Georgia probably won’t roll into Oxford on a bus made to look like a golf cart or a scooter that someone will eventually crash, but they will arrive with a 3-0 record and a number 12 ranking. Still, the Bulldogs haven’t exactly overwhelmed their middling competition—the three-headed monster of North Carolina, Nicholls State, and Missouri—during the early portion of their season.
The 33-24 win over North Carolina game was a struggle deep into the fourth quarter, ditto for two-point win over Nicholls State, and Georgia needed five turnovers and a touchdown in the last two minutes to beat Mizzou by a single point. A generous assessment of their season so far is that they remain a work in progress (AREN’T WE ALL THOUGH).
What’s interesting about their wins* is that they relied almost exclusively on the run to beat North Carolina and used the arm of freshman quarterback Jacob Eason to get by Missouri. There was no blend of offense in either of these games.
*For the record that I know you’re keeping, I didn’t look at the Nicholls State game because, despite evidence to the contrary, I make attempts to value my time. So either Georgia truly is terrible or they spent all week not preparing for the Colonels.
Against North Carolina, the Bulldogs leaned on the run, most likely due to a combination of 1) having some guy named Nick Chubb (IS HE GOOD?) at running back, 2) Greyson Lambert playing quarterback (it was Jacob Eason’s first game), and 3) facing a Tar Heel defense that surrendered 3,463 rushing yards in 14 games last season (247 yards/game; Houston Nutt’s 2011 team gave up 225 rushing yards/game). Here’s how their play selection broke down in the first game:
The math tells us that Georgia ran the dang ball 72 percent of the time, and did so with success, as they piled up 289 rushing yards. But two weeks later against Missouri with a true freshman making his first SEC start, the Bulldogs flipped everything around.
They only ran it on 41 percent of their total plays (101 rushing yards), which had something to do with Missouri’s defense being much better than North Carolina’s and a quarterback with REAL ARM TALENT, TOM. The 55 pass plays netted 308 yards and a very blah 5.6 yards per attempt, but they made enough plays on short-ish throws that allowed them to move the ball on Missouri’s defense.
Two very different ways to offense, but Georgia had some effectiveness with both. So what do the versions of the Georgia offense look like? A great question, dear reader!
The RUN THE DANG BALL version of Georgia
Without getting into the weeds of blocking schemes and all the boring stuff that is vital to any team winning games against good teams, Nick Chubb is an outstanding running back. Had I been blessed with neutral feelings towards Georgia, I would delight in every carry he has (note: I will when they play Tennessee).
In preparing for this post, I was expecting to watch multiple Chubb runs and provide several examples of what makes him so good. Mercifully for me (and you to some degree), the first play of the game against North Carolina showed us everything we need to see.
The Tar Heels put eight men in the box, and 10 men within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
The play is designed to go left, specifically with Chubb following the center, who is pulling and charging through the area where the left guard was (LG blocked down). But Chubb also has the option to bounce it outside if things inside don’t work out.
Within a flash, Chubb can tell he has room inside, picks his spot, and accelerates into the line.
Now that he’s through the line of scrimmage, he never stops looking down the field and sees his next challenge in the form of the North Carolina safety.
This time, he sticks his right foot in the ground and cuts back to the left, which takes the safety out of contention for making a play.
Now he’s one-on-one against a cornerback and cuts back up the field into the cornerback, challenging him to make a tackle.
Let’s watch via the magic of moving pictures.
The play only gained six yards, but within those six yards you saw Chubb’s vision, acceleration, ability to change direction easily, and power. In fact, Georgia ran a version of that play on second down and Chubb picked up 13 of his 222 yards (on 32 carries).
In short simplicity, the RUN THE DANG BALL version of the Georgia offense involves blocking for Chubb as best they can and letting him do the rest. And if the defense can’t stop it, why try anything else.
The Sling It, Jacob Eason version of Georgia
If a defense proves it is capable of stopping Nick Chubb (say, 19 carries for 63 yards against Mizzou), Kirby Smart is fine with letting Eason air it out. Of course, as long as said airing out is done in a conservative (ALABAMA) manner.
Take a look at this pass chart from Eason’s periodic appearances against North Carolina (X’s and O’s mark where the pass was thrown; additional yards could’ve been gained after a completion).
Of his 12 throws, only four went beyond 10 yards and five were behind the line of scrimmage, most of which were the jet sweep pass to Isaiah McKenzie, who is a terror in the open field.
Against North Carolina and Missouri, Georgia wore this play out. It’s safe, easy, and gets the ball in the hands of dude who is very hard to tackle (after review, that play to McKenzie was called a touchdown).
Of course, you don’t recruit and sign (if this were a non-Ole Miss site writing about Ole Miss, we’d be obligated to include $$$$$$$$$$$$$) the best high school quarterback in America and not let him show off the arm.
Eason’s final stats looked something like this:
- Behind the line of scrimmage: 5-5, 65 yards, 1 TD
- 0-10 yards: 2-3, 15 yards
- 11-20 yards: 0-1
- 31-40 yards: 1-3, 51 yards
As mentioned earlier, Nick Chubb was unable to tear apart Missouri, which led to Eason cutting it loose 55 times. Even though he threw 55 times, take a look at where his throws went.
LET THE SHORT THROWS WASH OVER YOU.
Had Missouri not been so awful at challenging these short passes and making tackles after completions, Eason’s yardage numbers would’ve been cut by at least a third. Observe these stats.
- Behind the line of scrimmage: 5-7, 27 yards
- 0-10 yards: 19-32, 178 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
- 11-20 yards: 5-8, 103 yards, 2 TDs
- 21-30 yards: 0-5
- 31-40 yards: 0-2
- 41+ yards: 0-1
That’s right, 39 of his 55 passes were thrown either behind the line of scrimmage or within 10 yards of it, and he still threw for 308 yards. MAKE A GALL DARN TACKLE, TIGERS.
Even though Eason was confined to Smart’s conservative nature, here’s him letting you know he can make just about any throw.
Was that good?
For Ole Miss on Saturday, it would be ideal if they could prevent Georgia from blending the two Georgias together. The idea of Jacob Eason throwing 55 times seems somewhat acceptable, but Ole Miss and soft coverage has (AHEM) been an issue at one point during the season.
If Georgia is able to blend away, Ole Miss would need Chad Kelly and friends to stay on the gas for four hours and see if the scoreboard at Vaught-Hemingway could explode from something other than daytime fireworks.