UGA winning and having fun behind run game, leaving pass catchers all-in on blocking

Georgia running back Nick Chubb breaks away to score a touchdown against Mississippi State during the second half on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 in Athens. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal Constitution via AP)

ATHENS, Ga. - When Georgia went up against Missouri last year, quarterback Jaciob Eason fired 55 passes in a 28-27 road win.

 

That’s three less than the Bulldogs have thrown combined in lopsided wins over Samford, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt the last four games.

Georgia’s leading receiver Javon Wims is hardly complaining.

“We understand we’re a pound the ball type of team, a physical downhill team,” Wims said. “It’s not a challenge at all. You’ve just got to go in there and do your assignment.”

The forward pass hasn’t gone the way of the flip phone for Georgia but the Bulldogs head into Saturday’s home game against Missouri ridding a potent running game. It has helped lead to a 6-0 start as freshman Jake Fromm has stepped in at quarterback.

Only seven FBS teams have fewer pass attempts a game than the Bulldogs 17.8. The only other power five conference team in that group is triple-option Georgia Tech. Other teams include service academies Air Force, Navy, Army and option-oriented Georgia Southern.

“It’s something where we understand when our number does get called, we need to be ready,” senior tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “It’s something where, yeah, we might not do it in a game but out in practice we’re repping a lot more and we’re ready for any situation. Lately, the run game has been working but I know we’re still trying to work on and develop our pass game.”

Georgia is hardly abandoning making plays through the air with Fromm even while last in the SEC and 118th nationally in passing offense at 145.7 yards per game.

The Bulldogs are fifth in the SEC and tied for 45th nationally with 10 touchdown passes.

“I think our receivers are blocking their tails off, which allows them in turn to go ahead and get deep and get those deep touchdown passes,” Blazevich said.

Wims said when the running and passing game “complement each other, we’re an explosive offense. We have shown we can do that.”

Blazevich said coach Kirby Smart stressed before the season that receivers who block will get on the field and that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney preached that only one player can have the ball at a time “so what are the other 10 guys doing?”

For Wims, blocking on the perimeter was a foreign concept.

“None, absolutely none,” he said of how much of that that he did before Georgia when the Miami prep product played in a spread offense at Hinds (Miss.) Community College and was targeted at least 10 times a game.

Smart praised Wims and Godwin after the first game of the season saying they played “with more competitive toughness than they did last year.” After the win against Mississippi State, Smart singled out Jayson Stanley’s blocking: “I keep telling y’all, nobody gives the guy credit.”

Smart likes the buy-in he’s seen from the wideouts and receivers in contributing as blockers, he said this week.

“I think they do a great job,” Smart said. “I think they’re doing a much improved job this year as opposed to last year of understanding the importance of team — understanding the importance of team goals and team success. I think that a lot of that is our off-season program, our mind-set training program from the summer — to put the team above yourself. I think that’s just important to winning. It’s not the number of catches, it’s the value you get in team goals.”

Tight end Isaac Nauta said the physical play of the offensive line and a deep group of running backs led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel “are running the ball like crazy. That switches it up a little bit, but this is the SEC so we know we’re going to have to throw it at some point. So we’re grinding in practice and making sure we get those reps so we’re prepared to throw it when we need to.”

Nauta had 29 catches last season but has just five for 77 yards and a touchdown this year, but sounds genuine when he says “it’s a blast when you make a pancake block and you look up and you see Chubb taking it the house. It’s a really good feeling.”

The block the 6-foot-4, 246-pound sophomore made that stands out came against Notre Dame “when I put a guy on his back. Anytime, I can win the block, I’ll take a plus on that but pancakes always are the most rewarding.”

Wims leads the team with 13 catches for 217 yards. That would project out to 30 catches for 14 games if Georgia played in the SEC title game and a bowl game. That would match Martrez Milner’s 30 catches in 2006 as fewest for the team’s leading receiver since 1990.

“Our offensive line has been just physical, just beating on people so there’s no need to throw the ball,” Wims said. “And when you can win like that, it’s fun for everybody. Winning is fun. I’d rather us run the ball all the time and win than throw the ball all the time and lose.”

 

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Thu, 10/19/2017 - 23:54

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