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.