Bulldogs say switch helped spark offense
By David Hale
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With his offense struggling to find its way the past three weeks, Mike Bobo decided he needed to take on a more personal approach to play-calling.
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For the first time since becoming Georgia’s offensive coordinator in 2007, Bobo watched Georgia’s 34-10 win over Vanderbilt from the sideline rather than the press box — a change that seemed to spark the offense.
“I think he just wanted more energy on the sideline,” quarterback Joe Cox said. “He wanted to celebrate when we made plays, and, even on the defensive side of the ball, he was getting us into the game the way he was cheering for the defense. It was great to have him on the sideline.”
The move came as a surprise to virtually everyone on Georgia’s sideline other than head coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks, whom Bobo had informed of his plans on Thursday.
It wasn’t exactly a comfortable surrounding for Bobo, but it was a chance to get a more personal feel for the action.
“I just really didn’t have a good feel for our football team and have been thinking about it all year,” Bobo said. “We hadn’t played well the last two weeks and kind of put it on the back burner.
“It’s more to look into their eyes and try to get a feel for how we’re doing and hopefully relax a little better.”
From his bird’s-eye view in the press box, Bobo said he can get a better look at the types of defenses the opposition employs, but he thought the experience of being surrounded by his players outweighed the drawbacks.
“It’s a little more difficult to see the play unfold,” Bobo said, “but you really get an idea of what they’re in. It was pretty evident to see what their game plan was. They were going to play two deep to our base personal, and we had to be able to run the ball.”
The move paid dividends as the Bulldogs racked up 399 yards of total offense — nearly double their tally from a week earlier. Georgia found the end zone four times, too, including twice in the red zone, after failing to move the ball inside Tennessee’s 35-yard line last week.
While the offensive execution wasn’t always perfect, it was a vast improvement, and Bobo’s presence on the sideline had a lot to do with the increased production, Cox said.
“He’s a real competitive guy, and he coaches with a lot of energy,” Cox said. “He wants his players to play with a fire and a passion, too, and I think it was good to have that on the sideline, where he could convey that to us, instead of being up in the booth and having to talk to individuals one after another.”
Bobo’s move to the field left just linebackers coach John Jancek and receivers coach Tony Ball in the press box, but Jancek said the small contingent of coaches upstairs didn’t have any ill effects.
Richt had told Bobo that if the plan didn’t work by halftime, he could return to the press box for the remainder of the game, but an in-game adjustment proved unnecessary.
“I think it’s up to the coordinator to decide where he’ll be most effective,” Richt said. “Do I think it was a positive thing to be down on the field? I think it was, and I’m assuming he’ll want to do that in the future.”