"I believe in throwing to win the game." - Todd Monken
In a quest to keep off-season conversations going, I wanted to take a minute for us to start a dialogue about what a Todd Monken offense realistically looks like next season. There's a lot of question and no shortage of opinion on whether or not it will truly be a Todd Monken offense or a Kirby Smart offense with Todd Monken sauce smeared on it. Will Georgia still be RBU? What measure of integration will we see with the Tight Ends? How does a dual-threat Jamie Newman factor in to the offensive remodeling for 2020? What about beyond? Will we finally see a vertical offense not seen since the days of Aaron Murray? I've done a lot of looking into Monken's offensive scheme and think I can break down a bit of the "givens" of Monken's offensive mind and remove the what-if stuff so we can see clearly through the fog of hype. This will be a long read, so if you don't want a deep dive into anything, just go read something else. No offense taken. (excuse the pun)
First off, we all know why Monken was brought in; there's no need to rehash that. We also know that, at least in some small part, the Mentor (Saban) gave the Mentee (Smart) some unsolicited advice - adapt or die. So in a way, as odd as it sounds, we do have Saban to thank in some small part for the offensive staff shakeup.
Will this truly be a Todd Monken offense?
I don't think Monken would have taken this job if it weren't his offense. A coach of his pedigree doesn't play around in the NCAA and the NFL and come in to a program to play Vice-President of the offense. He's the offensive CEO, and I believe that Kirby has recognized that Coach O was a great example of someone that had to let go. This is not to say that Kirby will not have a say, but I believe as a coach matures, he recognizes that he has to surround himself with the qualified people to do the job and step aside to let them do it. Sam Pittman recently talked about Kirby's nature and how he holds each person accountable. Kirby will without a doubt have his finger on the pulse of the offense and will be monitoring vitals, but he'll let the doctor make the calls on how to treat the offensive patient.
Will UGA still be "RBU"?
Unequivocally yes. No question about it. Don't think otherwise for a New York minute. The run game will still be the workhorse of the UGA offense to control the game. Despite the flash-in-the-pan electric nature of a Joe Burrow sending shockwaves down the corridors of power in the SEC, the SEC is still a runner's league and that won't be changing. But what will be changing is the nature of how that run game is used and what is expected of it. Historically, Georgia's run game has been the all-everything weapon of the offensive game plan. This goes way back and it's about to change. There is now the recognition that the passing game is rapidly becoming a more co-equal branch of football governance in successful teams and that the run game ingredient has to be diluted down to the proper concentration to make the recipe work. Herschel Walker recently told Paul Finebaum that the SEC has changed from his heyday, and it's not just a pure runner's league any longer. Georgia will still draw in the best-of-the-best runners that will dominate the ground game, and this will open up the creative canvas for the passing game. What does that mean under Monken? It means that the running game will transition from a unit that is expected to do everything to win the game, to a unit that is expected to control the game. That's a seismic shift in offensive mentality, and probably going to be the most dramatic difference from last season.
Here's some of Monken's principles
• Throw to win - yes the run game is incredibly important, but Monken wants a QB with enough gas in his arm to move the ball downfield with authority with 2 minutes left in the game.
• No turnovers
• Establishing a proper run/pass balance by having multiple skill players touching the ball, making the running game complimentary and not primary.
• Recruiting elite offensive personnel - having exceptional talent for the offensive scheme to establish proper balance
• Designing plays around explosive space players
• Establishing a playbook that maximizes play efficiency. Move the ball North-South and less perimeter game, and utilizing RPOs when they really give the option
Monken likes to establish a "downhill flow" and his schemes always look to loosen up the defenses. Expect to see the spread, either in a 3x2 or a 2x2 configuration with a tight end as the wild card. He likes to design plays by turning the football field itself into a math problem, attacking weak parts of the grass to break a defense. Monken has done this all throughout his career, forcing opposing defenses to put 1 defender where you have 2 offensive players, or 2 defenders where you have 3 offensive players. In other words, he wants to leverage weaknesses, and this has proven over his career to drive defenses nuts. Monken is no believer in the "sledgehammer football" Georgia played last year, that many of us here were fed up with the constant running up the gut and grinding out those 2nd and longs or 3rd and shorts. Monken will not be designing plays that expect his running backs, by brute force, to move the chains all the time. That's an ineffective use of the run game, and never have any of his offenses been that predictable. I think the Jamie Newman puzzle piece will snap snugly into what Monken wants to run, especially giving us quick feet and powerful legs on plays where the scheme breaks down or the defenses are playing us tight. But I expect Monken to rely far more on a balanced offensive unit than just Jamie Newman to be the "one and only" on the offense. I am reserved on the Newman hype. I think he just needs to be an effective QB in running the system to make his impact. Maybe he lights it up, and if he does, all the better. But I'm not expecting Jamie Newman to turn into Cam Newton. I don't think Monken is either.
Don't expect Monken to hang around UGA very long
This too is what I expect out of the Monken era, and that may surprise everyone. I think Monken, especially if he has success at UGA, won't be around longer than 2 seasons, 3 max. He'll get tapped for a head coaching vacancy and he'll take it. It's the nature of the beast, especially when you're running elite offenses in the SEC. Monken has a sterling résumé, basically everything and more than any big name Power 5 team could want out of a potential HC candidate. If he does what is predicted at UGA, it won't be long before the poachers start hunting.
In summary, I like this hire a great deal. I think we're about to see a dynamic offense that will modernize UGA and pull us forcefully into the new era of offensive college football. It should be fun, and none of this is to say there won't be bumps in the road. There are a lot of variables that will determine Monken's success or failure at UGA. But one thing is certain, I think this will prove to be one of the, if not the best hire of the Kirby Smart era at UGA. It will be a hire that re-shapes how we recruit skill players and how we utilize them, long after his career at UGA is dusted and done. He's the equivalent of a Jeremy Pruitt hire on defense. It should be quite fun to watch, and I'm clamoring to see some fun on our offense again.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Buc, yankeedawg1, growl, SimpleDawg
Well done, SD....your assessment of the offense for next year reminds me of the old Fun 'n' Gun offenses of the Spurrier years at UF. He seemed to always have defenders in the quandary of having to decide between two players, as to which one to cover. As long as the QB had time, the throws were much easier, and didn't require a cannon arm.....just a quick decision maker. And those UF teams always ran the ball well.
Monken's success leading to his departure is the natural progression of life in CFB.....I think that's why it's always good to have an assistant work closely with the coordinator to insure continuity and retention of intellectual property when the developer leaves.
Last year is done. What was wasted in poor application is still here for better use - talent.
Within the next two years, UGA should be lifting trophies and reveling in the Glory.
On the Hoop Dawgs..... They are maddening to watch, but every once in awhile, you get a gem like we did this past week....and twice.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Buc, yankeedawg1, growl