I was looking at one of my favorite websites, www.cfbstats.com, and I was specifically looking at some of the special teams stats.
I was looking at how Georgia fares in some of the categories. While I am a stat guy and love looking at numbers, these stats seemed skewed to me. For example, Georgia ranks near the bottom of the SEC in kick off yards per game at 92.3. Unlike the teams that are below us-Florida, Alabama, and Arkansas, we haven’t given up a kick off return for a TD. Alabama and Arkansas have good offenses along with Georgia. Scoring a lot of points per game. Doesn’t it make sense that if you are scoring a lot of points per game, you would be kicking off a bunch.
So I am not going to dig in the stats here and rely simply on the eyeball test (except for net punting, which statistically and looking at has been pretty terrible).
Last year, poor special teams was a detriment. It cost us games (Vanderbilt) and nearly cost us others (Tennessee). It was always an adventure, and not in a good way. There was 0 confidence when the ball was snapped or in the air. Kick off returns were out of the question.
My hope was that special team play would go from disaster to merely competent.
I think we are far beyond competent. Isaiah McKenzie has been a welcomed addition to the team and has provided the spark that good special teams play can give.
You don’t want to be too reliant on special teams play. What I mean is if you are relying on special teams play for your points, it isn’t good. Think back to the 2009 season. If Brandon Boykin had not returned some kicks, we would have lost or not been as competitive. You need to score points independently of your kick offs, but if you can get points that way it can help provide a spark or give some wiggle room. The same goes for defensive touchdowns.
Like on Saturday. Georgia would have easily beaten Kentucky without McKenzie’s dazzling returns. Georgia would have beaten Clemson without Gurley’s return. But this play is a nice garnish good teams need, not the main course.
And a complete 180 from last year, it hasn’t been a detriment-overall.
Sure, there have been some problems. Quayvon Hicks tried his damnedest Saturday to make some. The punting game has been awful.
But it is nice to know when the ball is in the air, or when the punt team comes out, that you just don’t have that feeling of dread.