This is the second in a series of posts here at Dawg Sports in which the good folks at Nestea challenged us to talk about the bold decisions our teams either have made or should make during the upcoming season. Kyle considered the distressing decline of boldness in Mark Richt's recent decisionmaking yesterday. In this post I posit 5 specific bold risks which I want to see Mark Richt take during the 2011 season. Feel free to make your own bold suggestions in the comments.
Dear Coach Richt, I beg of you:
Throw out of the Wild Dawg, or throw out the Wild Dawg. This one was the subject of some conversation in the comments to Kyle's post, but it bears repeating. Unless and until you show that the guy taking the snaps can pull up and hit the tight end you'll see nothing but eight men in the box and two yard gains. A lot of people forget that Darren McFadden threw it a few times when Arkansas first deployed their wildcat formation under Gus Malzahn, and it was that threat that kept defenses honest for months afterwards. I'd be willing to bet his completion percentage was below 50%, but the threat that he'd try it was enough. Branden Smith averages 11 yards per carry on offense. Mike Bobo is right to get the ball in his hands, and if anything should get the ball in his hands more often. But for the love of Vince Dooley's short sleeved buttondown please let him try to lob one to Orson Charles, just once. I promise it will pay dividends.
Exorcise the Blackout demons. It's time. I'm not necessarily saying we go to Jacksonville in our knockoff Grambling uniforms. But I am saying that I'd like to see a game like the 2007 Auburn game, in which a Georgia team facing a top 10 opponent plays fast and loose rather than timid and tight. This Georgia team needs to get its swagger back, and if that means coming out in crazy camo Nike uniforms I think I'm ok with that.
Play some freshman offensive linemen. I've had to scratch my head recently at the reaction to Brent Benedict's decision to leave the football team. A lot of Bulldog fans have lamented the fact that "we lost another offensive lineman." The problem is that Benedict has never really recovered from the horrific knee injury that ended his high school career, one which I thought made him the most athletic offensive lineman Mark Richt had ever recruited. I don't really believe Benedict was really going to be a contributor this season.
But I can tell you who could contribute this season: Watts Dantzler, Zach Debell, David Andrews and Hunter Long. I don;t think any of these guys is going to come out of nowhere to start like Kenarious Gates did in 2010. But given our significant depth issues we need 1-2 of them to play now and start soon. It's scary to depend on freshman offensive linemen. But doing so would be an investment in the future of the unit that's been at the heart of Georgia's recent offensive inconsistency. With Cordy Glenn, Justin Anderson and Ben Jones graduating the time to find their replacements is right now. In this blogger's opinion, Dantzler in particular looks ready to contribute on September 3rd, even if it's in a limited role.
Blitz from the safety spot. I remember a time, long, long ago, when Brian Van Gorder roamed the Georgia Bulldog sideline. He coached a lot of great defensive football players, but two of the most fearsome were safeties Thomas Davis and Greg Blue. Davis and Blue were big, aggressive safeties who, truth be told, were not the best coverage guys out there. I've always said that Greg Blue never met a play fake he didn't like. But about twice per game, often late in tight contests, Van Gorder would bring one of those two guys on a well-timed safety blitz, and it did more to disrupt opposing quarterbacks than the best man coverage ever could.
Alec Ogletree reminds me of Blue and Davis. He's a physical force. And I want nothing more than for Kellen Moore and/or Stephen Garcia to meet him head on and early on a well-timed safety blitz right up the damned middle of the field. Because the thing about bringing a guy like Alec Ogletree or Thomas Davis is he only has to get there once for a quarterback to remember it for the rest of the game. Our defensive staff has shied away from the safety blitz in recent years, I think because of the fear that our cornerbacks would just get burned that much worse without safety help over the top. But with Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith and Sanders Commings all returning with significant experience we should be in a better position to take some chances.
Play John Jenkins at fullback. If you have not actually seen "Big" John Jenkins, it is impossible for me to adequately describe precisely how massive a human being he really is. I've seen bigger guys on a football field, but I don't know that I've ever seen a guy that big who moves the way he does. John Jenkins could be the goalline lead blocker from Hell, it's just a question of whether we want to ask him to do it in addition to anchoring the defensive front. I'm also intrigued by the possibility of 265 pound Bruce Figgins being the smaller blocking back in a full house backfield.
Again, your bold suggestions for 2011 are appreciated in the comments. Until later . . .