Offense Hitting on All Cylinders
David Greene
David Greene
Dawgpost.com
Posted Nov 9, 2004


ATHENS - Sundays at Georgia's practice facility have been more pleasant the last month. At least in the offensive meeting room.

"When we look at the tape, we're a lot more pleased than we were earlier in the year," Coach Mark Richt said. "We're executing a lot better. We're definitely better."

The numbers prove it. The No. 8 Bulldogs (8-1, 6-1 SEC) have averaged 508.5 yards per game in their last four outings, 137.5 more than in their first five. They've also averaged 36.5 points in the last four, compared to 29 in the first five.

Georgia can validate those statistics this week against No. 3 Auburn. The Tigers (9-0, 6-0) are fifth in the nation in total defense.

Georgia's last four opponents -- Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida and Arkansas -- have an average rank of 77.5.

"I think it'll be a real test for our offense just to show we have stepped our game up, and that we can do it against any team," offensive lineman Nick Jones.

One reason for the improvement is that the Bulldogs have gradually stripped almost all the frills from their play-calling, Richt said. In the preseason and early in the year, Richt tried to expand his offense with more motion patterns and shifting sets, but he didn't get the results he thought he would.

"We've gotten back to the basics," he said. "Early in the year, we tried a few things, just doing things we hadn't done much in the past. I didn't feel like it was going to change anybody's mind-set, but, when we really got back to the basics, to the things we'd been doing the last three years, it just seemed like everybody was a little more comfortable."

Quarterback David Greene is.

"It's easier on everybody if the play call isn't like a whole sentence in the huddle," Greene said. "It's not as much thinking."

Georgia also has started running the ball more.

"He told us going into the Vanderbilt game we were going to commit to the running game more and we have since then," Jones said.

In the first five games, Georgia averaged 37.4 rush attempts per game. In the last four games, that number has risen to 44.3. In that same time frame, pass attempts have gone down from 31.6 to 27.3.

"I've always tried to be balanced with it, maybe moreso this year," Richt said. "We're just not throwing it as much. A lot of it has to do with wanting to stay balanced, but I've been excited about our freshman backs, too."

Danny Ware and Thomas Brown each have more than 600 yards rushing in the first nine games. Last year, Michael Cooper led the team with 673 in 14 games.

The running game has opened up the passing game. Although, Georgia is throwing the ball less, it's gaining more yards through the air. In the first five games, Georgia averaged 6.8 yards per pass attempt. That's up to 11.3 in the last four games.

"We're unpredictable," wide receiver Fred Gibson said. "You never know if we're going to run or if we're going to pass. We've got so many weapons who are really playing good right now."

The passing game has benefited from the emergence of tight end Leonard Pope, an improved running game and also from improved accuracy by Greene, Richt said.

"We're throwing the deep ball probably the best we ever have in the last four games," Richt said. "We've put the ball where it needs to be more often than not."

The offensive surge has been well-timed, coming just as Georgia's defense has started to fade. The Bulldogs have given up an uncharacteristic 401 yards per game the last two weeks.

"I love it," cornerback DeMario Minter said. "We haven't been playing up to par, and the offense has been picking us up."

 Georgia Offense  Last Four  First Five
Points 36.5 29
Yards 508.5 371
400-plus  Four times  Two times
Rushing yards 203.75 153.6
Rushing attempts 44.3 37.4
Passing yards  308.8 217.4
Passing attempts 27.3 31.6


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