Analyzing Mike Bobo - 2007 - 2011
Mike Bobo is, for all intents and purposes, Georgia's scapegoat. After the last few down years and Georgia's losses this year, Bobo was continually questioned on philosophy, scheme, and playcalling.
Having been an offensive coordinator, I can completely see the other side of the argument. Bobo, in my opinion, has definitely grown as an OC. We have many more spread philosophy than we ever had with Richt. Our QB's are putting up record numbers and our offense is putting up better yards and number of plays than anytime under Richt.
However, the fact remains than since 2007, when Georgia went on a tear - going 11-2 and winning the Sugar Bowl, Georgia has struggled. In 2008, the Dawgs finished 10-3, but didn't show up to any big games. In 2009, Georgia went 8-5 - the first 7-5 season in the Richt Era. In 2010, Georgia had their first losing season since before Mark Richt became the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Even though this year the Dawgs went 10-4, there were times that Georgia just did not show up to play.
So, I decided to look into the objective statistics of Mike Bobo's reign of the Georgia offense. I wanted to see if he has grown as a coordinator or gone backwards. Here is the breakdown of every major offensive category for Georgia football since 2007:
Instead of trying to have you interpret everything, I though we'd go section by section through the main areas:
Since Bobo took over, Georgia has not averaged more than 32.62 points per game. In fact, outside of the 2009 season when Joe Cox was our QB, Georgia has scored right at 32 points per game. Now, in the SEC, if your defense cannot hold opponents to less than 32/game - there are going to be losses. After seeing how Grantham did in 2011, if Bobo can keep the scoring pace going or higher, 2012 should be a good year.
First downs are key in offensive game plans. If you can stay in front of the chains and continue to work the clock, you will have more success. In the two years in Mike Bobo's reign that Georgia did not have 10 wins, you can see a big drop off in 1st downs. In 2008 and 2009, Georgia was way behind the chains, which means their offense was not on the field enough, and the offense was not successful.
In my opinion, in the SEC, it doesn't matter how good your QB is if you don't have a great rushing attack. 2007 was obviously a big year with Knowshon and Thomas playing a big role in the team's 32 TD's that season. However, outside of that year, Georgia's offensive production from it's backfield has been weak. The most rushing TD's scored in one season since 2007 has been 21, which is not good enough in the SEC. You need to be scoring 30+ rushing TD's a year to be a big time contender in the SEC. Since that 2007 season, we just have not had that rushing ability - and I can guarantee you, its not the play calls - its the talent and execution by the OL and RB positions.
There is one thing you can't say about Bobo and that is that he is bad at developing QB's. As Stafford grew over the 2006-2008 seasons, you can see the improvement from his sophomore season to junior season. Stafford had a jump of over 1000 yards, set a school record in passing TD's, and completed over 60% of his throws. Now, Stafford is a legit #1 QB - as seen by his season in Detroit this year. As for Aaron Murray, I will not say that he is as polished as Stafford, but, he also does not have a Knowshon Moreno in the backfield. Since Murray has taken over, he has passed for over 6,000 yards, thrown over 60 TD's, and only has 22 INT's - about a 3:1 ratio. Murray, however, is still young and needs to develop into a QB that makes better decisions. If he shows the growth Stafford did between his SO-JR year, then Murray could have a big year (if Georgia can find a RB).
This, in my opinion, is the tell-tale sign of growth as a coordinator. How many plays are you getting in in the game? How many yards are you getting? Is your offense evolving to the game today and becoming better? Outside of the 2009 season with Joe Cox - the answer is abundantly, YES! During Stafford's final two years, the offense grew and had over 5,500 yards and averaged 6.7 yards/play. In the two years Aaron Murray has ran the offense, Georgia has had over 5,000 yards both years, and, this year, Georgia ran an amazing 1,016 plays from scrimmage. Those are numbers of an offense that is working and grinding out play after play to get more and more out of the offense.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!
In my opinion, I really do believe Mike Bobo is a very good offensive coordinator. He does a good job of running our system and, generally, has a pulse for the game. The question that I am sure all of you want answered is why has Georgia fallen off since 2007? I think the answer is actually quite simple - we have lacked the necessary talent on the offensive line and the backfield for the offense to take the next step.
In 2008, Georgia's OL was soft and weak. Moreno was not nearly as good as he was in 2007 - as seen in the TD production. In 2009 and 2010, Georgia's backfield and offensive lines were terrible. In 2011, Georgia's line was even worse and the running back situation was comical.
The Michigan State game was a perfect example of how we need to take that next step in the OL development and RB talent in order to be in the elite group of the SEC. When you are up in the 4th quarter and your coach calls for you to pound the rock, it used to be a time to impose your will onto the other team. It was a chance to let the hogs loose and let them do what they do best. Running backs are supposed to get better as the game winds down - not get worse.
What we need to do is not look at our offensive coordinator and question him, we need to look at our guys and challenge them to be man enough to take on the challenge of grinding out the clock in the 4th. That is what good teams do. Just look at Bama in the 4th quarter against LSU. Their run game sputtered for 8 quarters against them, but they still grind and grind until they break one.
Georgia fans, it isn't the X's and O's right now... its the Johnny and Joes. Our scheme works. Our offensive philosophy is sound. We need better players and tougher players to man up in the 4th quarter. The good news is... we started last year with some amazing talent. This year, the additions of Theus, Beard, Marshall, and, hopefully, Gurley will give us the ability to do those things and make us a complete team.