Georgia’s offense has recorded two slow starts to kick off the 2023 campaign. Is there cause for concern? What about Saturday when South Carolina invades Sanford Stadium?
Of course, going into the second quarter against Ball State with zero points is concerning, especially when this sleepy offensive display followed nearly a half in the doldrums against UT Martin. Yes, the Dawgs’ offense sputtered from the opening kickoff, but the unit came alive in the second quarter with five scores.
Fortunately for Kirby and Company, the SEC provided UGA with a favorable early schedule. After back-to-back national championships opened NFL doors for many Bulldogs, this team has required game experience to mesh the new contributors with the system. The offensive line is a great example.
Georgia rushed for 128 yards on 28 attempts against Ball State, net yards equaled 99. That total may be acceptable for many teams, but Georgia wants to line up and grind, and everyone knows it. Each opponent knows Georgia’s plan and sells out to stop it.
The offense rebounded and smacked Ball State in the second quarter but never established the grinding running game that Smart’s Dawgs have set as a point of pride in previous seasons. Remember those runs between the tackles when a defense corralled a back, only to see the offensive line get downfield and shove him forward for additional yardage? Those plays were statements. They emphatically declared to the opponent that the Dawgs controlled the line of scrimmage, not just with superior talent but greater desire. They wanted it more and it showed.
The point is not that the offensive line has lost its mojo; it is still putting the pieces together. It is transforming into a unit that can deal with defenses that game plan to stop Georgia’s run game. The opening games of this season have provided a blueprint for limiting the Bulldog offense. Everyone knows that Kirby wants to run the ball, wear down opposing defenses and employ the depth of talent he has brought to Athens to bury opponents’ hopes. As his line matures, the question marks disappear.
The offense, and especially the line, has experienced growing pains. South Carolina would be a great game to grow up.