The flourishing of advanced statistical analysis in sports, and college football specifically, has given us a whole new way of understanding the game. But not everyone had the skill or inclination to break down advanced statistics. I’m more of a basic arithmetic man myself.
So I thought it might be worthwhile for those of us who didn’t take all the algebra and are triggered by trigonometry to review some statistics literally anyone can understand. A simple guide to the numbers that even I see could be important for Georgia’s upcoming trip to the Bluegrass State.
36. This is the anticipated temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff in Lexington on Saturday, with lows that night going down into the mid teens. It will likely be the coldest Georgia Bulldog game in recent memory. How that will affect the teams is anyone’s guess. But the mental aspect of that kind of cold is something that absolutely affects players, especially if they get in a situation where they don’t have a lot to play for. I think that means that if the Wildcats fall behind it’s going to be a psychological battle for them to stay engaged in this one.
264. The number of rushing yards surrendered by the Wildcats in a stupefying 24-21 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday. It was a bizarre number for a Kentucky team that came in with the 5th best run defense in the conference, surrendering only 135 yards per game on the ground.
104. The number of those rushing yards that came on two plays: a 45 yard touchdown run by Commodore tailback Ray Davis and a 59 yard scoring scamper by quarterback Mike Wright. Back those two out of the equation and the Fightin’ Stoopses only gave up 160 rushing yards on 42 attempts (3.80 per rush), which would have actually been below their season average of 4.14 yards per rush surrendered.
I’m not saying Georgia won’t or can’t run the ball on Kentucky. But I am saying this Bluegrass defense isn’t as bad against the ground attack as Bulldog fans who only watched one game would believe. I am also saying that if you enjoy watching Stetson Bennett take off and shake his hips like Elvis at a 1950s VFW Hall on the way to the endzone, you may well get the Mailman content you crave this weekend.
-5. Georgia’s turnover margin in its last three games, lopsided and/or definitive wins over Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi State. There are two ways to look at this number. One is the way in which we Munsonian Bulldog fans have traditionally seen this sort of thing, as a harbinger of doom. The thinking goes that at some point we are going to run into a team that can make us pay for those turnovers. Personally I think Ohio State, with a solid defense and a diverse offense fits the bill here.
But the other way of looking at it is that Georgia has had some truly fluky turnovers, and that if that trend reverses they may actually hang a hundred on somebody. The interception last week that fell into a defensive lineman’s arms as Sedric Van Pran-Granger was blocking him was not something you can really gameplan. And a couple of Bennett’s interceptions were simply beautiful plays by opposing defenders. It’s a small sample size, but Georgia also hasn’t had great luck in the fumble bouncing department in that stretch: they’ve fumbled four times and lost three of them, whereas they’ve forced two fumbles and only recovered one of those. Put another way, the random bounces have gone against the Dawgs 66.67% of the time when 50% is the long term expectation. There’s every reason the believe that if Georgia is +2 in the turnover column this game could not only be a solid win, but actually get out of hand. The turnovers may be the only thing stopping them from total domination. Until later…