Third and Wrong: Why Fans Should Maintain Perspective Regarding the Georgia Bulldogs' Third-Down Conversion Rate Under Todd Grantham

Quinton McDawg expressed what all of us were thinking when he wrote:

A bigger problem Saturday night was the way our third down defense allowed all those conversions. Generally, the defense performed well on first and second downs. That set up several third and longs, the goal of every defensive coordinator. We just couldn't take advantage of those third and longs. UK converted nine third downs. All but one were third and more than five yards to go. Three were third and really long (10, 12, and 15). We just can't keep that up. So, either our coverage skills have to improve or we have to get better pressure on third downs.

That’s a fair criticism (although it’s one of the few fair criticisms of Todd Grantham’s defense), but one point bears making: Kentucky converted nine of 15 third downs on Saturday night, yet the Wildcats converted four of five third downs on their second drive, which ended in a field goal.

Following a drive that was a win for the Bulldogs because it produced three points for the home team instead of seven, Kentucky converted five of ten third downs the rest of the way. Obviously, that’s a better conversion rate than we want the Red and Black to allow, but do you know how Georgia did on third down on Saturday night?

The Bulldogs converted five of ten third downs in Lexington, matching exactly the Wildcats’ performance after their first-quarter field goal drive.

After taking a 14-3 lead on the road against a conference opponent with a penchant for second-half comebacks, Georgia answered blow for blow with an explosive offense, even though Kentucky relied primarily on the pass and the Bulldogs concentrated mostly on the run.

It was far from perfect, but it was strategically sound, it was plenty good enough, and it is getting better.

A couple of years from now, we’re going to look back on that Colorado game the way Alabama fans look back on that Louisiana-Monroe game. Coach Grantham may be well on his way to staking out a position as Georgia’s finest non-bald defensive coordinator.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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