ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive coaches, unlike three of their defensive counterparts, kept their jobs after last year’s five-loss season. But the offensive staff feels the heat, too.
Listen to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, talking to reporters in a conference room at the Butts-Mehre building Thursday:
“Anytime you struggle as a football team and lose five games — which is not acceptable, we know it’s not acceptable — you’re going to soul-search for what we can do better. The first thing we can do better is block better, take care of the ball better and not turn it over, and [by doing those things] we’re going to be better immensely as an offense. Those [things] sound simple, but basically [it's] getting back to basics of what this program and this offense was built on when we first got here — a good run game, good play-action game and those fundamental basics of playing good football and taking care of the football.
“You’re always searching for answers, and anytime you lose it’s, you know, the-sky-is-falling. But you just got to go back to taking care of the little things and getting better at each aspect and coaching your position better. . . .
“We’ve had change. We’ve had turnover. We struggled last year. Eight and five. But sometimes that’s good: You need to be on the fire. And I think it’s lit a fire in everybody.”
In a half-hour meeting with beat reporters one week before the start of spring practice, Bobo stressed that the starting quarterback job will be a “wide open” competition among Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Bobo vowed that the winner of the job must demonstrate that he’ll protect the football. There’s no stomach for another 17-interception season, as Georgia had last fall.
“We got to play better at the quarterback position,” Bobo said. “I think the No. 1 way we can play better is take care of the football, and that is going to be our main emphasis at the position this year.”
Bobo acknowledged that inexperienced quarterbacks –- all three candidates are inexperienced –- tend to be susceptible to mistakes. But “we just have to do a better job of managing that position and managing those mistakes this year where [last] year we probably didn’t,” he said.
On a couple of other points:
– Bobo said that although the Dogs hope to have Trinton Sturdivant back at left tackle after two consecutive seasons lost to knee surgeries, they must not presume his return in building the offensive line. ”When we’re talking about our objectives as an offense and what we want to accomplish this spring, we want to establish depth on the offensive line without counting on No. 77, Trinton Sturdivant,” Bobo said. He agreed with a reporter’s characterization of a Sturdivant return as a “luxury.” Said Bobo: “We think he’s going to be back. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s doing great. But we got to establish depth besides him.” Sturdivant won’t be available for spring practice but if all continues to go well will participate in preseason camp in August.
– Logan Gray might not win the QB job, but he definitely has won Bobo’s respect. “The thing about this kid is, all he’s ever wanted to do is help Georgia and play and compete,” Bobo said. “And that’s what he wants to do this spring at quarterback. If he finds himself not in the mix, where he’s not going to be the guy [at] quarterback, he wants the opportunity to play another position. And that’s it. It’s been a great attitude. It hasn’t been, ‘Hey, I want to play this, Coach, and if not I’m transferring.’ He’s, like, ‘Coach, I want to play and get on the field and help this team, I love it here, I love the teammates, I love Georgia.’ You got to love kids like that.”
Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.