Look Ahead at the Opponent: Texas Football
Cover Photo: Associated Press
By: Joshua Grosh
With News Years Day approaching, the game against the Longhorns of Texas is nearing ever closer. The excitement is reaching a fever pitch among Dawg faithful and with good reason since this is Georgia’s first Sugar Bowl in a decade – the first one since the stomping of a highly touted Hawaii team in 2008. Similar to that season, Georgia enters the game as the higher ranked team and facing a rising team. This article will serve as an attempt to try to preview the match up with the Longhorns around the aspects of stats and the eye test.
Texas enters this game as a fairly balanced team despite the Big 12 misnomer of pass happy teams. Texas’ offense favors the run at about 53.7% to 46.3% passing with their go to rushershaving less than 700 yards each. The main threat of their entire offense is quarterback Sam Ehlinger who is a dual threat prospect who has accounted for 77.5% of all of Texas’ touchdowns (25 passing, and 13 rushing). Trying to shut him down will go a long way to helping the Dawgs come New Years – which is far easier said than done with Texas having 4 different receivers averaging 10+ yards per catch as well as catches for 30+ yards each. This is a potent offense to say the least – granted that could also be affected by the defenses that Texas has played. To keep this in perspective, Texas has played 3 top 50 defenses and won two of them at the safety of Texas’ home (Iowa State and TCU). Outside of this, they have played 6 teams (7 if you count two match ups with Oklahoma) who have had defenses not ranked in the top 70’s. This is only defenses with total yards in mind. If we go by defenses who have surrendered the fewest points per game, they have only played two teams in the top 50, who are both wins at home (TCU and Iowa State). While I am not wishing to discount Texas’ offense, they have not exactly faced defenses that are dominating. Georgia, however, ranks 21st overall and 16th in points surrendered. To add some balance to this, Texas’ offense ranks 42nd overall, 49th in points per game, 94th in rush yards per game, and 33rd in pass yards per game. For reference, Georgia has played 3 teams with better overall offenses (measured by total yards per game), 7 offenses with better points per game, 4 offenses with more passing yards per game, and 9 offenses with more rush yards per game.
As far as the Texas defense goes, Texas ranks 57th in yards per game and 74th in points surrendered. Georgia’s offense comes in at 14th in yards per game and 13th in points per game. Texas’ defense doesn’t come in as a turnover heavy team either with 18 overall turnovers (11 interceptions and 7 fumble recoveries). The defensive stats however are not something to just ignore however as Texas have played 4 offenses with more yards per game than UGA and 2 offenses with more points per game than UGA. However, to detract from that, they did play 6 offenses that ranked 90th – 115th in yards per game as well as 5 offenses ranked 90th – 112th in points per game. Statistically speaking, Georgia is in the better half of offenses that Texas will have faced all season. Georgia will also be the second best rush offense Texas has seen all season (second to only Oklahoma) with the nears team after being Maryland (and a wide margin afterwards). Of the strong rush teams that Texas has faced, they are 1-2 against them (one win against Oklahoma and a loss to Oklahoma and Maryland). Georgia will be the most traditional of rushing attacks likely of the group with the others being more spread oriented teams. How this may affect the rush yards complied – we shall see.
Overall, with a lot of the stats complied, I do see our Dawgs as a likely winner; having faced regularly more potent offenses (as measured by points per game) and stronger defenses, Georgia should be the more battle tested team. In the trenches, I expect Georgia to likely have the edge as well as Georgia’s offensive line vastly outweighs the Texas d-line which will play a key role if Georgia goes on some long, rush heavy drives. On the other side, Georgia’s defensive line seems pretty toe to toe with Texas’ weight listings as making the potentially of fatigue a little less likely in long term – unless Texas is able to pass the ball to the perimeter and tire out the defense by making it chase the whole game. Overall though, between athleticism and depth chart wise, Georgia should win this game by a sound lead (perhaps a touchdown or two).