Should we be concerned about the ground game?

Honestly, I don’t know.

On the one hand, statistically, Georgia has shown steady, week by week, improvement running the ball.  Against South Carolina, the Dawgs managed almost six yards per rush, which is not bad.

Also not bad is this:

3.2 yards before contact?  That’s an o-line that got more traction than I thought.

That being said, averages can be a bit misleading, or at least feel that way.  The run blocking doesn’t appear to be as consistent as you’d like.  Some of that I continue to chalk up to a change in blocking scheme.  Luke and Monken clearly favor linemen who can pull and when that works, it’s a real thing of beauty, as it was on James Cook’s first touchdown against South Carolina.

But some of it, I suspect, is more about personnel.  Ericson isn’t the puller at right guard that Tate Ratledge was before he was lost for the season.  I hate to say it, but he’s been something of a weak link on the o-line.  With the talent Georgia has on hand at the position, I’m doubtful the coaches should settle for weak links.

So, I wouldn’t say I’m panicking, just acknowledging that there’s room for improvement.  I would like to see Luke experiment with moving Salyer inside this week (not that I have any inside info such a move is in the works).  With the SEC’s 14th and 8th best rushing defenses on the slate for the next two games, it seems like now would be a good time to tweak before facing the conference’s best in Auburn’s.

How do y’all feel about it?

68 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

68 responses to “Should we be concerned about the ground game?

  1. Biggen

    The inside of the OL could be a issue. Couple that with the fact that we don’t have a very mobile QB. It’s a cause for concern for sure. I’m not sure how much however. The pass pro is excellent and we seem to be doing more passing this year and than running.

    I don’t know yet. We are getting WR/TE weapons back. Running between the tackles play after play probably isn’t our identity this year anyway.

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  2. Luke does need to get the kinks worked out before Auburn and FU…Vandy will show improvement, but then again it’s Vandy…If we move Arkansas’ defensive line around and our backs are free to roam…that would portend good things for Auburn and FU…Auburns sucks

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Unfortunately, my expert arm chair quarterbacking ‘hind sight is undefeated’ abilities do not extend to o-line analysis, so I’ll take your word for it Senator. 😉

    Liked by 5 people

  4. gastr1

    Seems as though several of the good runs were based off of timing snaps where SC was not fully set. I’m glad we’re going that route when it’s there, but it certainly can mask some weaknesses on the OL when looking at averages.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. 81Dog

    AU’s ranking is misleading, given that they played against air the first 2 games. But I’m sure they’ll be tough at home. Their D isn’t anything like what we saw in Charlotte, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Even more trivia: San Diego State, Fresno State, Northern Arizona and Rhode Island have won as many national championships in the past 40 years as Georgia.”

    Weak sauce, they are whistling past the graveyard and they know it.

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  7. godawgs1701

    Those stats do not reflect how I felt about the run blocking when I was looking at it live in Sanford Stadium on Saturday night. Of course, I’d been drinking, but still. I’m not sure if I’m wrong or the stats are, but I would definitely love to see us go out there and throw some 100 yard rushing performances onto a stat sheet and just let myself know we can do it if we need to on a day when we aren’t throwing for a zillion.

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  8. I think the yards have come harder because defenses are trying to take advantage of the limited receiver room we have right now, so selling out against the run is the preferred option. Clemson did it but had good DBs, UAB tried it and got torched, and I think you started to see USC trying to honor the balance and prevent the explosive pass play, and we saw what a balanced UGA attack looks like more this past weekend. As the receivers get healthier, defenses are going to have to rely on solid D line play to shut down the Monken defense.

    The teams with good D lines will give us fits, but who is that right now? Florida? Auburn?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Russ

    We need to run more total plays. I believe we only ran 60 plays last week? When you throw it 35 times, that leaves 25 runs spread between 4 main backs. You’re not going to have a standout rushing performance with those numbers.

    If we’re only going to run 60-65 plays a game, then I’m fine where we are. When it was crunch time against Clemson, we still managed to run it down their throats, so I think the running game will be fine.

    Liked by 11 people

    • Down Island Way

      As this season progresses, timing gets consistent and ‘mo gets on a roll, we are gonna’ see a regular diet of those 40-60 yard T.D.s, cause that’s what madman Monken is seeing (it’s what the opposition d is giving) is going to cut down on total plays for UGA football, mickey is a foil in team momentum as commercial timeouts have become more frequent and longer…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. practicaldawg

    I’m not too worried about the ground game because 1) it seems like it always gets better as the year goes on and 2) every time CKS addresses a deficiency (e.g. passing game) one year, it makes something else look worse by comparison the next year.

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  11. beatarmy92

    Kirby is obsessed with consistency. I think it’s likely he and Luke view WE as Mose consistent and reliable than any of the options at LT. Higher floor, lower ceiling. I would prefer to throw Jones out there and get him ready now, but Kirby is pushing for a natty this year. We’ll see.

