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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Willie Martinez: Master of Adjustments?

This info is from Jim F., the A.J. Green of Bulldogs Blog readers. I figured it was definitely worth sharing...

There is a cliché in football that says “Good coaches make halftime adjustments; Good Coaches excel at 'in game' adjustments.” The theory is that coaches are doing what they are suppose to be doing – scheming, whether on the fly with clock running or at the break, once the game starts to unfold.

Note, I know that QB rating is one of the most overused, misunderstood and misleading (at times) stat, but it is quick to find. With that limitation stated look at the table below for the UGA Defense:

RatingFirst Downs
All 972 125.79 41 23 9
1st Half
554 136.57 23 15 6
2nd Half
418 115.29 18 8 3
1st Quarter
305 165.19 13 9 4
2nd Quarter
249 106.33 10 6 2
3rd Quarter
302 147.00 13 6 3
4th Quarter
116 75.8 5 2 0

* stats courtesy of CBS Sports.

Compare QB rating 1st half to 2nd half, 136 to 115. But other indicators drop dramatically as well -- first downs, the “Big Plays" which UGA has been most susceptible too, and most importantly TDs are cut by one-third. Ditto for opponent passing yards allowed.

And once the game gets rolling, look at the second & fourth quarter stats compared to first and third. The fourth quarter defense has been outstanding all year long. IMHO, after all the Xs & Os coaches can think to do, on both sides, talent takes over and UGA players are coming through. No Big Plays over 25 yards allowed, just one TD and 36 percent pass completions. That’s doing SOMETHING right on D.

With the cliché as the criteria, the data says that Willie Martinez is coaching his silver britches off and his scheming has paid dividends.

Back to Dave's comments...

First off, I wish I had enough extra salary to hire Jim on full time. Seriously, great work, Jim.

Secondly, this so clearly underscores what is wrong with knee-jerk reactions by fans that it's almost a shame to have to post it. I'm not saying Willie Martinez is the second coming of Erk Russell. Clearly he has his faults, and at the end of the day, he has to take as much responsibility for what has happened in the first and third quarters as he takes credit for the success in the second and fourth quarters.

But one of the biggest knocks I hear about Willie is that he's incapable of making adjustments, and the truth is, the stats simply don't bear this out.

Now, to use my second "Simpsons" quote of the day, you can find stats to prove anything. Fourteen percent of all people know that.

But these numbers seem pretty convincing, and they aren't inflated by just one or two screwy games. Georgia's defense has been amazingly successful late, and when you consider how much they've been on the field -- Georgia has won the time of possession battle just once this year -- it's hard to argue that the best explanation for that is anything other than some good coaching adjustments by Willie and Co.

Oh, and these stats weren't the only intriguing find by Jim this week. He also noticed an odd similarity, courtesy of Sports Illustrated...


Blue Gill said...

Graph those numbers and it explains to me why I am so worn out after a game.

Up, down, up, down. 1st qtr sucks. 2nd qtr a little better. 3rd qtr almost as bad as the 1st qtr. 4th qtr before things start to settle down.

It is too much. I don't know if I can make it through the season.

Anonymous said...

Way to junk up the blog with ads.

Anonymous said...

Hard to make much of those stats without some context. How do they stack up against other teams?

For example, I think you would expect almost every team to have better defense in the 4th quarter since much of the time one team or the other is trying to run out the clock, which leads to fewer plays, which leads to fewer opportunities to score.

I'd gladly chip in a dollar or two if Jim F. could gather these data for all other SEC teams, at the very least. Shall we pass around a hat?

John P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John P said...

As I have said before, most of this teams problems have been form inexperince in some key roles. I know alot of these short field turnovers have been in the first quarter. Once we get the turnovers under control we will be a top 5 team.

Someone needs to research howmany of those 1st Qtr and 2nd Qtr yard given up came off turnovers. I suspect its at least 40% of the first qtr stat.

the anonymous suckup said...


I can only speak for myself, but I don't consider my opinions about Martinez to be of the knee-jerk variety. They've been formed over a period of years while I've watched the Georgia defense get steadily worse. Does that mean he's terrible all the time and that everything is his fault? No. The defense played well last Saturday, and I'll be the first to praise him when the defense performs well. The problem is, of course, that I haven't had the occasion to praise him very often in the last couple of seasons.

