Dawgs’ lack of a passing threat hindering Bobo’s playcalling

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Hutson Mason hasn't been able to get Georgia's passing attack on track. (John Kelley / UGA)
Mike Bobo isn't having a great season calling Georgia's offensive plays so far. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

Mike Bobo isn’t having a great season calling Georgia’s offensive plays so far. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

You can check out my post-game Blawg here. Meanwhile, a few more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Tennessee …

Mike Bobo has always been a streaky kind of playcaller, alternating brilliant series with predictable, pedestrian calls that go nowhere. But, over the past three seasons, the high points generally were more prevalent than the lows as Georgia set records offensively.

This season has been back to the off-and-on mode, with Saturday’s game against Tennessee not exactly one Bobo would want to include in a career highlights reel.

Of course, it’s possible the reason so much of Bobo’s playcalling so far this season has been vanilla is who he has at quarterback. With the mobile, strong-armed Aaron Murray behind center, Bobo could gameplan his brains out, counting on his quarterback to check in and out of the right play most of the time and make something happen when need be.

Hutson Mason hasn't been able to get Georgia's passing attack on track. (John Kelley / UGA)

Hutson Mason hasn’t been able to get Georgia’s passing attack on track. (John Kelley / UGA)

So far, little that appears to be in Hutson Mason’s repertoire.

Saturday’s third quarter was an example of Bobo looking like a man without a plan or a man with a bad plan. Long after it had become clear that Tennessee was putting eight or nine men in the box, daring Georgia to pass, Bobo had Mason come out doing just that to open the third quarter in a vain attempt to prove them wrong. However, the result was not vintage Boboball.

(Or, his critics would contend, maybe it was.)

After Todd Gurley had returned the kickoff to Georgia’s 32, Mason opened promisingly with a 13-yard pass to Chris Conley. But on the very next play Mason attempted a sideline pass to a well-covered Conley only to have it intercepted. (Conley maintained later that the pick was his fault, but the ball looked poorly thrown.)

After a Vols punt gave the Dogs the ball again, Mason kept for 2 yards, threw to Conley for no gain and on third-and-8 missed an open Conley with an off-target pass. (He was under pressure from the blitzing Vols.)

On Georgia’s next series of the third quarter, with the Dogs backed up on their own 6, Gurley ran for a yard against a stacked Tennessee defense, then went up the middle for another 3, and then on third-and-5 Mason and Conley failed to connect again.

The Dogs then finished out the third quarter with a 5-minute drive in which Georgia moved from its own 23 … to its own 42! That one included running plays by Nick Chubb, Mason and Gurley and Mason getting sacked for a 7 yard loss (and a fumble that Kolton Houston recovered).

That was one of the nine times out of 10 attempts Saturday that Georgia failed to convert on third down.

Bobo did have a nice balanced attack on a second-quarter drive, that, amid runs by Gurley, Sony Michel and Chubb, saw Mason completing passes to Gurley, fullback Taylor Maxey, Reggie Davis and, finally, a pass over the middle to Chubb, who then zig-zagged 20 yards for a score.

But, for the most part, Bobo only had the running game to rely on Saturday. It was pretty obvious that the Vols felt they were free to sell out to stop the running game because they simply didn’t believe Georgia could move the ball consistently through the air.

And this is with the same guy calling plays who oversaw Murray racking up obscenely gaudy passing numbers the past couple of seasons. Conclusion: Bobo is calling games with one arm tied behind him until Mason and his receivers can get the air attack back on track.

Defensive back Damian Swann had a good day against the Vols. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

Defensive back Damian Swann had a good day against the Vols. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

A few other quick points: Georgia’s special teams generally had a good day against the Vols, highlighted by a 29-yard Isaiah McKenzie punt return and Collin Barber kicking a long one that was downed at the Tennessee 1-yard line. But there were lapses, too, including a punt fair caught at the 6, one long kickoff return on which the coverage lost containment and a first-down-by-penalty given to the Vols in the fourth quarter when the Dogs had 12 men on the field as UT prepared to punt. (Mark Richt doesn’t have a visor to throw, but he threw his play card in disgust!) After the defense stopped the Vols again, the Dogs then sent 10 men out to receive the punt, though they lucked up when a time out was called to review the previous play. Some poor coaching going on there. … Damian Swann had a good day. He got one of the Dogs’ three sacks, was the third-leading tackler behind Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson, and kept the key Georgia punt that was downed at the Tennessee 1 from going into the end zone. … Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt made some good calls Saturday in the pass rush (though I’d like to see him calling even more blitzes), but putting the team back in a soft “prevent” zone with 1:17 left in the first half wasn’t one of them. It only took the Vols 59 seconds to score and narrow Georgia’s lead to 21-17. And, on the fourth quarter Tennessee scoring drive that narrowed Georgia’s lead to the final 3-point spread, linebacker Herrera was asked to cover a receiver about 30 yards downfield, which is a horrible personnel mismatch.

What else did you see in the game that was praiseworthy or concerned you?

Go Dogs!


Got something you want to discuss concerning the current football season? Or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Email junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

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