year Takeaways Record
Marshall 2007 7 3-9
Georgia 2009 8 6-5
Illinois 2005 8 3-8
Illinois 2003 8 1-11
2004 9 3-8

Indeed, Georgia has a chance to tack on a few in its final two games, but as things stand, this isn't just a defense having problems. This is a defense that ranks among the worst in recent memory at creating big plays and swinging momentum.

Of course, there is the other number that you have no doubt taken stock of.

Of all the teams listed on both charts, only two have finished the year with more than three wins -- Wyoming last year (which, ironically, beat Tennessee!) and Georgia.

In fact, going back to that first list, the combined record of the other 11 teams is 23-108 (.175).

Georgia's record is 6-5 and they're headed for a bowl game.

I have no idea what to make of that. Do we praise the coaches for overcoming so much adversity? Praise the players? Or blame them? Do we give Willie Martinez credit because this year is such an aberration or blame him for creating so few takeaways?

Quite honestly, amid a season of utter ridiculousness at Georgia, this might be the single strangest stat I've seen.


dawgjammin said...

I think you have to feel fortunate to have won 6 games. Several people have pointed out that we could be sitting here with at least 3 more loses (Ark, ASU and SC). If not for great individual effort in 2 of those games (Rennie in SC and AJ in ASU) then we probably are looking at a 3-8 team right now. On the other hand the team easily could be sitting here at 9-2 as poorly as its played and coached. Steady play calling in OKST, Celebration/Kick Coverage against LSU and the turnover 2nd half melt down against KY.

Somehow 6-5 feels about right for this team.

Sam said...

If GA has four or five more takeaways that could easily amount to three more wins. Imagine if GA had a late 4th quarter INT versus KY, LSU, or Ok. St.
I'm not sure if this a chicken or egg problem. Are we a bad defense that can't create turnovers? Or, are the lack of turnovers making us a poor defense? FL sure looked sloppy against AR. If they were that sloppy versus GA would we have had a chance? With 4 takeaways, I think GA could have easily been in the game.

JK said...

Nice. We are the winningest program with the worse turnover margin in the last decade. That is original.

the tri guy said...

I believe this is called "winning in spite of yourself". It is a testament to abundance of freakish athletes we have on our team. Our coaches are Tennessee of the 90s: pissing away a truckload of talent.

Anonymous said... goes to CWM's scheme and not having his guys in position to create turnovers and not teaching the proper fundamentals (ie face guarding)

Anonymous said...

Its hard to get interceptions when your DB's are 10 yards away from the intended receiver.

Bernie said...

I'm with Anon, it's fundamentals and bad scheme. Last year it was the lack of pass rush that we blamed it on. It wasn't stellar in September (when we went 3-1), but it's been good since. Continually, our LBs are not good at coverage and have a run first, second and third mentality. Meanwhile our secondary refuses to turn and face the ball.

dawgjammin is correct that we could be 9-2, having been in a couple of close games that swung the other way. BUT, without our only two national award finalists (who are the only starters without a position coach, ahem!) we'd be truly crying in our stockings over Christmas.

Texas_Dawg said...


Didn't realize it was that bad.

Good stat work, DHale. Interesting list.

Dog44 said...

Wow... very interesting. Great work, David.

The list of teams in the chart above is a classic example of "which one of these is not like the other." Those are some bad teams. And you've got to think those teams turned the ball over so much because they were just bad teams, and their W/L record reflects that. For UGA to be in the company of those programs and yet have a winning record (especially considering the schedule we've played compared to them) is pretty remarkable. I know it's a chicken/egg question, but this makes me sort of think we're a bad team because we've turned the ball over so much (which is a bit different from turning the ball over so much because we're a bad team.)

Now, of course, the question is... is this a decent team that had an especially weird year with turnovers or are all these turnovers a result of something deeper?

I'd be interested to see what our turnover margin has been during the Mark Richt era (and specifically since CWM became the D-coordinator). If we have been consistently good (or even average) the other years, then does this perhaps lend a little bit of credibility to Richt's argument that this year is in some ways an aberration? (I think back to his quote about wishing he could see what the D would be like w/out all those turnovers?)

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for Rambo or we would be last. That is even more frustrating to know we continue to play guys that are not getting it done.

NickinATL said...

I have had one thing bother me all season, and thanks to your post another one made it that much worse. First, according to the Richt quotes he defends his highly paid coaches (Fabris, Martinez), but will blame poor results on the kids (Kick off cov, DB's).
Second, if its true that Martinez teaches some of the best college athletes in the country to face guard instead of make a play on the ball while its in the air then it explains EVERYTHING!
I have said all season long, that its not his DC abilities that hurt the team as much as his position coaching of the DB's. It seems the DB's are better when they dont know the "Georgia Way" are freshman and sophomores than when they become seniors.

