Should Georgia rethink its offense?

Two bloggers I respect, Brian Grummell and Ryan Ferguson, both argue in this post (Brian) and in the comments (Ryan) that Georgia should “rethink its offense”.  On the one hand, I understand and sympathize somewhat with their position.  The Dawgs, who rank first in the SEC in total offense, have left points on the field in three of the conference games they’ve played to date.

But on the other hand, there’s no real suggestion made about what exactly “rethinking the offense” means.  Is Brian suggesting a new offensive scheme?  I doubt it, but even if he is, it’s both unlikely and impractical that Richt would implement something like that in midseason with his current personnel.

So what we’re left with, as far as I can tell, are two things:  execution and personnel.  With regard to the former, I would certainly agree that there’s significant room for improvement.  This team has struggled with the impact of injuries on the offensive line, at tight end and at fullback.  There have been clear moments when lack of focus have cost points (Green’s drop against Tennessee and Walsh’s two misses against Vandy quickly come to mind).  Georgia also ranks next to last in the conference in turnovers gained, so the offense isn’t getting the same number of short field opportunities that other SEC offenses are getting.

What I mean with regard to personnel are the decisions made about which players to get the ball in the hands of and what sort of playcalling decisions are being made to see that those players are able to maximize their opportunities when they get the ball.  With regard to the first point, I think Ryan is being a bit breezy here when he lists A. J. Green as a reason that Georgia’s offense should be more dynamic than it’s been so far.  I’m not sure anyone at the beginning of the season expected Green to be leading the SEC in receiving yards per game by the middle of his freshman year.  And Green, by his own admission, is still feeling his way around the offense.

That being said, if I had to name some areas that could stand improvement, here’s where I’d go:

  • The disappearing tight end. I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but this is a real puzzler.  I know that Chandler’s been hurt, but I don’t understand why this position is being virtually ignored in the passing game.  Georgia hasn’t completed a pass to a tight end since the Arizona State game.
  • Red zone playcalling. There are no doubt a number of factors in play with this, such as Southerland’s missing the first six games and the offensive line shuffle, but Georgia doesn’t seem as confident in the red zone this year as it was in 2007.  There has been a tendency to become overly (and unsuccessfully) reliant on the fade route – although that seems to have been checked against Vanderbilt.

One other thing.  Georgia isn’t Tulsa or Oklahoma – teams that have structured their offenses to run as many plays in a game as they can.  Richt obviously likes to be able to rely upon the long time consuming drive as a means of control.  So when Brian makes a comment that “yards aren’t points” in dismissing Georgia’s ability to move the ball, he’s not taking into account the fact that Richt sees a drive like the eleven minute epic in the fourth quarter against Tennessee that only resulted in a field goal as being completely successful in what he wanted to accomplish.

I’d be interested in hearing your comments about this.  Where in your opinion has the offense fallen short this year, and how would you fix things?

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UPDATE: Richt gives Chip Towers an explanation for the disappearance of the TE in the passing game.

Asked why no tight ends have caught passes in the last few weeks, CMR said it was a byproduct of pass protection and injuries. Chandler’s out and Bruce Figgins (shoulder) is playing hurt. But mainly they’re using seven-man protections by keeping in a TE and a back and just throwing to three wideouts. He noted that the OL is doing well and there have been no sacks the last two games.

Tradeoffs are a bitch, aren’t they?

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UPDATE #2: This Elkon post is both timely and informative.

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UPDATE #3: Kyle fleshes out the tight end question.

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17 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Blogosphere

17 responses to “Should Georgia rethink its offense?

