Last season, I wrote in this space how Georgia’s receivers struggled to block on the outside, but the root of the issue was size and personnel mismatches. Too often they’d try to spread the ball to the outside using screens with smaller receivers like Reggie Davis and Terry Godwin blocking in space. From the jump, Jim Chaney utilized larger receivers like Jayson Stanley, hybrid TE/WR Charlie Woerner, and, most notably, Michael Chigbu to spring Chubb and Brian Herrien to big runs.
Let’s start with Brian Herrien’s first collegiate carry—a well-executed 19-yard sweep for a touchdown to put Georgia on top 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
Blazevich motions across to create a strong alignment to the short side of the field. From there, he throws a down block to seal an edge and allow right tackle Greg Pyke to pull in the alley with fullback Christian Payne off his inside hip. Pyke takes care of the cornerback in the flat, while Payne cuts down UNC’s Andre Smith (#10) near the 10-yard line. But Jayson Stanley is also in the mix here, as he cuts off UNC linebacker Cole Holcomb (#36) near the hash mark on the 17-yard line (and subsequently flips Brandon Kublanow in the process).
One more time for Christian Payne…
The next play is Jacob Eason’s first career pass, a 23-yard flare to Terry Godwin.
Here, Blazevich runs his man off the ball while Chigbu takes a nice angle to seal off the Carolina defender.
Lastly, the back-breaking touchdown by Nick Chubb in the fourth quarter was set up again by superb blocking by Blazevich, Woerner, Pyke and Payne.
Blazevich comes in motion to crack block and provide a clean alley for the pulling Pyke and Payne to get out in space. Woerner solidifies the lane by driving his man off the ball and into the ground (check the next clip).
As Woerner knocks a defender to the ground, Payne picks up a defender at the 48 and blocks him to the 41, removing him from the play. Pyke takes the boundary corner out of the play, leaving one man for Chubb to beat. That’s a matchup he will take every day of the week. Once he sheds the final defender, it’s off to the races for the superhuman Chubb.
Freshmen gon' freshman
Sometimes freshmen don’t know the exact play.
Here, Charlie Woerner runs a route across the formation, only it’s a run up the middle. A Woerner block may have helped Chubb out some there, but by the time he turns around, it's a little late for that. This team is young, and naturally, mistakes will happen. The good news is the coaches weren’t afraid to keep him out there, and as noted in this space, his blocking overall was impressive. The future is bright for Woerner.
Smith snuffs out the screen
Sophomore linebacker Roquan Smith climbed his way up the depth chart with, by all accounts, an outstanding offseason and camp. He carried that momentum into his first start against North Carolina, and his play was one of the key reasons Georgia pulled off the 33-24 comeback victory. Smith was all over the field all night, but his most notable contribution was reading and reacting to a screen pass that led to a safety in the final minute of the third quarter.
His ability to detect and defend the screen (nevermind the poor play call from the Heels) in the endzone is remarkable here. He picks it up instantly and gets contact on tailback Elijah Hood before a screening lineman can get in his way. The line lets defensive tackle Daquan Hawkins-Muckle get through, but his speed, combined with Smith’s contact with Elijah Hood coming out of the backfield, causes Trubisky to hold on and scamble. In a panic, Trubisky gets the pass off to Hood, who has no option but to step out of bounds. This was a game-changing play by a young linebacker who seems poised to thrive in Mel Tucker’s defense this season.