The ability to do anything at any time and to do it well is all any offense can ask for. It is rarely achieved, however.
One of the ways Georgia manages to get the most out of their offense is by lining up with a pair of tight ends that allows them to seamlessly flit from from a dynamic running team to an optimized passing team. And they do it in the matter of seconds.
Tight ends Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington give the Bulldogs freedom of movement because Bowers can move like a receiver and Washington can block like an offensive lineman.
Bowers leads Georgia with 52 receptions for 726 yards and six touchdowns. He can lineup attached to the offensive line, flex into the slot, or even go all the way out wide. And if he’s being defended by a safety, that safety better be ready for a fight.
Washington, meanwhile, has caught 26 passes for 417 yards and two touchdowns this season. He doesn’t get targeted as much as Bowers, but that’s because he’s the one who does the targeting in this Georgia offense. Washington can be a lead blocker in a power running attack. He can pull, he can push, he is a unique machine.
When people discuss the Bulldog offense, it generally begins with the effectiveness of the tight ends. Ohio State’s defense will attempt to negate their versatility in Saturday’s Peach Bowl playoff game, but it will require a large amount of effort.
“Fundamentally sound, really important, right?” said OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles about what Ohio State must do to combat the UGA offense. “Because you need to be strong on your edges. Because they’ll attack you there on the on the edge of the defense. Eyes in the right place. The fundamentals of defense are so important with an offense like this, because you’re going to have to defend everything all the time.
“You need to have enough change ups to keep them off balance and guessing, but not too many, right? Because the more you put yourself in various positions, then you have various people doing various jobs, you know what I mean? So that’s where it can get tricky. Their tight ends are real good. And yet, a lot of times they’re running wide open. So I mean, how does that happen? Right? So that’s what you have to look at. You have to look at ‘okay, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to us.'”
Fundamentals will be key, as always, especially when Georgia goes up-tempo on offense. Their ability to go from running team to passing team because of their personnel makes them especially dangerous when the defense barely has time to get set.
“Yeah, it is difficult,” said OSU middle linebacker Tommy Eichenberg of Georgia’s up-tempo attack. “But I know we’ve practiced it. So I trust my training with that.”
For Eichenberg, getting his teammates lined up before the snap while facing an offense that could run just as easily as it could throw is part of the job. Unlike some offenses, Georgia doesn’t have a tell. Just because they have an extra tight end on the field doesn’t mean they’re going to run the ball.
But it might.
How will Knowles try to help Eichenberg handle the Bulldogs when they’re going fast?
“Tommy, just the way he’s been trained from the beginning, he’s been trained in this system to be to be quick and fast with the call,” Knowles explained. “You don’t do that in one preparation. That’s from the start.”
This will be the best up-tempo attack that Ohio State has seen. And not because it’s always up-tempo, but because it’s up-tempo at the right times.
“I think they do it more effectively,” Eichenberg said. “It’s a good offensive technique. If I were to be an OC I would probably do that too.”