  1. NebraskaDawg

    Bobo has a tendency to overthink the red zone offense (i.e fades, naked bootlegs, etc.). The TE is extremely important for a pro style offense in the red zone and we don’t even look for the TE. In addition what about more releases by the backs, this is something we seem to do less of also. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Richt-Flair

    Were MoMass’s two TD catches in the last 2 games both slants to the back of the end zone? Seems like we have one type of pass route working well, and one not so much. I’d like to see more of an emphasis on the running game down there, which I think is what happened with that last Knowshon TD. We probably wouldn’t be having this discussion if we didn’t try any misdirection against UT with that screen pass and Stafford trying to tuck and run with it a couple times.

  3. baltimore dawg

    i would venture to say that at least part of the reason that the TE has disappeared from the passing game is that Stafford, Bobo, etc. don’t have much confidence in the personnel as viable receivers. chandler seems like a great guy and all that, but he seems not to have turned the corner with all the drops as other receivers have.

    still, execution at almost every position (with the probable exception of mo mass) is what’s really holding down the offense, so there’s plenty of blame to go around for that.

  4. TimeForABenchin'

    Our offensive scheme, while predictable, is perfect for our personnel. We have a NFL QB, a workhorse RB and a stable of big, athletic receivers. We line up and come right at you.

    The problem this year has been execution. Plain and simple. The playcalling has been good, we just arent executing. If we executed the plays that were called to perfection in the first half against UT and Vandy then we would have led both games 35-0 at halftime.

    Hopefully, this week we can put it together.

    Dont forgot what we do to defending national champs!

    Go Dawgs

    ps. BENCH BRYAN EVANS

  5. I’ll be honest here, Senator, I think you should have torn this post a new one. Brian most certainly is suggesting a new offensive scheme or at least some major changes; he writes Richt “maybe should reconsider his offensive philosophy altogether.” He adds that “unless a few miracles happen, this season is already a golden opportunity squandered” which would seem to imply that Georgia doing the same thing to Florida that Ole Miss did would be “a miracle,” not to mention that calling the opportunity “squandered” with five games still to play in the regular season seems more than a little premature.

    Grummell’s not bad overall, but he’s still a Pac-10 guy who enjoys looking down his nose at the SEC’s alleged offensive inferiorities whenever he gets the chance.

  6. I thought about being harsher in my response, but his post was completely devoid of any specifics to attack. I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    Honestly, I have a hard time believing that any rational pundit/blogger would seriously suggest a complete overhaul of the scheme of the offense for a 6-1 team ranked ninth in the country leading the SEC in total offense. If that’s in fact what Brian meant, then I would rip him a new one for that.

  7. SRQDawgs15

    I agree with NebraskaDawg here. We seem to move the ball down the field at will and stall out in the red zone. Most of the time it is by running those bootlegs, misdirections, fades, etc. instead of the plays that got us down there and have worked in the past. This isn’t UF, just line up and play ball, quit trying to trick the other team all the time. With Stafford throwing to MoMass and Green with his arm it should be slants and little out plays like the TDs Saturday or Knowshon sweeps and runs off tackle. The TE would be nice too. No need to revamp the offense, just stick to what works instead of trying to find out what “else” works.

  8. JDog

    I think that Auburn and Michigan are great examples of what can happen when you try changing offensive styles.

    Let’s learn to execute the offense well, and only then if it’s still not meeting expectations, think about changing it. We have incredible talent right now, we don’t need to waste a year or even half a season learning something new.

  9. Our redzone offense needs to rely on two simple concepts:

    1. Don’t get fancy. We don’t need to. Unless all else fails, we don’t need to use misdirection and throw jump balls – someting we aren’t good at anyway.

    2. Use our strengths even though the other team expects us to use our strengths. This means that we should get Moreno outside if possible. Depending on down and distance, maybe stick it inside with a fullback or Moreno between the tackles. If we pass, make it a timing route that relies on a sharp cut (to separate) and pass it with zip (no one throws with more zip than Stafford.)

    We saw this work against Vanderbilt which tells me we learned what not to do after the UT game. Let’s hope we continue this trend against LSU.

  10. Robert

    The first sentence says it all:

    “I write this as a USC fan who thinks they should also rethink their offense.”

