If you’ve read my last post, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “fine, Bluto, Murray and the defense haven’t sucked as bad as I may have thought, but this team is still 1-2, so whom or what to we blame for that?”
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but maybe it’s worth going back and looking at a few assumptions that we all made before the start of the season and see how they panned out.
- Georgia Tech 2009 as a template. Big, experienced offensive line, deep backfield = lots of rushing yards and ability to control games. Before you argue that the results of the Tech game were a statistical mirage, go back and look at the stats from last season. Georgia rushed for more yards against the Jackets than any other team they faced, and did it at the second-best yards per carry average for the season. Even if Tech’s run defense was substandard, Georgia’s rushing offense clearly played at a high level. So what’s happened this season? The injuries to Chapas and King haven’t helped, but line play hasn’t been consistent (run blocking is the single biggest disappointment to date) and the longest run from scrimmage belongs to Aaron Murray. Nobody foresaw this team ranking next to last in the conference in rushing a quarter into the season, including the coaches.
- A.J. Green would be there to help Aaron Murray grow into his role. That’s worked out well so far, don’t you think? I don’t think Green’s presence in the South Carolina game in and of itself would have changed the result, but I sure would have liked to have seen how the Arkansas game played out with Green on the field.
- Early on, it would be more important to exercise mistake avoidance over play making with a redshirt freshman quarterback. While I don’t think Green flips the South Carolina game by his lonesome, I do wonder if down the road the coaches are going to look back at that and consider what might have been if they hadn’t clamped down on Murray’s game, particularly in the first half. To be fair, I’m not sure many realized how quick Murray’s progression would be (remember the G-Day reviews?), but that wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Georgia under-utilize its best offensive talent against the Gamecocks – See Knowshon Moreno, 2007 game.
- The tight ends would play a significant role in the offense. Some of the fall off there is because Georgia has lined up in a lot of max-protect I sets, but some of it seems to be due to Bobo being unwilling or unable to adjust to defenses crowding the middle with their linebackers and bringing safeties in the box.
If you think I’m pointing a finger in a particular direction, you’d be right. I know some of what’s on that list the staff had little control over and some wasn’t expected. But adjusting to what you have is part of what you get paid for and to date, we haven’t seen enough of that.
The good news is that some of these problems are going to begin clearing up on their own. Chapas should return soon. So will Caleb King. Green is back for the Colorado game. The coaches are beginning to recognize what they’ve got with Murray. All of those things will allow Bobo to open up the playbook more, which should help the running game and the tight ends. The troubling part is the offensive line, which was inconsistent blocking the run and had problems picking up the blitz last week. As fun as he is to watch, asking Murray to bail out the line on a regular basis won’t be a successful strategy over the course of the season. It’s time for Searels to get that sorted out.