Taking stock of Georgia’s early season passing game

Chip Towers makes a good point in his piece about Chris Conley.

That should serve Conley well because it’s becoming increasingly clear he’s going to be on the field a lot for Georgia this fall. Until Bennett returns from rehab – he’s out until August – only Conley (36 catches for 630 yards, 8 TDs) and junior split end Malcolm Mitchell (85-1,237-8) have any notable game experience. The rest of Georgia’s receiving production will have to come from up-and-comers such as Justin Scott-Wesley and Blake Tibbs and experienced veterans like Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten. Anything the Bulldogs’ get out of first-year players will be a bonus.

Brown and King are gone.  They combined last season for 69 catches and over 1,400 receiving yards.  There’s some production that’s got to be made up.  If Bennett comes back without missing a beat, he, along with Mitchell and Conley, should give Georgia more than solid options in its three-wide sets.  But what if he needs time to shake off some rust?

Some of the slack will no doubt be taken up by the tight ends.  Lynch was solid and Rome was really coming on at the end of last season.  And the bowl game hinted at getting Gurley and Marshall more involved in the passing game.  But while that’s all good, the offense needs the threat of that third wideout sometimes to spread the field and give Gurshall better rushing lanes when defenses stack the middle of the field against the I-formation stuff.

I’m guessing it’s going to be handled by committee between the likes of Scott-Wesley, Wooten and McGowan, unless somebody in the group emerges, or until Bennett shows he’s ready to step back into the starting three.  But it’s likely early on that Mitchell and Conley are going to be getting a work out.


Filed under Georgia Football

24 responses to “Taking stock of Georgia’s early season passing game

  1. Rebar

    After Marshall’s incredible catch in the bowl game, I’d like to see him line up in the slot position some this year.

  2. AthensHomerDawg

    Seems odd that Mitchell only has 8 TDs.

    • hailtogeorgia

      They didn’t really start targeting him that much in the endzone until Brown and Bennett went down. It seems Murray still loves to find the big guys in the paint…for a while two years ago, it seemed like Aron White didn’t catch a pass unless it was in the endzone.

      • He also spent the first few games playing defense, not offense.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        You’re right. Looking at the stats Michell has twice the receptions and nearly twice the yardage as Conley. They both have 8 TDs. Mitchell had a beauty of catch and run for 6 against the Gators.

  3. RandallPinkFloyd

    I gotta believe that Rumph is as close to SEC ready as possible having played JUCO and given his size. Hopefully, he figures it out quicker than Marlon did.

    • Ubiquitous Ga Alum

      Agree & found it odd that Towers didn’t even list him in the article … guess it didn’t fit the narrative

    • hailtogeorgia

      I get your point, but Marlon wasn’t a JUCO player, and it was widely known that his 5-star status was due largely to potential. He played in the smallest classification of private schools in Tennessee, it was no mystery that he wasn’t prepared.

      You know the one thing that hurt Marlon Brown’s image more than anything else? The fact that he came in one year after AJ, and everyone expected him to perform just as well.

      • Dawgwalker07

        And the fact that his nickname was “Downtown Marlon Brown” because he was known to spend a LOT of time DT. That might have affected his preparation in the early years…

        • hailtogeorgia

          I’d never heard him called that, and had never heard too much about him being downtown a lot. I graduated in 08, so granted, our times in Athens didn’t overlap, but nonetheless. Not saying you’re wrong, just saying I never heard it.

          On that note, though, I think just about every friend I had in college with the last name Brown was quickly nicknamed ‘Downtown’.

  4. hailtogeorgia

    Scott-Wesley looked promising in the bowl game, but I still think Wooten will be the guy who steps up…he has the experience and time in the program, and he’s always had sticky fingers.

    If you look at his career, he had a really solid freshman year. After that, he was overshadowed his sophomore year with the return of Kris Durham, he was hurt the majority of the year his third year (which he ended up redshirting), and last year, Marlon Brown’s emergence as a hoss, along with Michael Bennett’s strong play, didn’t really leave a space for him in the three deep…especially when you consider that Mitchell has to have a spot on the field as well.

