One thing I noticed during the Ole Miss game — not that it took any sort of special analytical powers — was how much Georgia’s defense struggled with Kelly’s mastery of the run-pass option. (I was also impressed that I never saw a flag on Kelly for throwing past the line of scrimmage or one for ineligible lineman downfield on some of those plays.)
Well, guess what? Tennessee has a few RPO calls in its bag of plays, too.
Davin Bellamy had two words to describe what it’s like to defend a run-pass option play, which has become a staple of a lot of spread offenses throughout college football.
“Very frustrating,” he said.
He has good reason to have that take.
Throughout the majority of his football upbringing, Bellamy was taught to rely on instincts as a defender. In a passing situation, he was to beat the blocker off the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback. In a run situation, he was to set the edge or control a gap.
But now, the run-pass option threat on offense has changed the way the game is defended. Georgia has been the victim of big plays from run-pass options in each game this season. North Carolina, Nicholls State, Missouri and Mississippi all ran run-pass option plays, in which the quarterback had the choice to go with a run or pass after the ball was snapped.
Tennessee is another spread offensive team with run-pass option plays. Georgia, which was gashed for 510 total yards against Mississippi, will try to get a better grasp on run-pass option plays Saturday.
“It kind of takes away your tenacity,” Bellamy said. “You kind of got to play your keys and not just get off the ball and do what you want to do. You just gotta make sure you’re in the right position for everybody.”
Missouri burned Georgia with quick passes. Ole Miss did some of that, but quarterback Chad Kelly also had plenty of time to throw. And after getting the benefit of a good pass rush last year, Georgia’s secondary isn’t getting it this year. That’s left Georgia’s secondary often on an island, and at Ole Miss that meant height mismatches.
Tennessee also has tall receivers. Georgia knows it can’t just let the quarterback and receiver play throw and catch, as Ole Miss did.
Big difference between knowing and doing, though.