ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia’s first season pushing the pace with its no-huddle offense created more than 200 additional opportunities for Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs than in 2010.
Murray says he can’t wait to see what a second season in the no-huddle attack can do for No. 6 Georgia.
By hurrying the offense back into formation and calling plays at the line, instead of in a huddle, Georgia’s 1,016 plays in 2011 easily led the Southeastern Conference. No other SEC team reached 900 plays.
In 2010, Georgia ran 814 plays.
Murray said the benefit is obvious.
“It’s huge,” he said. “The more plays you get, the more chances you have to score, the more chances you have to get the ball in people’s hands and make them happier and things like that.”
The no-huddle is designed to put pressure on a defense, but the pace also can drain players on offense, mentally and physically. There’s less time to think and less time for players to catch their breath.
Georgia was fourth in scoring and third in total yards in the SEC last season. Murray is expecting better results this year because players are better prepared for the pace.
“I think this year is definitely going to be crisper,” he said. “We know the offense better and I think players have themselves in better shape to be able to handle the no-huddle offense the entire time. So I definitely think year two is going to be a lot more successful.”
Georgia had three offensive linemen selected in this year’s NFL draft. The offense also lost leading rusher Isaiah Crowell, who was dismissed.
There will be some new names on offense.
Freshman John Theus is the probable starter at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Merritt Hall is the starting fullback. Freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are part of a tailback committee.
Coach Mark Richt said it’s “a little tougher” to break in freshmen while running a no-huddle attack.
“Back in the day you’d call the play in the huddle and then you’d break the huddle and you’d have time to think of it,” Richt said. “You’d have a pretty good idea what your assignment would be as you’re going up there to the line.”
Richt said new starters must adjust to the tempo and the plays being called through code names or hand signals. Meanwhile, changes on defense could lead Murray to call an audible, putting more pressure on the freshmen to process more information.
“They have to think that much faster,” Richt said.
“That’s tougher on the young guys than it used to be when you’d get back in the huddle, call the play, think about it and go to the line and snap it. It’s just different. It’s a lot harder now.”
Another new challenge: There may be little, if any, help from receiver Malcolm Mitchell early in the season as he plays cornerback while Sanders Commings serves a two-game suspension. Mitchell was the team’s second-leading receiver in 2011.
Despite the challenges, Murray said there is ample offense for better production from the offense. He said he expects better results than last season’s average of 32 points per game.
“We want to score 40 or 50 points or more per game,” Murray said. “That’s our goal. We have the firepower at running back, at tight end, at receiver. We have a great offensive line. We’re capable of doing that.
“We’re not here just to roll over and say we can win with defense. We want to have our part and our share. We want to help them out.”
NOTES: Richt continued a tradition by taking the team for a swim at the on-campus Ramsey Center on Friday. A loud roar of approval could be heard from the players’ meeting room when Richt announced the change from the planned afternoon practice. He continued another tradition by performing a back dive from the 10-meter dive. He has taken the team to the pool for seven straight years, usu ally in the summer as a break from two-a-day practices. “Ramsey……I love you,” center David Andrews posted on his Twitter account. … Actor Samuel L. Jackson wore a red Georgia shirt as he at tended Thursday’s practice.