I sort of hate to pick on Chip Towers, but this recent post of his suggesting there’s nothing ailing Georgia’s offense that a dual-threat quarterback couldn’t fix on his lonesome, drives me up the proverbial wall.
The writing is on the wall. Or, rather, the scoreboard. Georgia needs relent and join the masses. It needs to convert to a spread offense and start recruiting dual-threat quarterbacks to run it.
I’m not basing this just on Clemson’s recent accomplishments, though that is certainly a compelling argument in and of itself. The Tigers rode the considerable dual-threat skills of quarterback Deshaun Watson all the way to the mountaintop twice. They finally won the whole shooting match this past season by out-scoring Alabama 35-31.
The rules and trends in college football all simply favor this style of play. You can either embrace it or get left behind.
And Georgia’s getting left behind.
It’s dramatic. And there’s no question we’ve witnessed a steep decline in Georgia’s offensive production since Mike Bobo left town.
Offensive scoring and production last five years:
Year, points per game (SEC rank), yards per game (SEC rank)
- 2016—-24.5 (11th)—-384.7 (11th)
- 2015—-26.3 (9th)—–377.2 (8th)
- 2014—-41.3 (1st)——457.8 (4th)
- 2013—-36.7 (5th)—–484.1 (4th)
- 2012—-37.8 (3rd)—–467.6 (3rd)
You can already see the problem with his argument there, though, right? The 2014 offense, the most prolific in Georgia’s history, was quarterbacked by the notoriously fleet-footed Hutson Mason, who managed the staggering total of 3 rushing yards on 43 carries that season.
There’s just a ton of lazy thinking throughout. Let me count some of the ways.
- There are all kinds of spread offenses. The Air Raid is a spread offense. Rich Rodriguez runs a different scheme, but it’s a spread, too. Bottom line is that you don’t have to have a running quarterback to run a spread attack. Even Towers seems to acknowledge that when he writes, “Chaney is the type of experienced coordinator who can implement whatever the head coach directs him to do. He was orchestrating a spread offense for head coach Joe Tiller and quarterback Drew Brees at Purdue way back in the 1990s, before it was cool.”
- For that matter, you don’t have to run a spread attack to throw effectively out of the shotgun.
- Further, you don’t have to have a running quarterback to employ RPO plays. In a post I linked to before, Chris Brown points out a wrinkle Matt Canada came up with to do just that: “But maybe the most creative thing Canada did this season was to find a way to run the Inverted Veer while eliminating the QB as the inside runner, namely by replacing him with a player trailing as the pitch man. It’s obviously a tricky read for the quarterback as it happens so quickly, but Pitt’s QB was an effective decision maker.” [Emphasis added.] (I’ll come back to that “effective decision maker” point in a minute.)
- As far as Georgia employing RPOs goes, maybe Chip needs to go back and read one of his old columns.
Everybody gets wrapped up in flavor of the month schemes, and I get that. There’s also no question we see plenty of college offenses out there that have done well deploying a running quarterback to make their teams go. But there are other ways to go about skinning that cat.
Georgia’s had problems on offense of late, no doubt. But I’m not buying in to the idea that a dual-threat quarterback is the silver bullet to cure all those woes. The Dawgs have been through three offensive coordinators in the last three years and three quarterbacks in that same period. Georgia started a true freshman in Jacob Eason who had to learn how to play under center for the first time in his career. None of that suggests Chaney had any confidence he had an effective decision maker in Eason to run his offense in 2016. (Remember, Chaney coached Nathan Peterman at Pitt before Canada.)
Would I let my quarterback run more if I had a Watson or Newton taking snaps? Hells, yeah. Is that the only way to go about being productive on offense? Georgia’s track record during Bobo’s last three seasons suggests otherwise. Even Mike Leach has acknowledged that you can get away with running the I-formation successfully if you’ve got the right talent for it.
The job of an offensive coordinator is to design a scheme and a game plan that creates mismatches in the opposing defense and take advantage of them. It’s not rocket science, or at least it shouldn’t be. You can do that with Deshaun Watson; you can do that with Jacob Eason. Georgia’s problem has been not having everyone on the same page with an offensive philosophy to do just that, along with an offensive line that’s been subpar.
A second year with the same coordinator and quarterback working together, along with a significant talent infusion along the o-line, should begin to address those shortcomings. If things start clicking, I bet we’ll find that all sorts of quarterbacks can succeed in a Georgia uniform.