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  12. biggusrickus

    The OL is the one legitimate concern the team has, but how many teams on the schedule can exploit if it remains an issue? Auburn and Florida? And to what degree? It’s hard for me to take any potential threats on the schedule too seriously. The defense provides a pretty big margin of error for the offense, and there isn’t a scary offense out there.

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    • godawgs1701

      Arkansas.

      Liked by 2 people

    • originaluglydawg

      The defensive backfield giving up the long pass is a bigger problem to me.
      We got lucky when South Carolina’s QB over threw a couple of wide open, steaking for a TD, receivers. He also hit more than a comfortable amount of longish throws. That’s a huge problem.
      The long pass is a great equalizer in that it only takes one man to get beat to get a quick score. We’re going to see a lot more of that.
      It needs fixing in a bad way.
      To me, the O line just is functioning pretty well. Any team that isn’t deep on the defensive front is going to give up the ground yards late. I have no idea how deep AU, AR and UF are on their D fronts, but the Dawgs are deep enough everywhere to still be taking it to them for four quarters.`

      Liked by 3 people

      • biggusrickus

        Corners get beat one-on-one sometimes. That said, it would probably better if Speed didn’t see meaningful minutes in games that aren’t complete mismatches.

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        • RangerRuss

          Yeah, DBs get beat. Georgia DBs get beat but don’t give up. Speed chased Vann down and made a fine tackle after getting beat on a quick snap. FG instead of TD. Dawgs DBs rip and tear at the ball after being beat leading to incomplete pass. They’re fundamentally sound and gaining experience. Quite a few interceptions also. I imagine going against excellent receivers every week in practice prepares them as well as having two former and one active D coordinators on their ass daily.
          The Dawgs secondary will be alright.

          Liked by 8 people

      • TripleB

        I also worry about long passes, but for what it’s worth I watched the South Carolina game again the Senator was right when he said some of those long passes were well covered, and one easily could have been an interception. Maybe our guys needed a wake up call.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Dawg in Austin

    Losing Ratledge likely hurt because as you noted, Ericson does not pull well enough (and is still recovering from injury). And while I agree that guard play is and has been our problem for 2 years now on the OL (I disagree with PFF re Schaeffer being a top tier guard), I don’t think Jones is ready for SEC play at LT. He was pushed back a lot against UAB, so he’s got to get stronger and use better leverage before you can use him against Arky and Auburn, let alone Florida. I missed his snaps against SC but only if he’s improving there would I consider starting him against Vandy, and I’d have a quick pull if he couldn’t thrive, because we need more reps with what we’re going to go with against the better DLs in the league.

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  14. akascuba

    The biggest reason for hope I see is the end of the Clemson game. The final drive of the game everyone knew the run was coming. Clemson was beaten at the line of attack. Cook made a couple of great reads. Zeus would have scored if needed he was a man on a mission. We haven’t seen a lot of him. I think they are saving his legs for what is coming after Vandy.

    Running successfully when the other team knows it’s coming is what Saban says is a good run game.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Ran A

    Guess I’m seeing this a little differently. All we have talked about is Georgia’s lack of ability to throw the ball down the field. As Monken gets this figured out, we now have people fretting over the running game… Give it a little more time kids…

    The discussion before the Clemson game is how good their defense was and how tough it would be to run the ball. (By the way, that has held up through the season so far – though they took a huge loss on the D-Line last weekend). And Georgia struggled to move the ball. However, with just under 5 minutes left, they drove the ball right down Clemson’s throat – all on the ground. The only reason they didn’t score is because Georgia went into Victory formation. Granted Clemson has struggled since that game, but not on defense.

    UAB – the narrative for this game was that this team was actually quite good and the whispers were out there that if Georgia wasn’t careful, they could end up losing this game. 49 offensive and 7 defensive points later – Georgia proved that wrong. How did they do it? UAB loaded the box with what EVERYBODY said was a very good defense and Monken torched them for it. (By the way, they smoked North Texas last Saturday).

    South Carolina – won their first two games. Everybody knew coming in that they were no match for Georgia. But the one thing all agreed on was the strength of the team was their Defensive Line. I think Georgia gave up one sack (too lazy to go look) and averaged 5.9 yards a carry).

    Before the season, everybody wanted to see Georgia open it up and develop a passing attack. And I mean everybody. And despite Gilbert taking a leave of absence, Washington being sidelined, Jackson injured and not able to go, Blalock still not back, Georgia now has a very dangerous passing attack with a O.C. that can scheme them open on every series. And with a QB that went 9-12 on third down. Before you pooh-pooh that it was South Carolina – they were #1 in the nation on stopping conversions of 3rd downs coming into that game.

