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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Return Engagements

I think everyone has come to terms with the fact that Georgia isn't returning a lot of experienced players at the offensive skill positions. But I started wondering where exactly the Bulldogs stacked up against the rest of the SEC, so I decided to do a little research into what each team was bringing back for 2009.

First, let's look at the starting quarterbacks around the SEC, something I already did a few weeks ago, but will post again here. (NOTE: I used the projected 2009 starter in each case, unless there was no clear leader, in which case I used the QB with the highest number of career attempts.)

Team
QB
Career Att.
Career TD
Florida T. Tebow
681 67
Ole Miss
J. Snead
376 28
Vanderbilt M. Adams
368 14
Kentucky M. Hartline
317 9
Miss. St.
T. Lee
260 7
Tennessee J. Crompton
245 9
Auburn K. Burns
205 4
Arkansas R. Mallett
141 7
S. Carolina
S. Garcia
122 6
LSU J. Jefferson 73 4
Georgia J. Cox
58 5
Alabama G. McElroy
20 2

Next, let's look at the rushing stats for each team...

Team 08 Rush Rank
08 Rush Yds
Return Rush Yds
% Return
Arkansas 97 1362 1362 100.0
Miss. St.
105 1207 1192 98.8
Ole Miss
28 2424 2331 96.2
LSU 43 2168 2011 92.8
Auburn 69 1650 1317 79.8
Florida 10 3235 2414 74.6
Kentucky 81 1651 1204 72.9
Vanderbilt
73 1737 940 54.1
Alabama 30 2585 1208 46.7
S. Carolina
112 1223 499 40.8
Tennessee 88 1475 500 33.9
Georgia 56 1928 479 24.8

And finally, the receivers...

Team
08 Rec Rank
08 Rec Yds
Return Rec Yds
% Return
LSU 71 2617 2580 98.6
Arkansas 23 3115 2999 96.3
Alabama 97 2396 2098 87.6
Kentucky 96 2234 1880 84.2
Ole Miss
53 2875 2091 72.7
Miss. St.
94 2092 1354 64.7
Auburn 99 1985 1212 61.1
Tennessee 107 1750 1066 60.9
Florida 61 2995 1596 53.3
Georgia 16 3610 1775 49.2
S. Carolina
50 2892 1370 47.4
Vanderbilt 112 1587 725 45.7

Obviously these numbers have three distinct flaws when projecting out toward next year. For one, they don't take into account a team's offensive line, which obviously undervalues Georgia while overvaluing, say, Ole Miss. They don't account for defense and special teams either. Of course, those stats would only make Florida look better, so we might be better off not mentioning them. And finally, these numbers assume the players a team lost last year were better than the replacements those teams will have this year. In the case of Knowshon Moreno, that's probably true, but it's certainly not in every case.

So what do we learn from all this?

Well, first, we learn that I am incapable of making two tables in HTML that look alike. But there are plenty of other, more important findings...

-- Yes, Florida is going to be very, very good next year, but these stats tell me that the Gators are going to miss Percy Harvin more than people seem to be talking about. He is really the only major loss Florida has from last year's offense, but he was responsible for a pretty hefty chunk of both the Gators' running and passing attack.

-- My sleeper pick for this season was already Arkansas, but looking at these numbers, it's a safe wager that the Hogs could have a very dangerous offense in 2009. Now, that defense could be another story altogether.

-- Looking at the numbers for LSU -- which already had a decent offense last year -- I might argue that now one player in the SEC has a more critical job than Jordan Jefferson in 2009. If he's as good as he looked in the bowl game, that could be a really good team (maybe nat'l championship level good), but if he's not, there might be a lot of wasted talent.

