Georgia coordinator James Coley reveals offensive issues, assesses Jake Fromm
NEW ORLEANS — The challenges for the Georgia offense have been obvious, from the attrition at receiver, to the continuous shuffle along the offensive line.
But Bulldogs offensive coordinator James Coley is a bottom line guy, and the first place he’s looking for answers and accountability is in the mirror.
“You know what? I’ve got to do a better job, first and foremost, starts with me, right?” Coley said on Sunday morning at the Georgia offense Sugar Bowl media day. “So I’m looking at myself hard and criticizing myself and busting my tail to get that end better.”
Time has just about run out on the 2019 season. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7 Baylor (11-2) at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday in the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm has been the center of attention on an offense that has sputtered en route to a third straight SEC East title and 4-1 mark vs. Top 25 teams.
Fromm, known throughout his career for proficiency and accuracy, has completed 47 percent of his passes over the past five games.
Coley, however, explained how those numbers lie, where Fromm’s accuracy and level of play is concerned.
“With Lawrence Cager in the game, (Fromm) was at 71% completion for the season,” Coley said. “Cager not in the game …. it’s a lot lower. Has he regressed, or has his stats regressed, right? I would say stats regressed.”
Coley indicated that hours of film review and position grading reveals the issues have mostly been with a young and unsettled receiving corps.
“It looks like you’re not accurate when a guy is running a bender (route) across the middle of the field and he keeps it vertical, and you think he’s bending, and the ball ends up being short and you end up going, ‘This guy threw a terrible ball,’ ” Coley said.
“Or the guy is running a 10‑yard stop route, and he runs it at 12 and it’s a low throw, right?”
Fromm, to his credit, has sidestepped placing any blame.
Quarterbacks and receivers develop timing and chemistry, the game of football being one of calibration and choreography.
The parts for Fromm and the Georgia offense have kept moving; a “merry-go-round” of receivers, per head coach Kirby Smart.
“It happens when you get injuries; you get guys in the game that haven’t played in a while, or it’s their first chance and they are a little nervous and they take their routes a little deeper than where they should be,” Coley said. “It ends up looking like the guy (Fromm) was not playing as good as he was a year ago.”
Georgia’s receiver situation remains challenging for the Sugar Bowl.
Fromm will be without two of his top receivers with Lawrence Cager (ankle) and Dominick Blaylock (knee) out for the season, and slot receiver Kearis Jackson (ankle) might also miss the game.
The Bulldogs will also be without three starting offensive linemen against a Bears’ defense that ranks ninth in the nation with 3.31 sacks per contest.
Coley’s objective remains the same: Get the ball to the best playmakers.
“It’s who you have out there and who you’re trying to feature,” Coley said. “So what gives you the best chance: Giving the ball to the tailback who’s a really good player, or throwing the ball to a young guy who may not be ready for that moment yet? You know what I mean?”
No doubt, Georgia rode the capable legs of projected first-round NFL draft pick D’Andre Swift all season.
But Swift is still less than 100 percent and may not play against Baylor, rather than put the limited version of himself on the field that had just two carries in the 37-10 loss to LSU.
Coley explained it’s not as simple as just drawing up and calling different plays.
“Everybody in this room, we could put a game on and all figure out what plays would be great against that defense, (but) who’s going to make those plays, right?” Coley said.
“Who’s going to run that precise route? Can we have a formation set that’s going to give us the same look that the other team had because they’re respecting certain players?”
Those questions might not be answered until a few series into the game.
But Coley said he knows what he has at quarterback.
“I think Jake is still the same Jake,” Coley said. “I think he’s done a great job with his attitude, how he comes to work every day. He’s not fazed by stats.”