ATHENS — The most publicized action Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo takes part in during the offseason is recruiting.
This summer Bobo has been involved with numerous camps and taken part in a flurry of trips and visits and phone calls and text messages and emails.
And while the Bulldogs have enjoyed a successful haul, having already obtained 15 pledges, Bobo spends just as much time preparing with the players he’s already in charge of at Georgia.
Although the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette is still more than a month away, Bobo has been breaking down upcoming opponents all summer.
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“During the offseason we do a summer breakdown of every opponent that we play; some of it more in-depth than others,“ Bobo said. “We do a full breakdown on the first six opponents we face as an offense. We also do a full in-depth on the guys in the (SEC) East and Georgia Tech. Some guys in the West, like Auburn, we won’t do in-depth because it’s so late in the year, but we’ll do every team, watch film on them just like it’s game week.”
The hope is that the extra attention in the summer can lead to a critical breakthrough when the time comes to play a specific team in the fall. And while Bobo expects opposing coaches to add new wrinkles to their playbook, he says spending time in the summer helps to develop a profile, where tendencies and patterns can be derived.
During the season, Bobo will come back to his notes from the work he’s putting in now to help prepare a game plan.
“That week, we’ll pull it out and say, ‘OK, this is what we were thinking in the summer.’ It might change,” he said. “(The opponent) might be doing some different stuff defensively. We might be doing something different based on an injury or who came out as a playmaker. We try to look at every opponent and get some kind of plan but be willing to change it.”
Currently Bobo’s offense returns 10 starters. Perhaps the two most glaring aspects are the talent of junior receiver A.J. Green countered by the uneasiness of anticipating first-year starting quarterback Aaron Murray.
With Green entering his third season, many have tabbed him as one of the best players in the country. Bobo expects to use Green in many different fashions — perhaps even out of the backfield, as a running back or possibly take direct snaps in a Wildcat formation.
“That’s what you do as offensive coaches — you identify who you think the playmakers are and then you find a way to get them the ball, and obviously he’s our No. 1 guy,” Bobo said. “Really every game we go into it, we think, ‘How do we get A.J. the ball out of this set? Is there something new that we can do?’ Last year we were able to get it to him by moving him around. He played two different spots, whereas his freshman year he only played one. Now going into his junior year, he’ll probably be able to play three or four spots on the field at receiver which will help.”
In other words, expect Green to make an impact in a variety of ways.
As for Murray, Bobo doesn’t seem concerned over the lack of playing time or experience. Pointing to a veteran offensive line, two great tailbacks in Caleb King and Washaun Ealey and a talented receiving corps centering on Green to help ease, Bobo says the offense has plenty of help to ease Murray’s transition.
“The deal is you don’t want to try to be too complex because you have a freshman quarterback, who I have a tremendous amount of confidence in, and I think our team does too, but I hate to put it on his shoulders that he’s going to have to do it,” Bobo said. “We have to protect him and help him have some success early.”
In speaking with Murray, it’s easy to hear a little of Bobo as he points to the same offensive strengths to help alleviate stress.
“It takes a little pressure off just because I can rely on those guys,” Murray said. “We’re not going to go into games where the whole game is going to be on my shoulders. We’re going to have a great running game, and we’ll have some great receivers and some great tight ends. Coach Bobo always jokes with me that you’re going to be what Matthew Stafford was in 2007 when we won the Sugar Bowl. You’re going to have to show me what you can do and gradually earn more trust. What I’m going to have to do is continue to learn the defense and become a better quarterback. But it’s nice to have the guys around me who can make plays so I don’t have to be a superstar.”
So while Bobo is trying to secure the long-term future on the recruiting trail, he still keeps a vigilant thought process toward the immediate future. For a college coach, it’s all a part of the juggling act the offseason has become.
“Yeah, I mean especially this time of year every one is trying to find a story to tell,” punter Drew Butler said. “Everybody is working hard. Aaron is going to have to step up no matter what. Everyone is going to have to step up — receivers, the line, special teams, the defense. I think that’s kind of silly to say he’s going to have a lot of the burden on his shoulders, because I think everyone is going to if we want to achieve the goals we have set out. Like I said, we’ll be ready, and Aaron will be ready. If those things happen, we should be able to put some things together.”