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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Can't All Be Bryan Evans' Fault

Some trends are easy to spot. Some fly below the radar. This one, for me, was something I had noticed, but hadn't fully grasped until I actually sat down and looked at the numbers.

Here's a look at the stats from all seven tight ends Georgia has faced so far this season:

Player vs. UGA
Best Non-UGA
W. Youman (OSU)
2-25-0 7-82-1 1-12 2-23-1 (Baylor)
W. Saunders (SC)
8-96-0 17-194-0 2.5-28 4-50-0 (NC St)
DJ Williams (Ark)
4-58-1 14-161-2 2-23 6-57-1 (Auburn)
D. Knapp (ASU)
0-0-0 1-2-0 N/A 1-2-0 (Stanford)
R. Dickson (LSU)
3-31-0 12-103-0 1.7-15 3-27-0 (La-Laf)
L. Stocker (Tenn)
4-68-0 13-180-0 2-26 2-46-0 (Auburn)
A. Monahan (Van)
1-11-0 10-92-0 1.4-13 3-31-0 (W Car)

Looking at these numbers, what can we say about how Georgia defends tight ends this season?

Well, for one, of the seven tight ends Georgia has faced, four of them have had their best game of the season against the Dawgs. Of those other three:

-- D.J. Williams didn't miss his season high by much against Georgia, and he sat out nearly the entire first half due to an injury.

-- Arizona State essentially doesn't use its tight end. Dan Knapp has just one catch all season.

-- Austin Monahan was below his season averages against Georgia, but most of that was collected against non-conference foes early. In his past five games, including vs. Georgia, Monahan has just two catches for 16 yards, 11 of which came against the Dawgs.

Actually, here's perhaps a slightly better representation of what we've seen:

In all games not against Georgia, these seven TEs are averaging 1.2 catches for 12.5 yards per game.

Against Georgia, they're averaging 3.14 catches for 41.3 yards per game.

In other words, Georgia is allowing more than triple the average production from tight ends that those same players are accumulating against other teams this season.

Of course, you might say, hey, even at that, it's just a difference of 29 yards per game. That doesn't really have a significant effect on the outcome, right?

Well, it is tantamount to three first downs over the course of a game, so it's probably nothing to sneeze at. But the bigger issue is this: Why would opposing play callers go to their tight ends -- players who appear to rarely be key aspects of the offense -- at triple the rate against Georgia they would against someone else? Obviously they see something on the film that makes them believe Georgia is vulnerable to the tight end, right?

But again, it's just 29 yards per game, so why is it really important?

Because of this:

Player Rec.Yards
A. Hernandez
33 392
R. Cooper
27 396
D. Nelson
8 79
O. Hines
7 98
B. James
7 93
D. Thompson
6 146

Those are Florida's receiving leaders this season. The name at the top of that list is tight end Aaron Hernandez. The Gators essentially have two real receiving threats, Riley Cooper and their tight end.

In fact, Hernandez's season averages are 5 catches and 56 yards per game. If Georgia allows, on average, three times the production to tight ends that they normally accumulate, Hernandez would be looking at a line of 15 catches for 168 yards on Saturday.

And that's a difference of more than just three first down.

Anyway, here's what Willie Martinez had to say about Mr. Hernandez:

"I don't know if you can slow him down. You just make yourself aware of where he lines up because he is a go-to guy. Hernandez has been a tremendous player for them and has made play after play in every big game they've had. Just knowing where he's at -- they have so many weapons -- and obviously in the passing game we know he's a big target, along with Riley Cooper."

Well, I guess knowing that he's good is a start. But that part about not knowing if he can be slowed down... that's less encouraging.

Of course, there is some good news. Georgia gets linebackers Akeem Dent and Marcus Dowtin back this week. Dent still isn't 100 percent, but he's an experienced strongside linebacker. Dowtin's return also allows Darryl Gamble to slide over and play more Sam this week. And Georgia's worst outing against a tight end was vs. South Carolina, a week when Darius Dewberry missed the game with an injury.

So while the Bulldogs have clearly struggled at stopping tight ends this season, they may be in a better position to alter that history this week than they have been at any other point.

And if Georgia can keep Hernandez at bay, Florida's offense looks a lot more manageable.


Anonymous said...

Sitting in the stands in Knoxville, I watched their TE vs. our D and our TE's vs. their D.

They almost always had a guy at the line jamming our TE. Orson Charles was the main read on several plays throughout the game, and when Joe went to look his way, Orson was still wrestling with a guy at the L.o.s.

Conversely, we never so much as checked their TE at the line. He was given a free release to get into his route.

Seems pretty simple to me. Hernandez is their #1 target, so find someone to check him at the line on EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

Tebow cannot read a defense, so UF's offense only has 2 reads on pass plays. If they are not open, Tebow holds the ball and invites a sack.

Anonymous said...

You can throw those Florida receiving numbers out the window this Saturday. They'll be passing all over the field, to multiple receivers, from multiple formations. Martinez will scheme to stop their run game and their tight end, so of course they'll do everything else, with great success. This game will probably be Tebow's most passing yards for the year so far, and put him in the lead for the Heisman race.

trumely said...

I CAN be all Bryan Evans' fault as far as I'm concerned. ANY football player with hips as bad as Evans' is going to be at fault quite a bit.

Uganewt said...

DH, we had a brief discussion of Hernandez on GTP last week (it may have even happened in the comments of a post). My two biggest concerns heading into this game are Hernandez and how many points their D will score. I could absolutely see a game just like last year's if we're -2+ in turnover margin like we've been all year.

Anonymous said...

I dont feel like re-doing my Bryan Evans analysis from last year in which i charted every TD scored on him over his career b/c it will take too long. But lets just say the majority of us knew about this issue starting in the MSU game his r-FR year.

Actually...i might go back and do the chart. I have nothing else to do today. Look for it in a bit.

Anonymous said...

If all of the Bryan Evans haters knew how to read a defense they would realize that most of the time it is zone coverage that they are in and it is not just his fault. Reshad Jones is way too aggressive on the run and that leaves the seams wide open on cover 2. He is not ready for the NFL and will not be a high draft pick if he leaves early this year. The DBs problems are evenly spread between Reshad, Prince and Bryan. Much of it has to do with the defense that is called. Georgia needs to play more man and cover 1. There is no doubt that Bryan has let guys get behind him this year but so has the rest of the secondary.

trumely said...

Here's an image: Dez Bryant running full speed about 2 yards from BE. BE is still facing the QB. Ball is terribly thrown, but makes no difference as he isn't able to catch up to Bryant. I agree that Reshad is too ready to support the run, but in that case, BE has to make sure that NO ONE gets behind him.