ATHENS, Ga. -- Mike Bobo has dealt with personnel issues in seven seasons as Georgia's offensive play-caller, but never anything like this year.
At one point, the Bulldogs had to function with receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall all out for the season, as well as with tailback Todd Gurley and receiver Michael Bennett temporarily sidelined. The result was back-to-back losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, with the Bulldogs' formerly high-scoring offense lacking its usual punch.
Gurley returned in last week's 23-20 win against Florida and produced 187 yards of offense, even if he was clearly not operating at 100 percent. Nonethelesss, he and Bennett are back in the lineup and the Bulldogs' offense is inching closer to becoming as healthy as it can be for this season's stretch run.
Bobo discussed the issues the injuries created and how the Bulldogs might return to their high-scoring ways in this week's Q&A. Here's what he had to say:
Q: Aside from Gurley being back, what was the difference in the offense's improvement from Vanderbilt to Florida?
Mike Bobo: Obviously the off week helped. It gave us a chance to improve with the guys that were out there. We talked those two weeks about trust, and I think you saw a level of trust in the players that were out there, Rhett McGowan] and Brendan Douglas and just playing ball and guys laying it on the line. I'd say that would be one thing.
Q: How does Todd make your job easier?
MB: Well, he's a difference-maker. You get a guy in space and you never have the perfect call, but when you do sometimes and you've got a chance to score, he has the ability to take it to the house. There was that safety [on Gurley's 73-yard touchdown catch against Florida] and some guys might get tackled, but instead of a 25-yard gain, it was however long it was and a touchdown. If it's a 25-yard gain, great play. But then you've got to execute even more times against a very good defense. To have that explosive play and get a touchdown is a big difference.
Q: Has this season been your most challenging since you became a play-caller?
MB: With the injuries, we've had to do a lot of adjustments and change a lot of things that we've done, and it's kind of been week-to-week. The consistency of who's out there kind of affects what you do offensively. To be honest, it's been a fun one, too, because there are a lot of guys who had opportunities to make plays that might not even have been on our field in practice. They'd have been on the scout team. And it's good to see those guys succeed, to be honest.
Q: If you were going to put a finger on something that you might have done different in October, is there something you think might have made a difference?
MB: I would say probably preaching more about believing and trusting in what we got, and let's go play. That would be the No. 1 thing.
Q: What's the most important factor in the offense looking like what we saw early in the year as you guys hit the stretch run?
MB: After that Vanderbilt game, we really talked about improving and getting better and back to the basics. We've really got to work hard at the little things because there's new guys, there's not a lot of continuity and continuing to do that. Sometimes when it's later in the season, you might taper off a little bit. I think where we're at, getting some guys back, we've kind of got to ramp it back up and make sure we're all on the same page and not take anything for granted. Whereas in some years past, it might be, 'OK, these guys have got a lot of cumulative reps.' Well, guys like Bennett and Gurley don't have those cumulative reps from all the time they missed, so we've got to make up that time and make sure everybody's on the same page when the game gets here.