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Alabama-Georgia Five Factors Review

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Saturday's biggest game gets a truncated review.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama-Georgia game was one lots of people circled before the season, and it's going to get a Five Factors review with a small data set. The game went into garbage time by the Football Outsiders definition of it when Brice Ramsey threw a pick six to Eddie Jackson early in the third quarter, so everything below only goes up until that point. Sacks count as passing plays, and I didn't take out anything before that pick six this time.

Explosiveness

Team Runs 10+ Pct. Passes 20+ Pct. Explosive Pct.
Alabama 1 4.8% 3 33.3% 13.3%
Georgia 2 10.0% 2 10.0% 10.0%

The one place that Georgia had a great game was in rushing defense. Derrick Henry's 30-yard touchdown was a defensive breakdown of sorts with middle linebacker Jake Ganus overpursuing, but Alabama's offensive line also blocked it beautifully. Bama's going to have some plays like that. Otherwise, the Tide labored for what they got.

Georgia's pass defense, on the other hand, was largely a disaster. So was its passing offense.

Efficiency

The main measure here is success rate.

Team Run SR Pass SR Overall SR
Alabama 28.6% 66.7% 40.0%
Georgia 40.0% 5.0% 22.5%

As I said, UGA's run defense was pretty great overall. But man, that 5% on passing offense is brutal. Only one pass play out of 20 captured in this sample was a success play, that being Malcolm Mitchell's 36-yard completion during UGA's one scoring drive in this set.

Team 1Q SR 2Q SR
Alabama 50.0% 40.0%
Georgia 33.3% 14.3%

I only get two quarters here since there were only four plays run in the third quarter before we hit garbage time. The first quarter wasn't good for UGA, but the Bulldogs were hanging in there. The wheels came off in the second.

Efficiency by Player

Player Comp. Pct. Pass Eff. Yards/Att Sacks Pass SR
Jake Coker 77.8% 261.9 17.6 0 66.7%
Greyson Lambert 41.2% 75.8 4.1 0 5.9%

I'm not even bothering with Ramsey since his two plays where he registered a stat in the non-garbage time portion of the game were a sack and an interception.

This was easily Coker's best game so far. All of the throws that would have sailed a bit or gone off target were right on in this one. I don't know that we'll see him this good in every game going forward—I'd imagine we won't, as no one has ever sustained these numbers over a long period—but he picked a great game to be at his best.

Lambert, meanwhile, looked like the guy who lost the starting job at Virginia. He didn't throw a pick, but he didn't throw that many completions either. Toss in the fumble where the ball slipped out of his hand mid-throw, and it was a awful day for him. Ramsey wasn't any better either. For the first time in a long while, Georgia just doesn't have a quarterback who can perform well against a good defense.

Player Targets Catches Yards Yards/Target SR
Calvin Ridley 4 4 115 28.8 100.0%
Richard Mullaney 2 2 42 21.0 100.0%
ArDarius Stewart 2 1 1 0.5 0.0%
Derrick Henry 1 0 0 0.0 0.0%

Gary Danielson mentioned during the game that the freshman Ridley has been getting the old Amari Cooper routes, and this was the first game where we really saw him begin to fulfill his potential in that role.

Player Targets Catches Yards Yards/Target SR
Malcolm Mitchell 7 2 45 6.4 14.3%
Terry Godwin 5 3 30 6.0 0.0%
Sony Michel 1 1 0 0.0 0.0%
Nick Chubb 1 1 -5 -5.0 0.0%
Glenn Welch 1 0 0 0.0 0.0%

Not only does Georgia not have a really great quarterback, it doesn't have a really great receiver either outside of Mitchell. If a great defense bottles up Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, there's not really anything there to make that defense pay.

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Derrick Henry 15 5.3 20.0%
Kenyan Drake 5 1.8 40.0%
Jake Coker 1 2.0 100.0%

Henry had a nice average, but he wasn't all that efficient. Drake's story is the opposite. Again, UGA did well at stopping the run.

