An Overrated Statistic?

ATHENS - Being one of the Southeastern Conference leaders in time of possession hasn't changed Georgia coach Mark Richt's opinion of the statistic.

"I just think it's very overrated," Mark Richt said. "The statistic that is important is the number of plays you run. We've been holding the ball longer, but have we been more effective? No."

Last year, the Bulldogs led the league in scoring (32.1 ppg) and were 11th in time of possession (28:52). This year, they are eighth in scoring (26 ppg) and third in time of possession (31:37).

The change in time of possession is a result mainly of one thing -- no more no-huddle offense. However, it's also a sign that the Bulldogs are running the ball slightly more this season than last.

In last week's convincing 26-7 win over Auburn, Georgia ran 45 times and attempted just 25 passes and held the ball 33:23. It was the first time since the season-opening Clemson game that the Bulldogs ran the ball such a high percentage of their plays, but it doesn't reflect a changing philosophy in the offense, quarterback David Greene said.

"Once we were up by 19 points or so, I knew we were going to grind the clock out," Greene said.

It is a change from earlier this season, though. Against Alabama, Georgia led 37-10 at halftime and Richt called passes on 12 of his team's 15 third quarter plays. Against Auburn, the Bulldogs led 13-0 at halftime and only threw the ball five times in the second half.

"We had a little success running the ball," Richt said. "We didn't have an unbelievable amount of success. We were just trying to do what we had to do to win the football game."

Georgia has run the ball more than 60 percent of its plays three times this season. Those games resulted in a 30-0 win over Clemson, a 41-14 win over Tennessee and the 26-7 win over the Tigers.

It's clear, though, that Richt would rather move the ball through the air. He said he wishes he could use the no-huddle this season like he did at times last year, "but right now on offense we haven't been good enough to be a no-huddle team."

Not using the no-huddle has allowed Georgia to keep the ball longer than it did a year ago, but, as Richt pointed out, it hasn't equaled more success on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs lead the SEC in drives per play (6.02) but are 12th in touchdowns per drive (19.8 percent).

"We probably had more 10 plays drives that have ended up in field goals than anybody in the country," he said.

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