Now that we're one-fourth of the way into the season, this seems like an appropriate time to begin breaking down the games in a bit more detail, beginning with this weekend's intersectional matchup against Colorado.
Toward that end, I don't give you a little information, nor do I give you just the right amount of information; instead, I give you . . . Too Much Information.
The Passing Game
The Buffaloes don't have one. They rank last in the Big 12 in passing offense and in pass efficiency. Colorado is the only team in its league that has yet to connect on a touchdown pass. The 11 first downs earned by the Buffs through the use of the forward pass are the fewest in the conference.
None of Dan Hawkins's players ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in passing yards per game, receiving yards per game, or catches per contest. Only one C.U. player has more than three catches and only one averages more than 14.7 yards per reception.
The visiting team's passing woes may be compounded by the absence of second-string quarterback James Cox, who started the Montana State game but has taken a leave of absence from the team to contend with a family emergency. If Cox does not join his teammates in the Classic City, starter Bernard Jackson's probable backup would be Cody Hawkins . . . a true freshman who also happens to be the coach's son.
Colorado will be going up against a Junkyard 'Dawg defense ranked third in the S.E.C. against the pass. The Red and Black have spotted the opposition just 146.7 aerial yards per outing and have permitted the S.E.C.'s third-fewest first downs on pass plays while recording the league's greatest number of sack yards.
Offensively, Georgia has been out of synch in its own passing game. The Bulldogs have attempted the fewest passes of any Southeastern Conference squad and, for the time being, Matthew Stafford is showing more potential than production. The Classic City Canines' freshman signal-caller ranks ninth in the league in total offense and 10th in passing yards per game. He has thrown just one touchdown pass. Nevertheless, three different Bulldogs have snagged five receptions apiece and a half-dozen players in silver britches average at least 15.7 yards per catch.
Georgia's somewhat suspect passing attack will take on a Colorado defense ranked 10th in the Big 12 against aerial assaults. Among conference squads, only Iowa State has surrendered more first downs on pass plays. The four touchdown tosses given up by the Buffaloes in the red zone are the second-most in the league.
The Kicking Game
To the extent that Colorado has a strong suit, this is it. Stephone Robinson ranks ninth in the Big 12 in kickoff returns and 10th in punt returns. Matthew DiLallo averages 43.9 yards per punt, with a league-leading long of 73 yards. Mason Crosby is the Buffaloes' leading scorer, having connected on three of his six field goal attempts.
Still, success is relative for C.U. The Buffs rank last in their conference in kickoff return yardage and Crosby's longest field goal of the season was 40 yards in length. The Buffalo placekicker has missed thrice from beyond 50 yards.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, put on a clinic on special teams. No S.E.C. squad has punted fewer times than the 'Dawgs, but only two have done it better, as Georgia nets 41.4 yards per punt. The Red and Black stand atop the conference in punt returns, averaging 27.2 yards each time the ball is brought back, and the punt return team has scored more touchdowns (2) than the defense has allowed (1).
Brandon Coutu is perfect this season (seven of seven on field goal attempts and 11 of 11 on extra points) and he averages 10.7 points per game . . . as opposed to Crosby, who has scored 11 points total this season.
Do we really have to go there?
Dan Hawkins has lost five of his last seven games. Mark Richt has lost five of his last 29 games.
The last time Coach Hawkins brought a team to the Classic City, the result was a 48-13 Georgia win.
To be continued. . . .