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Season 2 Volume 10: Dawgs on Top

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NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Intro

So we are all aware it doesn’t matter. We all know there is plenty of work to be done. We know that he won’t let it get to them. But in the middle of his second year, Kirby has the Dawgs back on top mid season and vying for a big post season. There are still so many giant tests to come this year, but you are allowed to be excited. You’re allowed to be excited about the trajectory of the program. You’re allowed to be fired up by the physical style of play. You’re allowed to be impressed by the mentality and focus of this team.

I am not going to put a ton of stock into these rankings as I fully acknowledge that there are games to be played. But I will say this, I am glad the committee has this type of mindset at the midpoint. Bama at #1 at this point in the season would have been built off preseason ranking and the eye test, as their best win is currently against a very average Texas A&M team. Georgia has arguably the best win in college football this year against #3 Notre Dame, destroyed #16 Mississippi State and handled every other opponent with ease. I am not sure, however, that Georgia can keep the #1 ranking should both teams win out prior to conference championship week. Bama plays three top 25 teams (LSU, Miss St and Auburn) to finish the season while the Dawgs will face only one (Auburn). The Bama-Mississippi St game could be a big one, as like opponents is a factor used to differentiate closely ranked teams. You can keep saying that these rankings don’t matter but should both teams win out to the SEC championship, the #1 ranking will be crucial. For whichever team loses the SEC championship game, it will be much easier to squeak into the playoff with a prior ranking of #1 than #2. Obviously, the Dawgs best bet to remain #1 is to take care of business in the next four and to do it in convincing fashion.

The Dawgs revenge tour has been sweet this year. 2016 was a transition year full of disappointing defeats to bitter rivals. But Kirby Smart and Georgia emerged immensely stronger in 2017 and now look like a dominant SEC East force for what could be years to come. The recruiting is at an elite level. The physical and disciplined style of play makes success sustainable. But what may open the East up for Georgia the most over the next few years is the instability of rival programs. Georgia’s dominant performances exposed significant issues at both Florida and Tennessee. Those programs can only hope to recover and transition as quickly as Georgia has in a year and a half.

Playing to a Standard

We’ve started to hear this phrase a lot around the Georgia program and I think it was really well illustrated on two occasions against Florida.

Davin Bellamy, Johnathan Ledbetter and John Atkins were really pissed following the loss of the shutout late in the fourth quarter against Florida. Georgia has some really talented young players playing on the second team defense but apparently none were playing to the standard that the Georgia defense has created this year. There is such a sense of urgency on defense this year. Florida had a bit of run success in the second quarter. You could see the urgency of the coaches and defenders build as Florida continued to drive the ball down the field. Eventually, the effort level and intensity rose to meet Florida and the Dawgs were able to stop them inside the 5 yard line on a fourth down stand. This is the new standard. Even if you give up some yards or miss a few assignments, bow up and make a stop. The vets made sure to let the second team know that late TD’s against inferior opponents are not acceptable anymore.

Perhaps the better example was exemplified by Kirby Smart yanking his entrenched starter at QB. I’ve been a huge Fromm supporter since he took the helm. I think he’s done some really good things with the added benefit of improved OL play and more effective play calling. But he did not have his best performance against Florida. His TD throw to Wims was really good, but other than that he looked a bit lost. His interception early in the second half is exactly what I would expect for a freshman and exactly the opposite of what I’ve come to expect from Fromm. But what was really bad was his pathetic control of the offense on 2 consecutive downs in the fourth quarter. He showed a total lack of composure after a great throw to Swift and took a delay of game. He then failed to realize that the play clock reset at 25 seconds rather than 40 after a delay of game penalty and took another 5 yards. Kirby’s frustration was easily visible as he screamed, “That’s on you!!!” He quickly pulled Fromm for the rest of the game and sent a message that the natural order of things is a lot less important than the new high standard of Georgia football. All that being said, I expect a solid recovery from Fromm this week with a lot more than 7 pass attempts.

UGA We Ballin’

Sony Michel has been a damn force this year. While Nick Chubb gets the majority of the carries as the workhorse back, Sony has been a big play machine. I have a buddy that proclaims Sony is better than Chubb every chance he gets. It has actually been really tough to argue with him this year, so instead I focus on how blessed we are to have two backs of this caliber in their fourth year. Take a look at this comparison:

vs Power 5 Defenses This Year:

Saquon Barkley: 582 yards, 7 TD on 114 carries

Sony Michel: 542 yards, 7 TD on 58 carries

I think Sony has really improved this year. His elusiveness has always been the best part of his game. His ability to make a man miss in tight spaces is unique. But this year, I think he looks much stronger in the power run game and his breakaway speed has improved. He is running behind his pads and flattening members of the secondary. Helped by Jim Cheney’s design and much improved OL play, he has broken open several long TD runs with really impressive burst to the end zone. The running back lineup and limited carries by each player has really allowed Sony to stay fresh throughout each game. The results speak for themselves

South Carolina Preview

They won’t have near enough. I think South Carolina has a decent young defense with above average players at every level. But as with every game this season, even if Georgia has difficulty scoring initially, their depth and versatility chip away and bust the game open at some point. I expect the same in this game. A lot of teams recently seem convinced that Fromm can’t pass. While I disagree with that sentiment, his play caller and running back teammates have made it relatively easy on him with a lot of versatility out of the backfield. The skill of the Georgia backfield in both the run game and pass game will really hurt South Carolina’s young defense. On offense, South Carolina lost the only truly dynamic option that would have scared me in Deebo Samuel. Without him, they are a bit of a static offense. Jake Bentley’s mobility should be easily neutralized and the defensive Dawgs should roll. Dawgs 41 Cocks 17

Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week

Last Week: 3-2

Overall Record: 49-43-1

Solid week but hungry for more. Picks are hot this week