    The point is this. As Georgia becomes more and more prolific at passing the ball, the more dangerous the running game becomes, because they cannot just load the box anymore. I’m not ignoring the issue at the guard position, but what I do know is that there is young talent there that will eventually take the LT spot. Once that can be done and Salyer can be slotted into a guard slot – Katy bar the door. And to be clear, I do think you’ll see us get stuffed at the line a little more, but I also think you are going to see some huge runs this year. Stuff that might have went fo 5 or 6 are going to go for 20 or 30. (A last point – the tight end position is going to kill people all year. They will have to be accounted for. That usually falls to a linebacker(s) that can no longer support the run, if they are running with the tight end. That opens up space after breaking through the line.)

    The running game is getting better each week, partially because the passing game is improving with leaps and bounds. Y’all relax… Balance is coming, where defenses will have to play Georgia a lot more honest…

    Georgia is going to score a LOT of points this year, even if they cannot get the interior part of the line quite right. This may end up being the most prolific and balance offense that Georgia has ever fielded.

    Liked by 14 people

    • RangerRuss

      Steel on target, Ran A. Deficiencies are being addressed and strengths are being exploited. It will take a great team, untimely turnovers along with the usual piss poor officiating to beat these Dawgs.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Terry McCullers

    OL is where you need to settle on your 5 best and play them. So far I’ve seen a lot of rotating especially on the right side.

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  17. lajoey

    USCe had a couple highly rated D linemen, right (Engabare and Z Pickens)?

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  18. mp

    Interior OL and defending deep passes…my two bugaboos.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Texas Dawg

    The stats say one thing, but the eye test says something else. It just does not feel the same as years past when you are watching, In the past you kept waiting for them to break of that 60-70 run where as now that’s a shock. They are still nice and steady with 3-4 yards on every carry, but there’s not that edge of the seat feeling. Chubb, Michel, and Swifts were a threat to take it to the house on every play. Not that feel with this group.

    Liked by 3 people

      • RangerRuss

        The Dawgs are hitting those long TD passes instead. The long TD runs will come.

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      • Texas Dawg

        Hence I said the STATS say one thing and the EYE TEST says something else. Yes they had those 10+ yard runs, but the “FEEL” that they are going to break the REALY BIG one (not just 10-15) at any moment is just not there. Yes they may break the occasional long run, but with Chubb, Michele, Swift, you expected multiple long ones almost every game. We got spoiled with 3 super talents. These guys are good but when you compare it to the #2 and #3 all time rushing leaders in the same backfield at the same time, it’s going to be hard to live up to that standard.

        Liked by 1 person

    • originaluglydawg

      Maybe that will change.
      With defenses now respecting the pass, they have more players deep to cut off the real long run. This is why Kirby is so determined that his receivers be good at downfield blocking.
      Zeus, McIntosh, Milton and Cook are all ready to roll when the blocking gets just a little better. The line blocking gets them into the defensive backfield, the WR’s get them on down the field.
      I think Cook is especially emerging as a threat to break the long runs.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. David Chadwick

    I think you’re not wrong about Erickson and his struggles aren’t limited to only pull plays. Ideally, Luke needs a solid tackle to step up so Salyer can slide inside.

    They’re still a long way ahead of some of the lines Richt trotted out when there was an overwhelming lack of bodies on the OL. I trust we’re going to see some experimenting this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • originaluglydawg

      Unfortunately, performance against Vanderbilt isn’t much to go on. I don’t mean to run Vandy down, but it is what it is.

      Liked by 2 people

      • RangerRuss

        I’d run Vanderbilt down like a squirrel in my driveway. Piss on those candy ass girls. They got it coming, the goldbrick bitches.

        Liked by 7 people

      • wfdawg

        You’ll offend exactly zero people here if you run down Vanderbilt, after the way they prevented us from having senior night last year. To be honest, I’m worried that we’re not channeling enough hatred toward them this week. Hanging 70 on them won’t be enough for my tastes.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Do Smart and defense want a strong running game? One benefit of a strong running game is rest for the defense. We had an OLD transfer to get playing time. Could the defense want more passes so they can get more reps and highlights for NFL scouts?

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  22. Hogbody Spradlin

    Sorry, but we’re not gonna have Todd Gurley, or Chubb/Michel, every single year.

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    • Texas Dawg

      We got spoiled big time with the steady flow of great tailbacks that we had.

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      • Down Island Way

        First chance the media ass wipes get a chance for this…UGA running game got 300 yards this week, passing game only 250…what’s wrong with the passing game/play calls, UGA only scored 39 points this week…WTF do you expect from this group that missed their chance to ride the wave as I flushed my commode…

        Liked by 1 person

        • originaluglydawg

          Exactly right.
          I keep expecting them to say that in the first game, Georgia came in next to last and Clemson came in second.

