One season after averaging 41.1 points and 501.1 yards per game, Georgia’s offense is averaging 40.6 points and 504.8 yards per game. The Bulldogs ranke sixth in the nation in scoring, 10th in yards gained and first in third-down conversions (56%).
That is while breaking in a new quarterback, new offensive tackles, new running backs and navigating myriad injuries to key plays.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart was asked Tuesday night what has stood out to him about Bobo in working with him for the first time as his offensive coordinator.
“His ability to adapt to the personnel we have,” Smart said. “He’s had a very rotating lineup. He has had this guy in and that guy out. He had two tight ends, then he didn’t have two tight ends. Pearce (Spurlin) had been out in twice; Lawson (Luckie) has been hurt. Brock (Bowers) has been hurt. He has had backs in and out.
“The ability to teach concepts and have plug-and-play players, his development of the quarterback, his leadership and messaging to the offense is critical.”
A veteran offensive coordinator, Bobo is back in that seat for the Bulldogs for the first time since 2014. That was his final year on coach Mark Richt’s staff. Bobo was finalist for the Broyles Award under Richt two years earlier, in 2012.
Bobo left Georgia in 2015 to become head coach at Colorado State. After five seasons leading the Rams program, Bobo returned to the South as an SEC offensive coordinator. He held posts at South Carolina (2020) and Auburn (2021) before heeding Smart’s call to return to Georgia in 2022.
The Bulldogs have morphed into much more of a passing team under Bobo’s watch. Junior quarterback Carson Beck, in his first season as Georgia’s starter, is on a record pace for completion percentage (72%) and is averaging 302.2 yards passing per game, with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“When he first took over, he did a lot to help us,” said Tate Ratledge, a third-year sophomore and starter at right guard. “He kept a lot of the lingo around, using the same words for stuff. His process through these 10 games, I don’t think he’s cooled off since. He’s just gotten hotter and hotter as a play-caller.”
The Bulldogs have managed to stay on the cutting edge on offense despite losing starting right tackle Amarius Mims for six games, starting flanker Ladd McConkey for four games, starting running back Daijun Edwards for two games and, most recently, All-American tight end Bowers for two games.
That entire group was together for the first time this season Saturday against Ole Miss. It probably was no coincidence, then, that the Bulldogs went for season highs in rushing (300 yards), total offense (611 yards) and points scored (52) in the 52-17 over the No. 9-ranked Rebels.
Also helping the transition to Bobo is he had worked before with Georgia’s entire offensive staff. Stacy Searels (offensive line), Dell McGee (running backs), Bryan McClendon (receivers) and Todd Hartley (tight ends) all worked for the Bulldogs previously under Richt.
“The coordinator/O-line (relationship) is a big deal,” Smart said. “You want them to have a good relationship and a good understanding because their philosophies need to marry-up. So that was really important. Once we hired Mike, it was a no-brainer because he’d already been a coordinator, and he’d worked with everybody in the (meeting) room.”
Bobo and the Bulldogs are expected to have their hands full at Tennessee on Saturday night. The Volunteers have been one of the SEC’s better overall defensive teams. Opponents are averaging only 18.4 points and 97.3 yards rushing against Tennessee, and the Vols have limited the competition to a 34% conversion rate on offense.
Smart trusts that Bobo will find a way to move the sticks.
“When you put a good staff together, you get good decision-making, innovative with a lot of ideas,” Smart said. “They present each week to him so that he has good material to pick from.”
Bobo has a long way to go to secure the Broyles Award. He’s one of 57 nominees.
Included in that bunch is Georgia Tech’s Buster Faulkner, who worked with Bobo and the Bulldogs the past few seasons. Among other nominees are Alabama’s first-year offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, FSU defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, Missouri offensive coordinator Kirby Moore, Oregon offensive coordinator Will Stein and Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks.
The list will be cut to 15 semifinalists and then five finalists in time for the official presentation Dec. 5 in Little Rock, Arkansas.