Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Looking Back… Rushing Offense ...

At the outset of the season, the Dawgs were set to have the most potent rushing attack in the nation.  The only question mark was the big boys up front.  With Gurley and Marshall (this season forgoing the silly “Gurshall” nickname that just smacks of fans living in the past) primed and ready to go, a hopeful Dawgnation screamed from every peak that we would “Run This Conference.”

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Now, the YPG average of 176.08 is only 6.49 YPG than UGA’s 2012 total that was good enough for 4th in the conference.  But, in a year when rushing was UP across the conference, you certainly didn’t expect the Gurley-Marshall tandem to underproduce in the way that it did.

Of course, I suppose that’s what happens when your Starter goes down with an ankle injury, and Captain Change-of-Pace tears his ACL.

Some out there in the net-o-sphere believe UGA didn’t run as much this year as last (due to injury), but that’s not really the case.  In 2012, UGA averaged 37.5 Att/Game, and in 2013, the # dropped minimally to 36.9 Att/Game.  Or, in essence, we had less than ONE fewer attempt per game in 2013.  Still, the drop off from Todd Gurley to just about anyone else is pretty substantial.

Here’s a snapshot of how the BallCarriers for UGA fared this season:

Gurley going off at 100 ypg is pretty nice.  We’d love to see it over that, of course…but if your star running back is averaging 100 ypg, and he’s not 100%, well - that’s pretty damned good.  After Marshall went down, you had Green and Douglas splitting the load, and they were fairly neck-and-neck with productivity.  Both scored 3 TDs, both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Green is more of the big-play guy, but Douglas hammers out the tough yards a little better.  For two freshmen to come in and be able to do what they do, well, that was a bright spot for the offense (The fumbles notwithstanding).  

With another year of seasoning on these guys next year, Georgia will set itself up to have a very potent rushing attack.  Perhaps Nick Chubb and/or Sony Michel will get the opportunity to LEARN for a season before being thrown into the fire.  I’m a big fan of the 4-tailback system..but 6-tailbacks?  Jeebus.

Overall, I’d have to say that our running game this season has been serviceable.  It was supposed to be one of the brightest spots on the team, but injuries prevented it from being that.  As good as Brendan and JJ may turn out to be, they aren’t Gurley and Marshall.  Also, there’s no statistic for battles lost at the point of attack.  At times, our offensive line seemed to lack the PUNCH it needed to truly take advantage of opposing teams' lines, and thus open the roadways for our backs.  Then, at other times, there were holes big enough for Gary Danielson’s ego to run through.  Look, the fact is, you’re not going to blow everyone off the ball all the time.  Somebody’s gonna nut-up against you, and you have to fight through that.  Sometimes your kids are going to get hurt, and you have to fight through that.  Georgia having to rely on 3rd and 4th string running backs leaves us in the bottom third of rushing in the conference.  It’s not a huge surprise.

You ask yourself…how can the running game improve next season?  There are two very obvious answers - 

Don’t get hurt.
Get more consistent line play.  

Do those two things, and I think you see UGA vault back up to the top 4.

Go Dawgs.

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