Word slipped out a little bit through Georgia’s closed practices this preseason that the Bulldogs were going to do more no-huddle on offense, but quarterback Aaron Murray wasn’t biting a few days before the Boise State opener.
David Manning/Staff Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (11) reacts after a false start penalty last Saturday against Boise State.
“The no-huddle is mostly for the one-minute drill and two-minute drill at the end of the halves and the end of games,” Murray insisted.
His coach, Mark Richt, probably would have liked that answer.
Earlier in the preseason when asked how many players would be back on kickoff returns, Richt laughed and called that “classified information.”
Georgia actually unveiled plenty of no-huddle in its 35-21 loss to Boise State Saturday with some rough edges.
The Bulldogs had four first downs in a first half that began inauspiciously with a couple of false start penalties from tackle Justin Anderson and a delay of game flag on a punt.
Murray threw a pair of touchdown passes in the game, but lived dangerously from the spread, shotgun looks as the Bulldogs tried to go to a faster tempo and get players in space.
“We never really got in a rhythm,” tight end Orson Charles said.
Murray was sacked six times, including five times on third-and-long, three of which came in four-receiver sets. He also was intercepted on third down in a four-wide set.
Georgia finished with 373 yards, 17 less than Boise State, and coaches have said they aren’t planning on abandoning the no-huddle.
“I think we’ll continue to do that,” Richt said. “No matter what you do offensively whether you go no-huddle or not, you’ve got to execute. You’ve got to get first downs, you’ve got to make plays.”
Georgia rushed for 137 yards, but more than half of those came on cornerback Brandon Boykin’s 80-yard touchdown run.
The reason for the change to the no-huddle?
“Well we wanted to get more plays, which we didn’t do on Saturday,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “But we’re committed to doing it, and more plays equals more opportunities, and more chances to score.”
The changes come a season after Georgia set a school record with seven straight games with 30 or more points (against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Florida, Idaho State, Auburn and Georgia Tech) despite a 6-7 finish.
Georgia ranked last in the Southeastern Conference last season in total offensive plays. The Bulldogs averaged 62.6 per game. Alabama wasn’t far away at 63.8
Georgia ran 60 offensive plays against Boise State. The Bulldogs had less than that in three of their losses last season. Georgia ran 47 offensive plays against South Carolina, 52 against Auburn and 59 against Colorado.
“We’re trying to get going a little faster,” Murray said. “We just want more plays pretty much. … We’re trying to get 80 and 90. We believe you get more plays in, more chances for more guys to touch the ball, more chances to score points. That’s why we’re speeding things up. … We still have the same plays, the same formations, we’re just speeding it up a little.”
Bobo returned to the pressbox level Saturday for the first time since October 2009 to call plays. That gave him the chance to view the defense before he made a call.
Georgia’s no-huddle wasn’t at a rapid tempo. Murray would line up and look toward the sideline for a signal.
“About 90 percent of America’s doing that,” Richt said of going no-huddle. “The goal in that situation is to get a good feel of what they might be doing.”
“It’s the first game,” receiver Tavarres King said. “You’re adjusting to their speed and you’re adjusting to what they have to do. Coach Bobo has to adjust to what the defense is running. It’s the first game, it’s our first game in it. I don’t have any worries at all about the offense. I think we’re going to execute pretty well.”