Green and MoMass Quite the Tandem

ATHENS – Given the stature A.J. Green has already attained among Georgia fans in just a few months on the team, it came as quite a shock when he dropped a wide open pass in the end zone against Tennessee on Saturday. Until then, the freshman receiver had caught just about everything thrown his way.

His partner on the other side of the field, however, shared a bit of wisdom with Green after the play happened.

"We just laughed about it, and I told him not to even worry about it," senior wideout Mohamed Massaquoi said. "That stuff's not part of his game, and he knows that."

Massaquoi has dropped a touchdown pass or two in his time at Georgia, and he told Green the mistake was really just a rite of passage.

"Just get it out of the way," Massaquoi told Green.

Massaquoi has been passing along advice since Green first arrived in Athens, and the relationship the two have developed off the field has translated to loads of success on it.

In their first six games together, Massaquoi and Green have quickly become one of the most fearsome receiver tandems in the SEC – if not the country – and they have drastically shifted the way Georgia approaches its offensive game plan.

"I think they stack up pretty good in our league," said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had his first 300-yard receiving game last week. "We're doing a good job of getting them the ball, and they're making plays." Stafford has topped 225 yards passing in four games already this season – the same number he had in his first two years at Georgia combined. Stafford said Massaquoi and Green are easily the best one-two punch he has had to work with in his career, but given the numbers the two have accumulated so far, that might be true for just about any quarterback in the conference.

Together, Massaquoi and Green have racked up more receptions – 52 – than any other receiver tandem in the SEC, and their 772 receiving yards is second to only Mississippi's Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge, who have 813 yards. Green's 441 yards are the most of any SEC receiver.

While Massaquoi is thrilled about the early success the two have shared, he said he's not concerned about being the SEC's best – just the duo with the most wins.

"We go out there to stay relaxed and have fun," Massaquoi said. "If we are (the best), so be it. If we aren't, so be it. We're just going to continue to go out there and do what we can to help the team win."

The strong seasons the two receivers have enjoyed has changed the way Georgia goes about winning those games, too.

Georgia leads the SEC in passing offense and is ranked 19th nationally, but it's not all about finding success through the air.

With running back Knowshon Moreno the headliner on the Bulldogs' offense, the passing game has been crucial in opening up running lanes for the star tailback by keeping defenses from honing in on the ground game. For the first time in a long time at Georgia, it's the passing game settting up the run.

"Nobody is willing to (bring safeties up) with guys like A.J. and Mohamed and our quarterback making plays," head coach Mark Richt said.

With Moreno in the backfield, the Bulldogs are still a hard-nosed team that likes to run the football, but with weapons like Green, Massaquoi and Stafford, the balance has shifted a bit closer to the air-it-out offenses Steve Spurrier gained fame for at Florida a decade ago.

So far this season, Georgia has thrown the ball on nearly 49 percent of its offensive plays – by far the highest amount of any season since Richt took over in 2001. The Bulldogs are on pace to throw nearly 420 passes this season, the most since 2003. Those numbers have been accumulated despite Georgia holding commanding leads – and thus running more often – in the second halves of all but two games this season.

"I can hand the ball off or throw them, so it's just what I want to do on some of those plays," Stafford said. "If they're going to give it to us, we're going to take it, whatever it is."

For Massaquoi, his four years on the field have made the nuances of playing receiver second nature, but few freshmen are able to demonstrate that same type of veteran savvy Green has this season.

Perhaps that's why his drop in the end zone last week came as such a shock. After all, he doesn't seem like a freshman.

Of course, that's what makes Georgia's dynamic duo so frightening for opposing defenses. Half of that duo still has plenty of room to improve.

"Personally I don't even feel that he has scratched the surface," Massaquoi said of Green. "I think he's still getting used to the game, getting a feel for things he needs to do fundamentally, and it's kind of scary because he still has so much to learn but he's still so good."

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