For once, it seems I managed to glomm on to something before Kirby had to explain it to me.
That’s been the story most of the season. 10-1 Georgia is last in the conference in passing attempts by a wide margin, despite most opponents following the same strategy that Kentucky used against the Dawgs’ running game. We may find it frustrating to watch at times, but Chaney’s insistence on sticking to the run early has largely been a success.
The exception that proved the rule is Auburn.
The Dawgs haven’t thrown the ball much because they haven’t needed to. They’ve won ten games, most of those in dominating fashion. The offense is built in a way to protect a true freshman quarterback and to take pressure off a defense that’s excelled most of the season. That’s good tactics in my book.
What it’s not built to do, as we saw on the Plains, is claw back into a game once it’s facing a significant deficit. And, while it seems likely that Georgia Tech will succumb to what’s worked all year, it’s just as likely that will be the last time this season Georgia can count on the tried and true formula coming through without a hitch.
Kirby Smart, asked about that Monday, acknowledged that his team needs to run and pass well.
“To be able to win a championship you’ve got to have balance. We continue to improve on our balance,” Smart said. “Our ability to throw down the field, our ability to open things up. But if we open things up and throw the ball downfield I would beg the question what we’re doing with 27 and 1 the rest of the time.”
That would be Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, respectively now the second- and fifth-all time rushers in Georgia football history.
“It’s Catch-22 to be balanced,” Smart said. “But at the end of the day to win you’ve got to be able to do both, and when you play really good teams you’ve got to be able to do both.”
Ditto, says his offensive coordinator.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney told the CBS broadcast crew on Friday that he didn’t think Georgia could win a championship by continuing to run it 70 percent of the time.
I’m not sure what to make of the questioning. Georgia, just to remind everyone, is 10-1. It got to this point pounding the ball (on pace to throw fewer passes than any SEC team since 2012), playing good defense and special teams. Who’s to say that the Dawgs would be in the same place right now if, say, they’d run the ball 100 fewer times over the course of the season?
As a look back, then, that seems a wasted effort. The relevant question from here is what does Chaney do — and, maybe more relevantly — what does Smart want Chaney to do when Georgia game plans for the SECCG and whatever comes after? You would hope that at least there are lessons to be taken from the Auburn loss that will prove useful in that regard. I can’t help but wonder, though, if better results from the defense and special teams than what they showed in the loss will prove even more useful.