Hindsight can be a beyotch. In retrospect, this probably wasn’t the smartest preview to write.
UPDATE: He gets the last name wrong, but you get the point.
This is kind of Urban Meyerish, with a twist:
Let’s hope he’s expressing a similar sentiment in a couple of weeks.
Most of us probably think, as the announcing crew certainly did, that Georgia’s fourth quarter running dominance was largely due to conditioning. Hutson Mason hinted that something else was at work.
Mason didn’t want to get too specific about the adjustments that the coaches made as the game got deep into the third quarter, but he said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and line coach Will Friend noticed something Clemson was doing to thwart the Bulldogs’ power game and they adjusted Georgia’s blocking schemes to take advantage of it.
“Those plays were toss sweeps, but systematically they weren’t schemed up like we planned,” Mason said after Georgia’s 45-21 win Saturday night. “Coach Bobo and Coach Friend did a phenomenal job over there of seeing it and they said, ‘hey, this is what we’re going to do: We’re going to change (the blocking scheme) and declare here.’ And we gashed them. For those guys to see that over on the sideline and change that up real quick is something people don’t see and they don’t get enough credit for it.”
Georgia had scoring runs of 18 (Gurley), 47 (Nick Chubb) and 51 yards (Gurley) on toss sweeps to the right side in the fourth quarter. In each case, the Bulldogs were pulling center David Andrews into the running lane and getting fullback Taylor Maxey downfield to block the Tigers’ safety.
“We kind of figured out how they were playing it a little different and we said ‘let’s declare here compared to where we were doing, let’s put another guy on the safety and get some better angles,’” Mason said.
As I posted earlier, I don’t want to read too much into this year’s offensive philosophy based on one game. But it’s worth noting that Georgia’s coordinators did a better job with their adjustments than their Clemson counterparts did. When you consider how much more Chad Morris makes than Mike Bobo, that’s kind of embarrassing.
My weekend was in and out, so I had to watch the replay in fits and spurts. I’ll go back and watch it again at my leisure, but even with the patchy way I got through it, a few things stood out.
A replay to savor.
I don’t mean for us (although it will). I mean I expect the players to get a lot of this:
Richt said, “Just because we had a victory doesn’t mean we’re a great football team by any stretch. We have a long way to go and we’ve even played an SEC game yet.”
He added, “I just walked out of the meeting room with the players a little bit ago. We talked about it. I keep saying thank God for film because if there was no film and all we could go by was how we felt after the game and what everybody is talking about us, we’d be in trouble. But when you turned on the film, we see the flaws. We know there are issues. We know there are certain things we got away with and if we don’t get them right we’re not going to get away with them in another game. Someone is going to make us pay.”
Hopefully by the time the coaches get done delivering that message early and often, the players will feel like they need to prove themselves all over again.
This is why you shouldn’t read too much into week one poundings of mid-major programs:
Did you see what happened in Week 1? Games matching the Power 5 against the so-called “Group of 5″ were about as competitive as insects against windshields. In 20 matchups on opening weekend, only three teams from the so-called “Group of Five” were able to win and just three others were competitive. The average scoring margin was 20.7 points — three touchdowns — and even teams that have been recent standard-bearers for small conference success such as Boise State, Rice and Utah State got stomped.
“That’s not a spot we’ve been in very often,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said Sunday night following a 38-7 loss at Tennessee that might have been the most revealing result of the weekend in terms of the gap that currently exists between the Power 5 and everyone else.
On paper, this was a classic opportunity for a program that plays in a 25,000-seat stadium and has to recruit two-star players almost exclusively to come into one of the sport’s historic venues and embarrass the crown jewel of an athletic department that spent $86 million more on sports than Utah State did last year.
Though nobody would have argued before the game that Utah State is more talented, Tennessee is in the midst of a rebuilding process as Butch Jones tries to clean up the mess from three disastrous years of Derek Dooley. With dynamic senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton, whose national reputation had been formed in close losses to brand-name programs each of the last three years, it stood to reason that Utah State might be able to take advantage of a Tennessee roster with no proven quarterback and 21 true freshmen who will play some role this season. Even Las Vegas expected it to be close, with the point spread bet down to 4.5 points by kickoff.
But after the game was a few minutes old and the vast differences in size and speed became evident, it was obvious the Aggies would need to play virtually mistake-free just to have a chance going into the fourth quarter. They were overmatched even by a Tennessee team that will likely struggle to finish .500 this season…
All that doesn’t bode well for Vanderbilt, of course, but the bigger implication is that throwing the “Group of 5″ a bone in the form of a spot in one of the major bowls is largely a waste from a competitive standpoint (although it’s really being done to send a little of the postseason revenue the mid-majors’ way). And don’t get me started on mandating a guaranteed mid-major berth in an expanded playoff.
If there are still questions surrounding Hutson Mason – and there seem to be (“Georgia certainly holds promise, but quarterback Hutson Mason still needs to show he can carry an offense…”) – you’d have to think that’s a bit unfair in that he’s missing a couple of his most potent weapons in Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Richt is still a little closed-mouth about their health, but Mark Schlabach sheds a little light on their current status:
Mitchell, a junior who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, is still recovering from preseason surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. He watched the Clemson game from the sideline and wasn’t using crutches or wearing a brace. Mitchell, who is probably UGA’s most explosive receiver, isn’t expected back for the South Carolina game, but might be ready to play against Tennessee on Sept. 27. Scott-Wesley, who had 16 catches for 311 yards with two touchdowns last season, might be ready to return from a high ankle sprain in time to play the Gamecocks.
One is better than none, of course, but that’s still a little disappointing, even if you’re somebody like me that thought it was going to be a slow return for the two.
That begs the question of whether the injuries to them are a controlling factor in the way Bobo is directing the offense, or if there’s something bigger going on.
A healthy Todd Gurley and a talented trio of running backs behind him showed Saturday against Clemson that pounding the ball with a potent ground game could give the Bulldogs’ a different identity on offense this season.
“We’ll see,” center David Andrews said. “I like it and I think the running backs like it. We’ve got enough of them where we can do it and keep them fresh.”
… Georgia still scored 45 against Clemson with quarterback Mason going 18 of 26 for 131 yards.
Mason didn’t need to put up big numbers through the air this time with the way the running backs were going and the room the offensive line provided.
That last sentence is the key. Mason threw for a lot more yardage in his earlier starts, but passing yards weren’t needed to put down the Tigers. So I don’t know that Saturday night signals a big philosophical change in Georgia’s offense as much as it shows Bobo’s maturity in fashioning a successful game plan against a specific opponent. Let’s wait and see what he has up his sleeve for South Carolina.