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Whistling Past the Graveyard? Offense Isn’t Elite

Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Georgia is 5-0, #2 in the polls, and just dominated the #8 ranked team in route to a second straight shutout. And this all with backup QB play 2 of the last 3 games and missing key skill position players and a defensive veteran in the secondary. Well, I am wary of the offense. Sorry, gotta do it to you. Monken has improved the offense in most categories from points and yards to success rate metrics, but here are some areas of concern.

Last season through the Florida loss, Georgia’s offense had a 41% success rate. Much of the production was on third down. Once Daniels took over however the offense improved and produced a 46% success rate. This is good, but by no means great. Through 5 games, the Georgia offense has a 49% Success Rate. This is an encouraging sign, but still struggling with overall efficiency.

Here come some numbers. Overall efficiency uses EPA and success rate. (expected points added per play based on DOWN – DISTANCE – FIELD POSITION). Georgia is beginning to slide offensively in this metric. Adding up every offensive snap’s EPA gives you EPA. Here is where Georgia is on offense in Success Rate and Total EPA. If you want to see these numbers in real time, look at his video I did from the 2020 Alabama/Georgia game last season. Both drives scored TDs, but Bama was the much more efficient offense.

Remember that Alabama had question marks on defense when these teams met last year. They went on to end the year as one of the best defenses in the country paired with an elite offense that made the Tide unbeatable.

Explosiveness was one metric that kept UGA’s offense on the rails last year. Explosiveness is simply put as “how good are your good plays” and is average of successful plays’ EPA. UGA led the SEC in 2020, but is 13th in the league through 5 games. There has been a lot of analysis, including our own Graham Coffey, that the offensive line might be the issue that could hold back UGA from a national championship.

UGA’s Rush YPC has dropped each of the last three seasons with 5.0 YPC and Rush EPA is at a 3 year low at .145. 2020 Alabama and 2019 LSU may not be fair comps, but the Tide had a 5.5 YPC and .239 Rush EPA. 2019 LSU had 6.0 YPC and rush EPA of .257

Another area where the UGA offense shows its average output is Points Per Opportunity. Scoring opportunity is defined as a drive which moves past the opponents 40 yard line. Georgia is 8th in the SEC at 4.4 despite having the league’s second best average starting field position. Efficient offenses make the most of these opportunities and don’t settle for field goals. UGA’s offense is being set up for success by elite defensive play, but the offense is only average capitalizing on them.

I have certainly led the charge for Yards Per Play and Net Yards Per Play as being key indicators of a team’s overall strength. While UGA is near the top in this stat, a declining offense and what I believe is unsustainable defensive production makes those number regress to the mean quickly. The ‘Dawgs slipped from 7.0 to 6.5 yards per play offensively after the game on Saturday.

“Either you are elite, or you are not.”