Bulldogs unleash no-huddle look
Notebook: Offense getting off more plays, yardage totals improving each game
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia's new no-huddle offense already is accumulating some massive play totals, but the big guys up front don't seem to mind.
"We probably take 200 [snaps] at practice, so I think games are easier than practice, because of the amount of work," Georgia center Ben Jones said.
The Bulldogs ran 83 plays two weeks ago against Coastal Carolina and 82 last Saturday against Ole Miss. Those are the two highest play totals for a Georgia offense since the Bulldogs needed 84 plays to beat Purdue in overtime in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2004. One must go back another several weeks -- to a Nov. 22, 2003, win against Kentucky, when the Bulldogs also ran 84 plays -- to find a game where Georgia totaled more offensive snaps in regulation.
It didn't work particularly well against Boise State in the opener, when the Bulldogs gained 373 yards in a 35-21 loss, but they have since gained 436 yards against South Carolina, 470 against Coastal Carolina and 475 against Ole Miss.
"I think the whole offense, we've been doing it now since spring, all summer, fall now, so I think we feel great in it," Jones said. "Now when they tell us to huddle, we're like, 'Whoa, how do we do that?' because it's a little awkward now when they say huddle up, like on short yardage.
"Every once in a while, they'll slow everything down, and [quarterback Aaron] Murray has to tell us something, and he'll bring us in the huddle. But it's definitely changed because we're not expecting to huddle. Even after a penalty or anything, we're ready to roll."
Jones said the new offense occasionally has caught opponents off guard, which is one of the key objectives in quickening the pace.
"I think it's been working well for us." Jones said. "We've gotten a couple of big plays off the no-huddle. I know South Carolina, they didn't line up on one of the little screen passes to Isaiah [Crowell]. They were still in the huddle when we threw the pass, so that's definitely an advantage of having the no-huddle."
Jones was a subject of controversy in last season's loss to Mississippi State after being flagged for a late-game clipping penalty, in which he ran up behind Bulldogs defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and dove at his knees.
The play infuriated the head coach from both teams, with a furious Georgia coach Mark Richt giving Jones an earful immediately after the penalty and suspending his veteran center for the first half of the following week's game at Colorado.
Jones said he sent an apology in a letter to Cox after the game, but never received a response. They'll meet again Saturday, as Cox is one of the leaders of Mississippi State's defense.
"I wrote him a letter and sent it to him," Jones said. "It happened on the field, I felt bad when I got home, and I was like, 'Man, that's wrong.' If that had happened to one of my players, I'd have been hot. But I apologized, got it out of the way, sent it to him the next day, and hopefully that's gone and this is a new year."
Georgia linebacker Christian Robinson said he participated in about 20 plays in the Bulldogs' Monday walkthrough and hopes to play Saturday against Mississippi State.
"I'm not 100 percent, but I'm ready to see what they throw at me," Robinson said in his first interview since suffering a chipped bone in his left foot and a sprained ankle two weeks ago against South Carolina.
"He was able to get in that situation and do pretty well," Richt said. "We'll see if that has set him back or not, see how he feels [today] and he may get some time against the scout team. I don't think he would get much live work against the offense."
Richt added that another starting inside linebacker, Alec Ogletree, is making progress in his rehabilitation after a broken foot suffered three-plus weeks ago against Boise State. Ogletree should have an X-ray shortly, Richt said, to determine how the injury is healing. Team doctors initially said the injury would keep Ogletree out four to six weeks.
"He's really becoming pain-free in his foot when it comes to walking around," Richt said. "The only time he's been jogging has been underwater, to take a lot of the weight off of his foot when he's running, so we kind of keep him in condition that way. I believe he's going to get X-rayed pretty soon here just to see how that thing has healed up, and just to see how much further we can go."
Cornerback Derek Owens is transferring from Georgia to Cincinnati. The sophomore from Jacksonville, Fla., was academically ineligible for last year's Liberty Bowl and has played sparingly this season. He totaled two tackles in Georgia's first three games but did not play last week against Ole Miss.
Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo was named the College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Back of the Week on Monday after intercepting two passes in last Saturday's win against Ole Miss. ... The SEC announced on Monday afternoon that the Oct. 8 Georgia-Tennessee game in Knoxville will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will air on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. The televising network will be determined after this weekend's games have been played.
David Ching covers University of Georgia sports for DawgNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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