Georgia’s Running Game is an Embarrassment
I turned 31 last week. Tough pill to swallow. Every year I feel a little bit older, but the LSU game really aged me. You see, I’m old enough to remember when Georgia was a nationally relevant football program. I’m something of a dying breed in that regard.
Kirby Smart, so it seems, has ruined Georgia football. Even among his true peers – programs who have changed coaches recently – he looks bad. He’s lost to Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida and now LSU in his incredibly brief tenure. Not exactly a murderer’s row of quality opposition.
Frankly, the state of Georgia football is so dire heading into the annual tilt with Florida in Jacksonville that I can’t in good conscience preview the game itself. We already know how that’s going to end up. In lieu of a preview and a prediction, here’s a step-back look at the season so far.
Over the next few days I’m going to power rank the worst parts of the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs. As a word of disclaimer, Kirby Smart is clearly the worst facet of this program. As such, you could list him in every single one of these spots. But these are the single components that have been most disappointing thus far. Today, I’ll start with the running game.
Heading into the season, we knew the running game might need some fine-tuning. One doesn’t simply “replace” Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Those guys don’t grow on trees. And they apparently don’t grow on Georgia’s roster either.
Last year, Georgia led the Southeastern Conference with 3,876 rushing yards (no other school was within 375 yards of that total). Currently, Georgia doesn’t even lead Georgia in rushing yards. Seriously, the Bulldogs trail both Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern in rushing yards. Tech’s racked up 2,476 yards on the ground; Georgia Southern sits at 1,929; UGA is at 1,584. Within the SEC, Georgia trails Alabama (1,735), Mississippi State (1,645) and Kentucky (1,621). Among the national powerhouses with stronger running games than Georgia: Every service academy (Army, Navy and Air Force), Coastal Carolina, Western Michigan, Cincinnati, Troy, UNLV, Louisiana-Lafayette and UAB.
What in the name of Herschel is going on? Honestly, I’m not sure. Neither is Kirby Smart, apparently, because he has no idea who to run. The Bulldogs are averaging 5.8 yards per attempt, which is a halfway-decent total. Part of the problem, however, is the Dawgs’ refusal to give the ball to the most talented runners on the team. Elijah Holyfield is having an okay-ish season and has racked up 7.5 yards per attempt, but four runners have averaged more yards per attempt than Holyfield. Unfortunately, those four runners have been given just 28 carries. Georgia is running the ball with the wrong people.
|Player||Carries This Year||Yards Per Attempt||Appropriately Used?|
|D’Andre Swift||71||5.1||Way too many carries|
|Elijah Holyfield||65||7.5||Too many carries|
|Brian Herrien||30||5.9||Way too many carries|
|James Cook||30||5.5||Too many carries|
|Justin Fields||18||7.6||Not enough carries|
|Mecole Hardman||4||9.0||Not enough carries|
|Demetris Robertson||3||32.3||Not enough carries|
|Tyler Simmons||3||26.7||Not enough Carries|
If Georgia gave the most carries (Swift’s 71) to its best runner (Demetris Robertson) and so on and so forth, the totals above would look like this:
|Player||Revised Carries||Yards Per Attempt||Total Yards|
Georgia has left nearly 3,200 yards on the table (3.176) by not appropriately allocating carries. That may not seem like a lot to Kirby Smart, but an extra 454 rushing yards per contest would be really helpful if you’re trying to win football games.
At the end of the day, that comes down to coaching.
Until next time,
The Kirby Smart Hater