Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
We've learned in the past half hour or so that Marlon Brown's career at the University of Georgia is over...Dawg Sports takes a quick look at what this means for the Dawgs moving forward.
Disclaimer: This is very much a stream of consciousness, quick reactions to the news post. More detailed analysis will follow in the coming days.
To begin with, I can't overstate how big of a loss this is for us. Losing Michael Bennett hurt, but having Brown essentially bailed us out a bit there, as both guys are tall, physical receivers, and given our depth at the position, we were able to simply plug and play a bit without losing too much ground. With this one, though, we really don't have another big bodied receiver to step in and fill the role that Brown and Bennett were performing for the offense. Per Richt, freshman Blake Tibbs is still on track to redshirt, so I don't think we'll see him play...Chris Conley has decent size (he's listed at 6'3" 205 lbs.) and can play big, but I think the media guide is being a little generous on his height, and it's still questionable whether he can play on a consistently elevated level when he's not simply a check down option. When Conley has made receptions over the past two years, they've largely been when other targets on the field were receiving significantly more attention from the defense...that will change now.
Our depth at the position still allows us to not necessarily be short-handed in our receiving corps, but it changes how we'll attack defenses. We still have two solid, top-tier receiving options in Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, but we're now without the big, physical receiver we've had all year. I think we're going to see our playbook change significantly with this...not only was Brown our biggest and likely most reliable receiver in terms of his hands, but he was also our best blocking receiver. That's twice now that we've lost a team leader in receptions due to an ACL injury, and it just so happens that both guys were our big bodied, third down security blanket, outstanding blocking receivers. We're going to have see to fewer multiple receiver sets. This season, more than any season before, we've seen Bobo opt to go with three wide receivers as opposed to two wide and a tight end, because we've had the luxury of having excellent blocking with Bennett and Brown, while not having to sacrifice athleticism...unfortunately, that luxury is now gone. If there's any bit of a bright side (and there's not much, to be clear), it's that the past couple of weeks have shown a little more willingness by Bobo to target the tight ends and get them involved in the game plan. We're going to have to move to having more tight end formations on the field, using either Lynch or Rome, or both...Rome seems to have progressed significantly this season, so he's got a chance to step up out of nowhere, a la Leonard Pope in 2004, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Arthur Lynch has also shown the ability to catch passes, but we've also seen him drop passes here and there as well, and by no means is he the type of guy who can beat coverage...to make a comparison, he's Tripp Chandler, whereas Jay Rome has the ability to be more of an Orson Charles.
Other than that, we will still see some three-wide receiver sets, but I think the days of the four-wide sets in the Georgia offense, while not extinct, are definitely on the endangered species list. Rantavious Wooten has a chance to make some plays, and he's a guy who's shown the ability to get open and find the holes in the zone, and he also has good hands. In terms of sheer bodies on the field, Rhett McGowan has looked solid as well, and he also has nice hands and does a good job of running sharp routes and getting open, but we're REALLY going to miss Brown's size and physicality. There's always Justin Scott-Wesley, but I've seen nothing from him so far that leads me to believe he'll be anything resembling a threat this year. After Wooten's touchdown yesterday, the camera showed Justin Scott-Wesley standing next to Rant on the sidelines, and my thought was 'man, that's a clean uniform Scott-Wesley has on...because he never sees the field.
This one hurts.