Georgia vs. South Carolina: Bulldogs' Offense Is Most Versatile in the Country

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 5, 2012

Georgia TE Arthur Lynch (left), RB Todd Gurley (center) and QB Aaron Murray (right)
Georgia TE Arthur Lynch (left), RB Todd Gurley (center) and QB Aaron Murray (right)Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Head coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham rode the nation's fifth-best defense to the SEC East title in 2011, and that defense was expected to lead the Bulldogs to even more hardware in 2012.

Instead, it has been the offense that has been dominant, so much so that it is the most versatile offense in the country.

The Bulldogs' game plan is simple: They run the ball and use the play action off of it.

Freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have been the key ingredients to the Bulldogs' offensive success. Gurley leads all SEC rushers with 107.2 yards per game and has eight runs of 20 or more yards. Marshall averages 85.6 rushing yards per game and has broken five runs for 20 or more yards.

Their success has kept opposing defenses honest and has allowed quarterback Aaron Murray plenty of time to find receivers down field, which he has done early and often. The junior signal-caller for the Bulldogs has thrown for 274 yards per game and has tossed 12 touchdowns to only three interceptions on the season.

Critics will point to his career 2-8 record vs. Top-25 teams, but he led Georgia to an SEC East title last season and threw a single-season school record 35 touchdown passes in the process.

Despite the season-ending ACL injury to wide receiver Michael Bennett, Georgia has plenty of weapons for Murray to spread the ball around to.

Tavarres King is a veteran who is 41 yards shy of breaking the 2,000-yard mark for his career; Marlon Brown took a while to blossom, but he has emerged as a legitimate downfield threat this season; and the return of sophomore Malcolm Mitchell to more of a full-time role at receiver will certainly help the Bulldogs moving forward.

But it isn't just the skill positions that have led Georgia to offensive power, it's the offensive line.

While it's still a work-in-progress, the rebuilt Georgia offensive line has allowed just seven sacks in five games—third-best in the SEC. That's four fewer than Alabama's offensive line, which is widely regarded as one of—if not the—best in the country.

Georgia's ability to play ball-control offense, hit home runs in the running game, utilize the play-action and stretch the field have transformed it from a punchline to the most versatile offense in the country.

There's not one thing that the Bulldogs don't currently do well on offense, which is what has guided Richt's team to the 5-0 start and a No. 5 ranking.

The competition gets a little bit tougher this weekend when the Bulldogs face off against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia, S.C. Will that success continue? We will see, but so far so good for the Bulldogs' offense in 2012.