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Curtis Compton / AJC
Georgia coach Kirby Smart is a fan of Jake Fromm's, but he head coach is relatively conservative when it comes to some aspect of his offensive scheme.

Measuring up: Examining Georgia’s offensive evolution, comparing past to current UGA teams

ATHENS — Kirby Smart is in the business of winning games, and the Georgia football coach isn’t concerned about aesthetics or posting gaudy statistics.

But there are certain characteristics Smart insists be a part of his Bulldogs’ identity on offense. The ability to run the football effectively and avoid turnovers are at the top of the list .

A heightened sense of awareness for protecting quarterback Jake Fromm is also on the list. Fromm is the most valuable and irreplaceable piece on a team aiming to win an SEC and national championship.

Four games in, there’s room and arguably a need for Smart to modify his offensive framework. Like any other coach, Smart is using his bye week to closely examine his team and find ways to improve.

Giving Fromm and offensive coordinator James Coley more rope could be a start. There’s more to to opening up the Georgia offense than just throwing more on first down and attempting more deep strikes down the field.

The three areas Smart indicated he wants to improvement after the 23-17 Notre Dame win are:

• Getting the plays in quicker

• Getting the ball to playmakers in space

• Making teams pay for stacking the box.

Getting the play in quicker enables Fromm to do more at the line of scrimmage, in terms of reading defenses and changing to more favorable plays.

Getting the ball to playmakers is easier said than done. The pro style offense is built to take what the defense gives — and defenses aren’t willing to give D’Andre Swift, James Cook or George Pickens much space.

And Fromm, based on his recent history, isn’t inclined to force the ball as much as he is to find a more available option going through his progressions.

That’s where it’s important for big targets Pickens and Lawrence Cager to continue to earn Fromm’s trust on fade and vertical routes. The quarterback has to have faith in them to make plays on the ball.

Personnel decisions are another key. Putting the fastest and most explosive players on the field pays off, as they’re the most inclined to turn check downs into big plays.

The other change up Coley could consider — with the approval of Smart — is to go more uptempo.

Defensive-minded coaches like Smart aren’t always big fans of that — it puts their defense on the field more quickly and for more snaps. Smart spends most of his time with the defense and often speaks from the defensive perspective after scrimmages.

Georgia’s current pace of play — 62 plays per game — ranks 120th out of 130 teams. It’s the lowest rank since Mark Richt’s final team (2015) ranked 126th with 64 plays per game.

Defensively, Smart’s 2019 team could prove to be his best if current trends hold.

The Bulldogs’ focus to increase havoc has paid off thus far, as reflected in the statistics comparing this season’s team to last season’s and the 2017 UGA SEC Championship team.

The biggest issue facing the defense appears to be the players’ durability. Injuries have hampered players on all three levels of the defense, even with Smart protecting them by limiting the number of plays and substituting liberally.

Here’s a look at how Smart’s past three Georgia teams measure up:

Scoring offense

Current Georgia 42.8

2018 Bulldogs 37.9

2017 UGA 35.4

Total offense

Current Georgia 508.8

2018 Bulldogs 464.9

2017 UGA  435.3

Rushing offense

2017 UGA 258.4

Current Georgia 253.0

2018 Bulldogs 238.8

Passing offense

Current Georgia 255.8

2018 Bulldogs 226.1

2017 UGA 176.9

Pass efficiency

Current Georgia 178.81

2018 Bulldogs 170.52

2017 UGA 154.12

Third down percentage

2018 Bulldogs 47.5

2017 UGA 45.6

Current  Georgia 44.7

Points allowed

Current Georgia 10 ppg

2017 UGA 16.4

2018 Bulldogs 19.2

Total defense

Current Georgia 262.5

2017 UGA 294.9

2018 Bulldogs 314.3

Rushing defense

Current Georgia 57.0

2017 UGA 126.0

2018 Bulldogs 134.0

Passing defense

2017 UGA 168.9

Current Georgia 205.5

2018 Bulldogs 180.3

Def. pass efficiency

Current Georgia 107.20

2017 UGA 113.40

2018 Bulldogs 117.47

Third down defense

Current Georgia 30.0

2017 UGA 32.9

2018 Bulldogs 34.0

Turnover margin

Current Georgia +0.50

2017 UGA +0.27

2018 Bulldogs +0.21

Sacks

Current Georgia 3.00 per game

2017 2.27

2018 Bulldogs 1.71

Sacks allowed

Current Georgia 0.25 per game

2018 Georgia 1.43

2017 UGA 1.47

Kick return

2017 UGA 23.54

2018 Bulldogs 22.85

Current Georgia 16.3

Kick return defense

Current Georgia 12.60

2017 UGA 19.52

2018 Bulldogs 31.30 (128 of 129)

Punt return

2018 Bulldogs 16.64

Current Georgia 15.10

2017 UGA 10.11

Punt return defense

2017 UGA 5.94

Current Georgia 8.50

2018 Bulldogs 12.80 (119th)

Net punting

2017 UGA 41.65

Current Georgia 39.45

2018 Bulldogs 37.35 (70th)

Time of possession

Current Georgia 32:22

2017 UGA  32:07

2018 Georgia 31:29

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