A Contextual Look at Georgia’s Rushing Attack vs. Clemson

Much will be written today about Todd Gurley and UGA’s rushing attack from Saturday.  For good reason – Gurley is an early Heisman favorite coming off a brilliant first game, and UGA’s rushing attack managed to pummel Clemson into submission during the second half as the Dawgs ran away with the blowout victory.

Source: David Goldman, AP
Source: David Goldman, AP

I decided to take a play-by-play look at UGA’s rushing attack versus Clemson in the context of situation.  As we all know, not all 3 yard runs are the same; a 3 yard run on 3rd & 10 does little to help.  A 3 yard run on 3rd & 1, however, extends a drive and gives an offense 3 more chances to find the endzone.

So we’ll be looking at Success Rate, a statistic conceived years ago by Football Outsiders that I’ve been a big fan of.  Success Rate is kind of rudimentary, but it does provide some contextual detail.  Here’s how it works – it looks at “Needed Yards”, or how many yards the team needed on each play to earn a first down.  On 1st down, a play was deemed successful if it gained 40% of the Needed Yards.  On 2nd down, a 60% threshold was required.  On 3rd & 4th down, 100% was needed.

With those parameters, here’s how UGA’s rushing attack fared against Clemson:

SituationPlaysYardsSuccess TotalsSuccess %
1st Down151698/1553.3
2nd Down131007/1353.8
3rd Down7493/742.9
4th Down141/1100.0
Total3632219/3652.8
Todd Gurley151989/1560.0
Sony Michel6333/650.0
Keith Marshall681/616.7
Nick Chubb5682/540.0
Quayvon Hicks2142/2100.0
Isaiah McKenzie191/1100.0
Hutson Mason121/1100.0

Those numbers are really strong.  Whether that tells us more about UGA’s game planning and rushing attack or Clemson’s run defense, we really don’t know yet.

But Georgia had a 52.8% success rate when running the football, which is pretty great.  If the Dawgs can keep this up week-to-week, it really won’t matter how well Hutson Mason takes to his starting QB job.

About Brent Blackwell 139 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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