Offense's success is multifaceted

ATHENS, Ga. -- For Mike Bobo, explaining why Georgia’s offense is working is not a chicken-or-the-egg proposition.

Georgia’s offensive coordinator knows that his passing game would not function as well if his tailbacks and offensive line weren’t performing so successfully in the running game -- and vice versa -- so both facets of the offense working in concert is what has made the Bulldogs seem almost unstoppable in the last two games.

“I think it’s a combination of both,” Bobo said after Saturday night’s 48-3 win against Vanderbilt. “I think [quarterback Aaron] Murray’s doing a nice job of getting us in the right play and I think the line of scrimmage is a smart group that can recognize blitzes and stunts and get their hat placement right, and then we’ve got some talented backs that are breaking tackles and moving the pile.”

And the scoreboard is getting overloaded in the process. With each week the Bulldogs crack the 40-point barrier, establishing a new UGA scoring standard. The Vanderbilt game was the fourth straight in which Georgia accounted for 40 or more points -- the first time in the program’s 120-year history that such a streak has occurred.

Georgia coach Mark Richt spread around the credit for the point production to Jarvis Jones and his defense’s fourth-quarter takeaways two weeks ago at Missouri and to the Bulldogs’ special-teams units for not putting the offense in bad positions. But if any individual deserves special credit for the offense’s outbursts, it would be Murray.

The junior quarterback is so immersed in Georgia’s offensive game plan, Richt said, that he has free rein to change plays and blocking protections at the line of scrimmage and to spread the ball around to any receivers he might choose.

“You kind of start a guy out and you hope a guy can at least get you out of a bad situation into something good,” Richt said. “But after a while, you’ll get a guy that can get you from a good situation to a great situation. That’s where Aaron is right now.

“I don’t know if he can be more prepared than he is right now, as far as being able to handle anything in our system that we’re trying to accomplish.”

In last week’s blowout win against Florida Atlantic, Georgia posted a school-record 713 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs’ production dipped to 567 yards against Vanderbilt, although they averaged 7.8 yards per play in matching the program’s biggest margin of victory historically against the Commodores.

The Bulldogs have had a receiver with more than 100 yards in every game -- two such performances from Marlon Brown, who led the Bulldogs with five catches for 114 yards against Vandy, and one each from Tavarres King and Michael Bennett. Freshman tailback Todd Gurley has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of their four games, including 16 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Commodores, while Keith Marshall had 10 carries for 82 yards and two scores on Saturday.

“It’s crazy,” Brown said. “We’re just real balanced right now. We’ve got a great passing game and a good running game. It’s just like if you stack the box, we’ll pass the ball. If you spread it out, we’re going to run the ball.”

Meanwhile, Murray continues on a pace that could place him in contention for numerous postseason awards. A week after setting a new career high with 342 passing yards against FAU, Murray completed his first 12 passes against Vandy and finished 18-for-24 for 250 yards and two touchdowns.

With the third-year starting quarterback directing the offense so effectively through the air and the Gurley-Marshall tandem -- who have accounted for 427 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games -- working so well together on the ground, everyone comes out looking good in the process.

“It’s a testament to the coaches,” Marshall said. “They’re doing a great job and the offensive line is doing great and we have a great leader in Murray, so it’s kind of easy, I guess.”

The trick for Bobo at this point is not letting his team fall in love with itself over its early accomplishments. The season is just a third of the way over and, while his offense has exceeded his expectations thus far, he does not want anyone to feel satisfied with the early results.

The Bulldogs’ toughest defensive challenges still await them on the schedule, after all, and Bobo knows it will not always come so easily on offense.

“I’m glad we’re 4-0. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say we don’t want to score points and get yards because that’s a goal we have,” Bobo said. “But the bottom line is winning ballgames and getting better -- and that’s what I’m proud of is we’ve gotten better every week as an offense. That’s going to be the challenge for us as coaches and these players is to continue to get better because I do think we can improve.”