No matter how much time you spend looking at the running and passing games, there always are fine details that otherwise might slip through the cracks, but for a concerted effort to include such odds and ends.
For the sake of providing not just a smidgen of insight or a tidbit of data but, instead, Too Much Information, I offer the following for your edification:
- Both Sugar Bowl contestants lead their respective leagues in sacks, with the Warriors having taken down opposing quarterbacks 38 times for 246 yards to the Bulldogs' 34 tackles for loss of other teams' signal-callers for 249 yards. Georgia, however, does a much better job of protecting its field general than Hawaii, as Red and Black Q.B.s have been sacked 15 times, as compared to the islanders' 27.
- The Warriors lead not only the W.A.C., but also the nation, in scoring offense with 46.2 points per game. However, although Hawaii scored at least 42 points in each of its first eight games, topping 50 points four times and 60 points twice, the Aloha State Adventurers have been held under 40 points in each of their last four outings, in which the islanders faced the teams ranked 21st (Boise State), 61st (Fresno State), 94th (Washington), and 97th (Nevada) in scoring defense. The 'Dawgs rank 27th in the country and third in the S.E.C. in that category, surrendering 21.0 points per contest. Only three teams have scored more than 20 points against the Red and Black in regulation play this autumn.
Yeah, all right, so 'Bama got to 23 in overtime, but we all know how that turned out, don't we?
- Not that anyone seems to have noticed, but the Bulldogs are no slouches in the scoring department, either. The Classic City Canines have put up 31.9 points per game, despite facing six of the nation's top 40 scoring defenses in Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. The Warriors are tied with the Gators for 40th in scoring defense, as Hawaii surrenders 24.2 points per game (second in the W.A.C.).
- We all know the islanders can move the ball. June Jones's charges convert nearly half of their third-down attempts (47.9%) and the Aloha State Adventurers have run their league's fewest third-down plays (140). The Warriors likewise have run the W.A.C.'s fewest fourth-down plays (18), but their 50 per cent conversion rate on fourth down ranks seventh in the conference. The 'Dawgs field one of the top three defenses in the S.E.C. on third down (34.0% conversion rate permitted) and on fourth down (31.2% conversion rate permitted). Four times this season, Georgia has held on fourth down in the red zone.
- Brandon Coutu began the season by struggling, missing three of his first ten field goal attempts and connecting on just two of his five three-point tries of 45 yards or longer. Now, however, the Georgia kicker is on a tear, as he has hit eight of his last nine attempts, including six in a row over the course of the last four contests, and Coutu has nailed three straight from 45 yards or farther away. Hawaii's Dan Kelly, on the other hand, has missed three of his last nine field goal tries, has split the uprights on one attempt of more than 45 yards in the Warriors' last six outings, and hasn't made a three-point kick of any kind since November 16.
- Is Colt Brennan a system quarterback? The Hawaii starter has completed 71.4 per cent of his passes and has a passer efficiency rating of 166.32. His understudy, backup Tyler Graunke, has completed 65.3 per cent of his passes and has an efficiency rating of 159.68. Third-stringer Inoke Funaki has completed 66.7 per cent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 208.83. Naaaaaaaaah, it couldn't be the system, could it?
Similar stigmas followed Colt's great-uncles, system sidekick Walter Brennan and system Supreme Court justice William Brennan.
- A high-scoring game is anticipated, which makes this statistic especially pertinent: both teams excel at returning kickoffs. The Bulldogs rank second in the S.E.C. (22.6 yards per return) and the Warriors rank third in the W.A.C. (24.2 yards per return). The islanders have brought back three kickoffs for touchdowns this season, which is an ominous sign for a Red and Black squad that ranks ninth in the conference in kickoff coverage (40.6 return yards permitted). Fortunately, there is a precedent for a Mark Richt-coached team pulling a special teams surprise in the postseason.
- Remember how I told you Colt Brennan wasn't a threat to run the ball? Here's proof: Hawaii's leading rusher, Kealoha Pilares, averages 5.9 yards per carry, whereas the Warriors' Heisman Trophy finalist averages 5.9 rushing yards per game. When Brennan does run, though, he makes it count, as half of Hawaii's 16 rushing touchdowns have been scored with the islanders' signal-caller as the ballcarrier.
- Obviously, it is in the Bulldogs' best interests to force Hawaii to punt the ball as often as possible, but this is so for reasons quite independent of the Red and Black's need to prevent the Warriors from scoring. The 'Dawgs rank third in the S.E.C. in punt returns (11.8 yards per return) and they will be going up against a U.H. squad that allows the longest average punt return in the W.A.C. (7.8 yards per return permitted).
- Hawaii leads its league in red zone defense, but 24 of the 29 scores the Warriors have surrendered deep in their own territory have been touchdowns, with 15 of those being rushing T.D.s. The Bulldogs rank second in the Southeastern Conference in red zone offense and 33 of Georgia's 43 scores from inside the 20 yard line have been touchdowns, with 22 of those coming on running plays.
Run the dang ball!
- The Warriors' first dozen games this season have been played in Aloha Stadium (capacity: 50,000), Idaho's Kibbie Dome (16,000), Louisiana Tech's Joe Aillet Stadium (30,600), Nevada's Mackay Stadium (31,900), San Jose State's Spartan Stadium (30,456), and U.N.L.V.'s Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800). Over the course of the 2007 campaign, the 'Dawgs have played a total of nine games in three of the seven largest on-campus stadiums in the N.C.A.A.: Sanford Stadium (92,746), Neyland Stadium (102,038), and Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,138). The Classic City Canines will be making their ninth appearance overall, and their third in a six-year span, in the Sugar Bowl. Is it worth wondering whether the Warriors might be just a little intimidated by the Superdome?
- In fourth-down situations, Evil Richt should roll the dice and Georgia should go for it. The 'Dawgs boast a healthy 63.6 per cent conversion rate on fourth down (third in the S.E.C.), whereas the Warriors rank seventh out of nine teams in the W.A.C. when it comes to stopping the opposition on fourth down. No team in the Western Athletic Conference has faced more fourth-down tries (29) or allowed more fourth-down conversions (17) than Hawaii.
- The Warriors have given up 21.6 points per game in the Pacific and 27.8 points per game on the mainland.
- The Bulldogs are 10-0 in games in which Georgia scores more than 14 points.