Is Jim Chaney up to something?

I want to go back to something Seth Emerson posted a couple of days ago.

Remember last season when it was said in some quarters — like here — that Georgia should use the shotgun and spread more, because its quarterback is more comfortable in that setup? Well, Georgia became just that in this game … even though the quarterback was different. 

Here was my best attempt at charting each Georgia formation, and the result of each play. (Note: Yardage gains may be approximate, as may be some descriptions of play formations. I’m trying to get this posted before my power goes out): 

  • Shotgun, four-wide, one tailback: 10-yard completion, rush for no gain, incomplete (penalty, PI), 2-yard gain, incomplete, Chubb 10-yard run, Godwin TD catch, Ridley 5-yard catch, Chubb loss of 1 yard, interception, incomplete, Fromm scramble and loss of 2 yards, incomplete, Michel 4-yard run, Michel 1-yard catch, Nauta 8-yard catch, incomplete.
  • Shotgun, three-wide, one TE, one tailback: Chubb 30-yard run, 31-yard completion to Godwin, incomplete, Swift completion loss of 4 yards, Michel gain of 13, Michel gain of 4 yards, Michel 1-yard gain, 2-yard completion, Michel 1-yard run, Fromm 5-yard scramble, Michel 1-yard run, 9-yard completion to Ridley, incomplete, Chubb 1-yard run, Chubb 12-yard run, Chubb screen for 12 yards, Michel 3-yard run, incomplete, Herrien 2-yard gain, incomplete, Michel 6-yard TD run, Chubb 1 run, Hardman 5-yard screen catch, Michel no gain.
  • Shotgun, three-wide, two tailbacks: Michel gain of 10.
  • Shotgun, bunched, two TE, two WR, one back: Hardman forward lateral catch for 8 yards, Hardman forward lateral catch for 4 yards.
  • Shotgun, two-wide, two TE, two WR, one back: Fromm muffed handoff/fumble. Chubb 3-yard run.
  • Shotgun, three wide, two offset in backfield: Woerner 3 yard catch, Wims 30-yard catch.
  • Pistol, two-wide, one TE, two-back: 4-yard completion.
  • Pistol, two-wide, one TE, two backs: Incomplete.
  • Pistol, three-wide, one TE, one back: Chubb loss of 2, Chubb 5-yard run.
  • Pistol, two backs, three wide: Michel17-yard run.
  • Bunched two TE, one back, one WR outside, Swift offset: 15-yard gain (holding penalty, Blazevich hold), Swift 37-yard run, Hardman 7-yard run, Chubb 1-yard run.
  • Bunched two-TE, two back, one WR: Chubb 1-yard run.
  • Wild Dawg (no other back, three wide, one TE): Michel 2-yard gain.
  • Wild Dawg (two-wide, one TE, Hardman with two other backs): Hardman lost 2 yards.
  • Wild Dawg (two other backs, three wide): Herrien lost 1 yard.
  • I-formation, bunched: Incomplete, Michel 6-yards on pitch-out.
  • I-formation, two WR right: Chubb 1-yard run, Payne 4 yard run, Payne 7 yard run, Pass and sack, Payne no gain.
  • Victory formation: Kneel, kneel, kneel.

Note: On a lot of those shotgun sets the tailback was off-set a couple yards from the QB, so it was quasi-pistol.

By my count, that’s seventeen different formations before Fromm took a knee to close the game out.  Further, as Seth pointed out, there were variations within the formations as to player placement.

That’s a lot of formations, especially when you consider that Georgia ran less than seventy plays against Notre Dame.  Now it’s true that the end results were nothing to write home about (other than Georgia scoring more than the Irish did, that is), but I wonder if there was another method to Jim Chaney’s madness.  Maybe this is what you do when you’re still trying to figure out what will work best with an offense that’s just beginning to fit all the parts together.

In other words, try as many things as you can, see what works best and do away with the rest.  Or, if you prefer a cruder metaphor, throw a bunch of shit up against the wall and see what sticks.

One thing that apparently will stick is the ongoing abandonment of the I-formation, something I noted after the Appalachian State game.  That’s not necessarily about committing to the passing game, either, although I still question letting Fromm throw the ball as much as he did Saturday night.

Georgia called most of its running plays out of the shotgun against Notre Dame. Judging by what a couple of key offensive contributors had to say Tuesday, expect more of this in the near future.

When it came to the run game, Georgia was primarily a shotgun-oriented team against the Fighting Irish. Excluding the three kneel-downs at the end of the game, the Bulldogs went with 29 run plays out of the shotgun compared to 11 from under center. And three of those under-center runs came when Georgia tried to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, prior to punting the ball to Notre Dame for its final offensive possession…

Chubb said the shotgun runs help because most of them are run-pass options, giving the quarterback the ability to pull the ball from the runner and attempt a throw if he sees something open up downfield.

“It helps because Jake has options to not give whoever the ball and pass the ball somewhere else,” Chubb said. “They have to be on their heels. They can’t worry too much about the run because it will hurt them with the pass.”

Smart hit on what remains the biggest problem on offense as a reason for Georgia’s increasing reliance on the shotgun formation.

Head coach Kirby Smart said that Georgia has worked diligently on softening the opposition’s box defenders. While this doesn’t directly correlate to the shotgun, that’s the best method to execute run-pass option plays. That, in essence, is why Georgia was so shotgun-heavy with its run game against the Irish.

Improving the run game has been a focal point since the 2016 season ended.

“It’s been a conscious effort to loosen up the box,” Smart said. “It doesn’t have to be the gun. I think most of the time when you open formations up, the gun helps you. Any time you throw RPOs, it helps to be from the gun because it’s hard to do that under center. So the conscious effort has been to loosen it up but not necessarily with the shotgun. But I think the two go hand in hand.”

