Thursday, September 02, 2010
A Few Offense Predictions, Bold or Not
Here are a few things I think are realistic for our Dawgs in 2010:
With a two-headed tailback, often neither achieves a 1000 yard season but can still have a successful year. I prefer to look at yards per carry (YPC) as a measure. Last season Caleb King had 5.21 YPC with 114 carries and Washaun Ealey had 5.74 YPC with 125 carries. By comparison, in 2007 Knowshon Moreno averaged 5.38 on 248 carries while Thomas Brown averaged 5,26 with 148 carries. Typically, YPC will go down as the total number of carries goes up. Notice that in 2007 Moreno/Brown had 396 total carries while King/Ealey totaled 239 carries in 2009. Assuming that both stay healthy and have more than 150 carries apiece, anything above 5.25 YPC would be outstanding. With our experienced offensive line and inexperienced QB, I expect us to rely on establishing the ground game early. For this reason, success running the ball is critical to winning. Everyone that was involved with the resurging rushing attack at the end of 2009 is back, so hopefully these guys will hit the ground running - so to speak - and gaudy rushing figures will be achieved early and often. I think it is a fair expectation that our two tailbacks will combine for more than 1600 yards. More importantly, we need to get back to the TD production of Moreno/Brown in 2007 in which the two combined for 24 TDs and the team had 32 rushing TDs compared to only 17 in 2009 (10 combined from King/Ealey.) So, my final analysis and prediction for combined output is 1600+ yards and 20+ TDs. If this happens, these two will have had commendable seasons and the Dawgs will have at least 10 wins.
We can expect 3 or 4 rushing TDs from our fullbacks and perhaps 2 or 3 more rushing TDs from other positions including QB and receivers - like Branden Smith on the reverse. This means total rushing TDs between 25 and 28 is my guess. If this happens, passing TDs will go down compared to last year.
Here are passing yardage and TD figures the past few seasons:
2009 (Joe Cox, Sr) - 2584 yards and 24 TDs.
2008 (Matthew Stafford, Jr) - 3459 yards and 25 TDs.
2007 (Matthew Stafford, So) - 2523 yards and 19 TDs.
2006 (Stafford, Fr/Tereshinski, Sr/Cox, RFr) - 2397 yards and 12 TDs.
Last season, Joe Cox threw a ton of interceptions (15) but he also had a high total of TDs for a first year starter. Part of that was because we could not run the ball into the end zone the first half of the season so we had to pass more than we should. Because I expect our rushing attack to be much better than last season and therefore I expect more rushing TDs, look for passing TDs to drop back into the teens. I think the number will be higher than 2006 simply because of the AJ Green factor. Plus our tight ends create coverage problems that can be exploited and hopefully often. I think Murray is capable of throwing between 14-17 TDs this year. I will be surprised if he gets into the 20's - but pleasantly so if our rushing TD numbers are also in the 20's.
As for passing yardage, expect lower totals by virtue of improved rushing stats. Still, with the solid core of receivers, the deep threats included, Murray should still be able to post gross numbers between 2000 and 2300 yards.My guess is that he will be right at 2100 yards.
Interceptions will be an important stat to watch. Stafford suffered 13 as a Freshman and then 10 each year as a Soph and Jr. As noted, Cox tossed 15 into the delighted arms of our competition last year. Can you believe that as a Sr, David Greene only threw 4 picks and DJ Shockley only threw 5 as a Sr. It would be unreasonable to expect Murray to match those seniors, but he could keep it in single-digits if he doesn't get sloppy (Cox) or take too many risks (Stafford). I know Coaches Bobo and Richt are preaching to him to protect the football and he did not do a great job of that in the Spring Game. Hopefully, the lessons are sinking in and his mistakes will be minimized by the presence of a sound rushing attack and good pass protection from the veterans up front. I think anything under 9 picks will be a good showing. Anything over 10 will be potentially disastrous.
AJ Green is looking for a 1000 yard season. To get there, he will need to touch the ball around 6 times each game - assuming he is healthy for every game. If AJ is healthy for every game, he will eclipse 1000 yards, but barely.
The rest of the receivers and a few backs will be sharing the remaining 1100-1200 yards receiving. I will predict the order to be something like this (in descending yardage totals): Tavarres King, Orson Charles, R. Wooten, A. White, Caleb King, Marlon Brown, Chapas, etc.
As for the distribution of the approximate 16 receiving TDs, nearly half will belong to AJ Green, followed by Charles, T. King, White, Wooten, C. King, etc.
Sometimes, scoring too many field goals is a bad sign. But, if many of them are from greater than 40 yards, they can be a blessing. In his best season, Brandon Coutu nailed 23 of 29 attempts and several misses were from 50+ yards. Last season, Blair Walsh hit 20 of 22 and only 4 attempts were from inside 30 yards. One of the two misses was from 50+. Blair was perfect on PATs with 42/42. These stats indicate the the red zone offense was pretty good and Blair was near perfect. He drilled 11 of 12 from greater than 40 yards. If he has an identical season in 2010, we will be blessed. But, for good measure, lets raise the bar and shoot for a couple more good field goals for a total of 22.
If all of these projections turn out, we will win 10 or more games. I think the most important statistic in this article is the rushing TDs followed next by the interceptions number. If we rush for at least 28 TDs and throw less than 9 INTs, we will play in Atlanta in December. What do you think?