Bulldogs Beat

Mark Richt looks for balance from Georgia offense

Georgia running back Keith Marshall (4) makes his way into the end zone on a 3-yard run in the second quarter Saturday to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead over Louisiana-Monroe.
Georgia running back Keith Marshall (4) makes his way into the end zone on a 3-yard run in the second quarter Saturday to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead over Louisiana-Monroe. bcabell@macon.com

ATHENS -- Georgia head coach Mark Richt expects his offense to be balanced this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the Bulldogs’ offense -- one that threw 14 passes and ran the ball 38 times against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday -- has any plans to get that ratio closer to 50-50.

“If people just overload us in the run game, we’ve got to be able to throw it well and vice versa,” Richt said. “People just start playing two-deep and start playing coverage on us and doubling the receivers and things of that nature, we’d better be able to run the ball well. That’s what I consider, the ability to handle those situations is balance for me.”

Granted, running the ball on 73 percent of offensive snaps is most likely an exaggeration of what the Georgia offense should bring in 2015.

Although the three-headed backfield of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall is capable of carrying the load to that extent, it was much more about what Georgia needed to do to win Saturday, along with some gamesmanship -- showing as little of the offense as possible for opponents later in the season.

“I think we’ll call plays as needed,” senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell said. “I think if we don’t need specific plays, there’s no reason to call it to show other teams early. So whatever situation arises, I think we’ll have a play for it.”

For Georgia, this strategy means doing what it does best first, which is running the football, and throwing it second.

“We run the ball at Georgia, so I think that’s what we’re going to do,” junior center Brandon Kublanow said.

“We’re always going to run the ball,” Chubb said. “But we’re going to throw the ball a lot more this year, too.”

Richt’s style of “balance” asks a much different role of junior transfer quarterback Greyson Lambert. In Lambert’s final six games at Virginia, he threw the ball less than 30 times just once, his only win in those six games.

Now, Lambert will be asked to be more of a game manager, a term he doesn’t like but a role he wholeheartedly embraces.

“It’s a bad term, but when we’ve got guys like we have, my goal is to get us in the best play possible and get the ball in their hands,” Lambert said. “As a quarterback, honestly, I feel like we’re supposed to manage the game, however we do that, people do that in different ways. Sometimes we’ll spread it out, sometimes we’ll ground and pound. However we have to play to win the football game is kind of our job.”

But it isn’t too far of a stretch to imagine a Georgia offense that’s a little more balanced.

Just two years ago with Aaron Murray at the helm, the Bulldogs threw the ball 459 times and ran it 486 times. But Murray was a four-year starter who had proven that he could lead Georgia to wins through the air, as well as handing it off.

For Lambert to get that opportunity, teams will have to show that they can stop the run first.

“I think a game where they stack the box and are primarily worried about our run game, that’s when we’ll have to switch it up,” Mitchell said. “And even then, Chubb, Sony, Keith, Brendan (Douglas), they’re still going to get their yards. Good luck stopping them. If someone does a good job at that, we’ll have to air it out.”