Who: #16 Clemson at #12 Georgia
Where: Sanford Stadium
When: 5:36 p.m. eastern kickoff
How: ESPN (Todd Blackledge, Brad Nessler, Holly Rowe), radio through the Bulldog Radio Network
Sure, we could tell you about the effect injuries and suspensions may have on this afternoon's matchup between the #16 ranked Clemson Tigers and the #12 ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Or how important Todd Gurley is to keeping the Bulldog offense on track. Or what freshmen are likely to contribute. But we've already done that this week. Now is the part of the program where we distill the first game of the season down to cold, hard numbers. Here they are, the numbers to know before the 'Dawgs and Tigers go at each other.
73%: The percentage of 2013's offensive output lost by Clemson. There are still athletes galore on offense. And Chad Morris still knows how to put up points. But make no mistake, this is probably not the aerial circus we witnessed last year.
2.9: The number of yards Georgia averaged on punt returns in 2013. That's gosh-awful no matter how you spin it. Today will be the first test of whether Mark Richt has really and truly gotten serious about taking back control of the kicking game from opponents, or whether he's content to just sort of not lose the game in the third phase of which it's composed.
7: Total number of interceptions by Bulldog defenders in 2013. That's pretty terrible. Really, it's no wonder that Todd Grantham's defense found itself against the wall so often when it rarely did anything to push back.
3: The number of those interceptions by players who did not transfer this summer to Louisville or Auburn. That's even terribler.
26: The number of interceptions Jeremy Pruitt's Florida State defense pilfered in 2013. That has to be some reason for hope, right?
2177: The number of rushing yards in 2013 by Bulldogs returning for 2014.
46%: The percentage of those yards attributable to Todd Gurley.
0%: The percentage of returning rushing yards attributable to Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. I don't like to overhype freshmen. Frankly I've watched with a little bemusement as LSU fans have talked very seriously about whether Leonard Fournette should be the favorite for the Heisman. But these guys are good. Really good. Not necessarily Gurley good, but in Gurley's general league good. And that's great news for the future of Georgia football.
301.8: The average weight of the members of Georgia's starting offensive line.That's down pretty significantly from last year. There's been a lot of talk this offseason about the Bulldogs trying to become leaner and more agile, especially on defense. But I think that this slightly more svelte O-line is also by design. Look for Georgia to try to move quicker on offense, to go up-tempo at times, though not all the time.
157: Total number of passing attempts by Hutson Mason prior to today in his UGA career.
133: Total passing attempts by D.J. Shockley at UGA before he took over the starting role in 2005. Shockley completed 50.4% of those passes for 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Mason on the other hand has completed 60% of his passes for 8 scores and 3 picks. All of which is to say that on paper there's just as much reason to have faith in Hutson Mason today as there was to have faith in Shockley on the morning of the 2005 Boise State game.
Sure the Bulldog offense is a little different now. Call me crazy, but in talking to Hutson Mason this summer, I get the sense that he understands that he isn't Aaron Murray and is going to be fine. I'm not saying he'll have the most efficient season ever for a Bulldog signal caller like Shockley did. But I sense that the silver lining to Aaron Murray's unfortunate 2013 injury is that we're not really starting a rookie under center as many have assumed.
Feel free to use this as your hangout spot for College Game Day, SEC Nation, and the early games. You can find a complete television schedule courtesy of RedCrake. Until later . . .