In Defense of the Green Notebook

Georgia's offense has been maddening over the last few years, hasn't it? Think of all the stalled drives, all of the predictable play calls -- first and bomb, anyone? -- and the lack of any cogent identity. We're calling play action passes on obvious passing downs without even establishing the run. We're running microback Carlton Thomas right up the middle into a loaded box. Don't even get me started on all the Wild Dawg nonsense. The only thing left to do is let Mark Richt take back the playcalling duties until we can hire a new OC, right?

Not so fast, my friend. No one is going to argue that Coach Bobo is one of the best offensive minds working right now, but he has shown flashes, right? Remember running the state against Georgia Tech in '09? What about battling back in the 2nd half against Florida last year? What about Joe Cox doing his best Matthew Stafford impression against Arkansas, tossing 5 TDs and rolling up 375 yards?

Not many people complained about Coach Richt's offenses until 2006, when he handed over the reigns. Coach Richt has repeatedly stated that he has faith in Coach Bobo. Is it justified? Let's look at the numbers:

Year Points/Game Avg. Play Yards/Point Off Rank Def Rank Wins
2010 32.1 6.1 12 23 50 6
2009 28.9 5.9 12.5 58 70 8
2008 31.5 6.7 13.5 29 64 10
2007 32.6 5.6 11.5 38 28 11
2006 N/A - Richt and Bobo Split Duties
2005 29.5 6.2 13.2 46 4 10
2004 27.9 5.9 14.5 47 13 10
2003 26.5 5.2 14.4 69 2 11
2002 32.1 5.5 12 22 4 13
2001 27.6 6.02 15.6 48 16 8
Bobo 31.275 6.075 12.375 37 53 8.75
Richt 28.72 5.764 13.94 46.4 7.8 10.4

Statistically, Coach Bobo has been a better playcaller and OC than Coach Richt was. It's shocking, I know, but the numbers don't lie: Coach Bobo has higher average points per game than Coach Richt did. His average play goes for more yards. Phil Steele's Yards Per Point statistic, which measures the efficiency of the offense, shows that Coach Bobo's offenses are approximately 11% more efficient at scoring points than Coach Richt's were. (Are you starting to remember all that punting before '06 and all of Billy Bennett's field goals?) On average, Coach Bobo's offenses have been more highly ranked nationally. Coach Bobo's best year (2007) was better than Coach Richt's (2002). Coach Bobo's worst year (2009) was better than three of Coach Richt's five years (2001, 2003, 2004).

Unfortunately, Coach Bobo's tenure as OC has been worse than Coach Richt's in the most meaningful statistic, wins. But why is that? Take a look at the defenses each dealt with: Coach Richt benefitted from defenses that were no worse than 16th nationally (with three years of top 5 defenses). Coach Bobo has never had a defense better than 28th nationally, and, more often than not, he was trying to overcome defenses that were in the bottom half nationwide. We've generally scored points in bunches, but, unfortunately, over the last half decade our opponents have been scoring even more.

I don't care about your stats. I know what I see on the field, and our offense is just too predictable! Unpredictability is not the end all be all of football. Execution is. Besides, whether he's predictable or not, he's putting up points.

But, c'mon, this isn't fair comparison. Coach Bobo was working with Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and AJ Green! Who wouldn't be successful with those guys? Let's not pretend that Coach Richt was working with scrubs. He had David Greene and DJ Shockley at QB. He had Musa Smith and Thomas Brown at tailback. He had Terrence Edwards, Reggie Brown, Fred Gibson, and Leonard Pope hauling in passes. Talent has never been the problem at Georgia.

Coach Bobo's stats are padded against easier schedules! I'm not sure that's totally accurate. Coach Richt got the benefit of a few patsies in his time. But, even if you restrict the numbers to SEC competition, Coach Bobo still averages more points per game (28.4) than Coach Richt did (27.0). Don't forget that Coach Bobo was doing this during the SEC's historic run of five straight mythical national championships.

But Coach Bobo's offenses have been maddeningly inconsistent! There's actually some truth to this, but not as much as you think. I'm not really a math guy, but Wikipedia tells me that standard deviation is a pretty good measure of variability. The standard deviation of Coach Richt's points per game was about 12.51, while Bobo's was about 13.71. However, if we restrict the sample size to SEC foes so that we're only counting common competition, Coach Richt's standard deviation rises to 12.60, and Coach Bobo's falls to 12.97. That is, Coach Richt was actually more inconsistent against SEC foes, where it counts the most, whereas Coach Bobo actually became more consistent against them... while still generally scoring more points.

Coach Bobo's offenses fell apart when it matters the most, in the fourth quarter! This was really a problem with the strength and conditioning program, which we've hopefully fixed.

Coach Bobo will never be a great OC until he's up in the booth. Coach Richt did OK from the sidelines. There are plenty of other examples of successful offensive coordinators on the sidelines: Mike Martz, Charlie Weis, and Tom Moore all stalk the sidelines, the former two winning Super Bowls doing so. It seems to be a matter of personal preference that's not directly correlated to success.

This is just a product of the offensive explosion over the last few years. If that's true, Coach Bobo's statistics are even more impressive. His offenses have been more highly ranked nationally, which means that he's been doing better against more potent competition. Besides, Coach Richt and Coach Bobo run essentially the same system; Coach Bobo apparently runs it better.

Coach Bobo is a pretty good offensive coordinator. Could we hire someone better? Sure, but we would also run the risk of hiring someone worse. We don't give him the benefit of the doubt because the Dawgs just haven't been winning games lately. But that's more a result of defensive failings and problems in our S&C program, both of which have hopefully been fixed. If they are fixed, I bet we'll be hearing a lot fewer criticisms of Coach Bobo at the end of the year, even if he doesn't change a thing.

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