Smith Looking to Make More Plays on Offense

ATHENS – All season, he's been Georgia's secret weapon on offense, but Branden Smith is hoping his role on that side of the ball can continue to expand in Georgia's bowl game and beyond.

Used primarily as a reserve cornerback, Smith has done a little of everything in his freshman season – returning kicks, running the Wild Cat, playing wide receiver and working out of the backfield. That role on the offensive side of the ball is something he'd like to do more of starting with Georgia's bowl game against Texas A&M.

"I really hope so," Smith said. "I would like to play offense a lot more during the bowl game. I think I deserve it. Our offense has been on a roll, so I really hope they use me more on offense."

Smith finished the season with 17 carries for 211 yards rushing and two catches for seven yards, including two big plays for touchdowns against South Carolina and Tennessee Tech.

The problem, however, has been Smith's ball handling. He has two fumbles on special teams this season that were recovered by the opposition and he has put the ball on the ground on offense as well. So despite his tremendous athleticism, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he's not ready to hand the ball to Smith with regularity until his fumbling problems are under control.

"He's got to hang on to the ball," Bobo said. "If he hangs on to the ball, he'll get more of a role. Right now, laying it on the ground, he's a bit more limited. We'll still have things this game, but he's got to hang on to the football to be able to carry the football."

Beyond holding on to the football, Smith faces the challenge of adjusting to a new defensive coordinator and secondary coach next season, and his time on the defensive side of the ball had already been limited so he could work with the offense, too.

But while this season hasn't been perfect, Smith has shown he can be a dangerous weapon in all three aspects of the game, and that's something he expects to continue.

"I have high expectations for myself," Smith said. "I think I played pretty good, but not as good as I expected. Next year I'm going to be coming into the season with my mind set and my goals high."

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