Forget the running backs: WR Javon Wims is the key to Georgia’s offense
When teams game plan for Georgia, they focus on stopping the running game, and rightfully so. The Bulldogs have one of the deepest backfields in the country, with seniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leading the way.
However, behind that dynamic duo are backs like freshman D’Andre Swift and sophomores Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, who would start for many teams.
The Bulldogs have ridden a strong defense and an incredible running game to an 11-1 record heading into Saturday’s SEC Championship Game. That has been a recipe for success for coach Kirby Smart’s team in only his second year at the helm and it’s a recipe he’ll continue to use.
But, in the Bulldogs’ one loss this year, Georgia only ran for 46 yards — by far the lowest total of their season. That came Nov. 11 in a loss at Auburn, in which the Dawgs were soundly defeated 40-17.
Now that the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will be played again, this time with an SEC title on the line, the Bulldogs need to make some big changes if they want to win and keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
So, how can Georgia make sure this rematch goes differently? Simply, use wide receiver Javon Wims more.
The Bulldogs have only completed 134 passes this year, but a team-high 38 of them (28.4 percent) have gone to Wims, for 631 yards and six scores. The senior receiver has become freshman quarterback Jake Fromm’s favorite target, and is making big plays when he gets the chance.
In Georgia’s past four games, Wims has 19 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns. He had a season-high 96 yards against Auburn, on only three catches. In the other three games, he caught a touchdown in each.
The Bulldogs are going to have to throw to win the SEC title, so Wims must be a huge factor. Fellow receiver Terry Godwin is also going to be important, but Wims is the guy Fromm trusts the most, so he needs to step up the most.
That said, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney also needs to dial up more plays for Wims on Saturday.
Wims can make plays like the one below, so Fromm needs to trust the senior and give him a chance to do this more often:
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 11, 2017
Since that Auburn loss, Wims has found success on a particular type of play, which has led to both of his touchdown catches the past two weeks — a dual crossing pattern with another receiver.
Against Kentucky, below, Wims was the inside receiver, but ran the deeper crossing route and got a step on his defender to give Fromm a window for the nice touchdown pass:
— dawgpost (@DawgPost_) November 21, 2017
Then, against Georgia Tech, Wims was on the outside, but still ran a deep post while the other receiver cleared the middle of the field and gave Fromm another throwing lane:
#Dawgs "Wide open touchdown, Javon Wims! They can't take that one away!"
— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) November 26, 2017
Both throws came off of play action, but the way Chaney lined Wims up in different positions to get him to the same spot on the field was perfect. Georgia needs to freeze the linebacker with the play action and get Wims into single coverage.
Against Auburn this time, the Bulldogs need to be even more creative to get the ball to Wims, as the Tigers and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will know what to expect after seeing the two touchdown plays on film.
Still, Wims needs to be heavily involved in the offense if the Bulldogs are going to change the narrative this time. Wims averaged 32 yards per catch in his first game against the Tigers but, again, he only touched the ball three times. He’ll need it in his hands more often so Fromm can gain confidence and the running backs can find more room to run.