Saturday, July 29, 2017

Will Dawgs Run More RPO This Year?

Obviously, with the Justin Fields saga ongoing, many are assuming, whether correctly or not, that he wants to know Georgia will incorporate more Run-Pass Option into its offense. After all, it's been shown to be a valuable asset to any offense's arsenal, and would be something Fields can definitely excel at.

The question at hand is, can Georgia run it with Eason at the helm?

From my chair, the answer is absolutely.

There's no doubt that, all else being equal, you'd prefer to have a QB who runs a 4.5 or 4.6. However, Eason showed last year that, when necessary, he absolutely has decent game speed when it comes to tucking the ball and running.

Don't confuse this with the statue-like plays we saw at times in the pocket. I attribute that much more to his inexperience than athleticism. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were possibly the two slowest QBs in a dead-run. However, they both became extremely adept at taking a step here or there to elude would-be sacks, so that part of the position is something that involves experience and instinct far more than sheer athleticism.

To have an effective RPO aspect requires a couple of things.

First, you do need to be fast "enough." While Eason is never going to challenge for fastest man on the team, I have seen enough to show me that he can move enough to demand a defense's respect for that option. That's really a major part of the equation.

Second, you need to be able to sell it, which comes from repetition and coaching.

It might surprise you to know that Georgia great David Greene ran a 4.78 40 at the NFL combine way back in 2005. I'm not sure what Eason could run, but in comparing the two, I would bet it would also be in that range. That's fast enough to run away from D-Linemen, and enough to pick up 5-10 yards before DE's or LB's catch up to run him out of bounds. And, at 6-5 and around 230lbs, he definitely has the size to shed arm tackles and take a few indirect hits.

So, the key will be, how quickly can he learn to "sell" the RPO? That, too, comes with practice and experience, but I do believe Georgia will run it occasionally for the same reason you run play-action. It's to give the defense just the slightest bit of pause in diagnosing and reacting to a particular play. I believe Eason is big enough and athletic enough that defenses cannot just say, "ignore the QB as a runner. We can react quickly enough that he won't get far regardless."

Check out the 1:21, 2:00, 2:35, 3:20, 5:00, 5:25, and 9:30 marks in the video below for starters. You'll see him on the move, and in several cases being chased by LB's who are either slow to catch him, or not catching him at all. Granted, these are often busted plays, but to me he looks quite comfortable and self-assured running the ball.

Look, we're obviously not going to incorporate RPO has an integral part of moving the ball, but we can definitely feel comfortable using it and knowing that defenses will need to respect Eason as a runner, even if they don't necessarily fear him.

(as a bonus, watch the whole thing to remind yourself just how great this kid can be once he really "gets it.")


  1. Good post. Possibly the dumbest comments about Eason last year were that he's a statue. I wonder what game people are watching sometimes. Big strong qbs with decent speed can put serious pressure on a defense.

    1. Thanks. Any "statue-ness" was, to me, due to indecision stemming from inexperience. Hoping those moments will be far less frequent in year 2.