    I think the top three to start the year will be Conley at the x, Mitchell at the Z, and Wooten in the slot at the Y.

    • … but I still think Wooten will be the guy who steps up…he has the experience and time in the program, and he’s always had sticky fingers.

      Actually, Wooten had the worst catch rate among Georgia’s top receivers last year (52.2%).

      • hailtogeorgia

        My statement was, admittedly, based on the eye test and not actually looking at the stats. That’s an interesting link.

        • Cojones

          I was right with you every word, hail. Knew his catch rate was below some others, but was surprised by that stat as well. Still like him on the field and have been a fan of his since he was a 4-star WR out of high school and picked us over LSU when it was more popular to pick LSU. He’s a good Dawg.

          • hailtogeorgia

            I’d like to see a little more in depth research into those numbers (not just Wooten’s)…for instance, how many of those targets were drops, and how many were just poor throws? I can’t seem to remember too many drops, but that could just be me forgetting them.

        • Cojones

          I was agreeing with your every word,hail. That stat was a surprise here as well. Knew he was below others in the catch rate, but wasn’t aware of that stat. Wooten has been favored by me since he emerged as a 4-star receiver out of HS and selected UGA over LSU when that wasn’t popular.

  5. I wanna Red Cup

    Conley is a beast. I have thought so since I first saw him at G Day 2 years ago. Him and Mitchell are splendid, and when cousin Bennett returns we will be difficult to handle. I look for AM and Bobo to throw it around to many, many players, making it difficult for defenses to lock down on one or 2 guys. The tights, the backs, and Scott hyphen and Woot. We have many weapons before the new guys report.

  6. Dog in Fla

    Wooten the Ball Carrier has been on the committee so long that his recruiting host was Mohamed Massaquoi


  7. McTyre

    Lynch’s production in 2012 was well north of solid. Became a big play threat and his blocking ability makes us more unpredictable (vs his one dimensional immediate forebearers like White, Figgins, et al). Rome clearly is a big play threat but I confess to not knowing how he rates as a run blocker.

  8. Irwin R Fletcher

    Point towards the end of the story that is worth pointing out…Dawgs played the last 5 games of the year without Bennett or Brown so it’s not like it should be a big mystery who the leading candidates are to come up with the lost production from Brown and TK.

    Conley had 13 catches for 258 and 5TDs….that’s a TD per game. Artie Lynch went from making 1 catch per game to 3 catches per game. JSW went from DNP to catching balls.

    BTW…think about the game breaker against Nebraska…that was 4th Q in a track meet on a pretty warm day…dude still had GAS in the tank.

    “(Conley) has been very productive and I think a lot of the reason why is because he works so hard,” said Richt. “His conditioning is better than about anyone late in the game. When people are getting fatigued, he still has stamina which gives him an edge.”- That’s after the scrimmage.

    I really hope it is Woot’s turn to shine…but at the same time, he might be a 4th receiver. That’s ok…he’s still a DGD. We’ve got a couple of guys in that 5’11 mold like Woot and JSW that can play…but Tibbs seems like the leading candidate to be this year’s “Conley”…the third guy behind the two established starters on the outside.

  9. Lakatos Intolerant

    As PinkFloyd suggested earlier, I find it strange there is no mention of Rumph. Until Bennett is 100% again, I think he’ll assume the role of Option 3 in 3WR sets and will almost certainly be in there when we go 4WR/1RB, which we did quite a bit last year. I’m probably overlooking someone, but I can’t remember bringing in a JUCO WR recently – there really is no point if Richt & Co. think it’ll take a year to settle in, giving us 1 year of true production. We obviously believe we’ll get 2 solid years from the kid, and I like the fact that he’s in camp already and has a foundation when it comes to route-running technique, use of hips/hands, etc. I anticipate he’ll be playing at 6’5”/220 and would be willing to bet he has some pace, so what’s not to like??

  10. DawgPhan

    Either Mitchell or Conley can take the short curl/out on the sidelines to the house by breaking that first arm tackle…no one is catching them after that.

  11. Everyone looks open (or more open) when Gurley is high-stepping through linebackers.