It may be ‘old-man football’ to some, but Jon Gruden loves what Georgia does

ATHENS – On one hand, you have Sheldon Richardson, the Missouri defensive lineman who infamously said he had to turn off the Georgia game this past Saturday because “it’s like watching Big Ten football. It’s old-man football.”

Then you have Jon Gruden, the former NFL head coach and current lead analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. He says he loves watching the Bulldogs’ offense in action. As for that spread stuff Missouri does? Not so much.

Before he became an analyst with ESPN's Monday Nigh Football, Jon Gruden earned a reputation as an offensive-minded head coach at Oakland and Tampa Bay.

Before he became an analyst with ESPN's Monday Night Football, Jon Gruden earned a reputation as an offensive-minded head coach at Oakland and Tampa Bay.

“I like what Georgia does offensively,” said Gruden, who was on the broadcast crew that called Georgia’s game against Michigan State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2. “I look forward to getting their tapes. . . . When you get Georgia, you get a lot of good stuff. You’re gonna see audibles, two-back play-action. You’re going to see an array of personnel groupings and formations and different ways of attacking. I like what they do at Georgia.”

Those two philosophies will collide this Saturday night in Columbia, Mo., as the Bulldogs visit Memorial Stadium to play Missouri in its first SEC game. The Tigers and Texas A&M were approved to join a newly-expanded, 14-team SEC last winter and officially were chartered into the league on July 1.

Over and above their long history and association with the Big Eight and Big Twelve conferences, the Tigers are coming from a different place philosophically. Coach Gary Pinkel’s teams are known for utilizing a spread offense to produce big numbers. Virtually every one of Missouri’s school records for points and yardage have been established during the era of Pinkel and his offensive coordinator David Yost. Routinely the Tigers have finished among the top teams in the country in total offense, including this past season when they were 12th at 475.5 yards per game.

“There will be some four-receiver looks and five-receiver looks,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Sometimes the quarterback will be the only one in the backfield when they snap the ball. Their goal is to spread you out, but they want to run the football, too. A lot of their run game does come from their quarterback, but they do give it to their back in the backfield a good bit and run the zone-read type stuff like everybody else runs.”

The spread offense – and variations of it — has been hot trend in college football the last several years. It gained in popularity after Urban Meyer brought it from Utah and used it to win national championships at Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Gruden doesn’t care for it.

“These teams are in a no-huddle offense and they’re trying to snap the ball before the defense is ready as many times as they can in a game,” he said. “They throw bubble screen after bubble screen and funnel screen after funnel screen and they run the read-option and that’s about it.”

Gruden said such offenses do little to prepare their players for the NFL. He said Georgia’s pro-style offense, by contrast, is why you see so many of the Bulldogs’ players getting drafted early and having success at the professional level.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford credits a lot of his early NFL success to offensive concepts he learned in three seasons at Georgia. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford credits a lot of his early NFL success to offensive concepts he learned in three seasons at Georgia. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

“They’ve had the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in Matthew Stafford,” Gruden said. “My brother [Jay Gruden] coaches A.J. Green and he was accomplished enough to come into the NFL and make the pro bowl as a rookie. Cordy Glenn was a first-round draft choice. Knowshon Moreno was a first-rounder.

“It’s because they run a pro-style, two-back offense, which is really unheard of in a lot of places these days. They’re committed to slamming the ball at you. They can get into a one-back set, they can use the no-huddle, they throw the ball down field. I think the battery there of Mark Richt and Coach [Mike] Bobo is excellent. They’ve got an excellent line coach, too, [Will] Friend.”

What makes Gruden’s comments particularly interesting is they run contrary to what a lot of fans think. A vocal segment of the “Bulldog Nation” has been complaining for years about the play-calling and game-planning of Bobo, the offensive coordinator.

Gruden, who has worked with Bobo at some clinics in recent years, doesn’t get that.

