As I promised, I am providing a statistical breakdown of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the eve of the Bulldogs' in-state showdown with the Ramblin' Wreck.
This analysis will be somewhat abbreviated, both because Paul Westerdawg already has given you a quantitative and qualitative review of the Golden Tornado and because, frankly, it's the Friday after Thanksgiving and family obligations prevented me from devoting myself wholeheartedly and singlemindedly to the task at hand.
I know it's late. I know you're weary. I know your plans don't include me. Still, here we are. . . .
Despite the fact that this will be a truncated overview, I still intend to do my level best not to provide you with a mere modicum of detail, or even with approximately the proportional share of data, but, instead, with . . . Too Much Information!
These two teams are fairly evenly matched. Georgia Tech holds a slight edge in total offense, tallying 336.6 yards per game to the Classic City Canines' 327.1, but Georgia is marginally better on each offensive snap, gaining 5.5 yards per play to the Yellow Jackets' 5.2.
Although the 'Dawgs have employed a stable of tailbacks for much of the season and the Ramblin' Wreck has relied upon 1,058-yard rusher Tashard Choice, the Peach State rivals have produced comparable numbers. The Golden Tornado's 165.9 yards per game on the ground rank the squad second in the A.C.C. in rushing offense, well ahead of the 136.5 yards per game generated by the Georgia running game.
However, the two teams' yards per carry are virtually identical---4.3 for the Yellow Jackets and 4.2 for the Bulldogs---and the Red and Black have scored more rushing touchdowns (19-14). Choice's yards per carry average (4.7) lags behind Kregg Lumpkin's (5.4).
I'm not pro-Choice, I'm pro-Lumpkin. (Photograph from Northern Sun.)
Georgia ranks ninth in the S.E.C. in aerial offense (190.6 passing yards per game) but the 'Dawgs are better than Georgia Tech, which is the A.C.C.'s 10th-best team through the air (170.7 passing yards per game). Despite his early struggles, Matthew Stafford has come on strong, particularly against Auburn, and he has tallied 1,449 yards per game through the air to complement his 188 rushing yards. The Yellow Jackets' Reggie Ball has thrown 20 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, but his 1,649 passing yards are not many more than Stafford has compiled and the Georgia freshman's completion percentage (53.4%) exceeds that of the Georgia Tech senior (47.4%).
Though there have been distinct problems with the Red and Black receiving corps, eight Bulldogs have caught at least a dozen passes and seven Georgia players have snagged a touchdown pass. The Ramblin' Wreck's offensive weapons are fewer in number but more proficient in production, as only two Yellow Jackets have more than seven catches . . . but, between them, Calvin Johnson and James Johnson have hauled in 92 passes for 1,405 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Although Georgia Tech ranks third in the A.C.C. in scoring offense and the Bulldogs rank just sixth in the S.E.C. in that same category, the Yellow Jackets have only a slight scoring advantage over the Red and Black, averaging 26.9 points per game to Georgia's 25.5.
Will the would-be game-tying drive end in an interception? Will he sustain a "concussion" by shoving a Georgia trainer out of bounds and be pulled from the game so he can be "treated" for his "injury" by being left standing on the sidelines waving a towel? Will he throw the ball out of bounds on fourth down? Will Reggie mess up in some completely new way?
Both teams' defenses allow an average of 4.5 yards per play, although the Old Gold and White surrender roughly 20 more total yards per outing (292.6) than the 'Dawgs (270.9). The Georgia D has surrendered more touchdowns (22) than the Yellow Jackets' defense (18), but the Bulldogs have picked off more passes (14) than has the Georgia Tech defense (13).
Each of tomorrow afternoon's combatants boasts a stingy run defense ranked third in the respective leagues. Georgia Tech allows 3.1 yards per carry and has surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns, while the Red and Black are giving up 3.3 yards per carry and have permitted a dozen T.D.s on the ground.
While the Ramblin' Wreck allows the lowest completion percentage of any defense in the A.C.C. (50.8%), Georgia Tech ranks just ninth in the A.C.C. in pass defense, surrendering 203.5 aerial yards per game. The Bulldogs' pass defense, ranked second in the S.E.C., allows just 160.1 yards per game through the air.
Once again, the two teams are roughly equal where the rubber meets the road: Georgia gives up 17.5 points per game and Georgia Tech surrenders 17.7 ticks on the scoreboard per outing.
Let's have a lot of this tomorrow.
Although Georgia ranks fifth in the S.E.C. in kickoff returns and Georgia Tech ranks 10th in the A.C.C. in that same category, the Bulldogs' average return is only slightly better (21.8 yards per return) than the Yellow Jackets' (19.8 yards per return). However, the Red and Black's average of 41.3 net yards per kickoff greatly exceeds the 34.7 net yards per kickoff tallied by the Old Gold and White, who rank last in their league in kickoff coverage.
The Golden Tornado leads its league in net yards per punt (41.0), but the Old Gold and White will be going up against a Bulldog squad ranked second in the S.E.C. in punt return average (16.4 yards per return). Georgia is the only team in the conference to have taken back a trio of punts for touchdowns.
Each team's field goal kicking has been erratic. Travis Bell, who hit five straight three-point tries to start the 2005 campaign, slumped to an 11-of-21 finish last year and he has continued to be unreliable in 2006, connecting on eight of 13 field goal attempts and going 5-of-10 from beyond 30 yards.
When Brandon Coutu was lost to injury, a Georgia strength became a Bulldog weakness. In the Red and Black's first three games, the 'Dawgs attempted seven field goals and split the uprights on each of them, including a pair of 46-yarders and one 55-yarder. In their last eight games, the Classic City Canines have gone 6-of-10 and have not attempted a successful field goal try of longer than 34 yards.
Where have you gone, Brandon Coutu? Bulldog Nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo. . . .
THE FEEL GOOD STAT OF THE WEEK
There have been just six previous seasons in which Georgia lost to Vanderbilt in the same autumn in which the Red and Black beat Auburn. That unlikely eventuality came to pass in 1903, 1912, 1923, 1926, 1973, and 1991 before being replicated in 2006.
In the previous six seasons in which the 'Dawgs beat the Plainsmen yet were beaten by the Commodores, Georgia was 5-0 against Georgia Tech.
My Prediction: Georgia 21, Georgia Tech 17.