UGA Football

Tight ends weren't a focal point of UGA's passing attack in 2017. Will that change next season?

Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta reels in a pass.
Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta reels in a pass. The Telegraph

It seems to be a recurring question every off-season.

What will Georgia do to get the tight ends more involved on offense?

Perhaps in previous seasons that didn’t end as well, this was more of a concern. Following a 2017 season that ended with an appearance in the national championship, it is hard to argue that the Bulldogs did anything wrong as it pertained to the tight ends’ use in the passing game.

Georgia was a run-first team and needed its tight ends primarily as blockers. When Georgia did pass, quarterback Jake Fromm completed 62.2 percent of his throws. It just happened to be that his top four recipients were receivers (Javon Wims, Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley), followed by a running back (D’Andre Swift).

With Fromm a year older, perhaps the Bulldogs open up the aerial attack a little more. Then again, if the ground-and-pound attack works, why change it up?

Just because the tight ends weren’t heavily involved as receivers in 2017, it doesn’t mean the same will repeat itself.

That said, it will be interesting to see what Georgia does with the tight ends. Former position coach Shane Beamer left Georgia for a promotion at Oklahoma. There hasn’t been official word on who will preside over the tight end position group.

It is expected, however, for offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to spend more time with the tight ends, according to incoming recruit John FitzPatrick.

“They’re figuring it out after signing day, but Coach Chaney is going to work with tight ends for a little,” FitzPatrick said in January before the Touchdown Club of Atlanta end-of-season banquet. “That’s what I’ve heard. I’ve heard he’s going to be more hands-on with the tight ends.”

They left: Jeb Blazevich, Jordan Davis

They return: Isaac Nauta (Jr.), Charlie Woerner (Jr.), Jackson Harris (Sr.)

On the way: FitzPatrick, Luke Ford

What to watch: Nauta is entering his third season and is coming off of a season where he finished sixth on the team in receiving, with nine catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He can be used as a vertical threat, evidenced by his 41-yard touchdown grab against Mississippi State. If Georgia plans to get the tight ends more involved in the passing attack, Nauta could be the biggest beneficiary.

At the same time, Woerner is a mismatch nightmare in certain situations. A high school hurdler, Woerner leaped over a defender in Georgia’s win against Missouri. He has great speed for the position, too, which could force Georgia to look for some mismatches by splitting him out.

FitzPatrick and Ford will add depth to the mix now that Blazevich and Davis have graduated. Harris is also a quality tight end who can both block and catch well too.

Outlook: Georgia has no shortage of talent at this position, despite what the receiving stats may say. Georgia just didn’t need to throw the ball to the tight ends in 2017. If the run game continues to excel, that could be the same in 2018. If Fromm takes to the air more, then the tight ends should see more targets.