Georgia Football: Quantifying What Injuries to Offense Meant to Dawgs
With the Bulldogs out of the race for the SEC East title, they are now playing for pride.
But one has to wonder what would have been if they didn’t suffer injuries to their skill players on offense.
With Todd Gurley going down in the game vs. LSU to Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley getting injured in the Tennessee game, the offense did not live up to the high expectations this season because of the key players it lost for either the entire year or part of the season.
Here is a look at what the injuries on offense meant for the Bulldogs.
When the Bulldogs were at full strength to start the season, they had no issues scoring points. After the LSU game, the Bulldogs were averaging 41 points per game.
But as soon as the Bulldogs lost Marshall, Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley, the average started to drop, and they now average 36 points per game. In fact, since the LSU game, the Bulldogs have scored over 40 points just once, and that was against Appalachian State.
It’s not so much that it’s been a struggle to score points, but it hasn’t been the same since the start of the season.
The Bulldogs were never the best rushing team in the conference, but when Gurley and Marshall were both healthy, the Bulldogs were averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground.
Gurley and Marshall both went down in consecutive weeks, and the running game has not been the same, despite getting Gurley back for the Florida game.
The Bulldogs now average 174 yards per game, which puts them near the bottom of the conference.
J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas have done a solid job filling the void, but they are no Gurley and Marshall, as the results show.
Aaron Murray has had a strong year, and if there were an MVP of the Bulldogs it would be him. But he was probably his strongest when the season started, as he was averaging 345 passing yards per game and leading the SEC in that category.
Now the Bulldogs average 309 passing yards per game, which is good enough to put them second in the conference. Not much of a drop-off in terms of where they are in the conference, but had the Bulldogs not suffered the injuries to their skill players, they very well could have had the best passing offense in the country.
All this leads to the total yards for the Bulldogs. After the LSU game, the Bulldogs were averaging around 550 yards per game, making them one of the top offenses in the country.
That obviously changed as the season progressed, and the Bulldogs now average 483 yards per game, which puts them fifth in the conference.
Again, it’s not a huge drop off because the Bulldogs are still one of the better offenses in the SEC. But if the Bulldogs did not have to makeshift their skill players the second half of the season, it’s clear this offense could have been a very dangerous unit.
Injuries are part of the game, so every team has to have the "next man up" mentality.
But no team is ever ready to lose its two top running backs and two top receivers (three if you mention Malcolm Mitchell, who tore his ACL during the Clemson game).
And because of that, Georgia never got to be the offense many fans and experts thought it could be.
However, next year will be a different story. Hutson Mason will be the new quarterback, and he will have an experienced group of skill players to work with, such as Gurley, Marshall, Scott-Wesley and Chris Conley.
This is not to say the offense will be the best in the country or in the conference for that matter, but if it doesn’t have the setback it suffered this season, then the Bulldogs could be back in the mix for the SEC title.