Georgia’s offense took a major hit this week due to the ACL injury suffered by wide receiver George Pickens. The knee injury will require surgery and while Kirby Smart is hopeful Pickens can return during the season, his status is murky at best for the 2021 season.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Georgia offense, not just in this season but the future as well.
Perhaps the biggest reason for that, and why Georgia might be able to overcome the injury is offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Monken is entering his second year at Georgia. He replaced James Coley following the 2019 season and while Monken wasn’t dealt an ideal hand at the quarterback position, the Georgia offense seemed to take off once JT Daniels took over at the position.
In the final four games of the season, the Georgia offense averaged 37 points per game and 486 yards. Those were all Georgia wins as well.
That surge has led a number of national media types to have a greater belief in the direction of the Georgia offense. ESPN recently put out its future offensive rankings and the Bulldogs had actually moved up to No. 5 the rankings, even after the Pickens injury.
“Georgia’s overall talent on offense virtually guarantees a top-10 spot in these rankings every year,” ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote. “But coordinator Todd Monken’s arrival has Dawg fans feeling like they will finally see elite-level offenses perform between the hedges.”
The 2020 rankings had Georgia at No. 6. The only teams ahead of Georgia are Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. Those are the types are of elite offenses that Georgia has supposedly been chasing in recent seasons as the Bulldogs try and get back to the College Football Playoff.
Losing Pickens — Georgia’s leading receiver in each of the last two seasons — makes Monken’s job certainly more difficult. The Bulldogs do have some talented options they can turn to in the passing game in Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson and tight Darnell Washington.
Smart is confident that Monken will find a way to get the ball to Georgia’s top players, regardless of who is healthy.
“You find your best football players and you find ways to get them the ball and that’s what I think coach Monken does well,” Smart said. “He’s going to try to exploit whoever you are playing’s weaknesses and he’s going to try to use our strengths to do that with.”
Smart is also confident in the talent on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs bring back all five scholarship running backs from last season, as well as six of their top seven leading receivers from the 2020 team, with the seventh player being Pickens.
“We lost a guy who is a pretty good playmaker but we’ve got other guys who we think are good playmakers and we’ll just try to find ways to get them the ball,” Smart said.
Monken will have another 10 spring practices as well as fall camp to deal with the loss of Pickens. The Georgia offense will get a strong test to open the 2021 season when Monken will match wits against Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
The Georgia-Clemson game is set for Sept. 4 and will take place in Charlotte.
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