Georgia football players detail how COVID offseason has impacted offensive chemistry

Georgia football-offense-chemistry
Georgia wide receiver Kearis Jackson led the team in receptions against Arkansas.

You probably noticed Georgia was rotating in players at key positions on Saturday. The most obvious example was with D’Wan Mathis at quarterback. Then there were rotations along the offensive line. At both of those spots, that hasn’t traditionally been the case.

Georgia is still trying to find its best 11 players on offense. Part of the reason that hasn’t yet been identified yet is due in part to spring practice and key offseason times being wiped away due to COVID-19. Georgia, along with every team in the country, knows less about its team this season simply due to the lack of practice time.

On the offensive line, that shows up as new offensive line coach Matt Luke tries to find the best five players for the unit.

“Coach (Matt) Luke has done a good job of rotating everyone in and out. I just feel we weren’t on the same page,” Georgia offensive guard Justin Shaffer said. “We’ve been practicing on getting on the same page. We just couldn’t get that groove that we need.”

Against Arkansas, Warren McClendon and Owen Condon swapped in and out at right tackle. Warren Ericson would come in at center and push Trey Hill to guard, meaning one of Justin Shaffer or Ben Cleveland would have to exit the field.

Part of the rotation, of trying to find the pieces that all click together, is to be expected when Georgia is rolling out a new offense led by offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Add in that the Bulldogs are replacing their starting quarterback, running back, No. 2 wide receiver, top two tight ends and four players with starting experience a slow start is to be expected.

That was the case for the offense on Saturday. The Bulldogs had just 5 points in the third quarter and only after swapping in Stetson Bennett for D’Wan Mathis at quarterback did things begin to change.

Wide receiver Kearis Jackson brought up those offseason reps where quarterback and wide receivers throw for hours on end as a way to help build up that rapport between quarterback and pass catchers, especially since no throw quarterbacks throw the same way.

“It’s all different so just having that chemistry is key. That’s where the offseason comes in,” wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “Being able to throw with each and every quarterback and having that type of chemistry and the type of balls each quarterback will throw. Having that confidence in those catches.”

Jackson didn’t drop any hints as far as what Georgia’s plans are at the quarterback position come Saturday. He added that the four Georgia quarterbacks — Bennett, Mathis, JT Daniels and Carson Beck — all continue to work with the offense.

Shaffer did offer another reason why Georgia has continued to tinker with its rotations even as games have gotten underway.

“I feel like coach Luke is doing that because of the whole corona situation,” Shaffer said. “You never know with injuries, cornoa, you never know what’s going to happen so you have to have that rotation.”

Georgia has not revealed any information when it comes to positive tests for players since they were welcomed back to campus on June 8.

Georgia will get a chance to iron out its offense on Saturday as the Bulldogs take on the No. 7 ranked Auburn Tigers. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff and will air on ESPN.

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