Check out the big brain on Mr. Impose Your Will.  Seriously, it’s changes like this in Smart’s thinking that make me want to believe he really has learned from his first-year mistakes.  It’s great to have a coaching philosophy, but the best philosophy in the world can’t overcome personnel mismatches.

The best thing about this is that they were able to survive Notre Dame because the defense is far enough along that they could afford the luxury of tinkering with the offense.  I’d expect more of the same this week against Samford, because… well, cupcake.  The thing to watch is where the fine tuning takes them as, hopefully, they manage to develop some traction on the offensive line.



Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

23 responses to “Is Jim Chaney up to something?

  1. We have said this team is only going as far the running game takes us. Hopefully, we can start loosening up the box with an intermediate passing game (non-existent) to force everyone back. You have to be able to exploit the area between the linebackers and the safeties between the hashes in today’s game of 2 deep safeties or 8-man fronts.


  2. truck

    I can’t help but think that Chaney spent at least some of last year fulfilling a promise to Eason to get him experience under center in preparation for the NFL.


  3. Jack Burton

    Offensive innovation through window dressing.

    There isn’t much left of the horse corpse, but yeah, wild dawg needs to be eliminated. Other than that, I’ve loved what Cheney is putting out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 83Dawg

    Before scrapping it, I’d like to see Hardman in the Wild Dawg running a true RPO, while Fromm runs a legit route. Fromm can catch a football.


  5. Macallanlover

    How can an offensive genius not see how a QB keep after a fake could get you 15-20 yards? It wasn’t like that game wasn’t close, or yards were easy to come by, or we didn’t need to help our RBs out by diverting defenders to other areas. ANd don’t tell me we are afraid for the QB to get hit, hell, there was no one there to contact him. Hit ’em where they ain’t Jimmy.


    • The other Doug

      There was no way they were going to risk Fromm getting injured. Maybe if the game was on the line and they were desperate to keep the game winning drive alive, but that’s it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Derek

      He tried to keep it once early and fumbled. That may have been part of the problem.

      It was there though…a lot.


    • Russ

      I think the concern was there about him getting hurt. And the early fumble put a damper on it. Still, I would have just called Fromm’s number in the huddle and let him fake the handoff and run/slide for 5 yards. Just show it once and the defense has to think about it. Same thing with the Wild Dawg. Throw it at least once.


  6. Wes

    Or maybe the RPO look is for Justin Fields.


    • watcher16

      This is exactly what I was thinking! Showing him that we are not afraid to use it and can easily implement if he commits.


  7. My opinion, Coach Smart is and was changing the mentality of a team. No one including Kirby wanted to lose 5 times last year but “turning a battleship takes time”. Here’s to culture change! I, for one, see progress!


    • Reinmart

      What does running an offense that you lack the talent to be successful with have to do with “changing the mentality of a team”


  8. Will Trane

    QBs, formations, spread offense, W/Os, and R/Bs.
    Hit it just one more time, Mayfield is the real deal. He is teamed with a brilliant HC, formerly an OC. Lethal. Again said that 3 years ago. He is fun to watch. His motor is running all the time.
    Spread is the best for this team and future. Why. It is what most high schools run in Georgia. Please watch them. Plus Eason and Fromm are comfortable there. A team on offense has 53 yards to set up lanes. Plus somewhere the TE’s are going to be huge in this offense. Think not go watch how the Pats and premier high school teams use them.
    The “I”. Think of a “funnel”. That I back sits at the narrow end of it. Now think how easy it is to load the LOS and defend. The spread is a power offense. A running offense. Watson at Clemson. Pruitt and Smart had issues with it. But it can be defended. 3-3 stack defense. Georgia has that personnel in fold right now.
    “I” in short yardage situations. Full back up the gut is good. Especially if your center is good. Could be an issue against MSU. Their nose is tough to stop and handle.
    Patience here. Back to back season with a frosh running the show. That is very hard on coaches and roster.
    Vandy. Their very experienced senior QB will be an issue for down the road as well as the MSU’s QB out of Jesup, Georgia.
    Best high school O-line in Georgia. Lowndes County. Nobody is close to them. People have said for a couple of years they are the real deal.
    But Chaney and Pittman are getting there.
    Last game to work stuff in before the “run” begins. Let them see a lot of stuff to prep for.
    Where is Chubb. He seems to have lost more speed. Might want to check how Bobo set the formations and blocking to get him into space.
    Eye went over us but we have power, water, and internet.
    MIght want to “jack up” your power provider.


  9. AusDawg85

    Saw where you were going with this post. Maybe Kirby is staying out of the offense and working with the D to turn them into beast mode. I hoped for this, and if true, I’ll be all-in on Kirbs.


  10. W Cobb Dawg

    “By my count, that’s seventeen different formations…. Further, as Seth pointed out, there were variations within the formations as to player placement.”

    I’m just a cfb fan, but it seems to me that’s a lot of formations and variations, particularly for a true freshman QB in his first start – at Notre Dame of all places. Is the goal complexity or scoring points? If so, it didn’t result in a helluva lot of points. If not for the D we’d have lost.

    Count me as still very skeptical about Chaney. I’m still waiting for a game where he shows he’s above mediocre and/or comparatively better than an opposing OC. Lack of talent/inexperience excuses wear thin when you intentionally add complexity. Let’s hope Chaney has been right all along.


  11. Sanford222view

    Conclusion: All they need is two plays. Run Michel out of Pistol, two backs, three wide (Michel17-yard run) & Shotgun, three-wide, two tailbacks (Michel gain of 10). This game is so simple!


  12. Dawg1960

    the i formation is the best offense to run bar none!!!