ATHENS, Ga. — Auburn’s Gene Chizik was making a point this week about Georgia’s offensive philosophy since Mark Richt has coached the Bulldogs.
“One thing Georgia has done over the years that’s been very smart and very effective is that they do things based on their personnel and who they have at strong positions,” said Chizik, who served as Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2002-04 before returning as head coach in 2009. “When they had Orson Charles, their tight end was a huge, huge potential receiving threat and they really, really took really advantage of that when they could when they got mismatches on him.”
Georgia hasn’t leaned nearly as much on its tight ends in the passing game this year since Charles left for the NFL, where he was a fourth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Georgia had a deep and talented receiving corps, but not any more. Marlon Brown has joined Michael Bennett as top threats lost for the season with torn ACLs.
There has been plenty of talk since Brown’s injury was revealed about which receivers might step up to complement Malcolm Mitchell and Tavarres King, but there also could be more chances for tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome.
“It does present opportunities for other people whether it be tight ends or other wideouts or the back, anybody to catch the ball,” tight ends coach John Lilly said.
Lilly said Georgia won’t revamp what it’s done offensively since the spring.
“The quarterback’s going to go through his progressions and whatever the coverage dictates and all that is who the ball is going to go to,” Lilly said.
Lynch has nine catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the fourth most receptions among players available now after King, Mitchell and receiver Rantavious Wooten.
The player expected to be affected most by Brown’s injury is receiver Chris Conley, who steps into the first-team slot receiver role where Brown and Bennett had played. Conley has seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown this year.
“I try not to look at it as how many balls I’m catching or how many routes I’m running,” Conley said. “I just want to help the team out, really and honestly. As long as we’re winning, I’m happy if I’m doing my job.”
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Conley calls himself a “long guy. I like to think of myself as being able to stretch the field,” which he said he thinks brings a different element to the slot because he’s “able to bring a couple of different moves.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo called Conley “a conscientious guy who works hard. When his number’s been called, he has answered it and made plays.”
Georgia is hoping he can bring some of the same physical play to the position that Bennett and Brown showed.
Lynch said before the season that he wanted Georgia’s tight ends to match the productivity they had last year with Charles and Aron White. While that hasn’t happened, he said they’ve made some big catches in key moments this season.
“We definitely need to step up and become even more of a threat in the receiving game just to take the pressure off the receivers if our numbers called,” Lynch said. “Hopefully the coverage kind of favors us a little bit. If we run good routes, the right depth, the right technique, we’ll keep getting the ball.”