Give Georgia’s offense credit

September 29, 2012 

ATHENS -- Georgia’s offense made the scoreboard go nuts again Saturday. A team that averaged 47.5 points per game in the first four games of the season put up 51 on Tennessee.

The Bulldogs scored 48 points last week, but you knew they won the game over Vanderbilt with defense.

This week was a different story.

Georgia’s defense, mentioned in the same breath with Alabama and LSU, wasn’t the same this week. Sure, Tennessee scored one touchdown on an interception and then two scores in the second quarter after Georgia fumbled. But the defense just wasn’t as dominant as it had been.

The offense saved the Bulldogs this week.

Defense wins championships. And if Georgia does anything special this year, that might be the cliché we use to understand why. But sooner or later, we might need to recognize what Georgia is doing on offense.

When a team scores 40 points or more in five straight games, the offense is doing something right.

Quarterback Aaron Murray is not perfect, as his interception proved, but he’s pretty accurate. It helps that he has two tremendous running backs and perhaps the best depth at wide receiver for Georgia in years.

Murray gives credit for all the yards, and all the offense, to the offensive line.

“They are the main reason,” Murray said. “You can have all the talent in the world at receivers and running back, but if I don’t have time to throw the ball and those lanes aren’t open, it doesn’t matter. Those lanes are huge. I have plenty of time in the pocket. So it starts with those big guys up front.”

Murray is right. David Andrews, Dallas Lee, Kenarious Gates, Chris Burnette and John Theus are doing much better than anyone expected. That group includes two new starters, including a true freshman, making Murray’s life easier.

But it certainly helps having a duo at running back like Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, two freshmen who combined for 294 yards and five touchdowns. Both were given all the stars you can give a player in recruiting, but to expect something this special is surprising to even the people who believed in them the most.

“You never know. We thought they were great players coming out of high school, but you never know how the guy is going to adapt to learning an offense, to now going to school with the class load,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “But these guys work extremely hard, and they make plays. When they get into an open field, they make plays.”

“When it comes to athletic ability, they’re unbelievable,” Murray said.

We all knew Tennessee had the offensive skill players to possibly put up some points, even on the Georgia defense. But the only test Tennessee had on defense this season was against Florida, and the Gators, even with their questions on offense, scored 37 points on the Volunteers.

So it’s not like the Bulldogs scored all these points Saturday against Alabama. And sure, Georgia’s first four opponents will probably never be compared to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain defenses of years past.

But scoring points is scoring points. No team has proven it can stop Georgia’s offense. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But the improvements are obvious, regardless of the competition.

Bobo has been the fans’ punching bag for several years. Mark Richt is too nice to get mad at when things don’t go well for Georgia, so Bobo has had to take the hits. Even though there are still a few play calls that fans shake their heads at, Bobo deserves credit for this explosive offense.

And look at what his group did Saturday. It wasn’t perfect, with three turnovers that almost cost Georgia the game. But Georgia bounced right back after the game was tied at halftime and racked up 21 more points and 228 more yards.

“I’m glad we won, but I like when we have adversity and how we handle adversity,” Bobo said. “For us to do that in this ballgame, that’s twice now we’ve handled a little bit of adversity and things not going our way, and to answer, that’s only going to build confidence.”

The Bulldogs will need confidence this week when they take on South Carolina. The Gamecocks have two very good defensive ends who could create the most trouble Georgia has faced all season. But with the way Murray and his running backs are playing, you almost have to see someone stop them to believe it will happen.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill on Twitter@yahoo.com.

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