The problem with Georgia’s running game…

… has nothing to do with Nick Chubb and any perceived “he’s not his old self” bullshit.

For starters, the rushing performance against Florida was historically inept.

Particularly disconcerting was the Bulldogs’ inability to run against the Gators. The Bulldogs had just 21 yards rushing on 19 carries. CBS Sports said it was Georgia’s worst against the Gators since 1960. UGA’s sports communications staff is still researching but that’s at least worst than the Bulldogs ever did on the ground in the Mark Richt era.

As a general rule of thumb, when your sports communications staff is still researching how crappy something was, Athens, you’ve got a problem.  But it doesn’t take much thought to conclude that even a Nick Chubb at 50% is better than at least a few of Georgia’s running backs over the past half century.

If you’d like a little hint about what roots of that problem might be, here are a few enlightening moments.

It’s not totally fair to say guards in the plural there, because Gaillard moved his man out of the way to open a hole for Chubb.  Unfortunately, Wynn didn’t maintain leverage and as a result his man was able to blow the play up.

This time, it’s the center and right side of the line that whiff… also, notice how Blazevich gets driven back three yards by the left end, which forces Michel inside.

Jim Brown couldn’t get back to the line of scrimmage with that kind of blocking.

Said junior guard Isaiah Wynn: “We just have to all get in the right page. It’s kind of frustrating but, at the same time, you can’t let it get to you because you tend to mess up even more. So we are just working on fixing it and getting better. Some of it is just technique-wise. The effort is all there.”

He’s right about technique.  It’s poor enough to make you wonder what Pittman is doing with these guys.

It’s not just the running game being affected, of course.  Take a look at the pass blocking on what turned out to be Georgia’s longest play from scrimmage Saturday.

As noted, that’s seven blocking four and Eason still had to run for his life.  Yes, the result was a big play to Godwin, but look at the opportunity Eason missed.

That’s not on Eason, who made as much out of the situation as he could.  He simply isn’t getting the time to read the field there.  Unfortunately, as the game progressed, his lack of confidence in the line play led him to bail out of the pocket when he didn’t always need to, as was the case on this wasted play.

Florida did an excellent job adjusting to the roll outs after getting burned by Eason on the Dawgs’ lone touchdown drive.  That’s a big reason Georgia’s offense ground to a halt in the second half.

If you’re a defensive coordinator preparing for this offense, there’s no way you can have any fear of being overly aggressive attacking the line of scrimmage.  The linemen don’t play consistently, and there’s often little help from the blocking tight ends or as I mentioned yesterday, Christian Payne.

A smarter man than I would think about scheming around the problem with more quick hitting runs and passes and also giving Eason a little more time in the shotgun, but that’s obviously not a place this staff wants to go.

Speaking of which, this is the first time I’ve heard Smart get into specifics about how the offensive game plan is being draw up and called during games.

As for scheme, Smart said he is involved with the offensive game plan sort of after the fact, but “knows every play that is called” during games. Essentially he leaves the the creation of the play script and play-calling to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the Bulldogs’ offensive staff. Receivers coach James Coley was also a coordinator at Miami and is heavily involved in the game plan, along with line coach Sam Pittman.

“I can’t get into specifics as far as the exact amount of time, but there’s not a play that’s called from an offensive standpoint that I’m not hearing,” Smart said. By the time the offense goes out there, the first thing I want to know is, ‘what are we starting with?’

“As far as game-planning this offensive staff is very intelligent. They’ve got a lot of experience. Two coordinators are on that side of the ball that have been there before. So I trust those guys and believe in those guys.”

There’s really not much else he can say at this point, I know.  But the line play is killing this team right now and unless the coaches decide they have to scheme around the shortcomings in blocking, this offense is going to continue to sputter the rest of the season.  With or without Nick Chubb.

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43 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

43 responses to “The problem with Georgia’s running game…

  1. Two coordinators who frankly suck … Chaney has proven to me that he can’t put together a coherent game plan with what works for more than one game. Coley came from that offensive juggernaut that was Al Golden Miami.

    Yes, the line play has been horrendous for most of the year and that may be a compliment to those guys. They just seem to a twitch slow to get off the ball like a B1G line. What I saw on Saturday was defensive linemen who were on or past our guys before they could even get into position to block.

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    • gastr1

      I certainly am not going to comment on what’s going on re: the coaching, but this is blocking ineptitude that I’ve never seen in 30 years of watching Georgia football. Seriously. Slow, pushed backward, missed assignments…all over the board. Unbelievable.

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      • Coondawg

        Spot on. I was just saying I can’t say I have seen a worse offensive line at Georgia. If there is one thing I absolutely hate watching, no matter the team, is bad football. And that’s what i see….bad football.

