ATHENS — Georgia football offensive coordinator Todd Monken finally got to speak for himself on Tuesday after being hired by Kirby Smart more than eight months ago.
Monken, known best as an “Air Raid” pass scheme guru, shared his mission statement this season to be “scoring points and not turning it over” for the Bulldogs.
“You’ve got to find a way to be explosive consistently, and then you’ve got to be able to score touchdowns in the red zone,” Monken said during a Zoom call with select media.
“Your ability to run the football (and) put the defense in run/pass conflicts is the number one way to get explosives, either hitting open space in the intermedia levels or over the top,” Monken said.
“The next part is how do you get really good skill players in space that can make people miss, at every level. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. I think we have those guys to do it.”
Smart has said as long as he’s the Georgia football coach his teams will have “balance,” and Monken included his version of that in his presentation.
“It comes down to utilizing your personnel to the best of your ability, and you have to be balanced,” Monken said. “Balanced isn’t just run -pass. It’s ball distribution to players, it’s utilizing the whole field, (and) obviously being able to comfortably turn around and hand the ball off is a big part of that for your quarterback.
“You have to be careful how often you put so much on a players’ plate.”
The quarterback position, Monken pointed out, will greatly determine how effective Georgia football will be this season.
“They are the closest you’re going to get in terms of your players being aligned with winning and losing,” Monken said, discussing his quarterback priorities.
In order, Monken said accuracy, mental toughness and athleticism are the most important characteristics for a quarterback.
Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman and USC transfer JT Daniels are the two players with the most experience, and from the sounds of it, are at the forefront of the QB competition.
“The one thing I would say about Jamie, is that he’s a better thrower — everybody talked about his athleticism — but he’s a better thrower than people think,” Monken said.
“I think from the first five days (of practice), JT is a better athlete than we would have thought, and Jamie is a much better thrower. I’ve been impressed with both of them, both them are very talented young players.”
Asked to expound on the quarterback position and assess redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and true freshman Carson Beck, Monken was complimentary of both.
“Carson coming in the spring and being here, obviously he was here for the bowl game, you can see a lot of things you like on Carson’s from his throwing and his athleticism,” Monken said. “D’Wan, his athleticism and his arm talent as he continues to develop.
“They’ve been rotating like the other guys in terms of giving hem an opportunity to compete for the job, so their future is really bright.”
Accuracy No. 1
Monken’s Tampa Bay offense led the NFL in passing just two years ago with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick sharing the duties.
The Buccaneers also led the league in interceptions. It’s clear Monken — and certainly Smart — will have no tolerance for that at Georgia.
“First of all, accuracy is number one, because if you are gonna throw the ball you have to be accurate with the football, that would be number one,” Monken said, asked to break down his priorities.
“Mental toughness, I think that’s up there, that’s to to be a big part of it, how they handle (things),” Monken said. “Those guys have to handle the ups and downs of the position, so the mental toughness part of it, the ability to sustain through the ups and downs of playing the position and the media scrutiny.
“The next part is athleticism, the ability to move and extend plays. The game has become that so much more in terms of your athleticism,’ he said. “It’s hard to be a statue any more and be consistently explosive and be able to move the football.”
Monken said he considers “explosive” plays to be a 12-yard run or 16-yard throw.
“The bottom line is you want to be explosive one out of every eight plays, you’re looking at about 10 a game,” Monken said. “That will put you in the neighborhood of the top third, top quarter of the game, and if you get 12 to 14 you’re hitting on all cylinders and you’re in the top 10.”
The statistics this season, Monken points out, will be hard to measure against previous seasons because of how the SEC is playing conference-only games.
“From a numbers standpoint, it’s going to basically be where you finish in the league with explosives, points,” Monkey said. “This is very similar to an NFL schedule where you have 16 tough games, 16 quality opponents, so statistically it will be in terms of where we rank among the teams and not really in terms of numbers.”
First things first, Monken’s new Georgia offense has its hands full with a defense that returns eight of 11 starters from a unit that led the country in scoring and rushing defense.
Monken indicated the Bulldogs hope to gain more confidence in the offense in the upcoming scrimmages the next two Saturdays leading into the Sept. 26 opening game at Arkansas.
Georgia football preseason