I hate to beat a dead horse, but I saved some screenshots from the Boise game that might better illustrate why the I-formation was successful, and bring more confusion to why we abandoned it.
Some have mentioned that our overkill use of the shotgun was likely due to how poorly our offensive line was playing, and that it was in our best interest to give Murray space behind the line of scrimmage to have any adequate time to get a pass off. In some cases, this is true, because the shotgun should give the QB a better view of rushing defenders and an ability to avoid being sacked.
But the I-Formation is important to UGA because of another factor: protection in numbers. At the start of the revealing drive I referenced in my last post, the ESPN commentator made mention of I-formation being Georgia's "maximum protection" because it allowed for 7 blockers to guard the QB (5 linemen, 1 tight end, and 1 fullback or running back). If you feel comfortable enough, the TE can become a receiver, and you still have 6 man protection. But the I-Formation also appears to be more successful for UGA in pass blocking even with numbers aren't the advantage.
Here is the I-Formation in the first play of that drive:
Just for a better view, here's another shot of I-formation from behind:
Here is the same play after the snap. Notice Murray has plenty room in his pocket and time to throw as the defense is sending five pass rushers against five blockers (we send the TE on a route). He probably could have stood there for another second or two if he wanted.
As Georgia made their way down the field, the commentator continued to praise the decision of the offensive coordinator to switch to the I-formation, because it was allowing Murray much more protection and time to pass, while he was running for his life in the shotgun. I also noticed that on the one play of that drive that we decided to run out of the I-Formation, Richard Samuel actually found a large hole to run through in the line (but unfortunately it looks like he ran into one of our blockers, just shy of the vast field of freedom ahead of him).
But just as soon as the commentators praised the change, we decided it was time to return to the shotgun (I presume just because it has such a cool sounding name).
Here on a crucial 3rd down, we go with 5 OL, no TE, and a freshman RB to pass block. We have a four receiver set and no fullback for extra help in the backfield. It doesn't end well.
Now the defense sends five pass rushers against a weaker UGA offensive protection, despite Georgia having 6 pass blockers. The edge rushers get around that smaller line in a hurry, and the middle of the pocket collapses along with the ends. Murray gets sacked here, and we miss a long field goal in a crucial moment.
It could be argued that we might as well go shotgun on that 3rd down, because everyone knew we would pass the ball. That's true, but the bigger problem was the 2 shotgun plays before that, both of which were unsuccessful, right after we made it quickly down the field in I-Formation. And pass blocking in the shotgun broke down much faster, even when having a numbers advantage, than it did in the I-Formation.
Also, that particular play above wasn't pretty. Other than going back to shotgun, a formation in which we saw our offensive line fall apart and the pocket frequently collapse, Mike Bobo also apparently decided we would have plenty of time for Murray to pump fake a short pass and then try to hit the end zone 30 yards downfield. The short pass might have been successful (or would at least give a better shot at a field goal), but instead we got a sack and no points. Then again, we've complained about not being aggressive enough on offense before... right?