On the Beat with Mike Griffith: Time to audible out of run-heavy scheme
ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart doesn’t want to break the mold on offense quite yet.
But some adjustments for the South Carolina game are inevitable, and quarterback Jake Fromm and the pass game figure to be more involved.
The Bulldogs’ run game is not exactly on track as it heads to Columbia to face the Gamecocks in a 3:30 p.m. showdown at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Georgia is a 9 1/2-point favorite in a contest that has been pointed to as a “trendy upset pick” throughout the offseason.
A confident South Carolina team has done nothing to downplay guarantees of victory. The atmosphere promises to be intense with the SEC Network on hand for pregame buildup and CBS televising the game nationally.
Smart isn’t concerned about the peripherals. The third-year head coach is focused on what he and his players can control.
“The first thing is we’ve gotta have some more explosive runs,” Smart said after reviewing film of Georgia’s 45-0 win over FCS Austin Peay. “Our run game has probably not been as explosive as we were last year. That includes scrimmages. We didn’t have the number of explosive runs you might have expected Saturday.”
Receiver Demetris Robertson took a jet sweep 72 yards for a touchdown, but the Bulldogs’ front-line runners looked somewhat ordinary.
D’Andre Swift averaged 5.4 yards on eight carries, Elijah Holyfield had 24 yards on five carries, and Brian Herrien’s only carry netted 2 yards.
That won’t cut it if Georgia plans to be the most run-heavy, non-option-oriented offense in the nation, as it was last season with run plays 68 percent of the time.
“I’m not going to say those guys ran the ball poorly, they ran the ball hard,” Smart said. “But they probably missed the hole a couple of times and probably a little impatient at some times staying behind their blocking schemes and trying to bounce things out when we’ve gotta commit to keeping it inside.”
Freshman James Cook was the most effective Georgia running back with six carries for 66 yards. Cook also looked the best running between the tackles.
Cook will be suspended for the first half of the South Carolina game on account of his targeting violation and ejection while in punt coverage in the second half.
Fromm has proven capable of stepping up and delivering in games where the passing game is needed.
Indeed, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit has said Fromm has the so-called “it” factor.
But Smart said this fall the plan was for Georgia to maintain a personality of dictating the run game.
“Our core belief that we always have is balance, being powerful, being able to run the ball at our will, not somebody else breaking our will,” Smart said this fall. “That’s always going to be the identity we have.”
SEC Network analyst Chris Doering said on the SEC Now show that Saturday’s game could come down to South Carolina’s improved defensive line.
“I think they have gotten better, they are more physical there, they’re larger on that side of the ball on the line of scrimmage,” Doering said. “Javon Kinlaw (6-6, 305) is a guy that’s developing up front, so that’s where the game comes down to, the line of scrimmage.”
Georgia-South Carolina coverage