Brock Bowers for Heisman? Sounds about right

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

ATHENS – Time to reset the 2022 Heisman Trophy watch. Time to think beyond the privileged quarterback class to a player who doesn’t need to take a snap to affect a game every bit as much as the maestro does the orchestra.

Why not Brock Bowers?

Saturday was, by Georgia standards, an awkward, sputtering win. Those who took Kent State and the 45 points Saturday had a most relaxing afternoon, feet up on the divan, lighting cigars with $100 bills over the course of the Bulldogs’ 39-22 win.

ExploreNo. 1 Georgia grinds out win over Kent State

Three times the Bulldogs turned the ball over to the Golden Flashes. Quarterback Stetson Bennett’s gyroscope was off just a touch, too many passes lacking the usual pinpointed-ness. The front-line defense gave up its first touchdown of the season, allowing a quick out pass to metastasize into a 56-yard romp up the sideline in the second quarter. More concerning were second-half Kent State scoring drives of 13 plays/70 yards and 12/75.

But one talent on this team that has no apparent dimmer switch is Bowers, the Bulldogs’ mutant tight end and maybe the most effective running back on the roster, too.

For the second consecutive week, Bowers wandered outside his job description, scoring by rush – twice – rather than reception. As a bonus, he accumulated five catches for 60 yards. All while laying down some blocks that were road-grader worthy.

ExploreBreaking down Georgia-Kent State game

Bowers was named the SEC’s offensive player of the week following last weekend’s performance at South Carolina, where he had five catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns along with a 5-yard run for a score. He’s worthy of a repeat honor if for no other reason than Saturday’s second play.

Handed the ball on a jet sweep, Bowers beat all comers to the corner and then shifted to the kind of speed that no one 6-foot-4, 230 pounds should fairly possess. He outran a secondary that by all rights should be faster than he for 75 yards, and would have outrun it further had he not run out of stadium.

“Georgia Tech, last year, it was like, whoa!!” Bennett said, recalling a similar exhibition of outracing an entire defensive backfield.

“This year,” Bennett said, adopting a bored tone, “it’s more, ‘Yeah, good play.’”

“I saw Darnell (fellow tight end Washington) blocking his butt off, and I just saw grass,” was Bowers’ minimalist description of the play. Speed, even the most surprising kind, needs no more explanation than that. Just watch it, and then pick your jaw up off the carpet when the play is done.

Georgia 39, Kent State 22

Along with five more receptions Saturday, Bowers carried the ball a second time, this for a mere two yards. That’s all that was required for another touchdown.

For those keeping score at home, that’s three career college rushes for the sophomore. And three touchdowns.

Kind of a difficult pace to keep up, don’t you think? “I guess so. We’ll see,” Bowers said.

Don’t dismiss the man’s Heisman credentials. A number of factors work against him, of course, not the least of which being the position he plays. If only Bowers would throw for a touchdown or two, then maybe he’d be more electable (quarterbacks have won 10 of the past dozen Heisman trophies).

Hmmmm. Wonder if he can wing it just a little bit, just to fill out the portfolio? “Not very well,” Bowers said. “I can throw it a long way, but not very accurately.” Still, it is easy to imagine at least a Tebow-style jump pass in his future.

Georgia’s wealth of talent creates a lot of shade on Bowers. So many mouths to feed on this offense – nine different Bulldogs caught passes Saturday – and there is only one ball to nourish them. On such an assemblage, he is not apt to be the feature player every week (although Bowers has spent much of this month debunking that notion).

Currently, there is no one on the nation’s top-ranked team – Bennett included – more dynamic than Bowers. He is so much more than a “tight end,” by any traditional definition.

ExplorePHOTOS: Bulldogs host Kent State

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is pulling a brain muscle every week attempting to put Bowers in new positions to best utilize his unique blend of skills. Always in motion, will Bowers get the ball on a handoff? Will he drift into the flat? Will he break downfield, and if so, who has the goods to cover him? Or, will he block down and create more problems because, yes, he can be a devastating blocker, too?

This wrinkle of running Bowers is such a tough one for any defense to counter. “He makes you defend the whole 53, right?” said Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart, referring to the entire width of the field. For when you have to account for Bowers outside, “it loosens them up inside,” Smart said.

His quarterback describes Bowers as some would a thoroughbred. “He’s got long legs, he’s strong and once he gets going, he’s hard to stop,” Bennett said.

Bennett continued: “People just seem to bounce off of him. I don’t know if they underestimate how fast he is, but he runs away from folks. And he loves to block. He blocks for his teammates whenever he doesn’t get the ball, and in turn, his teammates block for him when he gets it.”

Opposing coaches, such as Kent State’s Sean Lewis, learn the truth first-hand. “He’s special,” Lewis said Saturday. “He has a unique skill set that flashes on tape and when you see him live, it confirms everything you saw. He’s the real deal.”

Such is the type of language used in any Heisman discussion. Just saying.