I've never called for Martinez to be fired, especially not in the middle of the season. I've never screamed about his lack of adjustments or made other such comments. I've never been a football coach in my life. I don't know enough about his job to make intelligent specific comments about how he should remedy the problem - and neither do the great majority of his knee-jerking critics or defenders.

But here's the point...while I might not be qualified to critique his job on a task by task basis, I'm certainly able to see statistical trends. When I see the tangible, measurable performance of the defense going steadily downhill, I can recognize it. And I certainly reserve the right to point it out without having some anonymous teenaged commenter call me a "hater".

I'm not jumping on you, David. I know you are just trying to present both sides and show that things are not always as bad as they seem. You do your job well. My comments are aimed at others who defend him just because he's wearing a UGA logo - while telling me that I'm not a "real fan", whatever that is. The maddening part of it is there is always some excuse offered for him. Either the offense put him in a bad position with turnovers, or the players simply didn’t execute his plan, or he doesn’t have the talent that Van Gorder did, etc. My only point is this: This very real and undeniable erosion has been happening for a while now. It can’t always be someone else’s fault. If things don’t start getting steadily better, eventually even his most ardent supporters (even one named Mark Richt) will have to admit what has been obvious to all of us amateurs for a while now.

And I’ll simply ask this one favor of anyone who wants to flame me for writing this: Please go back and read it again before you do. Notice that I didn’t call for him to be fired. I just want the product on the field to be fixed, and I don’t want to wait until the excuses run out for that to happen. If Martinez can fix the problems, I’ll be his biggest fan.

David Hale said...

Anon S-U: I think you have a fair point, and I'm certainly not trying to absolve Willie of all responsibility in things.

I think my point is simply that we all have a tendency to let an opinion turn into reality without really double-checking if the evidence supports it.

Again, there are plenty of foibles to point out for Willie. I just thought these numbers added a bit of different perspective, just as your comments do as well.

Anonymous said...

Jim F here:
I also believe that the stats also adds to the validity of the Mon-Friday point that David made in his grading of coaches. We can't be that bad coming out of the gate & survive.

Also I know that there was a great deal of emphasis placed on conditioning in off season & I wonder if some of what is seen in the 4th Qtr can be or should be attributed to that as well

Kevin said...

anon 235
if you've watched any games, you know that NONE of our competition has had 'junk time' in the fourth quarter.

I'd say considering the teams we've played, under the conditions it's been for 4th quarter, esp while overall LOSING the time of possession, DCWM has done a dame good job shutting down competition/yards.

the anonymous suckup said...


After re-reading my wayyy-too-long rant, I realize it could sound like I was aiming it at you. I really didn't mean to. As I said, you were just doing your job. And, as usual, you were doing it better than any other UGA beat writer. I have no problem with you presenting every angle that you can on a particular subject. Your points were more than valid.

Your post just triggered a flood of stuff that I probably shouldn’t have posted. My rant went far afield from the point of your post. It was aimed at those who never or rarely see fault in Martinez for a variety of reasons that I don’t understand or don’t agree with.

David Hale said...

No worries, Suck-up. Comment away... I don't think you were off point.

Anonymous said...

Jim F here:

Anon 2:35 You make a good point about providing context. Just got thru with ALL SEC teams.

Here is UGA Ranks for QB Rating dropping:
2nd Half drop (variance) UGA rank 4th best.
4th Qtr compared to overall UGA rank BEST.

Little bit more clean up & I'll send it to David

Anonymous said...

In no way do I perceive those numbers as an accomplishment by WM. If he were doing a great job, I argue that it should be the other way around, with the better numbers coming in the 1st quarter. I mean, as a player, if you had the worst DC there was, you could simply see with your own 2 eyes what the offensive game plan is in the 1st, and then make your own adjustments and improve in the 2nd. We have to compare ourselves to the best right now, that being UF. they are lights out right now in the 1st quarter, eliminating all hope of the other team. They take control from the get-go and then maybe later on in the game they give up a score, like we saw with the Vols. We need to come out of the gate ready to go at 110% and set the precedent, instead of being perennial slow starters. I for one am calling for the firing of Willie at the end of this season. Firing, not demotion. Get rid of the problem completely. I don't wanna see Aaron murray have to deal with a weak defense when he takes over at QB. Next year we'll have a brand new QB, so we'll need to be solid on defense.

Anonymous said...

Nice stats. Now explain how Martinez has coached more games where the defense has given up 30+ points than any coach GA has ever had.