Sunday, September 13, 2009

Five Field Goals

Assume for the moment that South Carolina is capable, or at least competent offensively.

Now, hypothesize that Georgia would play an aggressive, risk-taking defense, rather than a keep-everything-in-front-of you, no big plays defense.

What percentage of drives do you believe would end in a punt or turnover as a result of such aggressiveness?

Aesthetically, Georgia's defense is death by a thousand cuts. So painful to watch. You can see the frustration on the faces of offensive players begging to be allowed back on the field. You fear for the lungs and legs of the defensive players who've been asked so much from. It seems like such a terrible strategy, this bend-but-don't-break thing.

But then I see South Carolina forced to kick 5 field goals with a line of scrimmage inside our 25, and a goal line stop to seal the game to boot. That's crazy. Consider - what if Georgia did play an aggressive, risk-taking strategy and caused INTs or fumble recoveries on half of those possessions, but allowed TDs on the other half (which would've been insanely efficient for a D.) Well, that'd be 21 points where 15 were allowed - and a 4 point win would've become a 2 point loss.

Anecdotal, yes. And still ugly. And, of course, an aggressive defense might very well stop drives long before they get into the red zone. And bend-but-don't-break doesn't always lead to 5 FGs and a goal line stop - an unlucky bounce or a bad call or a missed assignment or a slipped tackle and one of those FGs becomes a TD. But... walking out of the stadium, I thought maybe we were lucky, but maybe Martinez's strategy actually preserved a win.

I guess it depends on what you think of South Carolina's offense. If it's capable of making a team pay for taking risks, then against similarly talented offenses, I might swallow hard and suffer through the continuous stream of 8 yard tight end curl routes on 3rd and 7s. If it's the kind of team that completes around half its passes and can't muster 150 yards against a mid-tier ACC team... well, then the Dawgs might think about taking a few more risks against some of their upcoming opponents.