“I think the guy’s an excellent coach,” he said. “I think he’s vastly underrated. That’s just my opinion. I don’t think you can argue that there’s been a lot of production and Georgia has won a lot of games the last decade. What has Aaron Murray done? He’s thrown, what, 60 touchdown passes in two years? That’s disgraceful isn’t it?”

Stafford was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. He passed for 5,038 yards with 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for the Detroit Lions this past season. He said he owes a lot of his early success in the NFL to the training he received at Georgia.

“Our system here is similar to what we did at Georgia; a lot of the same concepts and just how we go about it,” Stafford said. “Being under center and being able to play in a pro-style offense in college benefited me a lot. That was a big part of my decision to come to Georgia.”

Stafford said he stays in close touch with Bobo, exchanging text messages weekly and talking football over the phone.

“I love him as a play-caller and as a coach,” Stafford said. “I had him in his first couple of years [as play-caller] and I think he’s gotten better every year. I watched them last year and I thought they were moving the ball great. Obviously Aaron had a great year. I’m excited to see what they can do this year.”

Bobo said he doesn’t pay any attention to the criticism he gets from fans. He said he wouldn’t even be aware of it if reporters didn’t occasionally ask him about it.

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, he with Aaron Murray, has a strong reputation inside football for developing quarterbacks. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, he with Aaron Murray, has a strong reputation inside football for developing quarterbacks. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

“We’re in our hole and we’re in here grinding and working,” Bobo said. “We really don’t get caught up with anything like that, good or bad. I think if you’re doing your job you can’t really look at the positive stuff or the negative stuff. It can affect you either way. You just want to do the job to the best of your ability.”

Bobo said he believes he is a better coordinator and play-caller than he was when he first took over those duties from Richt in 2006.

“You learn what to look for and how to go about your week and the organization of it,” he said. “I just remember early on you felt like there wasn’t enough hours in the day and you weren’t going to get everything covered. I’m very fortunate to be here with Coach Richt, who’s been a coordinator and has a great staff. I think we work well together. It’s just about managing time and preparing for games and getting ready for each week.”

The system Bobo is running was designed by Richt. He has been coordinating offenses since the early 1990s when he helped lead Florida State to 14 consecutive Top 5 finishes. At the beginning of that stretch he had the Seminoles running a version of “the spread.”

“We called in the ‘Fast Break,’” Richt said. “This was in 1992. I know there’s a lot of people who think this spread stuff started a little while ago. We were doing a lot of that in 1992.”

But Richt eventually settled on a multiple pro-style offense. He said he prefers the versatility and “physicality” of it.

“It’s sound fundamental football, you know?,” he said. “I think the more that people spread the field, the less that they’re able to handle the power running game. Sometimes things trend to being spread and out in space, but sometimes when everybody works in that direction they forget how to defend some hard-nose football.

“We just believe in what we do, I guess.”

As well they should, Gruden says, criticism be damned.

“First of all, every coordinator in every town I go to is under siege by the fans and bloggers and websites and talk radio,” Gruden said. “But those people don’t represent everybody. . . . I think there are about 20 new coordinators in the NFL this year. Just to make a point, that’s a tough job.

“You’re going to be criticized, sometimes justifiably and oftentimes unjustifiably.”

140 comments Add your comment

Chicago Dawg

September 4th, 2012
10:33 am

Chicago Dawg

September 4th, 2012
10:33 am

Just win baby!

Blame Bobo? Not Mark Richt. | Get The Picture

September 4th, 2012
10:42 am

[...] Jon Gruden and Matt Stafford don’t blame Bobo either. “Our system here is similar to what we did at Georgia; a lot of [...]

hirejongruden

September 4th, 2012
10:45 am

Yay! Hire Jon Gruden! I’ve been saying it. Now make it a reality.
It is time for a real football coach…

Jaxdawg

September 4th, 2012
10:47 am

Go dawgs! Beat the kittens!

hirejongruden

September 4th, 2012
10:48 am

If you offered him $5 million he would be here tomorrow. How many 5 star players would come to play for him? Probably all of them!

