Whatever the description, first-year offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s offensive game plan was just right for Georgia on Saturday, when it thumped Oklahoma State 35-14 in Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs (1-0) rushed the ball 47 times, the eight-highest total of the Mark Richt era, and probably threw more screen passes than they had in the totality of Richt’s previous six seasons.
“It’s the type of thing where we’re just going to game plan,” said senior wide receiver Sean Bailey, who before the game predicted Georgia would throw the ball down the field often and then saw his team attempt fewer than five passes that flew further than 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.
“We’re not going to be set on being just vertical or just horizontal,” Bailey said. “We’re so versatile and we have so many people who can do different things where one game it may be like this, the next game there might be a whole bunch of chunks down the field.”
It could happen this Saturday in Sanford Stadium, where Georgia will play South Carolina at 5:45 p.m. in a game televised by ESPN.
The Gamecocks (1-0) are coming off lackluster 28-14 over Louisiana-Lafayette, and Coach Steve Spurrier promised Sunday that his team would have “a whole bunch” lineup changes before the it comes to Athens.
“Hopefully, we’ll play like we really care about what we’re doing,” Spurrier said.
Senior quarterback Blake Mitchell, the Gamecocks regular starter, missed Saturday’s game due to suspension but returns to the team this week. Spurrier, who played quarterbacks Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley against Louisiana-Lafayette, would not commit to returning Mitchell to the starting lineup.
Georgia expects to see Mitchell starting but won’t prepare differently regardless of the quarterback, Richt said.
The Bulldogs will be playing without senior tailback Kregg Lumpkin. Last year’s starter broke his thumb Saturday and will be out indefinitely. Lumpkin will return this season, but that was all Richt would say Sunday.
“He’s not going to be able to hold a ball in that hand for a while,” Richt said.
Georgia still has plenty of depth at tailback with senior Thomas Brown and redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno, who combined for 128 yards on 32 carries Saturday.
Nine different receivers caught passes for the Bulldogs, and almost all of them got at least one screen pass. The short tosses near the line of scrimmage are essentially a version of the running game, quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
The high number of those passes helped keep pressure off Georgia’s young offensive line, Richt said. And it had the added benefit of working very well. Of Georgia’s 234 yards of passing, 170 of those came after the catch, Richt said.
“We weren’t protecting all that well really,” Richt said. “We had to do some things that had to take some pressure off that bunch. We’ve got a long way to go up front still. I think we all realize that, but still Mike did a very good job of taking what they gave him and also knowing the longer we held the ball the less Oklahoma State had it, that was part of the plan too.”
Senior wide receiver Mikey Henderson, who had three catches for 28 yards, will be happy if the Bulldogs’ game plan never changes, he said.
“I like catching the ball in space,” Henderson said. “If that’s what I can do to help this team, that’s what I’d love to do. That would be my ideal situation.”