ATHENS -- Mike Bobo is not doing a victory lap quite yet. He might never do that. The once-beleaguered Georgia offensive coordinator is now back to being praised, but he claims to have no desire to speak back to critics.
No, no not at all, Bobo said after Tuesdays practice, not changing expression. And like I said at the beginning of the season, all I can do is get ready each week, to get our guys ready to play and get them believing in what were doing offensively. And if they believe, I believe weve got a chance.
They believe, and No. 5 Georgia has so far ridden the offense -- a surprisingly creative offense -- to a 4-0 start.
Georgias offense has drawn plenty of criticism from Bulldogs fans, as well as some media, in recent years. Last year, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, after watching film, called it vanilla.
But the offense has looked pretty colorful lately.
First, Georgia unveiled a spread formation -- lining up four and sometimes five receivers in what is sometimes called the rifle formation. Then the Bulldogs also brought out the pistol formation, where the quarterback lines up in a shotgun with the tailback right behind him.
Senior receiver Marlon Brown recalled the summer practice when Bobo revealed the new wrinkles.
When he called rifle, I was like, Were doing rifle this year? Were going four wide this year? And everybody was real happy, Brown said, grinning. At first, I thought he was experimenting, but when we kept doing it in practice, I was like, Its in the playbook now. And in the second half at Missouri, we started calling it a little more, and it started working.
Then came the pistol formation the following week against Florida Atlantic.
It was out of nowhere for us, Brown said. We were walking through the plays, and Bobo signaled some signal, and I was like, What was that? (Bobo said) Its the pistol.
Like pistol, with the running back behind the quarterback? OK, its something different.
So, Brown is asked, whats gotten into Bobo?
I dont know, but I like it, whatever it is, he said.
And its working to near-perfection. Consider:
Through four games, Georgia leads the SEC in scoring offense and total yards.
The Bulldogs are on pace to set a program record for scoring this season. The all-time points-per-game average for Georgia is 37.2 in 1946, in a 10-game season. Breaking that mark still seems a stretch, but the modern mark -- 32.1 per game in 2002 -- is attainable.
Bobos offense has racked up 40-plus points in four straight games for the first time in program history.
You run an offense based on what you have, quarterback Aaron Murray said. And if we have tons of receivers, which we do, you want to spread teams out and be able to use your weapons. And if you dont have a lot of receivers, you know youre gonna have to be in the I. I think right now, we have so many options, so much talent, he has the ability to spread things out and try new things. And were trying stuff all the time -- (Monday) we were trying new things.
Even the Georgia defensive players have taken notice of the new offensive chicanery.
Coach (Todd) Grantham is having to reel us back in because were tilting to the side, trying to see whats happening, linebacker Christian Robinson said.
This all followed last years re-introduction of the no-huddle offense. That actually wasnt completely new at Georgia. Head coach Mark Richt tried to bring with him from Florida State in 2001, but he abandoned it.
Back then, there was a little different attitude towards it, I thought. I thought that the Southeastern Conference in general wasnt wanting to embrace it much, and I felt like even the officiating -- they werent in a hurry to set the ball down and go, Richt said. Now, everybody has bought in, and it seems like if you want to go fast, you can go fast.
After the 2010 season, when Georgia finished 6-7, Richt mentioned that he planned to study ways to become more cutting edge. That didnt mean inventing a new offense, but it did mean borrowing ideas to make the offense less vanilla.
Were like anybody else. Were going to watch people do what they do and try to learn why they do it, Richt said When you first start seeing people in the pistol, you are kind of wondering why. Then after you experience it a little bit or study it a little bit and see the advantages of it, its worth doing.
But Bobo insists the inspiration for the new wrinkles was simply a reaction to personnel. The strength of the team was going to be at quarterback and receiver, so he geared the scheme to that.
The biggest thing is, you dont wanna do so much that your guys cant execute it, Bobo said. If we can handle it as an offense, then were gonna do it. You want them to have a chance to be successful and not just run plays, because, Hey, that scheme works. Scheme will sometimes get you beat if your guys dont know what youre doing.