ATLANTA – It was a few minutes after Georgia had finished off its win at Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon, and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was standing before three campus security staffers. At first, it appeared they might not let Chaney up a stairwell. But on closer inspection, Chaney, sipping a drink, was just hanging with them. Laughing and relaxing.
Chaney deserved to enjoy the moment: Georgia’s offense had a good day in its 38-7 rout of Georgia Tech.
The pure numbers were one thing: 471 total yards, 7.8 yards per play, zero turnovers and 2 penalties.
But look even deeper: Amid all the debate about balance and whether Georgia can run its way to an SEC championship, the Bulldogs passed and ran the ball with equal ferocity. The split was 224 passing yards, 247 rushing, and if you don’t count the final drive, when UGA was running out the clock, Georgia uncharacteristically passed for more yards than running.
“We just wanted to open up our offense a little more,” sophomore receiver Mecole Hardman said. “We were very predictable on offense on first downs, just running the ball. When you’ve got the two backs that we have – well, really the four or five backs that we have – we can run it on any down. I guess you want to switch it up and give them something else to look at so they won’t be stacking the box on first down.”
Hardman did his part by catching 3 passes for 51 yards, including a 39-yarder that set up D’Andre Swift’s rushing touchdown. But, once again, the receiving star of the game was senior Javon Wims, who had 5 catches for 77 yards including a touchdown. But Wims’ best catch was one in which he caught the ball near the sideline and was nearly able to lean over the pylon for the touchdown.
Quarterback Jake Fromm missed on a couple of early throws, then went on a run of consecutive completed passes, once again hooking up with Wims on back-breaking completions.
“We have timing in that passing game. We work on it every day,” Wims said. “He knows where I’m going to be before I even get there.”
Wims pointed to his 23-yard catch in the middle of the field at the end of the first half.
“I wasn’t even coming out of my route yet, and he threw it to the spot that he knew I was going to be in,” Wims said.
Georgia entered the game ranked 115th in the country in passing yards (164 per game), though UGA had also only attempted the sixth fewest in the nation (18.6 per game.) Georgia didn’t have to throw more than that on Saturday in order to exceed its passing yards average.
“Offensively we’ve grown,” coach Kirby Smart said. “I think Jake’s gotten better. We’re certainly trying to improve the passing game, as everyone knows.”
Then there was the running game, in which carries and yards were fairly evenly distributed: Sony Michel (13 carries for 85 yards, 1 TD), Nick Chubb (12 carries for 53 yards, 1 TD), Swift (4 carries for 37 yards, 1 TD).
“They have five great running backs, and what makes them so good is the run after the first contact,” Georgia Tech senior defensive back Corey Griffin said. “They’re able to break tackles, and that’s what makes them go.”
Chubb also pointed to the run blocking. Ben Cleveland started a second consecutive game at right guard and did well, but Chubb also pointed to the blocking on the perimeter.
“The last couple games have been going well for us and a lot of holes,” Chubb said. “So there’s so many holes for us to hit.”