Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, red zones and Blue Flowers.
Addressing Georgia’s red-zone woes
One reason for Georgia’s offensive struggles in 2016 was its inability to produce points when it got inside the red zone. The Bulldogs ranked 64th in red-zone scoring percentage, getting points out of a trip inside the 20 only 84 percent of the time. They were 71st in red-zone scores per game (TDs or FGs) with 2.9 per game. Worse still, Georgia ranked 120th nationally in points per trip inside the 40 (3.75), a major part of the finishing-drives calculation in Bill Connelly’s five factors.
To put it bluntly, Georgia was awful in the red zone last season and must improve that facet of its offense if the Bulldogs plan on being a more successful team in 2017. The blame for this lies everywhere: Jacob Eason making freshman mistakes, Jim Chaney making bad play calls, wideouts not being able to catch a pass, the line not creating big enough holes for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Take your pick. But many problems also means many potential solutions. Here are a few ways Georgia can be more effective in the red zone next season:
Find more creative ways to get the ball to Chubb and Michel
Georgia’s dynamic duo is good enough to play the 3 yards and a cloud of dust game and typically do just fine. But when the defense packs itself in in the red zone and the line still can’t open big enough holes, that game plan just won’t fly. Chaney has to figure out some better ways to get them in space with a full head of steam near the goal line. Screens, pitches, tosses, just pick one. If you just let them run it up the gut, sure, they’ll get some (UGA had 15 red-zone rushing scores last season.). You don’t want to completely go away from those bread-and-butter plays, but a few wrinkles here and there could help spring them a tad more often.
Involve the tight ends more
I’m a proponent of involving the tight ends more in the offense in general, but their talents specifically could be used in the red zone. Eason and Isaac Nauta formed a nice connection last season. The pair linked up twice for red-zone scores, a fifth of Eason’s red-zone touchdowns. Eason deliberately should look his way more in the red zone next season. Jeb Blazevich also is a guy I’d like to see more from, considering he’s 6-foot-5 and can battle with guys in the end zone. But with Georgia’s propensity to run inside the 25, a few well-designed plays could hide the tight ends and get them more opportunities to score in those crucial situations.
Let Eason scramble
We haven’t seen it much, but from what we have seen, Eason can move for a big guy. He ran for 89 yards at a 6.4 clip when you take away sacks from his rushing statline. That’s far from eye-popping, but it’s mobile enough to get the job done. And in the red zone specifically, his big body can help him stretch across the line in close situations. There doesn’t need to be a lot of this, but I’d love to see Chaney install a little zone read so Eason can make the decision to hand off to Chubb or Michel, or run the ball himself just to keep the defense on its toes. At the least, use rollouts more often down there so he can survey the field and make a mad dash to pay dirt should he see an opening. He’s got some wheels, so let him use them.
Diamond Dogs take on Xavier
Georgia baseball has a two-game spring break homestand against Xavier on Tuesday and Wednesday at Foley Field. Game 1 begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, with freshman righty Christian Ryder (0-1, 7.88 ERA) starting on the mound. The 5-6 Dawgs have been in a lot of close calls already this season, playing in seven one-run games and going 3-4. Fresh arms should not be a problem against Xavier. Only six pitchers saw action against UAB last weekend.
But the Diamond Dogs aren’t spending their entire spring break playing baseball. On Monday, some players took time to visit a local elementary school.
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) March 7, 2017
Pair of Lady Dogs earn track & field honors
The NCAA Indoor Championships are this weekend, meaning the indoor season is about to come to a close. With the close of the season comes the doling of awards, and two Bulldogs earned honors in the SEC.
Junior Keturah Orji earned the SEC Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, and true freshman Louisa Grauvogel earned the SEC Women’s Freshman Athlete of the Year. Orji won her third consecutive SEC indoor triple jump title, her fifth SEC triple jump title overall, last month at the SEC Indoor Championships, breaking multiple national and UGA records. Grauvogel, meanwhile, was the top freshman finisher in the pentathlon at the SEC Championships, finishing fifth.
Orji also was named the USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year on Monday.
Dawgs in February
Here’s a one-minute look back at February in UGA sports.
— Georgia New Media (@Hunkerdown_UGA) March 6, 2017
- Visit to imprisoned father brings ‘excitement, joy’ to Netori Johnson (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Yante Maten’s status remains murky for Georgia in SEC Tournament (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Nation’s No. 3 OLB, Mikel Jones, says Georgia is a ‘dream school’ (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Georgia feeling Yante Maten’s absence on defensive end (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- Latest on Georgia’s tourney hopes: Bulldogs need multiple wins in SEC Tournament (Jason Butt, Macon Telegraph)
- Why one NFL exec thinks Nick Chubb should have gone pro (Barton Simmons, Dawgs247)
These tennis dogs have an important job.
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) March 5, 2017