ATHENS - Last year it was the no-huddle. This year, the four-wide receiver spread seems to be the surprise offseason addition to Georgia's offense.
The Bulldogs didn't unveil it in the opener, understandably waiting until the SEC opener at Missouri. It took awhile to work, thanks to some protection problems and a slow start from quarterback Aaron Murray. But once it got going it was quite effective.
Now the question is how much it is used going forward. The coaches don't want to say too much yet, but indications from players are it could be a staple.
"With the success we've had with the spread, going four-wide, I think we're gonna get a lot more opportunities to play it," receiver Chris Conley said. "The more comfortable that (offensive) coach (Mike) Bobo gets with it, the more we've been running it in practice. We've been practicing it pretty heavily. So hopefully we'll get the opportunity to make those plays, and as long as we're still making them I think we'll still get some shots at it."
Here's one reason Georgia may favor the spread at the moment: The tight ends are less of a factor in the passing game so far. Jay Rome's 15-yard reception at Missouri is the only catch for one of them so far, with starter Arthur Lynch struggling a bit so far.
Meanwhile, the team feels it's loaded at receiver, even with Malcolm Mitchell on defense. Through two games, the quartet of Marlon Brown, Michael Bennett, Tavarres King and Rantavious Wooten has combined for 32 catches, 477 yards and six touchdowns. Conley, a sophomore, is off to a slower start but is also considered a good threat.
So the plan for Georgia would be to line up four receivers on the outside, and make the defense counter with either its third and fourth-best cornerbacks, or a linebacker who isn't as speedy.
"We have such huge mismatches," Murray said. "When you can put Marlon and Michael Bennett in the slots, and put them against linebackers and maybe DBs that are fourth on their depth chart. Like I said, Marlon and Bennett are starting receivers anywhere in the country, and when you put them against guys that just can't cover them, we create such huge mismatches. It really makes my job easy just to get them the ball."
Murray thinks they were in the four-receiver spread about 30 plays, and most of the second half.
Said Brown: "It was me, Rantavious, Tavarres and Mike Bennett. We're all on the field at the same time, so it's pick your poison. That's what Murray did."
The spread may have actually emanated organically, during preseason camp.
"We kind of experimented with it a little bit at first, and then in practice we started making plays," Brown said. "All of us started making plays at the same time, so we just kept it in."
Is there a sense that's not the last we'll see of it?
"Oh yeah, for sure," Brown said.