ATHENS, Ga. – Clearly, Georgia must do something different this season, and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is setting out to do that.
Chaney, who a month earlier talked about trying to “freshen” the offense, outlined what exactly that meant to his offensive players on Monday. That seems to include more run-pass options and freedom for the quarterback to audible plays.
Senior tight end Jeb Blazevich summed up his understanding of it on Tuesday, before the team hit the field for its first spring practice:
“I think we’re going to try to implement a lot more RPOs, we’re going to try to implement a lot more things where it’s not just (like), Here’s a play, hope it works,” Blazevich said. “But (instead) here’s a few options we can call. We can call an audible off this look or that look, and putting that in the quarterback’s hands, and then in our hands to learn it, and communicate what needs to be changed.”
Georgia’s offense struggled mightily last year, ranking 87th nationally in total offense, after finishing 83rd the previous year, leading to the departure of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (along with almost everyone else on staff.)
Chaney is back, after much criticism about the play-calling, criticism that he acknowledged and said he was accountable for last December. Then on signing day in February he mentioned trying to “freshen” the team’s pro-style offense. On Monday he outlined it to his team.
“He talked to us about making some changes to the offense. And we’re excited to see some of the changes he’s going to make,” senior tailback Sony Michel said. “And I’m sure the changes he’s going to make are going to be great for the football team.”
Road map for Georgia offense
Blazevich said the Monday meetings were the first time they heard the “solid plan” for the direction of the offense. But the players had an inkling that changes were coming.
It will be hard to tell, Blazevich said, just how drastic the changes are until practice starts. The early indications are that it’s more tweaking than an overriding philosophical change. That might mean, Blazevich said, adding a bubble screen to a play, or adding a simple route to another play. The terminology and plays remain the same.
“We’re just trying to open up the offense in general, with more options, to get different guys the ball, and different looks,” Blazevich said.
Jay Johnson, who was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator last year, is now with Georgia in an off-field role. Blazevich said that Johnson is around the team and they’ve talked; Blazevich has joked with him about it not being cold enough in Georgia. But Blazevich also indicated that he hadn’t had football-related conversations with Johnson.
It helps that it’s the second year for the players in Chaney’s system, as well as the second year for starting quarterback Jacob Eason.
Michel was asked his understanding for how different it would make Georgia’s offense look this fall: Is it still a pro-style offense, or is it being opened up?
“I’m not sure,” Michel said. “We’ll probably know who we are throughout some of these practices this spring. I’m sure if we make major changes it won’t be perfect at the beginning. It’s going to take time, it’s going to take this team to come together and really understand that we’ve got to go out there and physically make it work.”