-- The SEC West overall looks a lot better than the East in terms of returning offensive talent. On the ground, the top five teams in terms of returning rushing yards are all in the West and through the air, six of the top seven are out West. In all, the SEC West returns 82 percent of its receiving yards (compared to 50 percent for the East) and 83 percent of its rushing yards (compared to 54 percent in the East). And when it comes to that bevy of inexperienced QBs, don't you feel a lot better about Ryan Mallett, Jordan Jefferson and Greg McElroy than Mike Hartline, Stephen Garcia and Johnathan Crompton?

-- If you're looking at which of the new head coaches might have the most to work with in Year 1, it might well be Dan Mullen. I wouldn't hold my breath on an Ole Miss-like turnaround, but Mississippi State is probably in better shape (at least offensively) than Auburn or Tennessee.

-- Things don't look great for the Dawgs in terms of returning offensive talent, but at least they had something to work with. Look at South Carolina, on the other hand. The Gamecocks' offense stunk last year, and they return a questionable QB and less than 45 percent of their total offensive production from 2008.

-- Having said that, I'm not sure there's any great rival for second place in the East to Georgia this year unless one of those other teams (Tennessee, Vandy, Kentucky or South Carolina) takes a big (and unexpected) step forward. The question then becomes, can the Dawgs handle their business out of conference and against the West to a degree that the Florida game will actually matter in the standings.

OK, so that's a few of the things that jumped out at me. Anything you guys noticed? Are you concerned by Georgia's standings here?

8 comments:

Bernie said...

You know...you're supposed to RELAX on vacation, not compose statistical analysis that includes HTML spreadsheets.

Seriously, this is great stuff. Maybe having some hungry inexperienced skill players will prove fruitful for us this year. And maybe some of those other teams will flounder in the comfort of their preseason phat stats.

jferg said...

Defense wins ball games. Right? If CWM's defensive unit can hold other teams to 14 points or less...I like our odds, even with "unproven" offensive players. With out O-line, granny could run through big holes for 5 or 6 yards per carry...so our bevy of capable runners will be just fine.

I'd like to see this similar analysis of Defensive numbers. Sure, it point out FL's obvious "statistical" dominance...but I'd like to see where the Dawgs fit with the addition of Jeff Owens and all the other hurt gamers.

woody said...

good stuff, David.regarding jberg's comment about UGA's offensive line, the word amongst the SEC coaches, according to Phil Steele, is that it was "soft" last year;ie, not tough in big games. they need to "man-up" if they expect to win against this years competition.

Irwin R. Flecther said...

Good stuff...but you can't really use these numbers as 'predictors' without seeing if there is correlation in prior years.

For example, Alabama lost DJ Hall and Ole Miss lost Ben Jarvis Green Ellis and whoever their QB was from the prior year...but were still successful. Of course, there is the DJ Shockley SEC championship won after Greene, Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown left...I'd be interested in seeing if there is any correlation to future success based upon the rankings you listed or if these are just 'stats' that tell the story of previous seasons.

skidawg1985 said...

Correlation is not causation. I can correlate that Las Vegas has a very high density of chapels, but would you rated Vegas as a particularly religious place?

Someone (Schlabach?) looked at games started or played by offensive lineman and noted a demarcation, but I cannot recall the total games played.

Makes some sense as a very good offensive line can make a QB or RB look good by superior protection or opening big holes. The reverse is also true as an experienced QB who can read defenses and get rid of the ball quick will make an O line look better. A quick back who does not need much of a hole can make a line look good as well.

Mike In Valdosta said...

Two and a half months to go. Time flies in every other aspect of my life these days, but it seems as though football season never gets here.

Thanks for the effort, DH.

BTW, how many of our penalty yards are returning? I bet we top the charts there.

Anonymous said...

The QB talent in the SEC this year looks abysmal.

Anonymous said...

One thing more to factor in with Arkansas, they've got quite possibly the best offensive mind in college football as their head coach and play-caller in Bobby Petrino. Arkansas is going to be putting up a LOT of points this year. If some of the JuCo guys grow up in a hurry for the defense, Arkansas could be nasty by the end of the season.