KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It’s no secret that Georgia likes to run the ball.
In a win over Notre Dame two weeks ago, running back D’Andre Swift was given the ball 18 times. Georgia has yet to have more passing attempts than rushing attempts this season.
Don’t expect Bulldogs’ coaching staff to tear up tradition. But before the Tennessee game on Saturday night, Georgia decided it needed to experiment just a bit.
“We got height, we got size out there, so why not use it?” Swift said.
Georgia’s 43-14 win over Tennessee on Saturday night in Neyland Stadium was highlighted by Jake Fromm’s best performance of 2019. He threw for 288 yards, nine yards more than his previous season-high and 101 yards more than against Notre Dame.
Fromm targeted 11 pass catchers, nine of whom recorded at least one catch. He had two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has yet to turn the ball over this season.
Lawrence Cager led Georgia with five receptions. Swift actually had the most receiving yards with 72, 44 of which came from a last-ditch pass from Fromm in first quarter. Freshman receiver George Pickens had three receptions for 23 yard and one touchdown.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart credited offensive coordinator James Coley for unleashing the passing game.
“I thought Coley called a really nice game, changed things up,” Smart said. “[He] did some good things with Jake and had a good plan and executed the plan.”
But Smart said there weren't any conversations about passing the ball more. In fact, Georgia still rushed the ball 12 times more than it passed on Saturday.
“We didn’t make a decision to pass it more,” Smart said. “That was not the decision. The decision was to be able to mix it up and try to do a good job of keeping people off balance. That’s perimeter runs, screens, play-action pass, a little bit of everything. It wasn’t like we came in and said, ‘Throw the ball more.’ We just know that we have to be able to score points and we have to be able to protect the quarterback.”
Senior receiver Tyler Simmons, who had 26 receiving yards, added value through jet sweeps and other runs. Receiver Demetris Robertson was used on end-arounds as well.
Swift said it’s all part of a plan.
“We want to be more explosive as an offense,” Swift said. “Tennessee did a great job of trying to stop the run today. We got through and were explosive in the pass game.”
Fromm didn’t say anything about the game plan, but said he was excited to get reps at the plays they practiced over the bye week.
“Whatever play it is, let’s go out and execute it and get as many reps as we can,” Fromm said.