You can get a pretty good debate going among UGA fans by asking which has been more responsible for the decline in Bulldogs football over the past five years, the implosion of the defense under Willie Martinez that they’re still trying to recover from, or the play-calling of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
With Willie gone, Bobo has been the favorite whipping boy this season. And he’s certainly made himself a natural target with his tendency to be predictable, his insistence on running tiny Carlton Thomas into the middle of an underperforming line, Georgia’s red zone woes, and so on.
A lot of fans have called for Mark Richt to take back the play-calling duties. But has Georgia’s offense really been worse under Bobo than it was when Richt was calling the plays? UGA football historian Patrick Garbin has crunched the numbers for Bobo’s 46 games as play-caller and Richt’s last 46 doing the same, comparing offensive production (which, he admits, doesn’t necessarily equate to play-calling prowess).
What he found, surprisingly, is that Bobo’s offenses have averaged more yards per play, both rushing and passing than Richt’s, while scoring 15 percent more touchdowns and settling for fewer field goals. With Bobo as play-caller, the Dogs have had fewer turnovers (as hard as that might be to believe), been sacked less frequently and have punted slightly less. Bobo’s offenses have been more efficient converting on third down. And while the Dogs made more trips into the red zone under Richt, they’ve scored more points per red zone visit under Bobo. Average time of possession under the two play-callers is nearly identical, Garbin says.
The only measurement that clearly favors Richt as play-caller? Wins. Richt’s record was 35-11 overall and 21-9 in conference play while Bobo’s is 32-14, 16-11 in the SEC.
More fodder for the side arguing it’s been the defense, stupid.
By the way, for my birthday my son gave me a copy of Garbin’s latest book, “Historic Photos of University of Georgia Football” (Turner Publishing, $39.95), and I’d recommend it as a gift for any UGA fan. Lots of player, coach, mascot and game photos, mostly running a full page and covering UGA football from 1892 to 1980. Check it out.
PICK YOUR JINX
Reader Mike Mullis e-mailed to say “you should write a story on the correlation of not having a ‘real’ Uga (no offense to Russ) on the sidelines with our current record. … It is bad luck not to have Uga VIII.”
Although Russ started out great with that upset of Tech last year, it’s beginning to look that way, isn’t it? But, actually, the real reason for the current losing streak is because my old lucky game shirt wore out! Sorry.
EMPTY SEATS IN THE STUDENT SECTION
Last week, The Red and Black ran an article about the fact that there’ve been a lot of empty seats this season in the UGA student section. For the most recent home game, 18,000 ticket were allotted to students, but only about 10,000 showed up.
Trying to boost attendance for the Tennessee game, the athletic department decided to sell 1,000 student tickets to students who received split ticket packages that did not include a Tennessee ticket. (The premise was that not all the tickets already allotted were going to be used, so they could safely “oversell” the student section.) Plus students who have a ticket but aren’t going are encouraged to donate their spot back into the pool.
Beyond that, athletic director Greg McGarity is looking at what other schools do in an effort to come up with a system that would prevent empty student seats for the 2011 season.
“We’re suffering as a program, as an institution,” McGarity told the R&B. “When we’re on TV and they show the stadium, there’s 5,000 or 6,000 empty seats — that’s embarrassing.”
It’s not hard to figure out what at least part of the problem is. Georgia has now gone to a system where students don’t actually get physical tickets to the game; instead they are “loaded” onto their student ID cards.
This means that you can’t sell the ticket to anyone else. Or even give it away. In the past, a lot of students did both, even to nonstudents who managed to get in by showing a fake student ID with the ticket.
In preventing that, UGA officials just got a little too clever, it seems, and the empty seats are the result.
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