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Advanced Stat/Scheme Preview - Georgia vs UAB

Graham Coffey

All of a sudden we are 25% of the way through the regular season. UAB comes calling this week in Georgia’s first true night game in Sanford Stadium since 2021. 

The last time the Blazers came to town was that same year. Stetson Bennett was taking a week of fill-in duty for UGA’s entrenched starting QB. That quarterback’s name was JT Daniels. 

Bennett went 10/12 for 288 YDS and 5 TD’s. A true freshman TE from Napa named Brock Bowers had 3 catches for 107 YDS and an insane touchdown where he outran the entire UAB secondary down the sideline, erasing angle after angle and making it known in real time that he might just be an elite offensive weapon. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Bennett became the starter and UGA went on to win two straight national titles. Bowers is one of the best players in program history.

This game has very little juice on the national radar. There are going to be plenty of eyes on South Bend, Tuscaloosa, Eugene, Clemson and State College on Saturday. The Dawgs and Blazers are going to be an ESPN2 primetime kickoff, but not many people will be locked in outside of Bulldog Nation. The country will turn its eyes back onto Georgia before it heads to Auburn next weekend, but before it does this game provides UGA with a chance to hit its stride.

Think this game matters to Carson Beck? Remember, this was the opponent who Beck was supposed to get his first career start against back in 2021. Things didn’t click for him that week in practice and the former walk-on who started instead went on to become a college football cult hero. Late in that game, Beck threw a pick-six and walked off the field in disappointment. Playing UAB again, this time as the starter, is a full circle moment for the senior. He might be fired up for this one…

UAB Offense vs UGA Defense

This UAB program is different from the one Georgia saw last time around. Bill Clark retired this offseason in shocking fashion. UAB pulled a shocker when it hired former ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer as its head coach. The Blazers are considered a good job by G5 standards. The recruiting ground is fertile, the facilities have received significant investment in recent years, and the program has won some big games since coming back from the dead in 2017. They won a conference title in 2018 and had sustained success under Clark, going to bowl games the last 5 seasons. 

They did that with a hard-nosed style that was driven by solid defenses and efficient rushing attacks. Dilfer’s first team looks a bit different so far, dropping back to pass on two out of every three offensive snaps so far in 2023. 

The passing attack is led by Baylor transfer QB #4 Jacob Zeno. He was a backup for most of last season, but filled in as the starter in losses to FAU and UTSA. So far this year, Zeno has completed 80.3% of his passes for 7.8 YPA with 6 TD/3 INT. He threw for 383 YDS in a 49-35 loss against Georgia Southern in week two before 27/38 for 280 YDS with 1 TD/2 INT in a 41-21 loss to Louisiana Lafayette last week. Zeno is also UAB’s leading rusher so far this season. He has 142 YDS on the ground, with 14 scrambles for 89 yards so far this season. Zeno has 2 rushing TD’s but he also has 3 fumbles. UGA will need to corral him and be aware of the QB run threat. 

The truth of this game is that it is hard to talk about UAB’s stats and how they may translate versus UGA. They haven’t played anyone in the same universe as Georgia, but we can identify some trends…


- Edge setting will be a priority for the Dawgs on Saturday. UAB likes to rush off the edges. The gap they have run to the most so far in 2023 has been the Left End (17 ATT’s for 85 YDS/5.0 YPA). The gap they have run to the second most is the Right End (12 ATT’s 83 YDS/7.3 YPA)

- UAB seems to like the rub blocking ability on the right side of its OL more than the left. The Blazers have run between C/RG and RG/RT a combined 17 times for 72 YDS (4.2 YPA)

- UAB has a pretty solid Rushing Success Rate of 48.8%. They are averaging 6.3 YPC but they only averaged 3.8 YPC on 25 attempts against Georgia Southern. 

- The Blazers have a true RB tandem in RB #20 Isiah Jacobs and RB #1 Jermaine Brown Jr… Jacobs has averaged 4.7 YPC this year and Brown has averaged 4 YPC. 

- Fumbles have been a major issue for UAB so far. They had 4 of them against Georgia Southern. 

- The longest run of the season for UAB was a 44 yard rush by Zeno. Georgia will need to watch the backside on the Zone Read and be sure not to crash too soon. 

- UAB’s running backs aren’t super slippery. Jacobs is averaging 2.59 YDS After Contact an attempt and Brown is averaging just 1.95. Those aren’t very high numbers. This is a game where UGA should be able to swarm the ball carriers and shutdown the run. 


