What might Georgia’s offense look like under Mike Bobo?

Former Georgia quarterback and later offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC file



Former Georgia quarterback and later offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC file

ATHENS — Mike Bobo is back at the controls of Georgia’s offense.

Judging from social-media reactions, that is a polarizing statement within the Bulldog Nation. Some Georgia fans think it’s great, others are predicting a downturn. Many more are taking a measured, wait-and-see approach.

Simply put, what the Bulldogs have is a 48-year-old, veteran coordinator who basically has been calling the shots on offense for the better part of 15 years as a college coach. That includes eight years as Georgia’s offensive coordinator (2007-14), five years as the head coach at Colorado State (2015-19) and one season each at South Carolina (2020) and Auburn (2021).

“I think it’s great for the University of Georgia,” former Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray, who played under for Bobo from 2010-13, told Buck Belue on The Fan on Wednesday. “He’s a coordinator who had a ton of success here at Georgia, someone who spent a year in this offense and can make sure that the transition is as seamless as possible for these kids and be ready to go in the spring.”

While Bobo technically was not the Bulldogs’ coordinator until 2007, he was heavily involved in game-planning before that as quarterbacks coach from 2001 on and took over play-calling duties for Mark Richt during the 2006 season. His first game in that role was on the road against No. 5-ranked Auburn, which the Bulldogs won 37-15 in a huge upset.

Bobo presided over Georgia’s highest-scoring season on record in 2014, when the Bulldogs averaged 41.3 points per game. That was two-tenths of a point higher than last season’s national championship team, which averaged 41.1 under Todd Monken.

Of course, the complexions of those two teams were entirely different. This past season, the Bulldogs’ offense often had its foot off the gas as the team won 15 games by an average of 27 points. Georgia’s 2014 squad went 10-3 and often needed every point it could scrounge. The three games it lost were to South Carolina 38-35, Florida 38-20 and Georgia Tech 30-24 in overtime.

It also was during that season that Bobo made the play call that lives on in infamy. In that loss to the Gamecocks in Columbia, he didn’t have Hutson Mason hand the ball to Todd Gurley on first-and-goal. He called a play-action pass instead, which failed miserably, resulted in a grounding call and contributed to a missed field-goal attempt. Never mind that the Bulldogs scored on a similar play earlier in the game.

From a pure X’s and O’s standpoint, there simply is no way to accurately predict how Georgia’s offense might perform under Bobo’s watch. However, this is certain: Bobo has not had the total balance of talent, particularly on the offensive line, to work with during his career. That extends to defense.

The average national ranking of the defenses on the teams for which Bobo was calling the offense has been 58.3. Willie Martinez and Todd Grantham presided over Georgia’s defenses for six of Bobo’s eight seasons heading the Bulldogs’ offense.

Under Bobo’s buddy Kirby Smart, Georgia’s defenses typically have ranked among the top 10.

Meanwhile, Bobo will have to oversee a quarterback competition in his first season back with the Bulldogs. Junior Carson Beck is the heir apparent, but he will have to stave off underclassmen Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton in spring practice and preseason camp.

Bobo oversaw at Georgia similar competitions between Joe Tereshinski and Matthew Stafford, Joe Cox and Logan Gray and Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray, among others. Retrospectively, indications are that he got those decisions right.

The narrative that Bobo is an old-school coordinator with a run-first attitude simply is not accurate. Both Georgia and Colorado State ran out of single-back formations for most of his tenures. The only time Bobo’s offense ever ran the ball for more yards than it passed was in 2014 when Georgia featured Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley in the backfield. For the entirety of his career, Bobo’s offenses averaged 250.4 yards passing to 172.8 rushing.

Unknown at this point is how much of an influence Monken has had on Bobo over the past season. Several times this past postseason Monken pointed out the input he was getting from Bobo on the Bulldogs’ weekly game plans. He credited Bobo for a lot of the concepts Georgia employed against LSU in the SEC Championship game, a game it won 50-30.

Conversely, Bobo never used tight ends as extensively as Monken has the past two seasons. Then again, Bobo never had Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington to design plays for. He’ll have Bowers and Oscar Delp, among others, next season.

Following is a comprehensive breakdown of Bobo’s worksheet as an offensive play-caller. This includes his five-year tenure as Colorado State’s head coach:

Year Team Off. Pass Rush Pts. for (rank) Pts. against (rank)

2007 Georgia 375.6 198.4 177.2 34 18

2008 Georgia 426.0 277.7 148.3 29 59

2009 Georgia 362.2 201.2 161.0 51 64

2010 Georgia 385.0 242.4 142.6 36 36

2011 Georgia 408.5 244.5 164.0 33 23

2012 Georgia 467.6 285.1 182.6 19 18

2013 Georgia 477.2 303.7 173.5 21 80

2014 Georgia 458.8 199.9 258.5 8 16

2015 Colo.St. 425.8 228.0 197.8 62 64

2016 Colo.St. 462.5 244.5 218.0 28 81

2017 Colo.St. 493.2 292.6 200.6 31 117

2018 Colo.St. 410.8 304.9 105.8 108 117

2019 Colo.St. 437.4 305.3 132.2 71 91

2020 S. Caro. 355.1 187.2 167.9 99 108

2021 Auburn 402.5 240.1 162.4 68 27

Averages 423.2 250.4 172.8 46.5 58.3