Anonymous said...

Was shocked to see the Pass Interference call on Evans last week, but proud to see him in the same picture frame with a receiver. That hasn't happened much this year. Actually a good PI on that play since it looked to be a TD in the making, but it doesn't change the facts about his coverage issues.

Anonymous said...

Whew, for a second there I thought you said we were one of the worst turnover ratio teams of the last DECADE.


Bill said...

back to the UK game. Did we realize that the wind was blowing Sat night?
..we win coin toss...defer...they elect to receive...then we decide to play into the wind....
...we never took the wind into account receiving kicks all night... every punt and kick-off we received at the west end was over our return man's head and every one that we caught, our player's momentum was going backward... that has got to be at least a 15 yd differential on the return yardage

Anonymous said...

Those were some horribly untalented teams on the list, and frankly Georgia's inclusion is a huge indictment of the coaches. The issues are numerous and have been well documented, but it's clear from the past couple years that changes need to be made. I love Coach Richt and think he is a great ambassador for the school, but he has always been a bit of a bonehead when it comes to clock management and what I'd call common sense decisions (Joe Cox spike to end the half this year, calling a run w/ no time outs to end game against auburn 1st year). I just hope he is capable of surrounding himself with some high quality coaches this offseason and doesn't let his tremendous loyalty (normally an asset) hurt his decision making.

Anonymous said...

You left out a stat...1 fumble recovery this year...1!!! That has to be some kind of record

Anonymous said...

David, thanks for another excellent posting. I was thinking back on the UGA 2-3 year slide yesterday. I have 2 comments.

1) I think that there is no question there is a correlation to our teams decline since BVG left and Bobo took over the play calling duties. We have two new coordinators trying to learn their craft on the national stage with our players/team. This is in contrast to the organic style of learning to be a coordinator at smaller schools and moving up when you have success. This is on Richt as it was his decision to basically hire unproven rookie coaches to make their mistakes with his team. I think Willie is ineffective but Bobo has had issues as well... turnovers and the all too frequent offensive collapse for an entire half (UK this year,UT, ALA, FL) even with Stafford/ Moreno /Massaquoi we just dissapeared for entire halves.

2) Maybe you know where this quote can be found but Richt was quoted after the UF 2007 dancing in the endzone game as saying that he decided to let up on his team discipline and let the players have fun / show more emotion. He said that he used to even make the players sit together BY unit/ team on the bench and stay in certain areas. Since that game and let up on the heavy rules enforcement, we have seen the Auburn blackout with dancing on the sidelines, jumping around on the sidelines during all of our games to music, multiple jersy color schemes etc. I wonder if this correlates with the spike in turnovers, late hits, peronal fouls in general, increased scrutiny from refs during our games, increased TURNOVERS and general lack of discipline that seems to surround the program now.

Maybe college football players need that strict discipline in all aspects of life to translate into disciplined success on the field. Has Richt given that up and is now paying the price? Does Myer / Saban have on the field dancing / jersey color changes to motivate "up the juice" of his players. Just a thought

the tri guy said...

well, UF did wear that hidious orange sleeve thing against us, basically adopted blue on blue as their new home uniform, wore throw backs against bama in 06, and wait until you see what they're wearing this weekend. it's hidious. google nike pro combact jersey.

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

turnovers f
special teams f
offense d
deffense d-
cmr b
if saban or meyer were here we would be playing for the nc by the 2nd year. i like cmr but he will probably never beat tn,fl,al, or tech again. he will probably be gone in 2011.

Anonymous said...

Great work David. Put yourself in CMR's shoes. You have to change the DC or risk going yourself. If he changes then Garner will be mad if he don't get the job, he will leave and take recruits with him. If he lets Bobo go he has fired a favorite son (for some) and probally more recruits go. Damned if you do .... fired if you don't

David Hale said...

The situation with Garner may come to a head regardless. Stay tuned for more info on that tomorrow.

the tri guy said...

Hate to be the politically incorrect prick here, but Garner is no longer the only black ace recruiter. During his time at Auburn and Tennessee, when he made his bones, he was. But that model has been copied and is no longer a recruiting advantage at all as it seems more than ever kids are being drawn to the head coach(Meyer, Saban, Kiffin, etc.) than the recruiting coordinator.

Garner has been great to UGA and if he wants to advance his career, I certainly can't blame him. I just hope he realizes UGA has been pretty good to him as well and he stays away from bad mouthing the university and Richt once he's gone.

As for who could replace him, don't laugh: Ron Zook. Fantastic recruiter, AND NFL Special Teams coach background. Two birds with one (admitedly) dumb stone.