- Zeno throws a lot, but any team that drops back to pass on two-thirds of its plays is going to try and run a lot of quick game. The Blazers are no different. Only 13 of Zeno’s pass attempts have gone over 20 YDS downfield. He is 7/13 on those throws for 239 YDS (18.4 YPA) and 2 TD’s. He is actually a very good deep ball thrower. Zeno has 5 Big Time Throws on 20+ YDS throws according to PFF… UGA’s CB’s will need to be aware downfield. If they’re not focused early they can get hit for a deep shot. 

- Zeno’s trouble spot is intermediate throws of 10-19 YDS. He has 17 attempts in that range and all 3 of his INT’s have come on those throws. 

- Zeno will try to work short throws against UGA to make up for the mismatch that is UGA’s run defense versus UAB’s rushing attack. He is 36/44 this year for 6.1 YDS per attempt on those throws. He doesn’t have any INT’s throwing short but I watched some tape and saw a couple short throws that should have been picks. UGA has a chance to jump one underneath on Saturday and take it back for a big play. 

- 23% of Zeno’s dropbacks are screens. Considering how well UGA played those (aside from one 3rd down) last week, I think the Dawgs will be fine defending them against this UAB team. None of the WR’s are elite blockers and the TE’s are rarely on the perimeter.

- This team goes deep at wideout, but lacks any real star power. UAB has 4 WR’s and a TE with over 100 YDS receiving so far this season. There is only one player who has been established as a deep threat with any sort of regularity and that is one who doesn’t have 100 YDS yet… That is WR #3 TJ Jones. The Avg Depth of Target on his 7 TGT’s/6 REC’s has been 17.2 YDS. 

- That brings me to an interesting thing about this WR corps… It lacks true boundary receivers. WR #0 Iverson Hooks is 6’2” and 210 pounds. He is built like a traditional outside receiver and has 11 TGT/10 REC so far this year for 106 YDS and 2 TD’s. He is one of the few UAB wideouts with legit size, but he has only taken 35.8% of his snaps out wide. 

- No UAB player has taken more than 80% of their snaps as a boundary receiver. The aforementioned WR #3 TJ Jones has the highest boundary percentage at 78.3%… WR #19 Tejhaun Palmer has played 64.2% of snaps outside. He has 3 Contested Catches on 4 opportunities. TE #48 Bryce Damous (13 TGT/12 REC, 91 YDS, 1 TD) is the only other player getting starter level snaps to make a contested catch so far this year. 

- The biggest key for UGA against this quick game is going to be tackling. UAB is averaging a whopping 6 Yards After the Catch per Reception as a team in 2023. That’s a HUGE number… 590 yards of the team’s 954 receiving yards have come after the catch. 

- As for pressuring Zeno, UGA should have matchup advantages across the board… UAB can’t settle on an offensive line. I realized why when I saw that the Blazers gave up 6 sacks to ULL last week.

- Center #72 Brady Wilson is a really good player. He could probably start at a lot of P5 programs. He has given up 0 Pressures this year in 149 pass block snaps. 

- Aside from Wilson, RG #50 Brennan Moran (6 Pressures/2 Sacks) and LT #74 William Parker (2 Pressures/1 Sack) seem to be the other two players that UAB feels good about up front. 

- The RT and LG positions have been in flux. UAB has tried shifting #50 Moran around as well but that hasn’t helped. 4 players rotated in at RT and LG against ULL. The starter at Guard as #71 Quez Walker. He gave up 3 Pressures and a sack in 16 pass block snaps. #55 Luke Jones came in for him and allowed 2 Pressures in 44 pass block snaps. At RT, UAB started out with #79 Trey Bedosky and subbed in #70 Tater Reid. Bedosky allowed 1 Pressure in 18 pass block snaps and Reid allowed 3 in 36 pass block snaps. 

- UAB’s running backs have been poor in pass protection. Georgia should feast on those guys if the opportunity arises. 

UGA Offense vs UAB Defense

- This is a mismatch of large proportions so I’m just going to go straight into the bullet points…

- In addition to having an OL named Tater Reid, the Blazers have a DT #99 named Fish McWilliams… I felt like it was important for you all to know that. 

- As a team, UAB has 44 total pressures with 5 sacks so far this year. That sounds like a lot! Well, last week against ULL they only had 8 Pressures. Those did turn into 4 sacks, but the truth is that if this DL is making havoc against Georgia’s front then someone has busted an assignment. The only guy to watch is probably DT Kevin Penn. He had 2 sacks last week and has 3 so far this season. 

- ULL’s backup QB went 14/20 against UAB last week in his first career start. He put up 174 YDS and a TD and was kept clean on 18 of his 22 dropbacks. He went 14/17 for 174 YDS (10.2 YPA) on those dropbacks. 

- For some perspective… ULL put up 6.5 Yards Per Play against FCS Nothwestern State in their opener. Against Old Dominion they put up 6.0 YPP. Then they played UAB and put up 8.0 YPP. 

