September 20, 2011

'Where's Orson?'

After snaring six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Boise State, the season for Orson Charles as a big-time threat in Georgia's passing game certainly got off to a rip-roaring start.

But since then, the balls have been hard to come by.

After being held to zero catches the following week against South Carolina, Charles only caught two for 42 yards in last week's 59-0 win over Coastal Carolina, although one went 33 yards for a touchdown, on a beautiful throw by Hutson Mason.

However, that still hasn't kept some fans from wondering "where's Orson?" and whether or not Bulldog offensive coaches have been doing all they can to get the talented junior the ball.

So, what's the deal?

"They (opposing defenses) respect us more. I think that's one of the main things," said Charles, who dealt with constant double-coverage in the game against South Carolina. "I'm not going to say I'm happy about it, but it's not just me. It's the tight ends as a whole, because they're doing that to Aron (White) and Artie (Lynch), too. But that means, when somebody is double-teaming me, it's leaving somebody else open. If they're leaving somebody else open one-on-one, I feel sorry for them. If they want to do that, be my guest."

Quarterback Aaron Murray has noticed the shift.

He doesn't blame opposing defensive coordinators from feeling the need to blanket Charles as much as they can. However, with five different wide receivers catching passes Saturday against the Chanticleers, Murray believes Charles will find more balls headed his way soon.

"They have to double on Orson. If you single up Orson with a safety or linebacker you're in big trouble," Murray said. "But what that does is it helps everyone else, and now you look and we've got receivers from all over making plays, so teams will have to start focusing on them a little bit more and when they do that it's going to open up Orson."

Head coach Mark Richt has heard the "where's Orson" question before.

He insists it's not because they're not trying to get him the football.

"There's certain times where are tight ends are going to pass protect for us. It's just part of our system. It's a way for us to get seven-man protection. We could do it a couple of ways. That's one of the ways we do it. We are probably doing less of that than we were a year ago, so that's not an issue," Richt said. "Some people are like 'why isn't Orson getting the ball more?' The reality is we run routes where we spread the field. If we are stretching horizontally, we are going to have somebody in the middle, we're going to have somebody in the hook and we're going to have somebody in the flat. We might have somebody in the weak hook and the week flat on this side, and then certain coverages will dictate where the ball is going to go.
"If you get a blitz - if it's an inside blitz, you may throw a middle hot. If it's an outside blitz, you may throw a hot out there. If you have a roll and the secondary rolls this way, you're probably going to throw backside. Then if it's quarters coverage or some kind of coverage like that, you'll progress number one, number two and number three. So who's going to get the ball? Out of the five, I don't know before the snap. Some games the guy gets it six games. Some games he gets it two times or three times. Balls have been thrown to Orson that either protection or some reason he didn't get the completion. I don't know if he has dropped a ball yet. I don't think he has. We are aware of Orson and wanting to use him, but we can't always predict where the ball is going to go. If you say this route is going to him no matter what, you force the ball, you throw picks and you got problems."

Charles laughed that wasn't a problem when he and Murray teamed together at Plant High during their senior year.

Of course, that was high school. This is the SEC.

"I got double-covered, but Aaron didn't care, he still threw the ball because they had confidence in me," said Charles, who insists he hasn't been frustrated with the recent lack of balls coming his way.

"If you get double-covered the whole game, I'm blocking the whole game and we come out with a win, I'm happier than I am than say I had 10 catches and we lost," he said. "That's my mindset. I just want to win."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]