Georgia Football: Why the Bulldogs Should Run More Spread-Offense Plays in 2016

Brian JonesContributor IJanuary 15, 2016

George wide receiver Terry Godwin catches a pass in the endzone for touchdown in the first half of the TaxSlayer Bowl NCAA college football game against Penn State in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016.  Georgia defeated Penn State 24-17.  (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

When Mark Richt was the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, he ran a pro-style offense that quarterbacks such as David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray were able to succeed in.

Now that Richt has moved on to Miami, Kirby Smart has arrived, and he comes from an Alabama program that runs a similar offense. The Crimson Tide ran a single-back, run-oriented scheme that throws off of play action. That offense, along with a stifling defense, has led Alabama to four national titles in a seven-year span.

So this means the Bulldogs will not change things when it comes to their offensive philosophy, right? That may not be the case, because there’s a good chance the Bulldogs will “spread” things out in 2016, if you know what I mean. And here’s why.


Jim Chaney

New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has a ton of experience running offenses at the college level. He’s led Purdue, Arkansas, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, and all of those schools had different offensive styles.

Chaney is best known for his work at Purdue in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He ran a spread offense there led by quarterbacks Drew Brees and Kyle Orton. When Chaney was at Tennessee, he ran a pro-style offense that was more focused on passing. That led to quarterback Tyler Bray ranking 13th in the country in passing yards per game (301) and eighth in passing touchdowns (34) in 2012.

David Goldman/Associated Press

When Chaney got to Arkansas, he adopted a run-heavy offense, and that led to the Razorbacks averaging 208.7 rushing yards per game in 2013. In 2014, the Razorbacks improved on that total, averaging 218 rushing yards per game.

What Chaney is good at is finding the strengths of each player on the offensive side of the ball. And since he’s also been a quarterbacks coach, he knows how to make the starting quarterback as comfortable as possible.


Jacob Eason

And that leads to the next point. Jacob Eason will have a legitimate shot to win the starting job in 2016. And if he does get it, he will be working with an offensive coordinator who will put him in the best position to make plays.

247Sports has Eason listed as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback prospect in the country. However, he played in a spread offense in high school, and he threw 43 touchdowns and six interceptions his senior year.

Jacob Eason throwing strikes just over the defender.

— Jake Reuse (@ReuseRecruiting) January 4, 2016

Eason has the tools to be a great quarterback in Athens because he has the arm strength, the size and the accuracy to do some damage against SEC opponents.

He needs to be put in a position where he is very comfortable, and while Chaney will likely use a pro-style offense in 2016, per Bill King of DawgNation, having some spread plays in the mix will be vital for the Bulldogs in terms of contending in the SEC.


Mixing It Up

When Richt was here, the Bulldogs were dead set on running the pro-style offense. And while it was efficient when everyone was on the same page, it was too predictable at times, which was a huge issue last season.

When Smart had his first press conference as the Bulldogs head coach, he said the offense can’t just be one style and there has to be some variety to it.

Smart discussed his offensive philosophy with Seth Emerson of DawgNation:

Now to say are you going to be spread or are you going to be pro? I don’t think you can pigeonhole yourself into that. I like to think you’ve got to be both in both situations. You’ve got to utilize the talent you have on your team. What kind of players do you have on your team? What does it set up to be successful?

The Bulldogs lacked explosive plays last season. Sony Michel and Nick Chubb were relied on too much to carry the offense, and the passing game suffered because of it. If the Bulldogs mix in spread plays, guys like Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin will have more opportunities to make plays on the outside.

This makes the spring game really interesting. If we see the Bulldogs line up in the spread offense a few times on G-Day, fans could be in for an exciting 2016 season.