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The Georgia Offense Without Todd Gurley: What Are Mike Bobo's Options?

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Scott Cunningham

Now that the initial shock has worn off (okay, not really) it's time to ask ourselves the question which Mark Richt and Mike Bobo have probably (we hope) been asking themselves for some time now: what does a Georgia Bulldog offense without Todd Gurley look like?

There are no good answers. Gurley had emerged as the front runner for the Heisman Trophy according to Vegas and many in the media. You don't replace the most dominant Red and Black running back since Herschel Walker. Can't be done. Won't be done.

This cannot be stressed enough: Gurley's suspension is indefinite, though there can't possibly be a crappier time for something like this to come down than within 24 hours of buses pulling out to travel to the biggest road game of the season. The odds of this getting cleared up before noon Saturday are functionally nil.

So we have to look for alternatives. At tailback the answer is obviously Nick Chubb, whose broken thumb should be pretty well healed by now. There's also Brendan Douglas, who's probably as good a fifth string tailback as any in America (he said through the tears at the thought of playing the fifth string tailback). Chubb has shown some ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (including a touchdown reception against Tennessee on which Hutson Mason said after the game he ran the wrong route, but let's not split hairs. . .).

Isaiah McKenzie of course has been used in the Wild Dawg package with some success, though at 5 foot {mumble. mumble} and one hundred and {cough, cough} pounds he's not exactly the Gurl-noceros back there. And Brendan Douglas would seem to be a candidate for that package on short yardage situations. But there's no doubt that a Wild Dawg without Gurley is far less nuanced, and far less dangerous.

At the macro level, this probably means that Georgia has to lean on Hutson Mason a little. How much is a good question. One hopes that Mike Bobo has known that this was coming and has game-planned at least a little for it over the past 12/24/48 hours.

If you're looking for a silver lining (and Hell, at this point who isn't?) it might be that Missouri can now pretty much incinerate their defensive game plan. There's really no telling what Georgia does on Saturday. Treat Nick Chubb like some sort of Todd Gurley lite? Go no huddle, five wides, Varsity Blues "I don't want your liifffeee!!!!"

I suspect what we'll see is Hutson Mason throwing screens, slants and 10 yard outs, with Chubb and Douglas running it enough to keep Missouri in the box. Quayvon Hicks could be a huge help in this situation, I just don't trust Mike Bobo enough to run the fullback dive more than twice in a 60 minute period. I don't foresee Taylor Maxey getting significant carries, either.

Jeb Blazevich's emergence as a reliable target over the past three weeks now looks a lot more fortunate. Justin Scott-Wesley's return also gives the Bulldog offense another guy with the potential to take it to the house.* In sum, the Georgia offense isn't without weapons. But I continue to worry about Hutson Mason's ability to get the ball to them in a position to do something explosive with it. And now, the cavalry ain't coming through the line in the form of #3 if he can't.

This hurts. There's no way around it. You don't lose the third leading rusher in school history and just go on like nothing ever happened. But go on we must. This is about to be either Mike Bobo and Hutson Mason's finest hour, or Exhibit A at the Twitter/message board kangaroo trial of both. We'll know in about 44 hours. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!

*Again, screens, screens, screens.Tunnel screens. Slip screens. Jim Donnan's going to have to watch this one with something covering his pants.