Kirby Smart loves numbers.
The Bulldogs’ head coach never has an issue gushing on about how he and the rest of his coaching staff constantly study numbers and patterns to set standards for the program. But there’s one number that Georgia is consistently missing: explosive plays.
Before the South Carolina game on Oct. 12, Smart revealed that the Bulldogs aim to have one explosive play per every eight plays they run. That didn’t happen Saturday, and Georgia suffered. There is no simple definition for an explosive play in Smart’s eyes, but generally it’s defined as a chunk play that results in a gain of more than 20 yards.
“We're not getting explosive plays,” Smart said. “Even our runs, we're getting runs, good runs, 10 yards or more, but we're not getting explosive runs, which are longer because there's a lot of people in the box.”
Against South Carolina, Georgia had only one play from scrimmage longer than 20 yards — a 33-yard pass from Jake Fromm to George Pickens. The longest run of the day was a 14-yard carry by D’Andre Swift. Georgia finished with roughly 1.05% of its plays falling into the explosive category.
Part of the explosive failure falls on the schemes and play calling, and the other part falls on the physical execution. Swift knew during Saturday’s loss that the Bulldogs were anything but eruptive on offense.
“I think we need to take more shots downfield [and] try to get the ball to our playmakers in space,” Swift said. “Whatever the coaches think that is — think that might be — I think we need to do a better job of it.”
Explosive plays haven’t necessarily been Georgia’s style this year, though. The Bulldogs have had 25 plays longer than 25 yards, but only eight have come since the win over Arkansas State on Sept. 14. Georgia also averages 7.3 plays per touchdown scoring drives. It hasn’t all been fast and furious.
Swift said his key to creating more explosion starts with breaking more tackles. However, he’ll need more help from the offensive line.
“If I see something to where I could have went somewhere else, I try to talk to the offensive line,” Swift said. “I just try to get them to do a better job on the next series. It starts with us as running backs just being great with our vision and making sure we get downhill.”
As the Bulldogs continue their gauntlet of SEC competition through the rest of October and much of November, the internal emphasis on explosive plays will only grow, and Smart knows that.
“At the end of the day, we're all judged by ‘how do I score points, how do I protect the ball and how explosive can I be?’” Smart said. “And that's what we're focused on.”