Many Georgia fans have comforted themselves since the beatdown in BR with the certain knowledge that this edition of the Bulldogs is very young and can be expected to have a lapse during the grind of SEC play. “Young” is a relative term that must be evaluated in terms of an opponent’s participation chart. That is, Georgia is a young team only if its competition boasts participation charts loaded with more experienced players, right? With that in mind, I checked the official SID charts of each school from last Saturday to see how the Dawgs stacked up against its competition on the youth curve. I also looked at Alabama’s chart to see how far Kirby and Company have to go to catch up with what everyone knows to be an upperclassman loaded Tide roster given the success of Tide recruiting for the past decade.
For the purpose of this exercise, I decided to count freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores and redshirt sophomores that actually played in Saturday’s games. LSU does not list redshirts in its official roster, therefore, I had no way of limiting the comparison the true freshmen and sophomores.
Go on, make your guesses. How many young players saw the field for UGA Saturday compared to LSU? How much of an experience advantage does Bama field each week? Let’s look at the numbers.
Myth busted! Bama, LSU and UGA fielded the same number of underclassmen last Saturday. To be fair, LSU and Alabama were at home and won by comfortable margins. Those facts could account for more underclassmen seeing the field for those schools than might have during a close game, and I admit that my counting was hurried and I could have missed a player or two. However, the premise that Georgia is playing with a roster that is significantly younger than other SEC contenders is incorrect. In fact, Alabama started more underclassmen than either UGA or LSU last Saturday.
Think about it. If a school signs close to 25 players per year with a hard limit of 85 total scholarships, attrition has to happen. Players who are not seeing the field on gameday by the time they are juniors tend to start thinking about transferring or giving up the sport. Alabama is popularly thought to “encourage” upperclassmen who are not part of the rotation in their position group to seek playing time elsewhere. My guess is that all top programs practice that type of roster management, thus the similarity in numbers for the three schools in this article. Of course, there are also players who opt into the NFL draft, as well.
The Dawgs were just beaten at LSU. No excuses are available. The only remedy is a skinned gator!