The more things change, the more they stay the same. For a few seasons now, the media and the Georgia fan based have wanted to will into existence a high flying, break-neck paced, Clemson/Alabama/Ohio State like offense in Athens. Jim Cheney was supposed to air things out. James Coley was sure to utilize the backs in the passing game more and attempt for down the field shots. Finally, who could forget the build up this offseason of the Air Raid making it’s way to the Classic City with Todd Monken. All predictions of a philosophy shift from who Georgia was and ultimately, who they continue to be.
Do not mistake me here. This is not a lament of the lack of change on my part. Quite the opposite. What Nick Saban said this past week about great offenses winning championships instead of dominant defenses in today’s game certainly has truth to it. However, there is no cookie cutter way by which that prolific style of offensive play has to come. Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State all are different in how they go about putting points on the board. The bad news for most Georgia faithful is that stylistically the Dawgs will not look like any of those 3 squads offensively The good news for Georgia, and their beleaguered fans, is that UGA is certainly capable of scoring in bunches, it just must be done in a different style. Georgia must lean into and embrace their identity, and the language used by staff and players over the bye suggests they’re prepared to do so.
John Fitzpatrick represented the team at the press conference on Monday specifically addressed the improve of the offense and the identity of it. “As tight ends we want to focus more on the run game and being more efficient in our routes. We took those three days to work on that, and we got better. Our identity is a hard-nosed offense that is going to run the ball efficiently. We’re going to take our shots and spread the ball around. Whatever coach [Todd] Monken dials up we’re going to go do it.”
Fitzpatrick is well spoken and it’s obvious why he is chosen frequently to represent his teammates and the program, but there is no denying that those sentiments had been driven home to the team in the week leading up to that press conference. Kirby Smart himself alluded to the fact that Georgia had to run the ball more after the Alabama game.
Specifically, Smart said of the Georgia “brand of football, “We’ve got to play our brand of football and help Stetson with the people around him,” coach Kirby Smart said last week. “That’s probably the No. 1 thing.” Expounding upon that, Smart described how to do that as taking, “What the defense gives you,” Smart said. “If they’re playing man-to-man, we’ve got to be able to take shots and make plays. If they’re playing off coverage and giving us RPOs, we’ve got to be able to take it. If they’re taking chances on the run then we’ve got to play-action them to get on top, you’ve got to be able to do it. It never changes. I think you guys want a perfect answer. It’s really a lot more about what are you good at and what can we do better than they do.”
Smart has made it clear that Stetson Bennett IV is the quarterback of the football team and the players on the team have very publicly and openly shown they support Bennett IV as well. Running the football and being efficient in the passing game, while also designing a fair amount of down the field shots is not only what best fits Georgia’s personnel at this time, but it also is the exact thing that Todd Monken’s track record has been established by. The running back and tight end groups are the most talented of the Georgia offense. Monken is known for his use of personnel groups with multiple tight ends and also his create and versatile use of multiple backs. It wouldn’t be shocking at all to start seeing James Cook, Kendall Milton, and Darnell Washington all on the field at the same time together. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak, and Georgia will get a chance to put that on display in Lexington this Saturday.