Georgia football: Here's how I'd fix the Bulldogs offense if I were offensive coordinator
As badly as Georgia wanted to play Missouri on Saturday to help it wash out the bad taste of last week’s 44-28 loss to Florida, the coronavirus had other ideas. An outbreak in the Tigers’ program means that the game has been postponed, and that the Bulldogs will fix their eyes on Mississippi State on Nov. 21.
If anything, that gives Kirby Smart and his staff more time to iron out some wrinkles. One of those is a topic we’ve discussed before: the offense.
The Bulldogs are 8th in the SEC in total yards per game with 382.83 and 6th with 29 points per game. That’s more than 18 points fewer than Alabama, who lead the league, and more than 13 points fewer than Florida. Only 3 other teams have a lower passing yards per game average; the running game is decent at 5th but could stand to be opened up a bit more.
Don’t get me wrong: There are signs of the offense getting better under Todd Monken. But some of the same things that hindered it during the James Coley years remain. Here’s what I’d fix if I were the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator.
Figure out the quarterback situation
I wish I could make this points 1, 2, and 3. But it’s impossible to overstate how vital this is for Georgia to make any significant progress.
Yes, “defense wins championships,” but it’s very difficult to win a championship in this day and age without a dynamic quarterback in the mix as well. For the past few seasons, the Dawgs haven’t had that. And yes, Jake Fromm nearly got them there. But look no further than Florida and last year’s LSU team (as well as a host of others) as an extension of my point.
It’s critical that the Bulldogs put together a clear, transparent plan for the quarterback position, whether they’re rolling with Stetson Bennett IV, D’Wan Mathis, JT Daniels or even Carson Beck. Sure, there are risks involved with all 4. But looking past those risks and making an honest evaluation of who can put them in the best shape to win is part of what Smart is being paid to do.
Determine a specific number of carries for Zamir White per game
I fully understand that White has had 2 major knee injuries, one before he arrived in Athens and one in his true freshman year during the preseason. It’s important that the staff handles him with care to avoid having him injured once more.
Still, he looks fairly close to 100 percent to me. And I’m puzzled why he wasn’t called on more against the Gators on Saturday, especially after a 75-yard touchdown run to start the game and after he carried it 26 times against Kentucky on Oct. 31. Take away the long score in Jacksonville, and that’s 6 carries for 32 yards, still effective at more than 5 yards an attempt.
White’s a very talented player who has shown immense promise and the ability to be a top back in the SEC. Giving him the ball just 7 times in a major rivalry game is criminal. He needs a set number of carries every game — I’d say 17-22, maybe 25 on the high end — and be allowed to continue to gain confidence as the team’s No. 1 running back. The complement of players behind him on the depth chart should be able to pick up the slack.
Be more creative with the play-calling
Why didn’t James Cook have a larger role in this offense in the Cocktail Party? I know he’s banged up, but he has shown over the past couple of seasons that he can provide versatility that under the right system can fully blossom.
I’d love to have seen that showcased more consistently against the Gators: Cook carried it 6 times for 26 yards and made 3 catches for 17 yards. That’s as opposed to Florida, who weren’t afraid to send Nay’Quan Wright and others on wheel routes to keep the Dawgs at bay.
And it worked.
I’m using Cook as one example, but the same can be applied to White and even Kendall Milton, who appears to be poised to be a large part of this team but just isn’t being used enough, in my opinion. Get creative and don’t lean on a one-dimensional offensive game plan. Kyle Trask and the Gators were more than happy to invite the Bulldogs into a shootout because they knew Georgia couldn’t keep up. They were right.
Like I mentioned with the quarterback situation, there’s risk involved. But the staff needs to put its offense in a position to win every week, not in a position to simply “not lose.” If it’s able to do that, it will go a long way toward helping the team find another gear.