You know the old bromide about being careful what you wish for? Georgia’s current offensive woes — mainly the dismal showing of the running game — bring that saying to mind.
For years, old-line, Dooley-bred Dogs fans have groused about Mark Richt and Mike Bobo needing to commit more fully to the run. Now, this season, probably wanting to baby a redshirt freshman quarterback, Bobo has been employing a run-first philosophy that has basically gone nowhere, thanks to opponents stacking the box in the absence of A.J. Green, the Georgia offensive line getting pushed around, and mediocre running by the backs.
Meanwhile that quarterback, Aaron Murray, has been the lone bright spot for the offense and shows signs of becoming a real playmaker.
So at this point, I’m really hoping the return of Green sees Bobo opening up the passing game a lot more and using the run (and some quarterback draws) as a counterpunch.
That’s right: Forget the Bobo holy grail of “balance.” I’m no offensive guru, but you don’t really have to be one to conclude that the Dogs need to throw more and run out of the I-formation less. And perhaps more of a drop-back or roll-out game and less play-action, which doesn’t seem to be fooling anyone.
I’d like to see more of a short passing game, too. Even Richt, who does have a rep as an offensive genius, noted the other day that Georgia needs to employ more quick hits and screen passes.
Defensively, Georgia fans have got to hope the lightbulb will stop flickering and the Dogs will put together a consistent performance. It’d help if all that quarterback pressure Todd Grantham’s scheme was supposed to produce would actually materialize. And better play against the run by the middle of the D is an absolute must. But the biggest thing the defense has to do is stiffen up on third down and get off the field!
Those general thoughts aside, what is the outlook for Saturday night’s game at Folsom Field in Boulder? Unclear.
On paper, Georgia’s superior talent should trump Colorado’s home-field advantage. But so far the Dogs haven’t played up to their potential, so that’s certainly not a given.
The Buffs have wins over two pretty terrible teams (Colorado State and Hawaii) and were blown out 52-7 by a mediocre California. Statistically, Colorado’s run defense looks stout, ranking seventh nationally, but part of that is attributable to the fact they’ve played the two worst rushing teams in the country. They like to stack the box, as everyone has been doing against Georgia, but with Green back in the Dogs’ offensive lineup, that could backfire.
The Buffaloes have a couple of big, veteran cornerbacks but still have been giving up more than 240 yards of passing per game. And they’ve had a bunch of injuries at nickel back and have looked weak in the middle of their pass coverage, so that, coupled with the presence of A.J. on the field, presents a great opportunity for Georgia’s tight ends.
On the other side of the ball, Colorado essentially runs a spread offense, but so far their total offense ranks six spots nationally behind the Dogs’ mediocre showing. QB Tyler Hansen can run a bit and is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes, but he’s thrown as many interceptions as he has touchdowns and he’s been sacked eight times. Offensively, they bring to mind Missisippi State, which isn’t the comforting thought one would have anticipated before last week.
Colorado’s drawn a lot of penalties, particularly on offense, but that problem has reared its very ugly head again lately for Georgia, so that aspect of the game could be a wash. As usual, the kicking game should be an advantage for the Dogs.
Most of all, though, Georgia can’t afford to get off to another slow start, either offensively or defensively, so those first series for the Dogs will be big.
The oddsmakers have the Dogs a 4.5 point favorite, largely on the basis of Green finally getting to play, and that sounds about right. But so far this Georgia team hasn’t played as good as they look on paper in any game except the gimme opener. Is playing a soon-to-be-ex-Big 12 weak sister the cure for what ails the Dogs? It better be, or Athens is going to be a very unpleasant place next week.
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.