Alphare

September 4th, 2012
10:53 am

Hire,

doesn’t Gruden have a 47-45 record in the NFL and get fired? What’s the bug fuss about him?

triple floption

September 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Screw Tech….oh, to early for that….Go Dawgs GATA come Saturday night in Missouri, somebody’s getting knocked the F*ck out!

flo-ri-duh

September 4th, 2012
10:57 am

Gruden is a bobble head for ESPN but he did win the Super Bowl a long time ago. Dawgs need to throw more screens to the RBs and the TEs. Need to get Tunsil at G so they can run a few sweeps.

WDE

September 4th, 2012
10:58 am

I think Gruden makes some very good points here.

flo-ri-duh

September 4th, 2012
10:59 am

The real Tech shows up in the 4th quarter just in time to fold.

Whiznot

September 4th, 2012
10:59 am

Georgia’s problem isn’t the scheme. There are several problems the most serious is predictable play calling. Georgia also fails to empower the QB. In both college and pro ball the successful teams allow players on the field to make decisions for themselves instead of constantly looking to the sidelines. Bobo should not be calling plays–Murray should!

Alphare

September 4th, 2012
11:01 am

Yes, Gruden did win a Super Bowl.

With his record, he obviously got lucky in one year.

Josh

September 4th, 2012
11:01 am

This article is misleading, in that it takes “a vocal segment” of Dawg fans to task for criticizing Bobo’s (and Richt’s) offensive scheme.

The scheme is fine… in fact power football is fantastic in an era of smallish d-lines built to chase around mobile QBs running the spread. Blow ‘em off the line, etc.

The problem is the playcalling within the scheme. Show me 4 quarters of consistent play-calling by Bobo and I’ll show you some Nevada swampland. Bobo never lets success get in the way of his script.

Alphare

September 4th, 2012
11:04 am

The problem for Tech is, they cannot score when they can defend, and they cannot defend when they can score.

If their defense is as good as shown last night, they will be a good team, because they usually can score a ton if they give their opponents one week to prepare.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2012
11:08 am

Gruden rocks but I’m not sure I agree with him on Bobo. I know our offense is very much like the NFL and it prepares guys for the NFL, but is it the best offense to win college football championships? That’s the question and I have my doubts. We seem to get physically pushed around up front by the best defenses. Our offense is not physical at all. Our offensive line cannot match up with an LSU or a Bama. They just can’t. So, we may be running a lot of fancy schmancy formations that football nerds like Gruden have a good time talking about, but it isn’t getting us any hardware. That’s just the truth.

Mike

September 4th, 2012
11:20 am

I love reading what most of you ‘offensive geniuses” think. You guys really should call Michael Adams and see about getting hired.

PMC

September 4th, 2012
11:28 am

what’s the bible quote… “There is nothing new under the sun…”

It’s all marketing. Georgia just needs to execute and look prepared week to week.

Pitbull

September 4th, 2012
11:29 am

It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog!

DawginLex

September 4th, 2012
11:29 am

Now you idiots are arguing with Jon Gruden!!!!!!

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Progress

September 4th, 2012
11:32 am

I’m not sure the scheme is the problem this year. My concern is that Bobo never seems to call for a sustained running game. The Dogs will have some success on the ground and then he’ll call 10 pass plays in a row. And the bulk of the pass plays are slowly developing ones where Murray has to chunk it 40 yards or take a sack. It wreaks of desperation and/or impatience. I’d like to see a sustained power running game, particularly now that we have the backs for it, and more screens and quick hitting passes.

SOUTHGADAWGG88

September 4th, 2012
11:33 am

Alabama and LSU run the same offense we do dawgfan.lol

dawgfan

September 4th, 2012
11:33 am

“I love reading what most of you ‘offensive geniuses” think. You guys really should call Michael Adams and see about getting hired.”