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  23. Texas Dawg

    We have gone from 266 YPG rushing in 2017 to 156 YPG this year. It has been a steady decline each year. Is is offensive philosophy? Is it personnel? is is what ever? In 2017 we were at 435.3 total yards/game. This year we are currently at 428.7 total yards/game. Not a big difference. Guess it’s just “do you want to travel by ground or air”?

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    • Let me help you here: compare the state of injuries on the offense in 2017 with that in 2021.

      And, yes, Monken doesn’t want to run the ball as much as Chaney and Smart did back then. One big reason for that was a true freshman quarterback started.

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      • Texas Dawg

        Bottom line is that I could not care less how they win as long as they win. Will I get on here and bitch and pontificate during the week like everyone else? You bet your ass I will. That’s the fun part of sports. When I moved to Texas from Georgia I found that BBQ here is mostly beef and not pork. I like both but it was not what I was used to. In the end I eat both and leave happy with a full belly. Same with the offense. We all have our preferences as to how they do it, but at the end of the day if they are humming and the team is winning, we will all go to bed with a full belly (hopefully we can all have some BBQ gator tail in a few weeks) and a smile on our face. Monday morning we will all get back on her and bitch and whine about how they could have done it different and better.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You’re also comparing an entire season’s worth of stats versus those from a three-game stretch that likely includes the best defense Georgia will face in the regular season.

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      • sirjackshea1980

        You are still convinced about Clemson, I see…

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        • Ran A

          Not speaking for the man – but their defense – yes; they have done nothing to show anything differently. It’s their offense that is letting them down.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Texas Dawg

        Then lets back it up to last year. It was still 424 total and 174 rushing and that was with a QB for most of the year that was suspect.

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      • sirjackshea1980

        “A year after beating Georgia Tech 73-7 on the road, No. 6 Clemson needed a goal-line stand to escape with a 14-8 victory over the Yellow Jackets at home on Saturday. The narrow victory, delayed by severe weather in the area, showcased both the brilliance of the Clemson defense, which has yet to allow a touchdown through three games, and the ineptitude of its offense, which failed to reach 300 total yards.” Brilliance. Against Tech. ohhhhhh K

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        • RangerRuss

          The Clemson offense may require a month to convalesce from that big ol ass whoopn’ the Dawgs D laid on ’em. Not trying to be funny either. That’s a rough crowd.

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          • sirjackshea1980

            Yes Ranger, but….Tech???? really???

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            • RangerRuss

              Aight Jack and TexasDawg. After walking around in the rain I have regained my sense. Clemson sucks almost as bad as tech sucks. Piss on them and their entire shitty conference.

              Liked by 1 person

          • Texas Dawg

            I think UGA proved to Clemson that Mike Tyson was right. Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth. DJ is finding out that he is not the 2nd coming.

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            • sirjackshea1980

              I dont disagree about DJ, but what does his “non 2nd coming” say about Georgia?

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              • Texas Dawg

                I think the beating he took from the DAWGS contributed to that. I think they destroyed his confidence. He is not playing like the DJ of last year.

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                • sirjackshea1980

                  Certainly possible. I have started working on a self-vaccination for rat poison….I think it is wise to have questions until the answers are obvious.

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          • otto1980

            I think as the season goes on the more it will be Clemson has declined. They remind me of FSU, a great dual threat QB has hidden how mediocre their OL is.

            UGA is an improving team and it will be interesting to see how both sides of the ball evolves. I am glad we have Vandy and then Arkansas. The team has a chance of being very special. The SEC East Championship game should be in Jax and this team should win. We’ll see how it plays outs.

            Liked by 2 people

          • originaluglydawg

            Ukelieli is shell shocked and suffering from PTDS (Post Traumatic Dawg Syndrome).
            That can last for a season or two.
            Tech could have won that game if they’d worn red helmets. He would have assumed the fetal position.

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  24. 69Dawg

    I’ve stated earlier that the Oline problems are that we have Van Pran at center and WE at right guard. VP is not even making the Mike calls, the left tackle or JT has to do it. While the defense communicates like mad the Oline is hampered by VP. The one sack on JT this week was a lookout block from VP on the middle rush right by him. He and WE are just not on the same page even after 3 games.

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  25. There was a reason in the early 80’s that in most of the few circumstance where we had to throw the ball we struggled to do it. There is only so much practice time and a more elaborate passing scheme takes time and plays away from the run game at practice. Therefore we are off to a slower start in that area. It will probably get better over time and even if it doesn’t it may be a good trade.

    Liked by 5 people

  26. bigjohnson1992

    South Carolina isn’t a good team. Let’s not hurt our arm patting ourselves on the shoulder. We SHOULD be able to run on them. They will get run on ALOT in SEC play.

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  27. CB

    Both guard spots have been a weakness and could cost us down the line.

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