Although the passing game clicked on all cylinders this past Saturday, receiver Malcolm Mitchell isn’t convinced teams will stray from defending Georgia's wideouts with single coverage.
Mitchell lit up South Carolina for eight catches, 122 yards and a touchdown in a 52-20 victory. Quarterback Greyson Lambert completed 24-of-25 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns, which signals the Bulldogs could be more balanced than initially thought. If teams want to take away the Georgia wideouts, that frees up Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the running game, which is averaging 256.7 yards each time out.
“You want to be careful of not having enough people in the box against us with the running backs we have,” Mitchell said. “I think it’ll continue. I don’t think they’ll have a reason, at least right now, to stop.”
If that’s the case, Mitchell hopes to take advantage of it. All receivers want to be single covered.
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Lambert said he never knows until game time what look a defense will present. But with what the Bulldogs have at the skill positions and offensive line, Lambert feels Georgia can take advantage of whatever a defense is trying to take away.
“If they stack the box we’ve got answers and if they play off we’ve got answers,” Lambert said. “It just depends on what they do and we’ll be moving at a tempo where it makes them decide quickly, and hopefully gives us an advantage hopefully.”
Georgia tight end Jeb Blazevich said last Saturday was a good step for this offense as it seeks balance.
“We’re trying to be that offense where if you stack too many in the box you can’t defend the pass,” Blazevich said. “If you defend the pass, you can’t defend the run. That’s what we’re aiming for. I don’t know if we’re there yet. I definitely don’t think we’ve reached what we can be. Thankfully, that’s what we have in our backfield right now and we’re trying to expand that into pass-to-run.”
As it stands, a performance such as last Saturday’s could force teams to alter how they approach Georgia. Through three games, defenses have loaded eight defenders in the box and forced Lambert to win with his arm. By making South Carolina pay dearly, defensive gameplans could suddenly be altered.
"I think they'll have to spread it out more on defense because they can't keep packing the box with eight people," Chubb said. "It leaves two corners and a safety. Our wideouts are doing a great job. Malcolm Mitchell is making plays. Reggie Davis, Terry Godwin, Isaiah McKenzie, they have to respect those guys, and respect Greyson a lot more than what they saw from the first two games. We're getting very balanced and that's a great thing."
Chubb has seen more than his fair share of eight-man boxes and would be thrilled to see it shrink some.
Mitchell, on the other hand, is OK with things staying the same. After all, the running game is still racking up yards with Mitchell not having to worry about being double covered.
“You hope to get singled up because it gives you more opportunities,” Mitchell said. “The ball can be placed at many different places. When you have more than one person on you the window’s very small. So you got single coverage, it’s an opportunity for you and the other guy to compete and say who’s better than who.”