Georgia offense more efficient than dazzlingView 5 Photos
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia's offense racked up 526 yards and 7.5 yards per play during last Saturday night's 43-14 win at Tennessee, consuming 36 minutes and 28 seconds of possession time in the process.
It was a thorough beating that included a 24-of-29, 288-yard passing performance by junior quarterback Jake Fromm, but it did not contain a slew of explosive plays that are compiled each week by the likes of Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. D'Andre Swift came out of the backfield to produce a 44-yard reception, and Brian Herrien broke a bunch of tackles for a 40-yard run, but Georgia's biggest play against the Volunteers was inside linebacker Tae Crowder's 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown that capped the scoring with 4:39 remaining.
"Some teams explode and want to turn the scoreboard way up," Fromm said after the game. "For us, we just focus on the game, execute on that drive, score and do whatever we can. We want to attack people up front.
"With our offensive line, we feel like we can out-physical anybody."
Ohio State and Georgia, teams tied for No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll, appear to have college football's two most complete rosters as the season reaches its midway mark. The Buckeyes go into their first open date with a 6-0 record and an average score of 49-9, while the Bulldogs are 5-0 with a 43-11 average score entering this Saturday's game against visiting South Carolina.
LSU, Oklahoma and Alabama have the nation's top three scoring offenses, each averaging more than 50 points a game, but each has been suspect on defense. LSU has a 66-38 win at Vanderbilt, which represents Vandy's season-high point tally, while Nick Saban's Crimson Tide have allowed more than 450 total yards in each of their Southeastern Conference wins over South Carolina and Ole Miss.
Yet the ability Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State have to score at any moment from any yard line is something that seems to have eluded Georgia to this point.
"We're just big on the running game," Bulldogs senior receiver Tyler Simmons said this week. "We're a run-first team, and that's showing on the field. When we get the big plays, we get the big plays, but our biggest thing is staying consistent and driving down the field.
"As long as we're keeping the ball and moving, we're good."
Georgia's running game has indeed impressed, with Swift (7.0), Herrien (6.3) and Zamir White (7.6) each averaging more than 6 yards per carry behind an offensive front loaded with NFL talent. The Bulldogs overall have rushed for 1,250 yards and 6.7 yards a pop.
Receiver was Georgia's biggest question mark entering Kirby Smart's fourth season as head coach, but the addition of graduate transfer Lawrence Cager and the quick emergence of freshmen Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens have given the Bulldogs a respectable contingent given the returning likes of Simmons, Matt Landers and Demetris Robertson. Blaylock has Georgia's longest catch at 60 yards, but that score against Arkansas State was sprung by a Cager block on the perimeter near midfield.
Pickens laid out for a 43-yard reception against Murray State, which serves as Georgia's most impressive deep ball so far.
"Am I happy with the offense? Yeah, I'm happy with what we've been able to do, and that's sustaining drives," Smart said. "Do we want to be more explosive? Yes, we want to be more explosive. We have a goal of one of every eight plays being explosive. In this last game, we were one out of 8.3, so we missed our goal offensively of being explosive. Some teams may want one out of every five, but one out of every eight plays is our goal, and we just missed it. You take one or two blocks downfield, and one more play is explosive, and you make that goal.
"We're always looking to improve, and it's the same thing with defense. We're trying not to give up explosives."
Smart added that being explosive involves everything from blocking down the field to winning one-on-one matchups to possessing excellent speed. It also can contain busts by the defense, which Georgia had in allowing a 60-yard touchdown pass against Murray State and Saturday night's 73-yard scoring strike from Brian Mauer to Marquez Callaway.
Georgia's 24 offensive touchdowns are not in the same neighborhood currently as Ohio State (39), Oklahoma (35), Alabama (34) and LSU (34), but the Bulldogs are averaging 7.93 yards per play, with only Oklahoma (9.94), Alabama (8.30) and Washington State (8.09) averaging more nationally.
"We definitely have the potential to be that big-play offense and to be able to score on the first play of a drive," Simmons said, "but just keeping the ball moving is our biggest thing."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.