If you jumped over to read that Andy Staples piece ($$) Seth linked to in his tweet, you’ll come across his take about Georgia’s offense that I find way more interesting than his praise for Stetson Bennett.
… Georgia has built a unit that feels like a correction to the way defenses have changed to deal with spread offenses.
When Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart was in his first few years as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, the Crimson Tide played huge linebackers (between 235 and 260 pounds)… Secondaries and linebacker groups have gotten much lighter. The best secondaries tend to include five players who all would have been cornerbacks 15 years ago. Today’s outside linebackers would have been strong safeties. Today’s inside linebackers would have been weakside linebackers.
Defenses had to do this, because playing such large second- and third-level players put them at risk of having a 240-pound linebacker covering some 175-pound burner in the slot. To deal with four- and five-receiver formations that could morph into different looks with shifts and motion, defenses had to go small. And that’s fine until they run into an offense that can spread the field and still be huge.
… If the Bulldogs can harness that (i.e., using three tight ends), they’ll be able to use all those big bodied pass catchers to create multiple mismatches in the passing game while also maintaining a numbers advantage blocking in the run game…
In a way, this is nothing new. A long time ago, I wrote about what the spread offense was doing to traditional defensive schemes and what a contrarily minded offensive coordinator might make of that development.
All of which makes you wonder how far this trend will go. If you configure your defense for small, speedy types who can keep up with these spread sets, it would seem to open you up to other problems. In the land of the dime package, the power running game is king, so to speak.
So, it seems, might the 13 formation with freakishly skilled tight ends be. Gosh, I just wonder if Georgia has an offensive coordinator who has a clue about how to deploy such talent effectively. Actually, I don’t. I’m looking forward to the ride.