Straight-shooting Todd Monken reveals truths and insights about Georgia offense

041622 Athens: Georgia hasn't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Terrence Edwards in wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) runs after a catch against Georgia defensive back William Poole (31) during the G - Day game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Georgia football simply cannot get enough of Todd Monken — on game days, or in press conferences.

Offensive coordinators are typically the most second-guessed coaches on staff, with every armchair quarterback having the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, just knowing what play should have been called.

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That doesn’t happen so much at Georgia with Monken, as JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett have produced the highest QB ratings the past two seasons in school history.

It’s a truly amazing feat when one considers:

• Daniels didn’t have spring drills and spent most of 2020 on the scout team while working back from a knee injury,

• Bennett is a former walk-on, JUCO that no other Power 5 schools felt worthy of a scholarship offer in 2017 or 2019.

Now, throw in the fact that Daniels’ was not 100 percent back from the knee and lacked mobility, while Bennett must rely on a run game to jump-start a play-action pass game.

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Monken’s insistence and accountability on the finer details — Bennett refers to him as “anal” — along with the UGA offense’s built-in run and pass checks, have led to one of the most efficient offenses in the nation.

Monken’s no-nonsense, direct style in press conferences is in line with his head coach as well as his own personality.

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Here are three key takeaways from a Monken press conference on Friday that Georgia media and fans can’t seem to get enough of:

It starts on the ground

Monken made it clear that an effective run game is a must, as it controls down and distance and staying ahead of the chains puts defenses in run-pass conflict, uncertain which to defend.

Kirby Smart took it a step further after the G-Day Game, dismissing poor offensive statistics by explaining they were a result of UGA not running the ball enough.

“You can have a bunch of statistics that make it look better and make you feel better, but if you can’t run the ball comfortably you can’t win the game,” Monken said.

“Two years ago, against Mississippi State here couldn’t run it … . we threw for 400-yards, thank God, and won the game,” Monken said.

“Cincinnati we turned the ball over a bunch and didn’t run the ball nearly as well, but luckily we could throw it.

“I think the biggest thing is are you able to, when you’re not having success at one or the other, you’re not just one-dimensional.”

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Offensive line confidence

Georgia lost two players to the NFL draft off of its offensive line, but the Bulldogs figure to be better than a season ago with a great deal of experience returning.

Tate Ratledge was reputed to be the best run blocker on the line but was lost to injury on the opening series against a savvy Clemson defense that controlled much of the night.

RELATED: Florida sack artist puts Georgia O-Line on notice

Monken shed light on Ratledge’s return, and the O-Line upside.

“Mentally he has to work back into it; he has all of the attributes you want, he just has to get himself back going again,” Monken said. “I don’t care how much you are in meetings, I don’t care how much you are watching, you are not actually executing.

“If you shoot a rifle, you can’t watch people shoot the gun, you have to actually shoot it. He has to get out there and doing.”

As for the offensive line ….

“We have a lot of depth at guard and tackle, and if we can be mean up front …. we have a lot of really good players up front,” Monken said.

“I don’t want to name names because I’ll miss somebody, but we have a lot of really talented football players up front.”

Excessive 4-TE sets could trigger wide receivers

Monken was only half joking when he brought up the transfer portal after being asked about putting four tight ends on the field at the same time, which Georgia is uniquely qualified to do because of the talents of Brock Bowers and Arik Gilbert.

“Well, if you run it too often, you get every wideout in the portal,” Monken said. “We do have great players at that position. You do have to utilize their skillset, but you also have to balance that because there is a cost to that.”

Smart said earlier this fall that some receivers are competing with tight end-types for playing time on the field. Bowers and Gilbert are capable of lining up in the slot.

Jermaine Burton transferred to Alabama after last season because of the lack of WR target volume and usage with this current offense.

Should Georgia shift back to more of a traditional, Pro Style pocket passing game receivers will once again thrive, and Smart can better ensure the cupboard is not bare at the position.

Seven SEC players had 1,000 receiving yards last season, but Georgia hasn’t had one since Terrance Edwards in 2002.

“I would’ve guessed if we had George (Pickens), we would’ve had a 1,000-yard receiver last year because he’s a unique skill set,” Monken said. “When you get into run-play action and utilize matchups, like we had a number of guys that way, it’s almost like inevitable.”

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