Georgia’s kaleidoscope offense leaves room for questions, speculation entering season
ATHENS — Georgia football probably has the best defense in the nation coming out of the gate, but the Bulldogs won’t have the margin for error they’ve been afforded the past two seasons.
There’s not an experienced quarterback under center.
There’s no established or proven tailback in the offensive backfield.
The offensive tackles aren’t the sure-fire, first-round NFL draft talents that stood guard last season.
Georgia doesn’t even have the benefit of warm-up games like last season with Murray State and Arkansas State serving as appetizers leading up to the meat of the SEC schedule.
It makes for a challenge, because this completely made-over offense will need time to grow — and do so with an unsettled quarterback situation featuring two completely different types of players.
In that way this offense figures to resemble a kaleidoscope, featuring a different look at each turn.
How Georgia looks on offense from one week to the next — or perhaps even one half of football to the next — will be largely determined by which quarterback is under center.
Redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis looks to get the nod at Arkansas in both teams’ 4 p.m. opener in Fayetteville on Saturday, and there promises to be plenty of excitement.
Mathis is a 6-foot-6, 210-pound redshirt freshman with a big arm, excellent mobility and a great backstory.
The former Oak Park (Mich.) standout has yet to take a game snap for the Bulldogs but he’s already a Georgia fan favorite after overcoming brain surgery in May of 2019 and remaining resilient throughout a wild offseason quarterback derby.
Mathis can and will stretch the field vertically when he’s not running the read option or hitting backs and receivers in the flats with high percentage passes.
JT Daniels is the 5-star quarterback transfer from USC waiting in the wings, eager and hopeful to get back into game action once his surgically repaired right knee is cleared.
The quarterback situation, like other contested positions, will play itself out.
One break Georgia did catch was getting dealt an opening game against an overmatched Razorbacks team.
Arkansas will be game and physical, eager to make a statement under first-year head coach Sam Pittman.
But the Razorbacks simply don’t have the talent to match up on the perimeter or in the trenches.
Georgia should be able to spring enough explosive plays to keep the Hogs at bay and build a big enough lead to set up a mundane fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs will learn some things about themselves. The remaining questions can only be answered by time and better competition.
It won’t take long. It’s a front-loaded schedule, to be sure.
Auburn (Oct. 3), Tennessee (Oct. 10) and Kentucky (Oct. 24) are good enough to beat Georgia if the Bulldogs’ are prone to offensive mistakes and/or lackluster on special teams.
UGA fans will remember both circumstances prevalent when South Carolina shocked a top-5 Kirby Smart team last October between the hedges.
The Alabama game, in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 17, serves as a mid-term of sorts.
It could be the first time the Georgia offense is truly pressed to keep the throttle down from the onset and through all four quarters.
By then, Georgia must hope its group of mostly young and/or unproven skill players have hit stride and the offensive identity has emerged.
Those are the sorts of things that typically take place in fall camp after the coaches have had a spring football session of observation and film study.
Instead, these crazy, contrarious Covid times have made for a steeper challenge with a shorter learning curve.
Many offenses have and will open the season simpler and more focused on execution than options and complexity.
That will work in Georgia’s favor on defense, and by necessity for its offense.
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