ATHENS — Is it the personnel or the play-calling? That was one of the biggest questions on the minds of Georgia fans coming off this past Saturday’s disappointing performance against Florida.
The Bulldogs managed just 164 total yards in the 24-10 loss to the Gators. Georgia (4-4, 2-4 SEC) will seek to improve on that dramatically when it travels to Kentucky (5-3, 4-2) this Saturday.
Particularly disconcerting was the Bulldogs’ inability to run against the Gators. The Bulldogs had just 21 yards rushing on 19 carries. CBS Sports said it was Georgia’s worst against the Gators since 1960. UGA’s sports communications staff is still researching but that’s at least worst than the Bulldogs ever did on the ground in the Mark Richt era.
“We just haven’t been productive and that’s on us as coaches,” Kirby Smart said Monday. “We’ve got to help (the tailbacks) and the guys that need to touch the ball. … We’re not maximizing anybody on offense because we’re really not getting a lot of production out of anybody right now. There’s a fine line between being stubborn with the run and not getting production out of the run.”
Georgia enters Saturday’s game ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring offense (23.2 ppg) and total offense (373 ypg). Conversely, Kentucky is ninth against the run (196.5 ypg) and 10th in total defense (421.2).
The Bulldogs have sunk to eighth in the SEC in rush offense with 173.8 yards per game. Traditionally Georgia is in the league’s top third in that category.
“It’s being addressed,” Smart said. “Saying that, when you’re not successful running it, you can’t keep banging your head against the wall. You’ve got to find ways to run the ball and find ways to take shots (passing the ball). But every time you take a shot that takes the ball away from one of those (tailbacks).”
Said junior guard Isaiah Wynn: “We just have to all get in the right page. It’s kind of frustrating but, at the same time, you can’t let it get to you because you tend to mess up even more. So we are just working on fixing it and getting better. Some of it is just technique-wise. The effort is all there.”
As for scheme, Smart said he is involved with the offensive game plan sort of after the fact, but “knows every play that is called” during games. Essentially he leaves the the creation of the play script and play-calling to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the Bulldogs’ offensive staff. Receivers coach James Coley was also a coordinator at Miami and is heavily involved in the game plan, along with line coach Sam Pittman.
“I can’t get into specifics as far as the exact amount of time, but there’s not a play that’s called from an offensive standpoint that I’m not hearing,” Smart said. By the time the offense goes out there, the first thing I want to know is, ‘what are we starting with?’
“As far as game-planning this offensive staff is very intelligent. They’ve got a lot of experience. Two coordinators are on that side of the ball that have been there before. So I trust those guys and believe in those guys.”