In our business, you hear stuff from the recruiting trail. It’s not uncommon for schools and perhaps some of their recruits trying to help the recruiting process to stretch a fact here and there but when it comes to some of Florida’s top rivals recruiting head to head against the Gators, we think they have signed a blood oath to never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Over the years, Gator Country has politely — and sometimes not so politely — called out a rival that seems to be having a field day skewering the facts. Tonight, we’re calling out the Georgia Bulldogs and we can safely predict that some of those fine folks who bleed red and black will call us liars and bashers, but truth is, it isn’t bashing if you’ve got facts and we’ve got facts.
We keep hearing this recurring story from the recruiting trail about how the Bulldogs are the high tech, high profile, passing game of the future. That’s the bill of goods that we know is being sold on the recruiting trail to some of the nation’s highest profile skill people. We know it because kids do talk and they talk to us a lot. In the zeal to make it sound like the Georgia passing game is the slice and dice, score at will from any part of the field variety, it seems a few facts have been avoided to make this sound like a pretty good story. And in making the case for the Georgia offense, it seems there has been a bit of bashing of the Florida offense. Georgia’s offense better than Florida’s?
Au contraire! That’s what we said when we kept hearing this over and over again from recruits who have heard this only driven on Sunday by a little old lady used car sales pitch. But rather than simply say, “No, that’s not true!” we decided to delve into the facts and crunch some numbers.
We also heard from those same recruits about those dynamite dorms in Athens and that reminded us of the defensive line recruit the Gators lost to LSU a few years back because he liked the curtains in the dorms in Baton Rouge. When we started hearing the stuff about the dorms on the UGa campus we began to wonder if Georgia has hired that fashion design guy with the spikey hair from one of those home improvement channels.
But back to the passing game. After crunching the numbers we had two questions: (1) Since Florida’s passing numbers are so superior, why do high powered prospects buy into this talk about Georgia’s so-called great passing game; and (2) how do the people trying to sell this tripe look themselves in the mirror with a straight face?
Any comparison of the passing games at Florida and Georgia must begin with comparing the sophomore seasons of Florida’s Tim Tebow and Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford. Okay, they’re both sophomores. That’s about where any similarities end.
Tebow is the best quarterback in the country and he’s got the record-breaking Star Wars numbers and a Heisman Trophy to prove it. Georgia folks like to talk about how strong Matt Stafford’s arm is. Perhaps they think it’s more impressive to throw a ball 80 yards than it is to account for 55 touchdowns in a single season. Stafford can heave the ball quite a distance. In two years he hasn’t matched what Tim Tebow did in one.
But let’s be fair here. We are Gators and we must be fair. We wanted to be fair and balanced but there wasn’t any balance.
In 2007, Matt Stafford threw for a whopping 198.4 yards a game and 19 touchdowns. We’re not going to talk about Tebow the runner yet but instead we’ll just talk Tebow’s passing numbers. He threw for 257 yards per game and 32 touchdowns. You would think that Stafford would have lit it up in 2007. After all he started almost every game for Georgia in 2006 while Tebow was a first time starter in 2007. Stafford had all the experience. Tebow was learning on the job, but whose numbers looked like paint by numbers and whose looked like Van Gogh played football?
But again, let’s be fair. We are Gators and we must be fair even if we can’t be balanced.
Maybe the Georgia folks don’t think it’s fair to compare Tebow and Stafford. So, in the interest of fairness, let’s just take the numbers from the three seasons that Urban Meyer has been at Florida and put them against the three-season totals of Mark Richt, the Georgia coach. Now in making this comparison, we must also mention that Meyer had to start from scratch three years ago while Richt is now in his eighth year, which means that Georgia had a system and a recruiting base in place before Meyer ever arrived in Gainesville. If anyone should have had the right personnel in place all along, it’s Georgia.
But the Georgia numbers pale against the Florida numbers. In three seasons under Meyer, the Gators have averaged 33.6 points a game which is a whole point higher than the HIGHEST season scoring average (32.6) in the last three under Richt at Georgia. The Gators have averaged 4.5 more points a game over the three-year span.
In three seasons, the Gators have averaged nearly 50 more yards per game of total offense. That amounts to over 600 yards in a 13 game season. In the same three years, the Gators have averaged 27 touchdown passes compared to 19.3 touchdown passes per season for the Bulldogs.
Wide receivers just have a chance to shine in the Gator offense. Scoring touchdowns gets you on ESPN’s Sports Center and the Gators tend to be in range of touchdowns much more often than their opponents. As for the Gators and Dogs, well Florida reached the red zone of the field 176 times in three years compared to 150 for Georgia. That is an average of 58.7 chances per year compared to 50 or nine more chances every year at a Sports Center highlight.
As far as individual accolades go, Florida has had four receivers end up in the SEC’s top ten in catches per game since Meyer’s arrival. Chad Jackson, Dallas Baker, and Andre Caldwell all call the NFL home now. Percy Harvin will return for what should be a memorable and record breaking junior season.
In that same period of time (three years) Georgia has not had a single player finished ranked in the top of the SEC in passes caught per game.
The same could be said for yards receiving per game. The same players for Florida all were among the top ten in the SEC at the end of the season. For Georgia, another big zip.
So what gives? We know what’s being said out on the recruiting trail. We’re miffed why anyone would think they can sell Georgia offensive superiority to high profile skill players but we know that’s what is going on.
Maybe we should point out rather quickly that this is what is being sold. Obviously, nobody is buying yet. Georgia hasn’t landed a single wide receiver commitment but the Bulldogs are certainly selling their wares to whoever will listen.
And once again, we must mention those spiffy Athens dorms. That’s a real selling point right there. Yep, sell prospects on great dorms.
What’s Florida selling, you ask? National championships, putting players in the NFL … Dallas Baker, Chad Jackson, Andre Caldwell …