It’s time to begin the segue from Boise State to South Carolina. The bridge for that is asking what came as a genuine surprise to the coaching staff Saturday night… and how much of that is fixable by next Saturday afternoon.
After watching a replay of the first half again, I think the unexpected boiled down to two things. First, the staff was convinced that the offensive line would hold up better than it did against a Boise State front that Richt went out of his way to praise in the days leading up to the game. There really isn’t much other way to explain both the playcalling and the decision to run most plays out of shotgun spread formations.
The second area was strength and conditioning. Certainly the offensive line didn’t get much push when Georgia chose to run the ball between the tackles, but it’s the fall off on defense that was even more noticeable. The Dawgs started off quite solidly, swarming to the ball, tackling well and showing decent pass coverage abilities early on. Even if they weren’t able to sack Kellen Moore, they were able to force an end to some of the first quarter possessions by pressuring him.
That changed dramatically once both offenses went hurry-up, though. Georgia’s defenders seemed to run out of gas as the second quarter wore on and it continued that way after the half. (Again, Richt’s tactical decision to receive the opening kick really came back to bite him in the ass here.)
The good news is that there are ways to adjust for those concerns. I’m not sure why there was a reluctance to play without using multiple tight end sets and without fullbacks for much of the night against BSU, but deploying more of those would be easy ways to shore up the line play and reduce the pressure on the tailbacks to pick up the blitz. And just as obviously, Georgia can ditch the no-huddle offense and try to eat up more clock as it operates on offense.