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    • Brandon

      So tell me again how you scheme around this ineptitude of blocking? Quick passes? Hard to do when every opponent crowds the line because they don’t respect our receivers’ ability to get behind them, nor would Eason have time to wait for them to get open downfield anyway on most occasions. I’m not blaming the coordinators yet. It’s hard to call any successful plays with execution levels this poor. It is fair to ask however what the hell Pittman and Coley have been doing all season getting these guys prepared.

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  2. Positively Munson (formerly Skeptic Dawg)

    As Dawg fans we have known for some time now that this o-line is a hot mess. Watching the game live you only had to see a hand full of plays early on to know the guards and Kublanow were attempting to ice skate up hill. That is nothing new. However, take a look at the first clip posted and you see Chubb taken down by one arm across the thighs when there is green space in front of him. Later in the game he was taken down by a shoestring tackle. Chubb looks more like Richard Samuel III at RB than his old self. I do not know if it is his health, attitude or frustration, but it is painfully evident that the guy is not the same RB have have seen the past two season.

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    • If you take a look at Bill Connelly’s advanced stats breakdown of Georgia’s backs, you’ll see that Chubb has the highest highlight yards per opportunity and lowest opportunity rate of all.

      Highlight Yards

      The portion of a given run that is credit only to the running back; after a certain number of yards, the line has done its job, and most of the rest of the run will be determined by the running back himself. For more information, start here. An important note: a player’s per-carry highlight yardage is now calculated as follows: Highlight Yards divided by Opportunities. In this case, Opportunities mean only the carries in which the offensive line “did its job,” i.e. carries that went at least five yards. With a different denominator, then, it is possible for a player’s Highlight Yards per carry to be much higher than his overall yards per carry.

      I repeat: it ain’t Chubb.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Macallanlover

        No it certainly isn’t Chubb. Even if he were only 80% back, only Herschel could get positive yards when hit that early in the play. And it isn’t all OL talent either. No one could deny we lack the talent needed to go against a top quality defense and win the battle regularly, we haven’t had that type of talent in over a decade, but this is just not a big step down from the OL talent we have had recently.

        It is preposterous to attribute what we have seen almost every game this season….against all levels of defensive talent. The only significant change in talent is the loss of Theus…..period. The other guys either started or played enough to be labeled experienced players. What we are seeing is indeed historically bad, total whiffs and missed assignments, plays blown up before they ever get started. It isn’t always the same player, and it isn’t because they aren’t big enough….. we aren’t engaging the defensive player to lose a physical battle because we don’t even touch them sometimes. This is frustrating because we don’t block for either the run or pass effectively enough to get a play the minimum to succeed.

        This is on Chaney/Pittman. If they just get in front of the defensive player, forget winning the battle, we have a chance to let our talented runners/passers make a play. If we were just losing to uber talented players like many think FU has, or Barnett at TN, that would indicate the level of the talent problem we have but we are whipped by average, and below average, defensive fronts in many games. Someone was totally unaccounted for on many plays this past Saturday, we barely got the hand off completed, or dropped back to the depth of throwing a pass before we were under attack. That is not knowing who to block, not being unable.

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        • dawgman3000

          I agree with your assessment Mac as I’m seeing the same thing. However, I can’t lay this on Pittman because I think those guys are used to playing in a somewhat finesse style offense and now they’re being asked to play a more physical style of ball. Just to be clear, these guys aren’t scrubs, nor are they Bama talented. I do think they are good enough to handle Nichols and Vandy better than they showed.I clearly think its more mental than physical with these guys.

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          • gastr1

            You can stop the video and clearly see where the Gator in the backfield manages to squarely clip Chubb’s left foot, not his thigh or upper body, as he’s running toward the hole. That would maybe cause most mortals to lose their balance a bit. Certainly can’t base Chubb’s health on one GIF anyway, however, so it’s a silly original post all the way ’round.

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          • Macallanlover

            I get the physical vs finesse argument but your point about mental, not physical, is why I think it is on Pittman more than the available talent. We are losing some physical matchups for sure but it doesn’t explain the epic fails where we do not even touch the other player. Some of those untouched players came straight up the damned middle. For God’s sake, just hit the closest player with a blue jersey would have been a better plan. We don’t look like we really know what our role is on any given play. And that is troubling…as is “we are going to impose our will” as a strategy when it hasn’t worked for two months. We had film on several games Florida had played, and two weeks to prepare, couldn’t we have entered the game with a plan to fit the enemy we were going to face? And then adjust to any new nuances? I saw none of that, zero.

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          • Olddawg 55

            If they aren’t physically handicapped..and they aren’t… then their form of technique is dictated by the position coach’s philosophy of blocking. That is on Pittman. If they’re not the monsters he covets then develop a scheme that fits their talents. With our backs you don’t need a hole big enough for a truck..just a bike! It’s the coaches, folks.

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      • Hey Senator – remember when this was a thing?

