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Georgia football offense this year will now say a lot more about Todd Monken than the quarterbacks
Since Jamie Newman and Todd Monken both arrived at Georgia in January, the two had been paired as the men who would turn around the Georgia offense. Monken, the creative mind from the NFL ranks with modern passing principles and Newman, the uber-athlete with a rocket arm, seemed like it had the potential for an excellent marriage.
Instead, it’s turned into a divorce before the Bulldogs even played a game.
Newman announced on Wednesday that he would be opting out of the 2020 season in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He becomes the first Georgia player to opt-out and joins the likes of LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and former Wake Forest teammate Sage Surratt.
The quarterback took the time to thank Georgia coach Kirby Smart in his statement, and Smart later responded with a statement of his own supporting Newman.
“While we will miss him being part of our program, I fully support Jamie’s decision and we will continue to regard him as a Georgia Bulldog,” Smart said. “Certainly, we wish him nothing but the best in his quest for an NFL career and he knows he will always have a home at UGA.”
With no Newman, the question becomes, who is up next at the quarterback for the Bulldogs? Georgia will have to choose between JT Daniels, D’Wan Mathis, Carson Beck and Stetson Bennett among the scholarship options.
But the more important question might actually what is Monken now able to get out of the quarterback position?
One of the more fun debates had regarding the success of LSU’s 2019 season — where the team re-wrote the SEC records books — is who was more responsible for the success? Was it transcendent quarterback Joe Burrow, the player out there making the plays, or passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who seemed to finally unlock all the talent LSU had on its roster.
The reality is that the correct answer is both. Burrow actually made the plays, but Brady also clearly played a key role in opening things up for the Tigers.
Given the new offensive coordinator and transfer quarterback, the 2019 LSU-2020 Georgia comparisons were popular this offseason. Losing Newman so close to the start of the season will certainly scale back those comparisons.
Unless Monken is still able to transform the Georgia offense through his scheme. If that were to happen, it might go a long way in answering the Brady-Burrow debate. And silence a number of critics when it comes to Kirby Smart and the Georgia offense.
The man now under the most pressure when it comes to the Georgia offense is in fact Monken. For much of the offseason, it was Newman given he was a clear on-field face for the offense.
Monken could very likely end up trotting out a transfer quarterback as his starter this year, as J.T. Daniels is now the odds-on favorite to win the job. He transferred to Georgia in May, after Monken arrived.
But Daniels still hasn’t been fully cleared yet for game action, though he was able to scrimmage this past week. He’s still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered last August, and there’s some natural rust that comes with returning.
If it’s not Daniels as the starter, then it’s one of the other three quarterbacks mentioned who have thrown a combined 27 pass attempts at the college level.
So Monken is clearly going to be tasked with getting the most out of this quarterback room.
As for what he is looking for from his quarterback, Monken stated that accuracy, mental toughness and athleticism are the most important characteristics. In his past offenses, he’s also focused a lot on attacking the field vertically and getting the most out of his star wide receivers.
Georgia does have that in George Pickens, and he will no doubt make the life of the starting quarterback easier. But the wide receiver depth behind him isn’t great to start the season.
Monken will likely look to the running back position to help aid his starting quarterback, as the early returns on Zamir White and James Cook have been very positive.
Burrow wasn’t the only one who had a breakout year last season thanks to Brady. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and wide receiver Justin Jefferson both went from 3-star recruits to first-round draft picks thanks to Brady continuously putting them in positions to succeed and be productive players.
If this Georgia offense is going to even sniff what LSU did a season ago, Monken will have to do the same guys like Demetris Robertson, Cook and tight end transfer Tre McKitty.
The spotlight was going to shine brightly on Newman this season, as it usually is on the Georgia quarterback. But as we’ve seen with Mike Bobo, Jim Chaney and 2019 offensive coordinator James Coley, that spotlight is equally intense on the play-caller.
And now with Newman exiting stage left, Monken will get either great praise or sharper criticism for his direction of the Georgia offense.
Georgia football offensive coordinator Todd Monken discusses offense
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