For years, the Georgia wide receiver room had been lagging behind other parts of their offense. The quarterback play has usually been stellar. Georgia had been RBU, and has now pivoted to Tight End U in recent seasons. Although the offensive line has gotten quietly better of late, we cannot ignore how great the wide receiver room has become for Georgia since the Dawgs started to make their turn.
I spoke with former UGA star and Pittsburgh Steelers legendary wide receiver Hines Ward last week ahead of the Georgia-Missouri game on behalf of Fairfield by Marriott and The Home Field Advantage. One of the most interesting responses I got from my fellow Georgia alum is how the Dawgs' complementary nature across the board has brought more balance to the entire offense.
He may be a huge George Pickens fan, which we all are, but "Papa Smurf" is so proud of all his guys.
"It's been really exciting to see all the new talent, the fresh faces that comes out of the University of Georgia. You know, of course, me being a Georgia Pickens fan, being that he's playing up in Pittsburgh right now in the league. I'm just kind of like Papa Smurf. So it's kind of like when you see all the little Smurfs, you're super excited and want nothing but the best for the all the guys."
Ward may be brimming with excitement over his alma mater's position group, but he is well-aware at how the style of offense Mike Bobo is running, and Todd Monken before that, have contributed to his side of the ball's success at all levels. The upsides towards running pro-style offenses are limitless.
"If you look at the past, probably the last four or five years here at Georgia, our style, our pro-style system we run here at Georgia, to go along with Kirby Smart's defense, you start to see it correlate with transition, and being an easier transition for a lot of our guys into the pros because they're coming from a pro-style offense. You have a pro-style running back. You have pro-style receivers, tight ends, quarterback."
More and more great players want to come play at Georgia these days, especially in the wide receiver room. Pickens may have been a blue-chipper coming out of Alabama, but Ladd McConkey was vastly under-recruited near the Tennessee border. Even marquee transfers like Dominic Lovett and Rara Thomas wanted to leave their former SEC institutions to come suit up for the Red and Black at UGA.
"You're just starting to see it, year in and year out. You're starting to see the University of Georgia producing players on the next level and it all starts (here). We're kind of like the farm league to the NFL, right?"
McConkey is an obvious NFL guy like Pickens was coming out, but no player has seen an offensive transformation for the better at wide receiver than Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. He is outstanding!
Hines Ward explains why Georgia is having a wide receiver renaissance
The biggest change for Georgia had to be pivoting off an ineffective James Coley for Todd Monken. Although Monken only spent a few seasons as Georgia's offensive coordinator, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach brought with him a multi-faceted approach towards moving the sticks with smart and savvy play-calling. No wonder the Baltimore Ravens wanted to hire him this past offseason cycle.
Monken never spent a ton of time at any of his many coaching stops, but he was outstanding during his tenure in Athens. He is probably the most beloved coordinator in Georgia football history, right up there with Vince Dooley's defensive coordinator Erk Russell. Replacing Monken was not going to be easy, but Kirby Smart trusted his former college teammate Mike Bobo to do what this job required.
It may be Bobo's second stint as the Georgia offensive coordinator, but he has been reinvigorated in this post since leading the Colorado State Rams, as well as the offenses of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Auburn Tigers. His offense is slightly different than what Monken ran, but it is very quarterback-friendly, thanks to its reliance on the play-action. This has allowed Carson Beck to cook.
Overall, it kind of feels like water started to find its level. The play of the wide receivers improved drastically under Monken but has really taken flight under Bobo, the offensive coordinator when I was in college at UGA. When he was calling plays for Mark Richt, Georgia had amazing receivers, everyone from A.J. Green, to Mohamed Massaquoi, to Tavarres King. We have finally gotten back to this level.
Ultimately, it is all going to come down to coaching and recruitment for Georgia to be able to sustain this level of dynamism. Coaching will get the most out of the talent, but recruiting and landing the right players for this program will inevitably make all the difference. The best part about all this is even in a year of great transition, Georgia knows exactly what it is as a football team: One that will beat you!
Look for the passing game to get even more exciting with Beck running Bobo's pro-sytle system.
Hines Ward spoke with FanSided on behalf of Fairfield by Marriott and The Home Field Advantage.
The former First-team All-SEC receiver teamed up with Fairfield by Marriott to bring The Home Field Advantage - a tailgate party for students, parents, athletes and alumni – to UGA before the Bulldogs took on Mizzou at Sanford Stadium.
As the newly announced Official Hotel of the NCAA, Fairfield believes all athletes and fans alike should enjoy the home field advantage wherever their team takes them – and that starts with a warm welcome at check-in.