What’s next year’s passing game going to look like?

In their latest podcast, Seth Emerson and Gentry Estes discuss how big a deal the return of Malcolm Mitchell for the 2015 season is for Georgia.  Given the departures of Georgia’s most experienced receivers, they’re right.  But Estes goes on to note something about Mitchell that made me think:  this season, Mitchell has averaged 8.18 yards per catch.  Compare that to his career stats in that department.

  • 2014 – 8.18
  • 2012 – 14.30
  • 2011 – 14.78

Essentially, Malcolm Mitchell disappeared as a deep threat this season.  And before you lay that on his recovery from injuries (and remember, he made some tough, tough catches this year), compare Georgia’s overall average this season to years past.

  • 2014 – 11.82
  • 2013 – 13.94
  • 2012 – 15.71
  • 2011 – 13.32
  • 2010 – 14.45
  • 2009 – 13.76
  • 2008 – 14.67

That’s a period that covers four quarterbacks.  This season was the lowest average Georgia posted over that seven-year term, and by a pretty wide margin.  Whatever you want to blame that on, it’s pretty clear from the stats (and, not surprisingly, if you watched the games) that Georgia didn’t have as much of a deep passing game as we’ve been accustomed to seeing.

I’d argue that Bobo had a feel for that going into this season and planned accordingly by emphasizing completion percentage and ball control to make up for the lack of a deep threat.  Is that a reflection of Mason’s strengths and weaknesses?  If Bobo was doing his job, yes.

Whoever starts at quarterback in 2015 is going to bring a different skill set to the job than Mason brought this season.  (I’m assuming for the sake of argument it’ll either be Ramsey or Park.)  More arm strength, far less experience and a less experienced receiving corps to throw to is what we should expect.  Also, you’d have to think that whoever steps up in the two-deep isn’t going to be as solid blocking downfield for the run game as Bennett and Conley have been.  However, the offensive line, with four returning starters and what appeared to be some quality depth this year, ought to be a strength.

What does all of that add up to?  Probably some hiccups, especially early, which translates into more turnovers and a lower completion percentage than we got in 2014.  The question is, does Bobo return to the deep game to counterbalance that falloff?

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33 Comments

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33 responses to “What’s next year’s passing game going to look like?

  1. Emerson and Estes also point out that Gurley still has the longest pass completion on the season. In a nutshell, that says it all right there.

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    • Bright Idea

      Having a more athletic QB who can buy an extra second in the pocket or scramble occasionally might help the deep game. The plan with Mason seemed to emphasize throwing it quick. Bennett and Conley were very good but seldom ran past coverage which may have contributed to the 11.82.

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    • With all due respect Bernie, let’s not overlook the fact that Gurley’s pass went about 31-32 yds in the air and Blazevich had the YAC to make it look even better. Mason hit more than a couple of beautiful throws of 40+ that were on the money but hardly every any YAC. Several due to the fact that it was spot on in the end zone for a TD. Just saying, “longest” completions are a result of more than just a throw. Mason doesn’t get enough credit for what he did with what he had to work with.

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  2. Throwing it deep off play action is as much a part of this offense’s dna as balance is. Didn’t have the personnel for it this year. We’ll be chucking it deep again next year. My concern on offense is center. Whoever is under center is going to have ability and is going to make mistakes. We know that going in. However, it will be nice to see a QB out there who looks the part. It’s been awhile.

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    • ScoutDawg

      Been awhile? Because that no-name Aaron sucked?

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      • Derek

        I didn’t say he sucked. I said he didn’t look the part. Aaron is not a NFL prototype in stature. Ramsay is. What that means? I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. After going through two short guys and a far from ideal physical specimen at QB, I’m looking forward a more traditional, prototypical QB standing in the pocket and chucking it around for whatever that ends up being worth. In the end it’ll be worth a hell of a lot more to Brice than me. That much I’m sure of.

        I do think that Brice will make the other team’s safeties think about the deep ball which will make things a little easier on the run game.

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        • Cojones

          A contest for throwing long passes is idiotic. Not throwing them this year was in the cards before the season started. A great running game and ball control was necessary after coming off a bad turnover year and I think that was the thing to do. Fortunately, our coaches know what to do with the talent we have.