- The rushing defense for UAB is as bad as UGA will face this year. The Blazers are giving up 7.2 YDS per attempt on the ground so far in 2023. 

- ULL’s starting RB had 7 ATT’s for 108 YDS and a TD against UAB. As a team, the Ragin Cajuns rolled up 326 rushing yards on 8.8 YPA for 4 TD’s. The QB had 4 rushing attempts for 123 YDS and 2 TD’s… UGA probably won’t run Beck in a game like this but it would definitely help them open up some run lanes if they could get him to keep it once or twice on the Zone Read and slide down after grabbing some yards. 

- ULL had 8.8 rushing yards per an attempt despite its rushers only averaging 2.08 Yards After Contact per attempt. They only broke 8 tackles as a team on rushing plays but still had over 300 yards rushing… That is a lot of green grass in the run game.  

- ULL busted some HUGE runs off the right side of its OL. The Blazers allowed a 59 yard run off RT, a 30 yard run between C/RG, and a 20 yard run off the right side with an inline tight end blocking. 

- Things aren’t much better on the other side of the ball. Pass happy Georgia Southern had 39 REC’s on 47 ATT’s against UAB’s defense. They racked up 344 YDS… In that game, UAB’s defenders allowed 6 catches on 7 contested catch opportunities. 

- As bad as the UAB pass defense has been, it has not given up the long bomb. The longest pass play the Blazers have allowed is 36 yards. 

- Georgia Southern’s QB had a PFF Passing Grade of 90+ throwing on every level of the UAB defense (0-9 YDS, 10-19 YDS 7 20+ YDS). 

- UAB has actually defended screens pretty well. Georgia Southern attempted 9 and only netted 2.5 YPA on those plays. 

- UAB has played a ton of guys so far on defense. None of them have really played well in the secondary. CB #5 Mac McWilliams has played the most coverage snaps. He has allowed 12 TGT/11 REC for 132 YDS and a TD.

Final Analysis/Score Prediction

If there was ever a good setup for a fast start, this is it. Georgia weathered the storm last week. In the process, the Bulldogs looked like hunters for the first time all season. They played with rhythm on offense and swarmed on defense. 

Saturday night is a perfect opportunity to keep that momentum rolling. UGA’s offensive line should be able to keep the good vibes rolling against UAB’s defense. Daijun Edwards should see a quick 8-10 touches and roll up a couple explosive runs before heading to the bench and letting Dillon Bell, Cash Jones and Sevaughn Clark get some carries. Georgia could put up a couple hundred rush yards in the first half of this game if UAB doesn’t fully sell out on the run. 

Carson Beck has been extremely accurate so far this season. That will continue this week. The biggest mystery in this game is how UAB will play on defense. Does it play soft and try to prevent the big play? Does it load up the box like a lot of overmatched teams do against the Bulldogs? 

Beck missed a couple opportunities to push the ball downfield when he had receivers behind the defense last week. If UAB doesn’t sit in a deep shell all night then UGA will have some chances to connect on a few deep shots. With Georgia’s RB room extremely banged up we should see a lot of screens and swing passes that are extensions of the rushing attack. I don’t know if UGA will burn any of its Dillon Bell pass plays out of the backfield on to tape this week (they shouldn’t) but Bell is good enough to take a swing pass to the house on this team if they’re in the right defensive look. 

Look for Beck to hit Rara Thomas or Arian Smith for a deep ball or two. Expect a big night for Dominic Lovett on perimeter screens and a big play mixed in from Mekhi Mews or CJ Smith. With Brock Bowers dinged up, this could be the week to get Oscar Delp some touches over the middle. UAB’s safeties and LB’s will be severely overmatched by his athleticism.  

On defense, Georgia should have no problem shutting down this rushing offense. Zeno has enough arm talent to test the Dawgs downfield a time or two. It will be interesting to see if Daylen Everette or any of the younger DB’s are challenged to play some balls in the air downfield. UAB will try to work a lot of quick game and screens. The screens should be smothered with regularity. The quick game stuff will be an interesting gauge of how UGA’s younger LB’s are coming along in coverage. Whoever shows they’re capable of playing well in zone coverage the fastest could earn themselves more snaps when UGA gets into conference play. 

As for the pass rush, UGA will need to contain Zeno’s legs. Georgia has to watch the backside on Zone Reads and be sound in their rushing lanes up the middle. UGA should be able to get regular pressure off UAB’s right tackle. I expect a big game from Chambliss and the rest of the OLB’s. That pressure is likely to force a turnover or two. 

UGA rolls from the start and gets plenty of snaps for the backups…

Georgia 55 - UAB 6



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