Spring 2020 would have been a crucial time for Georgia football to construct a new, solid base on offense. Three new coaches — including offensive coordinator Todd Monken, offensive line coach Matt Luke and special teams coordinator Scott Cochran — joined head coach Kirby Smart’s staff, along with Wake Forest transfer quarterback Jamie Newman and plenty of fresh starters forces on the offense.
According to ESPN college football analyst Cole Cubelic, Georgia struggled to build an offensive dependency in 2019.
“I don’t know if Georgia knew what the trunk of the tree was for that offense last year for an extended period of time,” Cubelic said.
Spring football practice was put on hold due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Georgia is coming off a 12-2 season, which set high expectations for 2020. Injecting new life into the Bulldog offense will require time to adjust, and missing spring practices could make it more difficult.
While all college football teams are navigating through uncertainty, Georgia’s situation differs due to its lack of experience since its veteran offensive weapons have moved on. Cubelic believes rosters with returning starters will be more valuable this year than maybe any other year. The Bulldogs will have to find ways to make up for their disadvantage.
“Some have lived it, they’ve breathed it, and they already have somewhat of an idea of what it’s going to be like,” Cubelic said. “True experience is going to be most important. Georgia, in this offense, they flat-out just don’t have a ton of it.”
Cubelic also highlighted that repetitions are essential to improvement. He believes Georgia will endure the cost of missing both mental, physical and game-speed repetitions.
“Whether it was in helmets, in full pads, with contact, without contact — they haven’t had any of those,” Cubelic said. “To think you’re going to be where you need to be without those is really difficult.”
Newman, considered a dual-threat quarterback during his three seasons at Wake Forest, will join the Bulldogs and add a new element to Georgia’s offense.
Newman hasn’t had an opportunity to be in the weight room, film room, or even on the field to take snaps from his new center. His new teammates also don’t currently have the chance to learn his personality, or his on-the-field demeanor and energy in the huddle.
Finding rhythm with a new quarterback typically happens naturally during spring practice and in the summer.
“That camaraderie and that chemistry is something that’s going to be very hard for Georgia to sort of force feed before and during this football season,” said Cubelic.
Georgia also has yet to establish Monken’s new system. Cubelic said that understanding new schemes demands learning details and intricacies that take a team from good to great.
Despite the obstacles, Cubelic is anxious to see an identity form offensively for Georgia. Monken’s background with different styles combined with Newman’s mobility and athleticism could change the structure of the offense and provide opposing defenses with plenty of homework.
All said, Cubelic still believes Georgia’s defense will be key to success.
“You’re always going to be able to rely on that,” Cubelic said. “Defense is always going to be ahead of the offense.”
Georgia isn’t the only SEC team breaking in a new quarterback next season, either. LSU and Alabama are experiencing quarterback changes with the departures of first-round draft picks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa, respectively, to the NFL.
Georgia will have to adapt and put its new pieces together before it faces Virginia in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 7.