Posted: 11:12 am Friday, September 9th, 2016
By Jay Black
The answer to this headline is not the on-field demeanor/antics/intensity/calisthenics of head coach Kirby Smart (even though it is highly entertaining).
When Smart overhauled this program you expected a strong start from his defense and very good secondary play because, well duh. He was Nick Saban’s mini me and a former secondary coach. Smart’s defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, same deal.
Georgia delivered, holding UNC’s high powered attack to 17 points, a special teams oops and 315 total yards (lowest in more than a year for the Tar Heels).
The biggest change in this new regime has nothing to do with Kirby Smart, expect for his signature.
Georgia offense had big bodies and little bodies in places they aren’t typically in for a squad in red and black.
Formations, look at all these formations.
Three tight ends. Wing backs. H-Backs. No running backs. Tight ends as receivers.
And that was all in the first half of the first game. With a freshman quarterback involved.
“This game tape for opposing defenses is going to be a nightmare,” said UGA radio analyst and former quarterback Eric Zeier. “Very complicated for defenses to figure out and a lot for them to prepare for.”
When you Google “Jim Chaney tight ends” you get 37,000 results. This was clearly the buzzword surrounding Georgia’s new offensive leader.
It almost reads like a big-budget movie trailer.
“Tight-end friendly system,” says the Athens Banner-Herald.
“Chaney historically makes good use of tight ends,” boasts Gridiron Now.
“Chaney feels comfortable using multiple tight ends,” brags Bulldawg Illustrated.
And after game one, everybody is bragging about Chaney and his big-lean tight end machine. No one cares that between the five TEs that got on the field, only one caught a pass.
“Those 200+ yards Nick Chubb got,” said Kirby Smart, “well about three tight ends were on the field for half of those. I would assess their blocking as good. It could show some improvement, but they were blocking some big men.”
In the first half alone, 58 percent of Georgia’s offensive plays had at least two tight ends. And that doesn’t include fullback Christian Payne who was used in the standard I-back role and at times as sort of a H-back. Throw him into the mix and Chaney only ran four plays with one tight end/fullback on the field (confession, I tried to chart the whole game, but the SEC network replay cut out some important parts. I’ve failed you in this regard).
So if you’ve got a running team, what do you need a bunch of scrawny receivers out there for trying to block?
“It was a lot of fun to use multiple sets,” said junior Jeb Blazevich. “There’s a bunch of different tight ends on the field and we can do a bunch of different things in different formations.”
The tight end should be the most versatile player in an offense and Georgia has proven that it can dominate a running game with these extra blockers. The good news is, none of these tight ends are lumbering loads. They are perfectly capable as pass catchers.
Freshman Charlie Woerner was the only guy in this group with a reception on Saturday. Fellow rookie Isaac Nauta had one drop and Eason overthrew him on another pass. And that was pretty much it.
Still, Chaney has laid the groundwork for many match-up issues with these big bodies on the field. Because he’s already proven he can get Georgia’s smallest weapon in places where he can’t be stopped.
Raise your had if you had Isaiah McKenzie with 99 more receiving yards than Terry Godwin? Yeah that’s what I thought.
McKenize’s 122 receiving yard is not only a career high, but one off his total for all of last season. Throw in another four yard run and the 5-foot-8 joystick was responsible for a quarter of Georgia’s offense.
So in conclusion, UGA had 474 yards with Terry Godwin not a factor, one tight end catching one pass for one yard and Jacob Eason playing less than half a game.
The big asterisk here is North Carolina’s defense could be terrible. But Bulldog Nation has to like what they see.
The Dawgs offense might not have a bunch of tradition playmakers, but they have plenty of options. That’s nice, but so far, no one has forgotten that everything revolves around option number one in the backfield.
Because when you have Nick Chubb, just clear the road and enjoy it.