I hate it when news breaks on a Tuesday, which is the day I normally write my weekly column.
It makes me really late in reacting to news like what broke last week when now former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert announced he would be transferring to the University of Georgia. The Marietta High School standout left for Baton Rouge last year as the top TE and No. 6 overall prospect in the Class of 2020.
Gilbert gives second-year UGA offensive coordinator Todd Monken and quarterback JT Daniels another weapon in the fight for the Dawgs to get back to the SEC Championship Game after what was hopefully a one-season hiatus in 2020. At 6-5 and around 230-240 pounds, Gilbert is expected to make the move to wide receiver, one which I fully endorse with the loss of George Pickens due to injury. Perhaps more importantly in all of this is the fact that the Marietta product is not going to Florida, which is where he initially committed to transfer to after last season. You may know that the Gators are looking to replace their first-round draft pick tight end Kyle Pitts, so there is at least some addition by subtraction on the Bulldogs’ part.
The question remains whether or not the big-time incoming transfer will be utilized in the correct way. It comes down to decision-making and scheme. UGA has the pieces on the chessboard with guys like Gilbert, trusty Kearis Jackson and the speedy Arian Smith at WR along with another big target in Darnell Washington at TE. (You want proof that the sport of football is changing? I just mentioned Georgia’s pass catchers before its strong stable of running backs.)
When a team has as many playmakers as the Bulldogs expect to have in the fall, the economics become even more important. I’m not talking about limiting snaps. I’m talking about calling the right guy’s number in the right situation. Maybe down the road some brainiac will come up with an actual statistic that describes this idea, but for now I’m simply going to refer to it as playcalling efficiency. Defense playing in a two-high safety zone? Time to hit someone on a post route. Facing a loaded box? Hand the ball off to Smith and watch him fly around the edge on a speed sweep. Wide receivers have man-to-man coverage with no help on the back end? Throw it to your new friend Gilbert or the returner in Washington and watch them make a big play.
I realize that this way of thinking places a huge burden on the shoulders of two names I mentioned earlier, the OC Monken and the QB Daniels, but football is undeniably becoming more and more of an offensive sport. I’ve yet to see anything that has led me to believe an elite defense can stop an elite offense for four quarters in today’s game, so the new rules of engagement must be observed. The Bulldogs’ chances at success in 2021 do not lie solely with Monken and Daniels, but they will have to bear the brunt of that weight with the way the game is played today. The pieces are there. Time to make them fit.