ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart plans to keep “chopping wood” on offense, and his players seem fine with the notion even if some fans aren’t.
The No. 10-ranked Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 SEC) play against No. 7 Florida (7-1, 4-1) at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday in Jacksonville.
Some Georgia fans are apprehensive, but Smart hasn’t wavered on his approach to offense.
“We don’t let outside forces control what we do inside,” Smart said last Tuesday. “That’s just the belief that I’ve had for a long time.”
Smart’s other belief is that his Bulldogs’ offenses need to be balanced and capable of running the ball at will.
That philosophy has led to some slow starts. Most recently, a 0-0 halftime tie with Kentucky in cold, windy and rainy conditions last Saturday.
Boos rained down on the team as it went to the halftime locker room, some likely held over from the embarrassment and frustration of a week before.
Against South Carolina the previous Saturday, the first and only Pick-6 of Jake Fromm’s career was one of four turnovers which, coupled with two Rodrigo Blankenship missed field goals, led to a 20-17 overtime upset.
The Bulldogs players, like their head coach, are not panicking or worried about the offense getting back on track for Florida.
“I would say there’s no reason to worry, because if you look at the South Carolina game, we had almost 500 yards of offense,” UGA graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf said. “It was just one thing led to another, and we turned the ball over. Turnover margin is one of the biggest stats for winning and losing games.”
And that 35 yards of passing against the Wildcats in the 21-0 win?
“Kentucky, it was a monsoon, it was raining and it’s hard to throw the ball in those conditions so we made the run game work and we came away with a win,” Wolf said. “So I don’t know what more you could ask for from an offense than winning SEC games.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard and we’re never pleased, but I’m not concerned, I like where we’re at and I think we’re going to keep getting better.”
Brian Herrien didn’t play against South Carolina on account of back spasms, but he felt it was an isolated situation for the offense.
“I feel like it was just one game,” Herrien said. “I feel like watching that game, sometimes we didn’t execute, or sometimes we weren’t focused enough, or sometimes we were complacent about who we were or what we were doing.
“So we just have to get better and keep going forward.”
And, Smart said, keep chopping wood with a power run game that has led the SEC the past two seasons and currently ranks second in the league this season behind Auburn.
“It loosens you up when you have to go against our offensive line repeatedly for four quarters, it just wears you down,” Smart said. “There were a lot of plays that were called in the third and fourth quarter (against Kentucky) that were successful. There was some good inside zone plays, and there was more movement in general.
“I’ve said it here for four years. You don’t just walk in the SEC and move people early in the game. It just doesn’t happen. You’re not just road grading folks out of there. It’s a cumulative effect that it takes.”
Here’s a look at Georgia’s rushing yardage in games this season:
30-6 W over Vandy: 40 attempts, 323 yards
63-17 W over Murray: 40 attempts, 269 yards
55-0 W over ArkSt. 33 attempts, 268 yards
23-17 W over Notre Dame: 33 attempts, 152 yards
43-14 W over Tennessee: 41 attempts, 238 yards
20-17 L to South Carolina: 43 attempts, 173 yards
21-0 W over Kentucky: 43 attempts, 235 yards