AUBURN, Ala. — The Georgia offense looks a bit different than it did a season ago, but Auburn coach Bryan Harsin recognizes some familiarity.
Indeed, Harsin indicated, they are the result of Mike Bobo helping to construct the Bulldogs’ offense.
“You can see some of those wrinkles that they are utilizing he has brought to that program,” Harsin said, commenting on the influence Bobo is having on Todd Monken’s offense.
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“He’s helping that staff, there’s a reason why they are successful.”
The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs play the Tigers at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium and are a 30-point favorite to beat Auburn.
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Quarterback Stetson Bennett ranks second in the SEC with 1,536 passing yards this season.
Monken calls the plays and gets a great deal of credit, but Kirby Smart explained earlier this season how it’s a team effort in the offensive meeting room.
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“(Monken) will tell you himself he’s got a great offensive staff,” Smart said. “I mean, he’s got guys that are in the room that have coached in the SEC, that understand the SEC.
“You know, the addition of (Stacy) Searels, B-Mac (Bryan McClendon), Bobo, I mean, those guys come up with game plan things.”
Bobo, who was hired by Smart to serve as an analyst, provides an edge with his great knowledge of the Tigers’ personnel and Harsin’s offensive philosophies.
“He’s a very good offensive coach,” Harsin said of Bobo, who also played quarterback at Georgia from 1993-97. “I know that place is special to him, and he had a lot of success there as a coordinator before.”
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Bobo worked alongside Mark Richt from 2007-14 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, overseeing SEC all-time leading passer Aaron Murray.
From there, Bobo had a five-year stint as head coach at Colorado State (2015-19) and spent one season as Will Muschamp’s offensive coordinator at South Carolina (2020).
When Harsin was hired at Auburn, he made Bobo his choice as offensive coordinator.
Ultimately, it didn’t work out, as the Tigers scored just 12 points total in the second halves of the team’s final three games.
Auburn finished last season 10th in the SEC in yards and points per game, moving away from a ground-based game with Tank Bigsby to more of a passing game with T.J. Finley.
Auburn, having lost Bo Nix to a transfer and with Finley injured and Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada out for the season with a shoulder injury is relying on redshirt freshman Robby Ashford.
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Ashford will make his third career start when the Tigers face Georgia, leading an offense that ranks 10th in total yards this season and 13th in scoring.
Harsin knows Bobo’s presence means a lot to the Bulldogs.
“He obviously brings a lot of value to that program,” Harsin said. “Not just against us, but for everything they are trying to do.”
Monken said at the start of the season that Bobo is “an unbelievable sounding board,” but from what Harsin has witnessed, it has become more than just that.
Smart, who has determined the starting quarterback, said earlier this season his defensive philosophy has carried over to the offense in terms of how things get split up.
“(Monken) delegates a lot of presentations just like we do on defense, and each coach has their area of expertise,” Smart said, “whether that be third down, red area, goal line, short yardage, perimeter. I mean, there’s just a lot of facets that go into it.”
Some in the Georgia offense will be more recognizable to Harsin and Auburn fans than others when the rivals meet on Saturday.