Player Carries YPC Rushing SR
Nick Chubb 10 3.9 40.0%
Sony Michel 6 4.3 50.0%
Greyson Lambert 4 2.5 25.0%

Success rate says the Georgia run game fared better than the yards per carry rates would suggest. The Bulldogs couldn't lean on the run as much as they probably would have liked to thanks to falling into a hole, though. Lambert's four runs are a further indictment of the pass game. None were designed runs, and he wasn't flushed from the pocket immediately. No one was open, so he had to scramble. You don't want Lambert scrambling., as it goes without saying that he's not quite as magical with his feet as Johnny Manziel was.

Field Position

Team Avg. Starting Position Plays in Opp. Territory Pct. Of Total
Alabama Own 28 8 26.7%
Georgia Own 27 12 30.0%

Bama didn't run that many plays in UGA territory thanks to two of its scores being long plays and two more being non-offensive touchdowns. This wasn't much of an issue overall.

Finishing Drives

A trip inside the 40 is a drive with a first down at the 40 or closer or with a scoring play from beyond the 40. A trip inside the red zone is a drive with a first down at the 20 or closer.

Team Drives Trips Inside 40 Points Red Zone Trips Points
Alabama 8 3 17 1 3
Georgia 10 1 3 1 3

This isn't a terrible story for the Georgia defense. It had two bad breakdowns with the Henry 30-yard TD run and Ridley's 45-yard TD catch, but on Bama's other six possessions, it largely held.

This is, however, a terrible story for the Georgia offense. This table doesn't even cover the team's second possession, which started on the Bama 42 after a fumble but ended up a three-and-out with a punt from the 39. Nor does it display the subsequent drive, which began after a bad Tide punt set the Bulldogs up at their own 43. It also was a three-and-out punt. When Alabama offers you good field position, you have to take advantage. Georgia didn't.

Turnovers

Alabama had a lost fumble, and UGA had the pick-six. A punt block doesn't count as a turnover, but they functionally serve the same purpose. Alabama got one of those too.

Overall

If Georgia's offense had a prayer at a functional passing game in this one, we might get the narrative that came out of the Alabama-Ole Miss game in reverse. The Rebels got a bunch of big plays to go in their favor, and Alabama still nearly won. This time, Bama got a bunch of big plays to go in its favor. None were as lucky as the Quincy Adeboyejo tipped touchdown, but none of the other big plays Ole Miss had were that lucky either. The putrid Georgia offense just couldn't move the ball enough to build the other half of that narrative, and UGA just looked outclassed.

The warning signs were there. Georgia's early non-conference opponents were awful, and South Carolina's not looking too good either. The best thing UGA had run into up to this point was the Vanderbilt defense, and you don't even need advanced stats beyond the box score to see how mediocre that performance was for the Bulldogs outside of Chubb. Two non-offensive touchdowns hid the fact that the game easily could have ended 17-14 in a slightly altered universe. Following that kind of result, there's no way UGA would have been the betting favorite against the Tide.

Georgia just seems to be out of sync with itself since winning the conference in 2005.  Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and A.J. Green made the offense great, but that coincided with a great defensive decline. Then came the Aaron Murray era, which was great and had an improving defense but only had 2012 as a pinnacle year thanks to 2013's injury plague. The defense seems to be in good hands with Jeremy Pruitt, but as he works on it the best he can—the secondary is a bit young, and it showed on Saturday—the offense suddenly is out of playmakers at quarterback and receiver. UGA has had the whole package together at once twice in the last decade, in 2007 and 2012.

Alabama has had the whole package together at once continuously since 2008, and it let the country know that it's still the master of conventional football. If you're running something that wouldn't have looked too exotic 15 years ago, Alabama's defense will shut you down. This game might tell us that Bama will be ready when LSU and Arkansas come up on the slate, but it says less about the future matchup with Texas A&M. With Auburn and Mississippi State clearly rebuilding though, the Aggies might be the only thing standing between the Tide and 11-1. Standing between the Tide and Atlanta, for now though, is still the lost tiebreaker to Ole Miss.