Fast Five: Striving for Balance

ATHENS - Georgia assistant coaches talk about the Bulldogs' upcoming matchup with Tennessee.

(One) Keep an eye on Tennessee’s receivers Saturday. They’re a dynamic group that Jeremy Pruitt says will be hard to prepare for this week.

Marquez North and Josh Smith have combined for 308 yards and three touchdowns on 24 catches this season. Led by North, a sophomore out of Charlotte, N.C., the Volunteers could be dangerous through the air.

“We don’t have anybody out here like these guys,” Pruitt said. “I feel like right now Tennessee has probably got as good a bunch of wide receivers as I’ve seen in a while and they’re all pretty young, too.”

Of course the Vols still have Pig Howard, who is infamous for the fumble he committed against Georgia in last year’s overtime loss for Tennessee. He may have that lingering over his head when he comes to Athens, but he’s still a target to watch with 13 receptions on the year.

“They have a lot of really good wide receivers,” Pruitt said. “They’re very deep there. They’ve been productive there.”

(Two) If you want to stay in the game, stay ‘in’ the game. In short, don’t fight for playing time, and then get ejected for targeting. Pruitt isn’t used to those sort of calls, and doesn’t plan on becoming that way.

“If J.J. would have brought his hands instead of leading with his shoulder we wouldn’t have had one then,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt and his defensive staff initially had Green at star, but Dominick Sanders has proven to be the top choice as of late. Because of that move, Pruitt chose to give Green a look somewhere else. But that can’t happen if Green leaves the game in the first quarter.

“You’d like for him to play 50 snaps to see a little more of him,” Pruitt said.

(Three) Don’t get too settled on Georgia’s defensive backs. There’s still no set rotation. It’s only Tuesday, meaning Pruitt could throw anybody out there at noon on Saturday.

“I think the way they practice this week will determine who plays,” Pruitt said. “I think we’re so young and so inexperienced (that) it’s kind of open competition every day. Everybody gets the same amount of reps and who performs during practice will play during the week.”

Georgia’s defense is focusing on what it wants to be, not what others say it should be.

“I would say yeah, we’re trying to create an identity. Have we established one yet? No, we have not,” Pruitt said. “We’ve got to sustain and play, and play at a high level for four quarters and we’ve not done that yet. We’re practicing harder. We’re doing a better job of that at practice, so I think by doing that it will eventually start showing up in the game. We’re creating the right habits.”

(Four) Georgia’s offense, however, is getting a tight grasp on its identity, and it’s not shy to run the ball.

It’s averaging 304 yards per game through three played, but won’t put all its eggs in one basket.

“I think it’s who we are,” Mike Bobo admitted. “I wouldn’t say we’re just a running football team. We’re still striving for balance. I think we’re probably 60/40. That may be a little bit more skewed now that we ran it a lot the second half of the last game, but we’ve kind of gone to the approach where we’re slowing the tempo down and personnel groupings and trying to figure out ways to run the ball. We feel like our best chance to move the ball is to get it in our backs’ hands, but at the same time have the ability to go fast and spread people out which we’re still going to do.”

(Five) Freshman tailback Sony Michel is averaging 10.3 yards a carry, and fellow freshman Nick Chubb isn’t far behind with an average of 9.5. Those stats may be surprising to some for true freshmen in the SEC, but not Bobo.

“(It’s) kind of a situation we’ve been in here at Georgia with injuries,” Bobo said. “It seems like we’ve had them at the skill positions the past few years and freshmen had to step in, and I think guys are more prepared when they come to college (with) what they do in high school. Guys are doing more and more at every level. They know more football when they get here.”


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