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Georgia’s offense doesn’t hide its intentions

Georgia’s offense is a run-first, run-second outfit this year. Can Mizzou force the Dawgs to the air?

Georgia v Vanderbilt
Nick Chubb
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

It’s a good news, bad news situation when it comes to facing Georgia’s offense.

The good news is, you pretty much know what the Dawgs are going to do. They run the ball 72 percent of the time on standard downs (18th-most in FBS) and 45 percent of the time on passing downs (14th). They rank 92nd in Adjusted Pace, they don’t worry so much about creating space to exploit — they just try to enforce their will and bowl you over.

The bad news is, they’re good enough (and getting better) at it that they probably will enforce their will, and there’s not a whole hell of a lot you can do about it.

The last two Saturdays, Georgia put up 86 combined points on Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Quarterback Jake Fromm threw just 26 passes in the process. But Nick Chubb rushed 32 times for 247 yards, Sony Michel carried 23 times for 214, and a trio of youngsters (D'Andre Swift, Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield) added another 33 carries for 218 yards.

Tennessee and Vanderbilt likely both have defenses better than Missouri’s.



Georgia v Notre Dame
Jake Fromm
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  • Jake Fromm (6’2, 225, Fr.) — 57-for-95 (60%), 836 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks; 19 carries, 84 yards (4.4), 2 TD
  • Jacob Eason (6’5, 235, So.) — 4-for-7 (57%), 28 yards, 2 sacks
  • Brice Ramsey (6’2, 210, Sr.) — 1-for-4, 10 yards, 2 INT

Georgia’s success, of course, is driven by its defense and special teams. The Dawgs are fourth in Defensive S&P+ and first in Special Teams S&P+, which means they don’t have to take many chances. That’s a good thing considering their youth at QB.

Fromm took over for an injured Jacob Eason almost the moment after the season began, and while he’s a blue-chipper and has looked the part at times, they haven’t had to ask him to step outside of himself very much. He threw all of three passing downs passes last week; as means of comparison, Missouri’s Drew Lock threw 15 such passes at Kentucky. Since you can’t score on them, they don’t mind taking their time figuring out how to score on you.

Running Back

Georgia v Tennessee
Sony Michel
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  • Nick Chubb (5’10, 225, Sr.) — 91 carries, 618 yards (6.8), 8 TD; 2 targets, 1 catch, 11 yards (5.5)
  • Sony Michel (5’11, 215, Sr.) — 59 carries, 406 yards (6.9), 4 TD; 5 targets, 2 catches, 1 yard (0.2)


  • Christian Payne (6’1, 242, Sr.) — 3 carries, 12 yards (4.0)

Good god, Chubb and Michel have been around forever. The duo has combined for 92 career carries against Missouri, though I guess I should mention that those carries haven’t been incredibly successful — they’ve gained just 330 yards (3.6 per carry).

After battling any number of injury issues, however, they’re both healthy, and the first impression of the remodeled offensive line has been positive. They were downright mean to Vandy last week, combining to average 10.3 yards per carry over 28 touches.

And, of course, when they need to be spelled, the youngsters (sophomores Herrien and Holyfield, freshman Swift) can be counted on to further soften up the defense. They’ve combined for basically another Chubb: 98 carries, 519 yards, three touchdowns, and 45 receiving yards.

Receiving Corps

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Georgia
Terry Godwin
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver

  • Javon Wims (6’4, 215, Sr.) — 19 targets, 13 catches, 217 yards (11.4), 2 TD
  • Mecole Hardman (5’11, 183, So.) — 13 targets, 7 catches, 58 yards (4.5), 1 TD; 3 carries, 5 yards

Wide Receiver

  • Terry Godwin (5’11, 185, Jr.) — 20 targets, 13 catches, 351 yards (17.6 per target), 5 TD
  • Michael Chigbu (6’2, 213, Jr.)

Wide Receiver

  • Riley Ridley (6’2, 200, So.) — 5 targets, 3 catches, 65 yards (13.0)
  • Ahkil Crumpton (5’9, 175, Jr.) — 2 targets, 2 catches, 17 yards (8.5)

Tight End

  • Jeb Blazevich (6’5, 245, Sr.) — 1 target, 1 catch, 12 yards
  • Isaac Nauta (6’4, 246, So.) — 10 targets, 5 catches, 77 yards (7.7), 1 TD
  • Charlie Woerner (6’5, 245, So.) — 4 targets, 2 catches, 8 yards (2.0)
  • Jackson Harris (6’6, 247, Jr.)

Missouri has targeted three players with at least 25 passes so far. Georgia has none over 20. The Dawgs are plying a different kind of football than the Tigers.

Man, the matchups just don’t work here for the Tigers. In theory, you see Georgia’s rushing numbers and reasonably green receiving corps — Godwin was the only returning wideout who caught more than 16 balls last year — and you put together a pretty clear gameplan in your head: sell out to stop the run, make Fromm beat you with his arm, and voila!

Only, another way of putting that is “sell out to stop the run and expose your weakest position (cornerback) to major abuse.” With 2016’s corners (Aarion Penton and John Gibson), sure, go for it. With this year’s (DeMarkus Acy, Logan Cheadle, Adam Sparks), that sounds terrifying.

You still might have to, though. You need to keep as many guys in the box as possible to load up against this insistent run game. Pick your poison, I guess.

Offensive Line

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky
Lamont Gaillard
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Left Tackle

  • Isaiah Wynn (6’2, 302, Sr.) — 6 starts in 2017, 32 career starts
  • Dyshon Sims (6’4, 290, Sr.) — 3 starts in 2017, 6 career starts

Left Guard

  • Kendall Baker (6’6, 287, Jr.) — 5 starts in 2017, 5 career starts
  • Pat Allen (6’4, 295, So.) — 1 start in 2017, 1 career start


  • Lamont Gaillard (6’2, 301, Jr.) — 6 starts in 2017, 19 career starts
  • Sean Fogarty (6’4, 295, Jr.)

Right Guard

  • Solomon Kindley (6’4, 335, RSFr.) — 3 starts in 2017, 3 career starts

Right Tackle

  • Andrew Thomas (6’5, 320, Fr.) — 6 starts in 2017, 6 career starts
  • Ben Cleveland (6’6, 340, RSFr.)

Kindley injured ankle against Vandy last week, but last I saw, he was listed as probable for Saturday.

This unit was easily the biggest question mark for Georgia heading into 2017. The Dawgs really struggled up front last year, then lost three starters from that iffy line. It was Wynn, Gaillard, and new blood. But despite a super young right side, the blocking has mostly held up and seems to be getting better.

It’s still not an amazing line, though. Despite Chubb and Michel being Chubb and Michel, Georgia ranks just 57th in power success rate and 55th in stuff rate. That is a potential area to exploit, but even though Missouri has shown periodic competence in run defense, the Tiger defense still basically just breaks even in these categories — 70th in power success rate and 40th in stuff rate.

Defensive coaches will tell you they want the offense to have to play left-handed: force them out of Plan A, and if they beat you with Plan B, so be it.

Because of Missouri’s weaknesses in pass defense, Plan B will probably work just fine for Fromm and Georgia. But if you can’t stop Plan A, you’re going to lose by 40. Mizzou’s only chance is to get linebackers Terez Hall and Cale Garrett and linemen like Terry Beckner Jr. into the backfield against the run, sell out in the box, and hope Fromm misfires on a couple of deep shots. It probably won’t work, but there might not be a better option.