Georgia TE Jeb Blazevich a weapon waiting to be used
He boasts the size, the soft hands and the ability to run well after the catch that gets coaches excited and attracts the attention of NFL scouts everywhere.
So why was Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich relegated to being college football’s version of the Invisible Man a year ago?
New Dawgs coach Kirby Smart hopes to change all that while adding some much-needed punch to the Bulldogs offense and may have just the man to see to it in new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney. The former University of Pittsburgh play caller is no stranger to involving tight ends in his offenses and he’ll have a gem to work with in Blazevich.
At 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, the junior tight end presents an inviting target because of his ability to physically overwhelm smaller defensive backs and consistently run by less agile linebackers.
Yet Blazevich’s numbers still dipped a year ago, falling from 18 catches for 269 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman in 2014 to 15 receptions for 144 yards and one score last fall. He failed to register at least one catch in three games and managed more than two just once, when he hauled in three passes for all of 19 yards in the Dawgs’ 20-13 win over Auburn.
Overall, Georgia tight ends combined for a meager one touchdown a year ago, despite a steady use of a lot of double-tight end sets and the flexing of tight ends out as receivers.
Former coach Mark Richt could never quite put his finger on exactly why Blazevich became decidedly less involved in the offense a year ago, although the Dawgs’ struggles at quarterback was clearly one reason.
Greyson Lambert (pictured below) was unable to breathe life into the passing game a year ago, often looking uncomfortable before dumping the ball off rather than going through his progressions and finding an open man downfield.
Georgia ranked a dismal 104th nationally in passing offense and didn’t have a pass play longer than 48 yards last season.
Lambert was the best option, but it was readily apparent early on that tight ends never figured prominently in the passing scheme preferred by former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Nobody needs to remind Smart just how effective tight ends can be when used properly. In spending the past nine years at Alabama before returning to his alma mater, Smart saw first-hand the critical roles tight ends can play while watching the Crimson Tide offense. O.J. Howard (pictured) dominated Clemson the national championship game, catching five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
So it wasn’t that surprising that he reached out to Chaney upon taking the job in December. A 30-year coaching veteran of the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and the NFL, Cheney arrived in Athens with a proven track record with tight ends.
Tight ends accounted for two of Pittsburgh’s top five pass catchers from last year, combining for nine touchdowns on their collective 37 catches.
But neither J.P. Holtz nor Scott Orndoff is anywhere near as talented as Blazevich, whom WalterFootball.com projects as a possible third-round pick in next April’s NFL Draft.
Georgia fans have to be excited about the myriad possibilities as the season nears, but no more than Blazevich himself.