ATHENS, Ga. -- The run-pass option offense that has been a nemesis to Georgia in its recent past will return this weekend.
The Bulldogs struggled against the RPO offense in the first season under head coach Kirby Smart. Like when the Dawgs faced Mississippi, and quarterback Chad Kelly collected 282 passing yards and ran for another 53, scoring three touchdowns in a 45-14 trouncing.
Last season, three of the Bulldogs’ five losses came against dual-threat signal callers.
After getting a taste of the RPO offense in a 31-10 season-opening win over Appalachian State, the Bulldogs will face a tougher challenge.
Georgia will make its highly-publicized trip to South Bend, Indiana to face Notre Dame and an offense that has already shown the potential to cause problems for good defenses. For the Fighting Irish, it starts with quarterback Brandon Wimbush as he gets his first significant opportunity after sitting behind Deshone Kizer for two seasons.
In his first full game last weekend, Wimbush threw for 184 yards and was one of three rushers – joining Josh Adams and Dexter Williams – to rush for over 100 yards in a 49-16 victory over Temple.
“(It brings) a lot of challenges,” Smart said in his Monday press conference. “First of all, (Wimbush) is an explosive athlete. He looks as fast as any player on their team. I’ve had a lot of respect for Coach (Chip) Long for a long time their offensive coordinator. When he was at Memphis, I watched a game one night and I think they scored every single possession of the game once. It was like score, score, score, score, score.”
Wimbush signed with Notre Dame as a member of the 2015 class and was a four-star prospect out of New Jersey. He is protected by a highly-rated offensive line which is led by two NFL-caliber talents on the left side – Mike McGlinchey (whom Smart called a first-round draft pick in 2018) and Quenton Nelson.
The implementation of the run-pass option began to set a trend in college football, putting defenses on their toes. Georgia will be next, but the Bulldogs believe they have a plan in place.
“We can’t let that guy get out of the pocket, we have to really contain him,” Georgia sophomore transfer J.R. Reed said. “If we keep him in the pocket, we can control his yardage. Make him throw that ball, don’t let him break it and run.”
Along with Wimbush, the Fighting Irish possess a pair of talented running backs similar to Georgia’s.
“He does a good job of using the dual-threat quarterback but the backs are big and physical,” Smart said. “I mean bigger than our backs and physical. They run downhill at you. Like I said, they have four offensive linemen who have played for a long time and they are as good looking an o-line as you will play ever.”
Georgia’s first-team defense didn’t allow any points in the Bulldogs’ opener against Appalachian State, and Smart said that dominance was expected due to the size mismatch between the Bulldogs’ defense and the Mountaineers’ offensive line.
Notre Dame will provide a much bigger challenge.
“It’ll give us a lot of challenges with a good running game and disciplined offensive line,” Georgia linebacker Davin Bellamy said. “But it’s not anything we haven’t seen before, and I think the defense is up for a challenge.”