Bulldogs Blog

Georgia preparing for UNC’s ‘fast-ball’ attack

North Carolina tailback Elijah Hood is the centerpiece of an uptempo offense that Georgia will face on Saturday.
North Carolina tailback Elijah Hood is the centerpiece of an uptempo offense that Georgia will face on Saturday. The Charlotte Observer

The play ends and Georgia’s defense huddles quickly. They break and run to the new line of scrimmage as quick as they can.

The coaches have a timer in hand to record how long it takes for the defense to line back up. It’s all designed to ensure Georgia can quickly recover and defend a potent offense that’s known to score points in bunch.

That’s been one of the drills the Bulldogs have been doing to prepare for North Carolina’s uptempo attack.

The Tar Heels do like to operate their offense at a fast pace but can go in and out of various tempos. But due to their ability to rush down the field when plays are connecting, Georgia knows it has to be sound defensively while getting each of the calls in correctly.

"It’s a hurry-up offense," junior safety Dominick Sanders said. "We’re going to be sound. Energy-wise, we gotta be hyped up and ready to get back to the ball. If anything happens, get up, get back to the huddle, get the play call and keep going. It’s a fast team, a fast-ball team."

In 2015, North Carolina finished 18th in the nation in total offense at 486.9 yards per game and ranked ninth in scoring offense with 40.7 points each time out.

The Tar Heels were able to accomplish this despite only putting up 13 points in a turnover-laden opener against South Carolina, which turned out to be an anomaly in regards to the rest of its season. The balanced attack North Carolina, which didn’t score less than 26 in any other game during the season, brought opened up a lot of scoring opportunities.

Running back Elijah Hood totaled 1,463 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, with the passing game totaling 3,675 yards and 31 scores. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who was a backup a year ago, even accounted for 555 passing yards and 6 touchdowns.

The experience returning should only help the Tar Heels go fast when they want.

"The biggest thing we found from coaches is the tempo," inside linebacker Natrez Patrick said. "How fast the tempo is, just making sure we get back to the ball. It’s a lot of fast-ball things, make sure we’re able to line up and fast and be ready for the next play."

North Carolina also has the ability to lull teams to sleep before hitting the big play. It doesn’t try to run uptempo every play, all the time.

In given situations, the Tar Heels will slow it down and huddle some. But once a big play is made, they hurry to the line and try to snap the ball off before the defense can react.

"It’s on and off," Sanders said. "They got the quick game but then they’ll slow it down. But then they’ll jump back in unexpectedly. Our thing is we have to be back by the ball before they do."

Georgia’s scout team has done its part to simulate North Carolina’s speed game. But simulating a coordinated hurry-up attack is much easier said than done.

"We know for the most part what they’re going to do but we don’t know what formation, what motion, what shift they’re going to do," head coach Kirby Smart said. "I hope the kids can go out there and play fast because our job is to get them to do that. But North Carolina will have something to do with that too."