Here’s what Kirby had to say in response to, “Dude, where are the screen passes?”:
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said it’s “hard to do” when opposing defenses tend to be focused so hard on the tailbacks.
“We don’t see traditional coverages,” Smart said. “People don’t play us the way we play people. The way people play us a lot of times is to take the run away. A lot of times it’s like that. It’s not as simple as calling a screen play. There’s more to it than that. We’re trying to find ways to get the backs the ball because we’ve got a lot of backs. But they cover our backs out of the backfield last week, and they cover our backs out of the slot. So you’re always trying to find a way to get them the ball. There’s no easy way against really good defenses.”
So what’s Georgia doing instead?
Georgia’s perimeter blocking by receivers also hasn’t been as good as Smart would like, he said, which is another reason the Bulldogs may be reluctant to call screens. So they tend to focus instead on explosive plays that have worked in previous games against the upcoming opponent.
“A lot of times you try to mimic those. We call it copycats,” Smart said. “We see the same plays each week: Auburn copied some plays that worked against us. So offensively you’re always trying to figure out what works on that defense.”
I’d say that didn’t work too well, but in reality, whatever the offensive game plan was, it became doomed once it was obvious that Auburn’s defense didn’t need to load the box to stop the run and could get effective pressure on Fromm out of its base four-man front. If your o-line is getting blown up repeatedly, the screen pass probably won’t be much of a help.
That doesn’t explain the rest of the season, though. As Seth notes, there was much made in the preseason about working on throwing to the running backs, but to this point, Georgia’s backs have a total of 20 receptions.
That being said, there is a certain amount of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to Kirby’s attitude on the matter and I can’t exactly fault him for that.
A performance like at Auburn may send up some warning signs and concerns. But Georgia was pretty successful the first nine weeks and still ranks a respectable fifth in the SEC and 47th nationally in total offensive yards. The run-heavy philosophy helped get the Bulldogs to 9-0 and No. 1 in the country.
So the coaches aren’t trying to rip up the script quite yet.
“You’re looking for new ideas, new plays. But you can’t throw everything away and just start anew,” Smart said. “You’ve got certain plays you run, you’ve run them since camp. You try to window-dress them different ways. You try to execute better. Protect better. Give the quarterback a chance, maybe give him some easier throws. But you’re not trying to change everything, no. You’re just trying to play well against Kentucky.”
It’s not so much about ripping up the script, though, as having the foresight and flexibility to turn the page to a Plan B when the main plan isn’t working. We didn’t see that on the Plains, and while they might not need to worry about that in the next two games, they soon will.
Yeah, I know that I’m starting to sound like a broken record.