Georgia’s tailbacks have totaled more than 130 yards rushing in each of the past four games, and Kentucky ranks 11th in the SEC and 98th nationally in rushing defense, but Richt said the game plan for success on the ground against the Wildcats isn’t quite so simple.
“There are some statistics of them maybe having some people running the ball against them relatively well, but most people that have hurt them running the ball have hurt them with the option game,” Richt said. “The more traditional zone, power, sprint draw, the things that we do the most, they’ve been much more tougher and physical against those types of runs.”
With a trio of burly linebackers and a solid defensive line, Kentucky is able to be physical at the point of attack, but struggles against teams with a more dynamic approach to their running game.
Against Florida, Kentucky allowed 362 yards rushing. Against Mississippi State, the Wildcats gave up another 348 yards on the ground. Those two teams averaged 7.3 yards per rush, while the rest of Kentucky’s opponents have managed just 3.7 yards per carry.
“It makes you want to put some option in, doesn’t it?” Richt said with a smile.
He may have been joking, but Georgia does have a few wrinkles to its running attack that could prove effective. Branden Smith’s speed has helped him score on two long touchdowns already this season – one on a reverse and one from the Wildcat package. Backup quarterback Logan Gray offers a more athletic option at the position, too, while receiver Rantavious Wooten has seen action on draw plays and reverses as well.
While those remain in the playbook, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said it’s still unlikely the option game will play much of a role this week.
“We always have that going into certain game plans, but the teams that really have had a lot of success on them were teams that did that exclusively, quarterbacks that run that had more than just one or two wrinkles,” Bobo said. “Sometimes you think it might be easy to add this or that, but most teams that do that, they do that exclusively and that’s their system.”