          If Bobo wants Park to throw the ball deep in the Spring Game, he’ll tell us. 🙂

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          • Derek

            “A contest for throwing long passes is idiotic”

            Please tell me that you aren’t suggesting that the entire premise of PA passing is stupid. Are you saying that 4 guys running 9’s on every play probably won’t work? I’d agree with that. However, the entire premise of offensive football is to force the other team to defend the entire width and length of the field. No you don’t heave it down field every play, but if they start cheating their safeties up or if they are biting on play action, you are supposed to run past them. If you either don’t or, as was the case this year, can’t the safeties bite and cheat and it makes it harder to run the damn ball. Balance and PA deep balls is what we’ve done for nearly 15 seasons. Its who we are. We went away from it while we had a guy can’t throw it down field. We’ll be back to it.

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  3. Normaltown Mike

    “I’m assuming for the sake of argument it’ll either be Ramsey or Park”

    Pfft, Disney Dawg.

    Smith’s already told us that the only way this teams wins a nattie is to get Bauta under center.

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  4. I wonder how many games we’ll see next year we’re the game plan is just to beat them down with the run. I really enjoyed watching those this year.

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    • Gravidy

      I agree. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more satisfying in football than watching the Dawgs run it down the other team’s throat. Of course, the converse is a real bitch.

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    • There will be a few of those, I’d be willing to bet, IF chubb stays healthy. Especially if our defense continues to improve. The wild card is center for 2015. Staying healthy, as always, will be a big factor. If marshall can get to 100% and jsw and mm return to 2013 form and jay rome can help jeb out a little we will be a very dangerous offensive team. If thompson and galliard, etc. can own the middle we’ll be in real good shape. We need someone to lock down that center position and also get and stay healthy. Alabama awaits the first weekend in October. I think we’ll have something for dat ass.

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  5. Given all the issues of experience noted above, I still wonder why we forced Rumph onto the field as late in the year as we did. The only game of consequence he played in was the Tech game (I only saw him on special teams against AU), and I can’t imagine we felt like he was going to be the key to beating Tech. I noted in a comment before, but Richt has always seemed to have the philosophy of doing what’s best for the player when possible, so I’m still surprised we didn’t hold him back and try to get a full healthy year out of him. Seems like that’s what would have been best for him AND for us, he could have been a real boost to the WR corps next year and he would have had a chance to improve his draft stock with a big year.

    I don’t know, maybe I’d feel different if we had beaten Tech, Mizzou had lost, and we would have still had a shot at making the playoffs. Just seems like burning his year just to play against UK, charleston southern, and Tech was an incredible waste.

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    • Cosmic Dawg

      I was rooting for Rumph, but I wonder if they figured he was never going to contribute beyond the average no matterhow long he stayed, so free up his slot?

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      • I do think there’s something there. I mean, Richt maintained all along that Rumph was gonna play no matter what, no matter how late in the season, almost like the coaches were ready for him to be gone. But no stories have ever leaked about him being a troublemaker or anything. I don’t know, I don’t claim to be more knowledgeable than our coaches, I’m sure there was a rational line of thought in place to putting him out there so late in the year. Just seems a bit curious from the outside looking in, given that it was no big secret we were going to be quite inexperienced there next year.

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        • From some of the earlier Seth & Gentry podcasts this year, Rumph’s been a big disappointment internally due to his inability to stay healthy as well as never seeming to get it all together during practice. Not that he couldn’t be useful next season, but the sense was that while we don’t cut players we weren’t going to redshirt him either and have him potentially waste a scholarship next year. You’re right that he’s not a troublemaker or anything, but just never panned out performance wise.

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          • Slightly a pro pos to the above…noticed that Seth Watts was listed among the football graduates of this semester. Didn’t he walk away from a OL scholly a while back?? Was he still on scholarship somehow??

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  6. Russ

    Given our stable of backs, I still see a run-first slant for next year, at least early on. Mason threw some beautiful deep balls later in the season but early this year, we never threw over 10 yards down field. Next year will be more of the same. The interesting part will be hearing some of our “fans” rail on whoever is at quarterback and how the don’t “look the part”.

