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Tennessee Vols Vs. Georgia Bulldogs: Game Preview And Statistical Comparison

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A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons.

CAVEATS: You know the drill. Also, this: all of the following information is gleaned exclusively from the NCAA statistics and does not account for things like injuries, shared playing time, and other stuff difficult to see in the stats from a bird's eye view. As always, this is a long post, so I've put the conclusions and predictions before and after the meat. You're not seeing double.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • To date, Georgia has been suffering from periodic bouts with red zone allergies. They've not only had trouble getting TDs once in the red zone, they've turned the ball over in there at key times with alarming frequency. Three of their four losses were impacted greatly by a single poor play.
  • On offense, the Bulldogs haven't been great -- mostly middle-of-the-pack. They're best in passing efficiency, worst in sacks allowed.
  • Georgia's a bit better on defense, but they're still far from dominating. Total defense is a strength, but pass efficiency defense is a liability.
  • The wheels have not yet fallen off the special teams wagon, and Tennessee would do well to pretend that both Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin are Patrick Peterson and do to them what they did to him last weekend. In other words, get there early and tackle the Brandeons.
  • All of the statistical analysis in this post is based on Georgia playing nearly 18 of 20 quarters without stellar wide receiver A.J. Green. He made a real difference last week in the first half before cramping up and realizing he wasn't in game shape. Expect that to change this week.

Predictions

  • Georgia 24, Tennessee 21.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

 

Georgia Logo
Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 9/4/10 win 55 - 7 coverage
@ South Carolina Gamecocks 9/11/10 loss 6 - 17 coverage
Arkansas Razorbacks 9/18/10 loss 24 - 31 coverage
@ Mississippi St. Bulldogs 9/25/10 loss 12 - 24 coverage
@ Colorado Buffaloes 10/2/10 loss 27 - 29 coverage

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

About what you'd expect against the Fighting Notary Publics. Solid defense, including three forced turnovers, and an ability to capitalize on opportunities presented by short fields. Moving on.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

This is where things began to fall apart for the Bulldogs. For the most part, South Carolina moved the ball pretty well on them. Georgia returned the favor, but only in spurts, and couldn't get into the end zone when it had opportunities. That fumble on the one yard line may have been the turning point of the season, as young as it was.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

This is better, actually. Arkansas has a powerful offense that can really move the ball. And Georgia had three scoring drives that ended in touchdowns. Much like the goal line fumble against the Gamecocks the prior week, though, there was one fateful drive that doomed the game, and here, it was Arkansas' 73-yard touchdown drive on its last possession when a defensive stop would have forced overtime.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Hmm. Lots of weird here. Another goal line fumble. Another fumble two drives later. An inability to get into the end zone when they get close (except for what appears to be a meaningless last drive). A surprising tendency to let the opponent both move the ball and get into the end zone. This one appears to be more than just a single play that doomed the game. It was a couple of doomers mixed in with a bunch of futility on both sides of the ball.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

 

Hmm again. Better in the red zone, but still tossed an interception in there. Allowed four TDs to Colorado, not one of the FBS's best offenses. And yet another Ball of Doom: a fumble on what could have been the game-winning drive, while in field goal range to boot.

National Unit Rankings

Now on to the national rankings.

 

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 76 137.00 Air Force 373.60 10 Auburn 269.00
Passing Offense 57 226.60 Hawaii 430.80 4 Arkansas 365.00
Total Offense 73 363.60 Oregon 569.20 8 Auburn 475.40
Scoring Offense 79 24.80 Oregon 56.60 10 Alabama 37.80
Passing Efficiency 29 146.67 Auburn 188.82 6 Auburn 188.82
Sacks Allowed 87 2.40 Michigan .20 9 Kentucky .40

 

Offensive observations. Well, passing efficiency is decent. Other than that, though, they're middle-of-the-pack or worse in every offensive category, ranging from 57th in passing yards to 87th in sacks allowed. Hey, maybe we'll see more pressure from our defensive line this week!

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 45 131.40 Kent St. 59.00 8 LSU 79.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 100 144.19 Nebraska 74.65 12 Alabama 90.72
Total Defense 39 324.40 Boise St. 223.50 7 LSU 246.60
Scoring Defense 48 21.60 Alabama 9.00 8 Alabama 9.00
Pass Defense 53 193.00 Navy 95.25 8 Kentucky 141.80
Sacks 55 2.00 Florida St. 5.00 8 Arkansas 3.75
Tackles For Loss 49 6.40 Miami (FL) 10.50 9 Auburn 8.60

 

Defensive observations. Better, but still not great. They're 39th in total defense, and hovering just in front of the middle-of-the-pack in most other defensive categories with the exception of passing efficiency, in which they rank in the triple digits.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting 22 39.14 Pittsburgh 44.75 3 Florida 43.00
Punt Returns 29 11.70 Maryland 27.67 4 Mississippi 21.40
Kickoff Returns 33 24.13 Arizona 33.50 5 Florida 28.13
Turnover Margin 68 -.20 Oregon 2.20 7 Alabama 1.40

 

Special teams and turnovers observations. Very good punting and returning of both punts and kicks. Not good in turnover margin, and what's not shown there is the timing of those turnovers, which, if such things were ranked, would have to be last in the nation.

Statistical Comparison

Here's how the teams looked when the RTT BlogPoll Computery Thing chewed them up and spit them out.

Rank Team WL SOS PED RD 3DO TD PEO OPPG TO 3DD BlogPoll
76 Tennessee Logo 80 4 27 75 117 78 88 70 87 54 -26.27
86 Georgia Logo 94 11 100 45 53 39 29 48 73 89 -37.33

 

That's interesting because the categories are listed in order of what we believe to be correlation to winning. So Tennessee's "better" (although not by much in two of the three) in the three most-important categories, but Georgia's then "better" in the next six categories. I'd bet that if we took wins and losses out of the equation, the Bulldogs would have a fairly significant advantage on the stats alone.

