In My Happy Place

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a very happy person. People are always like, “Man, that Big Muddy Dawg sure is a happy person!” It seems that even in the face of adversity, I try to find humor in the situation. And I’m not saying that I’ve led a hard life. Nothing could really be further from the truth. But that’s not to say that it’s been all happy, shiny funtime, either. If you didn’t know, I was born at an extremely young age and so life has had it’s tougher moments (I’m sure I must have heard this joke somewhere because I couldn’t possibly have come up with it myself) .

All this is to say that as I watched the Dawgs play this past Saturday, I was reminded of a scene in a movie called The Gods Must Be Crazy. This wonderful film has nothing at all to do with football. But one of the last scenes in the film looked eerily like our offense at times.  Take a look and see if you can find any similarities:

I know, right? It’s uncanny!

OK, with the humor out of the way, here’s what I see happening. Our offensive strategy is built upon having a solid running game. We run the ball to keep the clock moving and to wear down an opponent’s defense. And when our opponents fully commit to stopping the run, we dial up a play-action pass to defeat the defense. In other words, we run to set up the pass.

It’s not working. For whatever reason, our offensive line play has not come together with any consistency in regards to run-blocking. We cannot run the ball well enough to make our opponents fear it. But we continue to call plays as if our running game is working.

Aaron Murray is asked to receive the snap from under center, turn his back to the defense while he fakes a hand off to the running back, turn back around and assess how the defensive formation has shifted since the snap, read the location and intent of the safeties and make a decision on where to throw the ball based on all of this information. All the while, our opponent’s pass rush has had this time to, well, rush our quarterback. These pass rushers know that they can go all out because that fake hand off is just that. A fake. Even if it’s not a fake and the running back actually receives the hand off, the rest of the defense has shown that they are able to stop him.

We are putting our quarterback at a disadvantage in the amount of time he has in the pocket to read coverages. Couple this style of play calling with an inexperienced quarterback who hasn’t quite learned to get rid of the ball quickly and we end up with six sacks in one game. As a point of reference, our offensive line gave up 12 sacks total last season.

So maybe it’s time we try something else. Like maybe lining up in shotgun instead of under center, thereby giving Murray just a little bit extra time to make his reads downfield. Run that formation a few times and the linebackers and safeties will have to start defending the pass. During the final quarter of last Saturday’s match, Aaron Murray led two scoring drives and went 7 of 12 for 1 touchdown and 145 yards. The boy can sling it. And guess what else also happened? Our running game opened back up with our backs gaining 46 yards on 6 carries. See what I did there? Passing to set up the run.

These are hardly profound concepts in offensive strategy. I’m not sure why our coaches haven’t seemed to adjust during the game. That is, until it’s too late. Maybe our players aren’t executing. Maybe it’s that we are missing some very important pieces to our offense. Maybe.

It’s hard for me to truly judge how anemic our offense seems to be without some of our key players all being in the game. Once we get A.J. back and Caleb King and Shaun Chapas are healthy again, I’m hoping to see drastic improvements. Because, while this last clip is funny, I’d rather not use it to represent UGA’s offense in a post sometime further along in the season.


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