    The Dawgs main problem is simple. They don’t score when they can/need to. Which is a problem.

    We should have had more than 30 points in the ASU, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt games.

    Missed FG’s, dropped passes, bad routes, defensive holding, poor play-calling(Stafford/Moreno read play), and penalties have all played a role in our lack of production on the scoreboard. But not on the stat sheet.

    If the Dawgs can nail down the sure-fire plays in the red zone that work outside of it, there is no need for a change in the play book, just the play calling.

    We need to ride the workhorse that is Knowshon Moreno when it counts. He wants to score. He yearns for it. He feeds off of it. And, so does the rest of our offense.

    Against USC(?), who was it that was that nearly fell down and still managed to score? Knowshon.

    Against ASU, who was it that went leaping over defenders on our bread-and-butter toss sweep into the endzone? Knowshon.

    Against Vandy, who was it that put a knee down before blasting into the endzone? Knowshon.

    The next play after the review nullified that run, who was it that scampered back into his “home” untouched, for one of those “haha” moments? Knowshon.

    He’s one of the best backs in the country. He single-handedly beat Florida for us last year. He is the battery that powers our offense. He is electric.

    When Knowshon rushes for over 100-yds we are undefeated.

    Give him the ball.

  11. TimeForABenchin'

    “He single-handedly beat Florida for us last year. ”

    woah buddy, i love Knowshon too, but dont get carried away.

    “When Knowshon rushes for over 100-yds we are undefeated. ”

    In the entire Richt era, whenever we have a 100 yd rusher we win. It is pretty simple.

  12. Completely agree with you on your points, but I think there’s one other reason for some of the missed opportunities: There’s only one senior on offense to have played in every game this year: Mo Massaquoi.

    There’s a difference between experience and leadership, and you don’t necessarily have to be a senior to have either quality, but it seems to me there aren’t too many guys outside of Mo on the offense that have both this season.

    Maybe it doesn’t make much difference, but I suspect there aren’t many 6-1 teams that have started fewer seniors on both sides of the ball than Georgia.

  13. Robert

    TimeForABenchin’ — you’re right, maybe “single-handedly” is a bit too strong. The defense in that game was key with 6 sacks. (Florida allowed 15 all season)

    Stafford had 2 big plays to MoMass and Mikey Henderson, their only catches of the game were TD’s. And I’m not going to leave off Brannan Southerland’s catch for a TD.

    But, 33 carries for 188 yards, a 42 yard run, a 5.7 yard average and 3 TD’s does make a pretty good case for “single-handedly”

    Not to mention, sparking a certain “celebration” that “will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.”

  14. Coastal dawg

    Bobo seems to out think himself in the red-zone lately. But the missing TE is clearly tied to injuries. Figgins can’t raise his arms and the TE is staying in to block and help the thin OL.

    Let’s face it, Stafford is not a good “touch passer” so the hard slants are the way to go. I think some teams started playing to that so we tried the fade lately.

    Grummel and the rest of the media are enamored with these basketball/WAC scores. If you don’t score 50 points your offense has problems. That’s BcS.

    I like a good slugfest better than a track meet.

  15. Vinings Dog

    I am frustrated with our offense’s ability to put a game away, but I think we are purposely not showing all of our playbook with LSU and Florida coming up. Something tells me we will not see the same number of long throws down the sidelines over the next couple of games. One can certainly hope.

  16. Richt-Flair

    Saving our playbook until late October? Is Jim Donnan coaching or something? Let’s break out the wishbone and the pickle juice boys!

  17. Dawggone

    We probably shouldn’t underestimate the roll of running the clock out in that 100+rusher=undefeated stat (i.e., when you’re winning, you run), but that being said, Georgia really does need to let Moreno do his thing and not shoot 40 yards down field when we’re consistently getting 1st downs. I’m getting really tired of the needless interceptions.

    Go Dawgs!