With the Tennessee game fast approaching, it is time for my weekly rundown of statistics, minutiae, and assorted odds and ends. Because you’re already being provided with actual (and excellent) analysis by the likes of, say, Doug Gillett, I’m not going to waste your time by duplicating what you’re already getting elsewhere; instead, I’m going to run through a few of the fine points in the course of giving you not a dash of detail or a dollop of data, but instead . . . Too Much Information.
- Defensively, the ‘Dawgs play equally well before and after intermission. Over the course of the season so far, the Red and Black have surrendered 48 points in the first half and 48 points in the second half. The Volunteer offense has scored more points in each quarter than in the quarter before, but the Big Orange still rank tenth in the league in scoring offense. The team ranked ninth just fired its offensive coordinator.
- Georgia has lost back-to-back home games only once in the Mark Richt era.
- The Bulldog offense averages an S.E.C.-best 6.8 yards per snap. The Volunteer defense allows a league-low 3.9 yards per play.
How well is Tennessee’s defense playing? Gains by the opposing team are measured using one of these.
- 2008 is the fourth season in Bulldog football history in which the Red and Black have played both Georgia Southern and Tennessee. In the three previous campaigns in which the Classic City Canines crossed paths with both the Eagles and the Vols, the ‘Dawgs were 0-2 against the Big Orange in those seasons in which Georgia came into the Tennessee game undefeated but the Bulldogs were 1-0 against the Volunteers in the lone autumn in which Georgia came into the Tennessee game with one loss.
- The Vols have yet to allow an opponent to convert a fourth-down attempt against them, but they allow the other team to pick up the requisite yardage on third down 39.7 per cent of the time, marking the worst conversion percentage permitted by any S.E.C. defense outside of Fayetteville, Ark.
- This will be the seventh season in which Georgia plays a Tennessee team that had a losing record five games into the fall. On the previous six such occasions (1906, 1909, 1910, 1988, 1994, and 2000), the Bulldogs were 4-1-1 against the Volunteers.
The foregoing bullet points mark the only times I have ever made favorable references to the 2000 season. No, seriously. I’m not kidding.
The Feel Good Stat of the Week: Last year, Hamp Tanner asked me to investigate Phil Fulmer’s won-lost record following a U.T. open date and the results were as ugly as the game. Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Following a regular season bye week, the Bulldogs are 10-2 under Mark Richt, and, in those dozen contests, Georgia scored 30 or more points six times.
The Bottom Line: This year’s game represents a complete role reversal from last year’s game. In 2007, the Vols were playing at home after an idle Saturday and needed the win to put themselves back on track to finish first in the Eastern Division. Now, all of those cards (home field advantage, open date, sense of urgency) are in the Bulldogs’ hands.
This is not to say that there are not concerns. There is no underestimating the importance of the injuries to the Red and Black’s season so far or the impact of personnel issues upon our pass rush. There appear to be issues concerning leadership, as well.
However, the other side has problems, too. The Volunteers will be playing without a pair of suspended linemen. Tennessee’s season is teetering on the brink. The Big Orange’s star tailback insists upon speaking in pterodactyl.
A pterodactyl? That makes no sense. Everyone knows a triceratops would make a much better running back!
You want the bottom line on the bottom line? Tennessee’s biggest returnee is the latest in the long line of Fabulous Punting Colquitts. Georgia’s biggest returnee is fullback Brannan Southerland. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both of those players named the M.V.P. for their respective teams on Saturday.
By the way . . . I’ve been exchanging frantic e-mails all week with DAve Akins---yes, that DAve Akins---and I have good news: DAve finagled a ticket to tomorrow’s game. The Bulldogs are between the hedges and all’s right with the world.
My Prediction: Georgia 26, Tennessee 17.