Georgia Has More Guns Than Offense

Anyone outside the football coaching offices in the Mal Moore Athletics Facility thinking about the Georgia football team are understandably thinking about Knowshon Marino and Matthew Stafford and A.J. Green. And if they could pronounce it, they'd add Mohamed Massaquoi.

It's not to say that Alabama coaches, players and fans should not be aware of those outstanding Georgia football players. It's just that there is a lot more.

Those are all offensive performers for the Bulldogs—Marino perhaps the nation's top tailback, Stafford a sure future NFL quarterback, and Green and Massaquoi outstanding receivers. Rest assured, Crimson Tide coaches and players have been preparing for them, too.

And Georgia coaches and players are preparing for all aspects of Alabama's game. In addition to offense, there is defense and there is the kicking game. In a game, any one, two or three of those segments can prove critical.

Both teams are 4-0. Georgia is ranked third in the nation and sure to move into the top two with a win over Alabama. Bama is ranked eighth in the nation. Kickoff in Athens will be at 7:45 p.m. EDT (6:45 p.m. central time) Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPN.

The marquee players for Georgia are on offense. Understandably so. A look at the Southeastern Conference statistics this week shows Georgia leading the league in total offense, averaging 450 yards per game. But there are 10 men returning for the Bulldogs who were considered defensive starters in 2007, and the Dogs are pretty good on the stop side, too.

In looking at teams from a statistical standpoint, it must be remembered that one team may have played an easier schedule than another.

Games are decided by points, the most important of statistics. Alabama has a slight edge on Georgia in scoring. The Tide averages 36 points per game, Georgia 35.5. And Alabama holds opponents to 9.2 points per game, while Georgia opponents get 13.8 points per game.

Coaches frequently talk about the importance of being able to run the football and being able to stop the run. That leads to the most interesting of Southeastern Conference statistics after four games. Alabama leads the SEC in rushing offense, 236.8 yards per game, and Georgia is tops in the league in rushing defense, allowing just 45.8 yards per game. On the other side, Georgia averages 189.2 yards per game rushing and Bama holds opponents to 55 yards per game.

The Bulldogs have a big advantage in passing offense, 260.8 yards per game, to the Crimson Tide's 150.8 yards per game. Alabama has a slight advantage in pass defense, giving up 188.2 yards per game, to Georgia's 229.2 yards per game.

Georgia's big lead in passing offense is one reason the Bulldogs are leading the SEC in total offense, 450 yards per game, to Alabama's 387.5 yards per game. But the Tide leads in total defense, giving up 243.2 yards per game to Georgia's 275 yards per game.

One statistic considered important by coaches is third down success. Georgia has a very slight edge on Alabama in third down success, 24-47 for 51.1 per cent to the Tide's 27-53 for 50.9 per cent. On the defensive side, Tide opponents have been successful on third downs 16-58 for 27.6 per cent and Georgia opponents have been successful 17-54 for 31.5 per cent.

Turnover margin, a key statistic to success, is very close between Alabama and Georgia. The Crimson Tide is at plus four on turnover margin, having recovered two fumbles and turned in six interceptions and lost two fumbles and two interceptions. Georgia is at plus three with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and having lost two fumbles.

Coaches talk about discipline, often reflected in penalties. Alabama ranks second in the SEC, having been penalized 16 times for 118 yards. Georgia is last in the league, 43 penalties for 356 yards.

Georgia has been better in the Red Zone. The Bulldogs have scored 15 of 16 trips inside the 20, making 12 touchdowns (eight rushing and four passing) and three of three field goals. Bama has scored 15 of 18 trips with 10 touchdowns (six rushing, four passing) and five of six field goals. On defense, the Bulldogs are also a bit better on a percentage basis. Georgia opponents have scored on 6 of 11 trips, four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) and two of three field goals. Alabama has given up scores to opponents on 5 of 7 opportunities, two touchdowns (both passing) and 3-4 field goals.

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