Land mines for Georgia Bulldogs, more
Weaknesses that could derail Ohio State, Michigan State and other Top 25 teams
Every team in ESPN.com/ESPN The Magazine's preseason top 25 poll made rank because they have lots of positive things going for them. But nobody's perfect, and in order to identify the things that could hold these teams back, we sent them through ESPN Insider's Eliminator model.
This week we'll examine five teams per day, picking out the statistical weakness that could trip up each team, and the three teams/games that could exploit them (the land mine games, if you will). Each stat is drawn from our Eliminator model and thus is a category that correlates strongly to success in college football. The minimum benchmark met by each conference and BCS champ, and the average of past champs, is provided for each.
Today, we continue with the teams ranked No. 20 through No. 16.
20. Georgia Bulldogs (6-7 in 2010)
Statistical Category: Yards per pass attempt
BCS Benchmark: 7.1 (8.5 average)
SEC Benchmark: 7.1 (8.6 average)
Georgia in 2010: 8.8
Quarterback Aaron Murray threw for 3,049 yards with a 61.1 completion percentage last season, which was the second-most yardage ever for an SEC freshman.
Even better news for Dawgs fans: Murray ranks fourth in the nation among returning passers in yards per attempt from 2010, and many are expecting the sophomore to take the proverbial "next step" this season.
So why, then, is yards per attempt a category of concern?
Because top downfield threats A.J. Green (the No. 4 overall pick in April's NFL draft) and Kris Durham are gone, and they've taken their 14.9 and 20.6 yards per catch totals, respectively, with them.
Even if Murray improves as a passer in 2011, his stats could take a dip as he breaks in a green receiving corps. For an offense and a team that figures to be very passing game reliant, that could be a problem.
Land mines: Boise State, Mississippi State, at Tennessee
The Bulldogs will be tested immediately, facing a Boise State Broncos pass defense that ranked second in the nation in yards per attempt in 2010.
Things don't get any easier in SEC play, when Georgia will face the pass defenses of Mississippi State and Tennessee. MSU is stacked with four returning starters in the secondary, and the Vols will challenge Georgia with the dangerous safety combo of Janzen Jackson and Prentiss Waggner (each had five picks last season).