Players to watch for

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Washaun Ealey 53.25
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Aaron Murray 31 146.06
Total Offense Aaron Murray 47 236.20
Receptions Per Game Kris Durham 3.40
Tavarres King 2.50
Receiving Yards Per Game Kris Durham 68 64.80
Tavarres King 52.25
Scoring Blair Walsh T-59 8.00
DEFENSE
Interceptions Marcus Dowtin .25
Sanders Commings .20
Brandon Boykin .20
Jakar Hamilton .20
Darryl Gamble .20
Sacks Justin Houston T-36 .80
Akeem Dent .40
Tackles Akeem Dent T-75 8.40
Bacarri Rambo 7.00
Tackles For Loss Justin Houston T-31 1.50
Akeem Dent .80
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Drew Butler 19 44.55
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Branden Smith 12 15.17
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Brandon Boykin 31 27.17
Field Goals Blair Walsh T-10 1.80
All-Purpose Runners Brandon Boykin 65.20


Observations

Offense.

Quarterback. Aaron Murray is not a bad quarterback. He's got the 31st best efficiency rating in the nation. Total offense is still average, but by definition that's not bad.

Receivers. Most of these stats were compiled before the return of fantastic wide receiver A.J. Green, so take this for what it's worth, but Kris Durham was Murray's #1 receiver in Green's absence with 3.4 catches and nearly 65 yards per game. The second option was Tavarres King with 2.5 catches and 52 yards per game. Last week, Green had seven catches for 119 yards and two TDs, but spent much of the second half on the sidelines catching his breath and fighting off cramps. Green also gained 40 yards on a reverse. So watch out for him.

Running backs. Washaun Ealey is averaging only 53 yards per game. Not sure at all what's up with that.

Defense. The only players who rank nationally on defense are LB Justin Houston (31st in tackles for loss and 36th in sacks) and LB Akeen Dent (75th in tackles). What few interceptions they have, though, have come from all over the place: three from DBs and two from LBs. Surprisingly not much to see here.

Special teams. Sophomore DB Branden Smith is 12th in the nation in punt returns with an average of 15.17 yards, and junior DB Brandon Boykin is 31st in kickoff returns with an average of 27.17. Blair Walsh is tied for 10th in field goals, and Drew Butler is a fantastic punter. All in all, the Bulldogs are still pretty solid on special teams.

Head to Head Comparisons

How'd we do with the head-to-head comparisons last week? Not good, but in a good way. ;-)

  Prediction Result Grade
UT rush 25 96 FAIL
UT pass 170 121 EH
LSU rush 180 219 EH
LSU pass 100 215 FAIL
UT score 13 14 WIN
LSU score 31 16 FAIL

So let's see if we're any more accurate this week:

  Tennessee Logo Georgia Logo
Best Comparable(s)
Result Against Best Comparable
Prediction
UT rush v. Georgia rush defense 136
(#78)
131
(#45)
UAB
(132)
(#47)
42 120
UT pass v. Georgia pass defense 196
(#78)
193
(#53)
Oregon
(205)
(#60)
151 180
Georgia rush v. UT rush defense 157
(#75)
137
(#76)
Florida
(153)
(#65)
150 140
Georgia pass v. UT pass defense 220
(#73)
227
(#57)
Oregon
(238)
(#42)
202 200
UT scoring offense v. Georgia scoring defense 25
(#76)
22
(#48)
Florida
(18)
(#26)
17 21
Georgia scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 25
(#70)
25
(#79)
UAB/LSU
(25.25/24.40)
(#74/#83)
29/16 24

 

As always, these are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations. The general analytical framework is this: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game.

This week's example: Tennessee is averaging 136 yards on the ground (which I still find remarkable for some reason). Georgia is giving up 131 yards on the ground, which is extraordinarily close to what UAB is doing. (Hahahahah . . . wait. Never mind.) Against UAB, the Vols managed 42 yards on the ground. Sheesh. So . . . we should expect 42 rushing yards against the Bulldogs, right? No. Tauren Poole wasn't available much for UAB, and with him against LSU, a team that is much better at stopping the run than either Georgia or UAB (6th in the nation with 79 yards), Tennessee rushed for 96 yards (a figure that includes -32 yards due to sacks). So . . . if Tennessee can get 96 against LSU, perhaps it can get 120 against Georgia. See? Not math.

Overall, I'm guessing Georgia will still outgain Tennessee, but not by much. If each team does what they've been doing on both scoring offense and defense through four games, the final score is going to be very close. I'm guessing, though, that Georgia will have most of its untimely turnovers out of its system by this Saturday and that having A.J. Green back for an entire game is going to make the difference.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • To date, Georgia has been suffering from periodic bouts with red zone allergies. They've not only had trouble getting TDs once in the red zone, they've turned the ball over in there at key times with alarming frequency. Three of their four losses were impacted greatly by a single poor play.
  • On offense, the Bulldogs haven't been great -- mostly middle-of-the-pack. They're best in passing efficiency, worst in sacks allowed.
  • Georgia's a bit better on defense, but they're still far from dominating. Total defense is a strength, but pass efficiency defense is a liability.
  • The wheels have not yet fallen off the special teams wagon, and Tennessee would do well to pretend that both Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin are Patrick Peterson and do to them what they did to him last weekend. In other words, get there early and tackle the Brandeons.
  • All of the statistical analysis in this post is based on Georgia playing nearly 18 of 20 quarters without stellar wide receiver A.J. Green. He made a real difference last week in the first half before cramping up and realizing he wasn't in game shape. Expect that to change this week.

Predictions

  • Georgia 24, Tennessee 21.