What we’ve learned about Georgia football offense through the first 4 games of the 2019 season
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What we’ve learned about the Georgia football offense so far in the 2019 season
Quarterback: Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm hasn’t been as flashy as either Justin Fields or Jacob Eason. But that does not mean he’s been less than great in 2019 because he has been.
Fromm is completing 75.6 percent of his passes at a robust 9.6 yards per attempt. Both of those numbers are superior to what Fields and Eason have done so far. Fromm is yet to throw an interception on the season, and he picked up another top-10 win this past Saturday, as the Bulldogs took down the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
The junior quarterback really shined in the second half this past Saturday as he completed 9 of his 14 pass attempts for 128 passing yards and a sweet touchdown to Lawrence Cager. Fromm’s stats could’ve been even better, but he was done in by some tough drops by the Georgia receivers.
Kirby Smart also told reporters on Tuesday that Georgia wasn’t always putting Fromm in a position to operate at his best.
“We didn’t get the call to him fast enough so we’ve got to do a better job of getting the call to him so he can do that,” Smart said. “Because when you’re down on the play clock, it doesn’t give him enough time to do that. That’s what he does well.”
Fromm has been his best this year when operating in an uptempo offense. And Notre Dame was so worried about that happening, that it appeared to have two separate players fake injuries in an effort to slow the Georgia offense down.
The Bulldogs have a number of tough opponents still on the schedule, but if the Notre Dame game serves as any indicator, Fromm will be able to elevate his play along with those around him.
Running back: Traditionally under Smart, the Georgia rushing attack has been marked by its balance. But in the Notre Dame game, it wasn’t exactly a group effort in the backfield, as Smart turned to Swift far more often than any of Georgia’s other running back.
Against the Fighting Irish, Swift logged 18 carries, a career-high. Comparatively, Brian Herrien, James Cook and Zamir White logged just 9 carries, with White finishing with none.
Smart was asked about White’s playing time and in that answer, he gave a pretty telling reason as to why Georgia seemed very comfortable relying on Swift.
“If number 7 is running the ball the way he was running the ball, it’s hard to give the ball to anybody (else),” Smart said. “The guy was making people miss, running possessed.”
And for those of you who are visual learners, here’s another example.
You: How could D'Andre Swift's hurdle be any better? It was perfect!
— Connor Riley (@Kconnorriley) September 24, 2019
Swift has already amassed 388 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Compared to a season ago, it took Swift until the eighth game of the season to eclipse that rushing mark.
Wide receiver: Whether it be through injuries or how they’ve played, a clear top four has emerged among the wide receiving corps. Those four, in no clear order, are senior Lawrence Cager, junior Demetris Robertson and freshmen George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock.
Each player has had their own individual game to shine this season, with Cager doing so against Notre Dame, Blaylock against Arkansas State, Pickens against Murray State and Robertson against Vanderbilt.
There are two other wideouts who will likely continue making contributions over the course of the season, but for Tyler Simmons and Kearis Jackson, it will likely depend on their health. Simmons missed chunks of both the Murray State and Arkansas State games and is battling a shoulder injury, while Jackson hasn’t played since the Vanderbilt game.
Jackson has been able to go through practice and stay in shape due to his injury being a broken hand. But that does mean practicing with a giant cast on his hand that looks more like a beehive.
“He’s been practicing everyday doing everything. He just has a club on,” Smart said. “He practiced every rep today, he just has a big club on. He does everything that we ask him to do, he stays in shape, catches punts. He caught balls today. He’s just catching them with one hand in a club.”
Wide receiver was arguably the biggest concern on offense heading into the season, but through four games, the entire group has stepped up and alleviated some of those worries.
Tight end: Through the first three games of Georgia’s season, Smart was very pleased with the blocking efforts made by the tight ends and wide receivers.
But against a more capable competitor in Notre Dame, Smart didn’t see his pass-catchers shine in the blocking game.
“We probably tied the other night because we didn’t win that battle,” Smart said. “They whipped us in some spots where we won the other three. Give them a lot of credit when it comes to perimeter blocking.”
As for a deeper dive, senior Eli Wolf has really emerged as a viable passing option for the Bulldogs. He’s picked up 7 catches and 98 yards in the first four games, including an incredibly tough third-down catch in Saturday’s win. The 7 receptions are only two fewer catches than he had in his entire Tennessee career.
Fellow tight ends Charlie Woerner and John Fitzpatrick haven’t had the same kind of pass-catching success, but they’ve both made contributions due to their blocking ability.
Offensive line: When Solomon Kindley went down with an injury in the second quarter, things looked to be in rough shape for perhaps Georgia’s best position group. The Bulldogs were already without starting right tackle Isaiah Wilson due to an ankle injury.
But Wilson made his return to the lineup in the second half and made a difference as the Bulldogs offense was much more potent in the second half of the contest. And the group got even better news on Tuesday, as Smart gave an optimistic update on Kindley’s left ankle injury.
“He’ll be day to day. We think he’ll be fine but he wasn’t able to go today,” Smart said.
The offensive line still has been incredibly strong to start the season, as the unit has yielded just a single sack to this point while also clearing lanes for Georgia runners to average an SEC best 6.93 yards per carry. That mark ranks third in the entire country. And it’s worth pointing out that the group hasn’t totally gelled yet, given all the rotations due to injury.
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart discusses the bye week
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- D’Andre Swift shows he can be the thunder and the lightning in Georgia offense
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