        Top individual units. Georgia makes seven of his eight lists of the top 45-50 at each position group. The whiff is at special teams, which is understandable. Best showings are at running back (4th) and offensive line (7th). Georgia barely makes the cut at two others, though — defensive line (45 out of 46) and quarterback (48 out of 50). (To add insult to injury, Steele ranks Georgia Tech at 27th in quarterbacks.)

        I think I’m gonna go sit in a dark room and listen to The Cure.

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  3. stoopnagle

    I’m waiting patiently for Kirby to give Cheney the Kiffin Treatment right there on the sideline for everyone to see. He’s not going to do that, though, is he?

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  4. Spike

    Sigh.. I miss Ben Jones and Max Jean-Gilles… David Andrews….

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  5. There was another play in the second half where we pulled Wynn and Catalina never laid a hand on the guy in front for Wynn as he ran right through the hole and jump in Chubb’s back.

    I’m talking total complete whiff.

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  6. Bulldog Joe

    One would naturally think the smallest OL in the league would show more quickness off the ball.

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  7. paul

    This O-line is indeed sucktacular. Perhaps Dean Wormer was wrong. Fat, drunk and stupid may be the only way we can get through the next couple of years.

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  8. hassan

    Nailed it!

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  9. Bill Glennon

    I’m not sure why Blazevich starts? He’s not thrown to and he is not quick enough to handle speed rushers or strong enough for bull rushers. He’s not an effective decoy.

    TE is the deepest position on the team. Why are the coordinators so unwilling to make personnel changes on offense?

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    • Macallanlover

      That is a good question. I always thought Blaze was going to be a good TE receiver, and a decent blocker, this year but his blocking (like everyone else’s under Pittman) seems to have regressed. And if we aren’t going to throw it to any TE but Nauta, why not try something else? But then, not trying anything different seems to be the mantra.

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  10. Jared S.

    I believe the phrase I used weeks ago to describe the situation is “criminal misappropriation” of perhaps the league’s best backfield talent.

    Mind-boggling. And perhaps they biggest reason why I’m worried about the future under Smart. (This and special teams.) Still reserving judgment. But that isn’t to say I’m not worried.

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  11. Go Dawgs!

    I thought Sam Pittman was supposed to be the greatest offensive line coach ever? So much of this looks like guys not knowing what to do or how to do it…

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    • Ginny

      This is what blows my mind. All offseason we heard about what a great hire he was. I get that he employs a different scheme than what these guys are used to, but the lack of technique is truly astounding.

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  12. Otto

    Smart has 4 OL committs and offered a JUCO this weekend. It is a priority. Hopefully he gets them for a quick turn around. OLs do not get like this over night nor are fixed over night.

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    • Correct, unfortunately. With OL, you really need to look 2-3 years back and project 2-3 years forward.

      My feeling on OL is this: no one has ever looked back on a recruiting class and said “man, we just signed too many OL (or DL for that matter) in that class”.

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  13. Normaltown Mike

    we need to stop calling the 16 step drop…it’s just too many steps

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  14. CB

    “has nothing to do with Nick Chubb and any perceived “he’s not his old self” bullshit.”

    I understand the sentiment, and I tend to agree, but you have to admit the o-line matters a lot less if you have this running behind it.

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    • olddawg63

      #61 had a lot to do with the run success.

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      • CB

        David Andrews was a dgd, and was certainly a big factor in the run game, but he never helped Chubb break tackles in the backfield and run through entire secondaries.

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        • So. IL Dawg

          Remember the UF game a couple years ago where we were running really well and winning early. Andrews got hurt and we couldn’t run at all the rest of the game and lost. So, yes Andrews was the cog that made the Oline run effectively.

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          • CB

            I remember the first 4 games of 2015 after Andrews left for the NFL when Chubb was averaging over 8 yards per carry and was a Heisman front runner.

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  15. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    That first clip looks to be on Gaillard completely. He “directs” the guy into the meshpoint where Chubb receives the hand off. He cuts towards the hole, but is falling due to said defender clipping his foot, well before he is tackled by Wynn’s guy.

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  16. Huh Dawg?

    That clean pocket started 6-7 yards behind the line of scrimmage. It’s hard to get comfortable when the pile is moving in your direction. If that’s the best play to illustrate Eason’s problems, he’s doing okay.

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  17. W Cobb Dawg

    Its the coaching. The D has holes here and there as well, but you don’t see it falling apart.

    I don’t know what Kirby’s gonna do. But Chaney, Beamer, Pittman and Coley haven’t coached a lick all year. There’s at least a couple rotten apples in that group that must be given the heave ho.

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    • Will (The Other One)

      Coley and Beamer top the list to me:
      1. How do you have a WR start as many games as Stanley and have no catches?
      2. It’s not like the Oline where there’s a switch in style: catching passes should be catching passes, and so many of them aren’t doing it.
      3. In addition to ST disasters, Blazeivitch has gotten worse

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  18. Squatch

    Seriously? On that first clip Catalina goes running off frame to the right without touching anybody. It would funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.

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