Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Mexico State Gameplan

By now everyone knows that Georgia will be without it's only four recruited scholarship running backs. It will also most likely be without Mitchell or Wooten at wide receiver. If Troupe returns that will leave Georgia with five scholarship wide receivers for Saturday's game.

The good news is that being a non-conference home game Georgia can dress out everyone who is available for the game. That means all options are on the table and the coaches don't have to decide on a "dress" list for the game. This is a game Georgia easily could have come out flat for after the emotional win against Florida and with Auburn on the horizon. With being as short handed as they will be it will keep the offense focused as they know the players left have to pick up the slack. Grantham will also most likely convince the defense that the offense will struggle without any running backs and that it will be entirely on them to win the game. With no suspension or injuries on the defensive side of the ball they will be at 100% at the start of a game for the first all year. That is a scary thought considering how they have been playing while missing players.

So what are the options for the offense? The most basic option is to keep things relatively the same and have a next man up philosphy. That would mean running the same plays but with different players. The next guys in line at running back are walkons Kyle Karempelis, Brandon Harton, and Wes Van Dyk. According to ESPN's recruiting site Karempelis is an under recruited 2* running back. Their scouting report says he has great quickness but not top end speed. He runs hard for a 5'9" 180lb running back and finishes runs well. They also report that he has great cut back ability. According to their scout he could have been a good mid-major pickup. Considering New Mexico State is a mid-level mid-major he should be able to have some success behind an SEC line, even though it is not a great one, against a mid-major defense that is giving up 214 yards per game. That is more than any team Georgia has or will play all year except Ole Miss. Karempelis finished his high school career with 5756 yards rushing and 93 TD's. Brandon Harton is only 5'6" 174lbs but has shown flashes in practice, the spring game, and against Coastal Carolina that he has very good speed. His best run against Coastal Carolina was called back for a hold or he would have a 30 yard TD to his credit. Van Dyk is a senior who has only 1 carry on the season but he brings a bit more size than the other two running backs that are left at 6' 203lbs. He is a senior and so he should know the system well so his ability to pass block should be furthest along.

The second option is to move some people around to get the best talent on the field. Bobo mentioned Zander Ogletree, Damian Swann and Nick Marshall each by name but also said that there might be a surprise. It would be no surprise if Smith or Boykin took a few snaps at running back as both have played there at times this season. Swann, Marshall, Smith and Boykin would each offer a great deal of athletism to the position and be a home run threat each time they touched the ball. Ogletree could provide the tough inside yards as he is more physical than the other options so he could be the short yardage guy. Marshall having played quarterback in high school could run some wildcat plays and also gives the threat of a halfback pass. He was rated a 3 star recruit at QB by ESPN. He is a great athlete that is also expected to play basketball at Georgia so he could be a threat out of the back field at 6'1". I wouldn't expect Smith or Boykin to carry the ball too many times despite having the most experience because of the need for them on defense and the fact that the coaches don't want them banged up for the game against AU. The only way I see them playing a good number of snaps on offense is if Georgia is really struggling to move the ball. Marshall and Swann play far fewer snaps on defense and therefore could see a lot of time on the offensive side of the ball if they show they can handle it early on.

The one position on offense that has tons of talent and depth is tight end. To fill in the snaps lost by the running backs Georgia could go to two and even three tight ends as needed. They can do this from a bulk perspective to provide more blocking for the running game but can also use White and Charles as passing threats from the tight end position. They can even spread them out into the slot if they decide to go four wide to help keep the receivers fresh. With a four wide set Figgins and Ogletree can provide quailty blocking in the single back set as well as the threat of catching the ball out of the back field so that New Mexico State will still have to account for them. It is possible Georgia will use the single back set and have the FB in the set provide blocking for Murray so that it almost like an I formation to take advantage of Murray's ability to run. I don't expect to see that unless the team is struggling so as to protect Murray for next week's game.

There are a variety of ways the coaches can cover up for the loss of so many running backs. My guess is that Georgia will use a combination of all of them to try and keep the Aggies of balance. Georgia may decide to throw the ball all over the field but I expect that they will attempt, at least unless it proves to not be working, to run the ball to take advantage of the weak New Mexico State rushing defense.

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