This is an incredibly dumb comment and a tired argument. Football is a results oriented business. You either win or you lose. While I may not be qualified to take Bobo to task on the nuts and bolts of his job, I am perfectly qualified to look at our Win-Loss records and question the job he doing based upon that. The fact remains that we have not won any championships since he became our offensive coordinator. Not only that, we have failed to win any big games since he became our offensive coordinator. Those are facts that do not require any coaching experience to state. Moreover, I may not have Bobo’s coaching experience but I do have a healthy functioning set of eye balls. I can see our offensive line getting its jock handed to them by all the great defensive fronts that we face. I don’t need a Phd. in meteorology to tell me that the sky is blue.

You are dismissed.

DIT

September 4th, 2012
11:33 am

@ Mike

That was good!

UGA Insider

September 4th, 2012
11:35 am

The criticism is NOT scheme… it’s the playcalling at times….I guess we have become way to predictable as Spurrier says.

The defense and their lack of depth in the DBackfield scared me Saturday. Saturday night will be a shootout and one of those games like the USCe game last year was I’m afraid.

dawgfan

September 4th, 2012
11:35 am

“Alabama and LSU run the same offense we do dawgfan.lol”

Hmmm…yet they’re winning championships and we’re not. Maybe their guy in the booth is doing a better job than our guy is.

Watergirl wants to know

September 4th, 2012
11:36 am

Hire Gruden now, and will he need a watergirl? I hope I can stay on his staff.

water dawg

September 4th, 2012
11:36 am

What does Gruden know. We have lots of Uga fans who know a lot more about offensive football than Gruden, Bobo or Richt. Wonder why they don’t apply for the OC job.

WDE

September 4th, 2012
11:36 am

@Josh I think he called a pretty consistent game last week we scored 45, had 2 dropped TD passes and 2 more overthrows to open receivers, Murray overthrowing or the receivers dropping the ball is not Bobo’s fault his job is to get the right played called so the receiver gets open and he did. Of course that was one game…

uncle kirk

September 4th, 2012
11:44 am

Too many ppl that think they know how to do something better. Wonder how it would be if their job was seen by millions so we could publicly tell them how bad they did behind a screen name. It aint so quit trying to be a wannabe and be a fan of your team. Let the ppl. who get paid to coach coach and the ones who are paid to hire and fire hire and fire. Your opinions mean nothing to those ppl. and the more ppl. wanna be heard the dumber they sound.

Buck

September 4th, 2012
11:45 am

Anyone who complains about “play calling” just does not understand football as it is today and is showing your ignorance. A great percentage of the plays are changed at the line of scrimmage in keeping with what the defense shows. If you want to complain about the plays, criticize the QB, not Bobo.

Be a fan.

Thank God for Reggie Ball

September 4th, 2012
11:47 am

yawwnn… ugh… sorry I just woke up August 31st. *rubs eyes* Oh, it looks like my Bullodgs did to, that Buffalo game was ugly. Alright I’m back, what did I miss? sigh… still complaining about Murray and Richt, Tech fans still calling us out for being inferior (lol) OK, let’s go

Gorilla Biscuit

September 4th, 2012
11:47 am

Some people know everything, and what they don’t know….you just can’t tell ‘em.

Thank God for Reggie Ball

September 4th, 2012
11:52 am

just watched some video of Mizzou vs SE LA

my lord Mizzou’s DBs play off in coverage, almost every play they’re ten yards off the recievers.

if they don’t change that, run that quick pass to TK about 15 times

uncle kirk

September 4th, 2012
11:53 am

Dang insider, you just said the playcalling was too predictable then you said it is gonna be a shootout Sat. like last year at South Carolina. To be so predictable that is a lot of scoring. If you are gonna bad mouth, at least take a side. Did you predict the double pass saturday? If so, give me some lottery numbers.

1eyedJack

September 4th, 2012
11:53 am

Half the people on this blog who have something good to say can’t figure out how to say it, and the other half who have nothing to say keep on saying it.

