Can Georgia use the fastbreak offense?

ATHENS -- When most Georgia fans heard that Mark Richt was coming to coach the Bulldogs, their mind immediately filled with visions of his fastbreak offense.

Mark Richt's offenses at Florida State finished in the nation's top five in scoring in four of his last six seasons in Tallahassee, Fla., and he gained his first national acclaim with the no-huddle offense run by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Charlie Ward.

So why, with the No. 12 Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1 SEC) struggling to score points in the red zone, or at all against LSU, has Georgia used the no-huddle on just one series this season?

Georgia, which has an open date this Saturday and returns to the field on Oct. 4 against Alabama, is eighth in the SEC in scoring offense (25 ppg) and sixth in the league in total offense (416.8 ypg).

"I love no-huddling, but there are a lot of issues," Richt said.

The first among them is a lack of depth at wide receiver. Georgia was considering using the no-huddle last week against the Tigers until sophomore Mario Raley sprained ligaments in his foot on the Tuesday before the game. With Fred Gibson already out due to a hamstring injury, that left Georgia too thin to no-huddle, Richt said.

Georgia needs a minimum of six receivers to run the no-huddle and eight is preferable, he said. If Gibson and Raley are healthy, the Bulldogs have six who they feel are game-ready. This week, Richt used the subject of the vanishing no-huddle to make a generic recruiting pitch.

"When we get enough great receivers in town, we can start doing some good with that," he said.

Georgia has offered two of the Nation's top receivers that are within the state lines -- Sandy Creek's Calvin Johnson and Newnan's Demiko Goodman -- but Georgia doesn't have a verbal commitment from any receivers yet.

The Bulldogs had enough healthy receivers to no-huddle against Clemson, Richt said, but decided not to because he game was played in the midday heat and Georgia's defense was shorthanded.

"Even if you score fast, the defense is back on the field in a hurry," he said.

Another chilling factor, one that Richt says he has come to terms with, is the officiating in the SEC. The rules stipulate that when the offense changes personnel, the defense must have time to respond. How much time is enough is not spelled out, and Richt felt when he came to Athens three years ago that SEC officials were giving the defense more time than ACC officials had.

"My feeling was that once (the official started the 25-second clock) we should be able to snap the ball," he said. "The ball has been put in play, but, if we snap the ball before they made their change, then we get penalized."

Eventually, Richt said, he began to feel that the league's officials weren't starting the 25-second clock until defenses had time to adjust. He discussed his concerns with league officials in past seasons and was told the officials were starting the 25-second clock at the proper time, he said.

"Really and truly, I've been over that for a while," he said. "We're not ready to do it now anyway."

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