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National Championship preview: The Georgia Offense

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Get ready for a steady dose of Nick Chubb

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oklahoma vs Georgia Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

More than likely, you already know what to expect out of the Georgia offense. They’re simple, fairly old-school, and highly effective. The game plan is simple:

  1. Give the ball to Nick Chubb.
  2. When he gets tired, give it to Sony Michel.
  3. ???
  4. Profit

4 years ago, Nick Chubb won like every laurel and award possible for his SPARQ testing in high school (if you aren’t familiar with SPARQ, stay tuned. I’ll be having a big study session after the season is over) before moving on to Georgia. Despite missing nearly a full season of college with a major knee injury, he’s still gotten over 5000 yards and 48 touchdowns from scrimmage over the last 5 years. He’s big, fast, nimble, and any other buzzwords that the knowledgeable football folk like to use to describe a running back. Nick Chubb has it all, and will go down as the #2 running back in SEC history for yards in a career, behind only Herschel Walker.

And amidst all that greatness is the overshadowed fact that Sony Michel, the team’s second running back, has gained 4100 yards and 39 touchdowns over the same period of time. If a running back had those kind of stats on any other team in the nation, he’d be a superstar and surefire top NFL draft pick. Instead, many people across the nation don’t even know his name due to so much attention going to Chubb.

What’s even more amazing is the fact that both of these backs have racked up so many stats the last 4 years despite splitting everything in half with each other.

And as good as they have been in the past, this year has really taken the cake. Chubb has 1320 yards rushing for 15 touchdowns (6.4 yards per carry) while Michel has 1129 yards for 16 touchdowns on an other-worldly 8.0 yards per carry.

As if that weren’t enough, true freshman D’Andre Swift has broken onto the scene for 603 rushing yards for 7.8 yards per carry. The explosive freshman has been a big play waiting to happen on every play, and is used frequently in the passing game, catching 15 balls for 146 yards.

The Bulldogs line up under center about as often as they do in shotgun, and run a fairly traditional pro-style offense, though they do incorporate a smattering of read-option and jet sweeps into the offense. They generally use 2 WR sets about as often as 3 WR sets, and enjoy bludgeoning teams to death with a large assortment of tight ends and fullbacks as Chubb and Michel run wild.

Behind all of that is freshman QB Jake Fromm. After taking over for an injured Jacob Eason at the beginning of the season, Fromm has mastered the execution of a play-action offense built to keep the chains moving and give the running backs even more chances to break big plays.

Fromm’s completed nearly 64% of his passes for2383 yards this season, and has thrown 23 touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He’s not a Captain Checkdown/game manager kind of guy, but a freshman who’s not necessarily asked to win games with his arm, but make big plays when they’re needed to keep the offense on track.

For the most part, he works off of play action whenever possible, and the Georgia passing scheme is based mostly around short to intermediate curl routes into spaces vacated by defenses who are committing extra defenders to stop the run. He also has no qualms attempting deep shots when he gets a wide receiver in one-on-one coverage.

Senior receiver Javon Whims is a 6’4” target who excels at bodying out cornerbacks on curl routes and backshoulder fades, and leads the team with 44 catches for 704 yards and 78 touchdowns. Playing opposite him is the smaller, and once highly-prized recruit Terry Godwin, who has a knack for getting wide open way down the field for huge gains. He’s averaging 17 and a half yards per catch and has 591 yards on the season.

When Georgia moves to a 3 WR package, both Whims and Godwin have the ability to play slot, and will move around based on the play design and the matchup that Georgia wants to exploit. The third receiver is the diminutive and explosive Mecole Hardman, who’s more of a yards-after-catch kind of guy. Hardman has 23 catches for 338 yards and also has 51 yards rushing. He’s a gadget player, swiss army knife, Percy Harvin-lite... whichever cliche you like to use for the small guy that’s not a true receiver nor a running back. Whatever the case, he’s a tough little bugger for a defender to get his hands on.

Tight ends Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner have combined for 214 yards and couple of touchdowns all season. They aren’t heavily featured in the passing game, as they excel at run blocking, but are always a threat to sneak off to an open spot for a 1st down pass just when the defense is most expecting a run.

This is an extremely efficient offense that is predicated around our favorite philosophy around here: running the football. It’s a smash mouth approach designed to give Chubb and Michel as many chances as possible to make big plays happen. When Fromm is needed to relieve some defensive pressure off the running backs or convert a 3rd down, he looks to distribute it to Whims or Godwin to move the chains and give the two rushers another set of downs.

But when the run game is shut down and Fromm is forced to be the focal point, he’s struggled to consistently move the ball on routes other than intermediate curls and gets happy feet in the pocket when his offensive line isn’t blocking perfectly for him.

This is a dangerous, efficient offense with a generational rushing attack and complementary passing attack, but their passing game cannot survive without the run game being effective. Shutting down the first will shut down the entire offense.