I’ve gotta say I haven’t keenly anticipated the start of a Georgia season like I have this one since 2010, and for exactly the same reason: the replacement of a coordinator who was in over his head with the promise of another who appears to have a clue. (And before you go there, Todd Grantham was a significant improvement over Willie Martinez, low bar or not.)
If there’s a difference, it’s that I had a clearer idea of what Grantham would bring to the table than I do regarding Monken. That’s not because I think Grantham was better at his job, but because Monken’s career has been modeled on being adaptable. So any little tidbits I can glean about the likely new direction are welcome.
“When you’re a defensive-minded coach and you’ve grown up running the ball, being conservative, playing good defense and winning games and the game changed,” the Crimson Tide coach said. “When the RPOs came and everybody spread it out, the game changed. And if you don’t join that crowd, you’re never going to be able to make enough explosive plays in a game.”
Enter Todd Monken whose hire as offensive coordinator may take Georgia in the direction of the LSUs, Clemsons, Ohio States and Alabamas of the world…
Monken’s resume from the NFL as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay to head coach at Southern Miss to offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State has shown an ability to dial up explosive plays, something missing too often from the Georgia offense last year.
Georgia studied teams that were successful offensively last year, coach Kirby Smart said, to find things it can simulate with players on offense.
Every situation is different, of course. Monken has to answer to Smart, so we know the running game isn’t suddenly going to shrink away into irrelevancy. Beyond that, Matt Luke and Buster Faulkner are likely to bring other perspectives that will be incorporated into whatever Georgia spins up in its offensive scheme.
But I ain’t gonna lie. I like hearing what other coaches say about Monken’s ability to call games.
Burnham went up against Monken’s Oklahoma State’s offense as Iowa State defensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012 when they were among the most prolific in the nation. Oklahoma State was No. 2 in the nation in passing his first season and No. 7 his second.
“He was a little bit ahead of a lot of people throwing the football even though most people were throwing the football in the Big 12 at that time,” Burnham said. “The spread was coming in. He had a good handle back in those days and there probably were some pro concepts that other people weren’t running.”
The No. 2 Cowboys passed for 476 yards but were upset in overtime 37-31 and threw for 415 while rushing for 210 a year later in a 31-10 Cowboys win behind 151 rushing yards from Joseph Randle.
“He had a really, really good running game back in those days,” Burnham said. “He was very innovative with his playing calling. The thing about it, he was always trying to get angles on your defensive linemen by blocking down or blocking out and pulling offensive lineman around on your linebackers, which is really hard to defend.”
That’s not your grandfather’s Georgia offensive line blocking scheme. Certainly not what we watched the last three years.
“He always had a new play that was really hard to defend and get ready for,” Burnham said. “He’s that kind of coach. He’s very cerebral. He did great in matchups and putting people on certain people.”
That is music to my ears, and exactly the kind of thing an offensive coordinator should be doing, especially at a program that should enjoy a marked talent advantage almost every week it steps on the field. Color me excited.