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  7. Charlottedawg

    Next year’s passing game is going to be more feast and famine as opposed to this year’s steady Eddie nature. You’re going to see more big plays out of the passing game but also more missed throws as well as a sharp regression to the mean on turnover margin. Ramsey assuming he starts will be young Matt Stafford 2.0. Ramsey has more raw talent but mason will be missed just as Murray was.

    I know this would be heresy to Munson but I’ve kind of been lulled into an expectation that Mike Bobo’s going to put up 40 points a game no matter the personnel or year.

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    • Ginny

      Agreed on all fronts. Ramsey will take his lumps like any other young QB. He will try and do too much sometimes with his cannon arm and it will get him in trouble, but he’ll learn. As much as we’re going to love the deep ball and big play ability, we’re also going to really miss Mason’s completion percentage and incredibly low turnover rate. He just needs to keep in mind the talent he has around him and not try and win games by his lonesome.

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      • James Stephenson

        It will help having a strong running game. Couple of early PA deep balls, caught or not will back those safeties out of the box. If not, one on one will be nice. Not too mention a very talented TE running right up the seam.

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  8. Will Trane

    Not sure if there was a passing game at all this season…reasons beside.
    2015 season I think we will see more squib passes down the middle.
    Maybe a few jet sweeps with Ramsey, Chubb, and Michel…like to see them attack the edges more…from the center out either side. The times I saw Ramsey in games [Dawgs and Camden] I thought he had good quick hands and hid the ball well. Plus he is comfortable under center re Camden’s offense. But attacking the edges without a Conley or Bennett would be an issue.
    Where Scott Wesley fits in who knows?
    Two guys I would like to see have a big final game would be Conley and Bennett.
    Have a feeling Friends’ guys are going to play with some chips on their shoulders and an aggressive edge to their blocking.
    Did not know the coaching history on Collins. Not sure he deserves the blame for MSU’s loss to Ole Miss. After all I thought MSU and Mullen had another Tebow running their offensive show…oh, I forgot they did not show up against Ole Miss’s quick D.

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  9. sUGArdaddy

    We’ll be thinner at WR early on, but we just might be better. And the passing game in general might be better quickly. Blazevich will be a polished All-SEC caliber TE and Rome could be healthy for a complete year. I love, love, love Bennett and Conley, but in a 2 WR set, Malcom and JSW are a dramatic step up. Izzy will be more experienced and maybe eat some PB & J’s in the off-season. Reggie Davis is starting to look more natural. Also, don’t sleep on Hegedus. He redshirted this year, but could become a possession receiver we’re losing in Bennett and Conley. I’m also convinced that Tibbs will become a player at some point. We’ll be much more explosive from the get-go.

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  10. Irwin R Fletcher

    2013 numbers are a little deceiving…they only got above the year long average 3 out of the final 9 games…the first four were just so good.

    What’s crazy…UGA was still in the top 25 in the country in yards per attempt. It’s amazing how efficient Bobo has kept the passing game each year despite shifting personnel.

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  11. I completely agree with sUGArdaddy, in a traditional offensive set, a healthy JSW and MM are a huge step up from 2 guys who are DGDs in Bennett and Conley. The question really is who plays the slot to take advantage of matchups.

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  12. WF dawg

    The last few years have taught me to be worried about depth at RB. IIRC, we have Chubb, Michel, Douglas, Marshall, Turman, and commit Chris Carson. Wishing them all a healthy and suspension-free 2015.

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  13. AusDawg85

    Good Grief…so much made out of so little of a single statistic. 2 yards difference for the team average. Was Mason’s “noodle-arm” the problem? Or with Mitchell out the first part of the season, did the long ball go elsewhere?

    Chris Conley, 18.03 average, #1 in yardage and #2 in receptions.

    Where else could the 2 yard average have gone?

    2014 – 6.10
    2013 – 4.58
    2012 – 4.87
    2011 – 3.95
    2010 – 4.07
    2009 – 4.68
    2008 – 4.53

    Those are the team rushing averages per carry. We didn’t lose those 3 games for lack of throwing it deep successfully.

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    • You could make the case that our challenge throwing deep did affect the UF game. The wind took it away, and eventually, the Gator front 4 took away the running game. By the time we started throwing, it was too late.

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