Last night I saw everything about Mike Bobo that’s driven me crazy all season.
Let’s start with the easiest part. Bobo and Belin are the two best position coaches on the staff. The job Bobo has done with Aaron Murray this season is nothing less than phenomenal. Murray finished last night with an otherworldly passer rating of 250.86. He didn’t throw an interception in his last three regular season games. Barring injury, when all is said and done in 2010, he’s likely to surpass 3,000 passing yards and has a legitimate shot at setting a new season passing TD record at Georgia.
Nationally, his accomplishments are dazzling for a redshirt freshman: ninth in passer rating, top thirty in passing yards per game, top thirty-five in total offense per game and top thirty in points per game. He accomplished all that despite ranking only sixty-seventh in the country in passing completions per game.
It’s not just the cold, hard numbers, either. The two touchdown passes Murray threw to the tight ends last night showed him to be one cool customer, buying time in the pocket waiting for a receiver to come open and putting throws right on the money for the score. The toss to Figgins was particularly impressive.
What was he, the fourth option on that play? It’s play like that which makes me slightly less concerned about next year’s offense post-A.J.
Anyway, all this praise has a point. Mike Bobo has done a whale of a job with a kid whom a decent chunk of the fan base was ready to demote after the G-Day game. That’s nothing to be sneered at.
Which makes Mike Bobo the playcaller all the more frustrating to watch. When I checked the game stats in the parking lot after the game, the number that jumped out was 14.3 – the average yards per passing attempt. (Not per completion, per attempt.) In other words, every time Murray looked downfield, the odds were good his team was going to get a first down. As was the case with Auburn two weeks ago, the Tech secondary simply wasn’t capable of handling Georgia’s passing game. Bobo deserves credit for taking advantage of that. Georgia’s longest scoring drive of the night took all of 4:26 to run; it was the only score that took more than three minutes to carry out.
And yet… and yet, as we’ve seen so many times this season, Bobo hits these inexplicable stretches where he can’t stand success. The first half would-be scoring drive that stalled when Georgia couldn’t convert the fourth-and-short, the drive which took four running plays and two time outs to pick up a measly six yards to put Georgia up 28-21 (all that after Tech proved it simply couldn’t cover A.J. on three straight completions to open the drive) and, most inexcusable of all, the patented three-and-out series in the fourth quarter – all of that was both utterly predictable and maddening to watch at the same time.
Am I nitpicking here? Maybe I would be, except that in a game in which Georgia Tech ran a whopping 92 offensive plays to Georgia’s 48, every call was precious. Once it was clear that Georgia’s defensive line couldn’t stop the dive play, Paul Johnson’s offense was going to get its yards. It was also clear that Georgia’s defense was gassed in the fourth quarter (how could in not be?). Georgia averaged a better than decent 5.3 yards per rush, but so what? When the downfield passing game was getting as little resistance as it was and when the quarterback whom you’ve done a first-rate job of developing is having his game of the season, only throwing the ball 19 times, compared to 29 rushing calls, is doing a poor job of utilizing your resources.
I believe Bobo has it in him to be an excellent offensive coordinator, I really do. But he’s not going to get there unless he comes to realize that balance in and of itself doesn’t win football games. Balance is nothing but a means to an end. Last night, just like two weeks ago, Georgia’s defense desperately needed the offense to keep its foot on the gas. There’s no reason that couldn’t have happened except for the caution of the driver.