WDE

September 4th, 2012
11:53 am

@Gorilla Biscuit so true so very true. And Thank God for Reggie Ball…welcome back! We have trolls to smite !

WDE

September 4th, 2012
11:55 am

@1eyedJack that is a good one….they keep on saying it over and over month after month….

rhino23

September 4th, 2012
11:56 am

Love Coach Richt and Coach Bobo…they are doing a great job building men…my concern has always been Georgia’s ability on offense to quickly make in-game adjustments…Coach Bobo’s play-calling appears too predictable at times and, they seem reluctant to slow the pass rush down with RB and WR screens (particularly to backs out of the backfield)…and with the addition of Marshall and Gurley, both of whom seem to have good hands, screen passes would not only slow down the rush, it would provide these guys room in space to bust big plays! Also, LOVE the football and effort Michael Bennett is showing on EVERY play…really making opposing defenses work and never take a play off…that will wear on a defense in the fourth quarter…Go Dawgs…GATA !!

TarHeels4ever

September 4th, 2012
11:56 am

Look, Mizzou scored 62 points, but 28 of that came from the defense and another 14 off of punt returns. So all in all, their offense scored 20 points against a Div.2 team. That’s “high octane”? As long as UGA doesn’t have the turnovers or the special teams breakdowns, I think they’ll thump Mizzou pretty good. Central Florida doesn’t have the offense of defense that UGA. UGA ran a vanilla defensive scheme, because they didn’t have to do anything else. I think you UGA fans don’t have a thing to worry about. JMO

RxDawg

September 4th, 2012
11:57 am

Hehe, love it. Now sit back and listen to the negative nancies continue to use Bobo as a scapegoat for why we don’t beat everyone 100-0.

Honestly, I think the biggest reason we’ve been somewhat hampered on offense is that we’ve had huge RB problems ever since Moreno. I’m hoping that’s now been remedied. Besides, statistacly weve been pretty good during Bobo’s reign.

Thank God for Reggie Ball

September 4th, 2012
11:58 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MCdaTK1BaU

I heard this is Mizzou’s welcome video to introduce themselves to the SEC teams

gdawginkalamazoo

September 4th, 2012
11:58 am

Sounds like Gruden wants to be our next HC. Makes you wonder what does he have against UGA? That’s a little too much sunshine blown up the backside to start the week.

tony

September 4th, 2012
12:00 pm

If I had to choose a coach for my dawgs………..

1) Chris Petersen – best coach in college football

2) Trent Dilfer – he’s all about fundamentals and technics

3) Kirby Smart – he has Saban’s blueprint and a former dawg

4) Jon Gruden – He won a sb and knows how to build a strong defense

schmeckdawg

September 4th, 2012
12:01 pm

The DAWGS are 107-38 under CMR and should probably have at least another 10-15 wins including bowl games, but, I am not complaining. Sure I want a few crystal footballs, but it took Dooley 16-17 years to finally get one.

We’ve got a good man running the show. All good things come to those who work for them!!! Go DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yarddawg

September 4th, 2012
12:02 pm

John Gruden and Nick Saban are real good friends. I’m just saying…. and the two posts earlier by dawgfan where the best on here today period GO DAWGS!

RxDawg

September 4th, 2012
12:02 pm

“the more ppl. wanna be heard the dumber they sound.”

Nice quote. I may just print that out and hang it up on the wall for today lol.

DawgFaceBlues

September 4th, 2012
12:03 pm

@ triple floption

now craaaaaaiiiiggggg…….you aints gots to lie craiig…..

RxDawg

September 4th, 2012
12:04 pm

“Half the people on this blog who have something good to say can’t figure out how to say it, and the other half who have nothing to say keep on saying it.”

Well darnit 1eye… if these great quotes continue I’m gonna run out of wall space.

Dawgfan64

September 4th, 2012
12:04 pm

Dang, I think TarHeel just made me feel a lot better. It’s still gonna be a tough one, but I think we’ll be just fine. But just in case, I’ll have extra Valium and anti-depressants on hand…..