Who is for real and who’s been faking for three games? I really think that one of these teams is a real deal SEC contender (as much as an SEC West team can be a contender with Bama in the division) and the other will fade into the distance as the season progresses. Only problem is that I don’t know who is who. Vegas thinks its Georgia, some experts think its Mississippi State. Anyone who tries to tell you they know exactly how these two teams matchup before they actually take the field is flexing their hottest take. It’s the same reason you can have success in early season sports betting season against the spread. Other than maybe Alabama and Clemson, nobody knows who anybody really is yet. The crucial questions concerning this game are who is Notre Dame and who is LSU? These early season expectations for Georgia and Mississippi State are based off the one marquee victory each team has been able to collect. But are those wins worth anything? LSU could be a total dumpster fire under Coach O and Notre Dame could be destined for another losing season. To make a long story short, I don’t expect this game to be that close. I’m just not sure who wins it.
That Man Wants This One
I worked for Todd Grantham during the 2013 season. He is one vengeful and intense dude. I know he wants this one following his awkward exit from Georgia’s coaching staff. He’s coming back to Athens to reestablish his reputation as one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. Grantham had a bad taste in his mouth following the 2012 SEC championship game and he took it out on the Clemson visitor’s locker room in my first game as an assistant. As we reentered the Clemson visitor’s locker room after warmups, Grantham asked me to clear an area off to the side of the locker room and bring him a chair. This was my first game and I was sure he would use the chair and empty space to calmly meet with his defensive unit and run through some last minute specifics. The players crowded around, Grantham gave a Braveheart-esque speech and cracked the chair in half by slamming it on the floor and over lockers. Damage was caused, I was scared.
Grantham’s aggression shows in his players. He is super aggressive in the run game and has a tremendous system to slow down a rushing attack. It’s the reason he never lost to a team like Georgia tech while he was at Georgia. However, his defenses tend to struggle defending the pass and thus came the phrase that Georgia fans loved to hate, “3rd and Grantham”. Jim Chaney must be very creative in his run game to have rushing success. Grantham will sell out on the run game on 1st and 2nd down until Jake Fromm proves he can beat him. It’s Jim Chaney’s job to take pressure off Fromm by opening up the run game. Getting Sony Michel back and the versatility of D’andre swift should help immensely.
3 Questions for the Offense
Given the fact that I won’t claim to understand the complexity of how these teams matchup, I have some questions. These questions hold the keys to the game on offense.
1. Can the Georgia OL push Mississppi State defensive front around?
I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again. Movement off the ball is critical to establishing a run game and opening up options for a young, limited quarterback.
2. Will the TE group get more usage?
Georgia likely has one of the most talented TE groups and yet they have been utilized rather poorly to this point. Grantham really likes to bring pressure on 3rd down and the TE group could serve as an excellent safety valve for Fromm. A couple check downs and a few big plays over the middle could yield huge offensive success for the Dawgs.
3. Go to guy in vertical passing game
As Grantham plays aggressively in the run game, there will be opportunities in the vertical passing game. Javon Wims has been the deep man to this point and the way he goes up and gets the ball is impressive. I’d love to see Riley Ridley get reengaged and go grab a 40 yard gain. Terry Godwin and Mecole are excellent breakaway deep options as well. Need at least two big plays in the vertical passing game to get this win
3 Questions for the Defense
1. Will the run defense continue to hold up?
The Georgia run defense has been one of the best in the country to this point. Held fellow mobile QB Brandon Wimbush to 1 yard rushing. He’s broken off two 200 yard rushing performances against other opponents so that is a huge accomplishment. The Mississippi State OL has been better on film than I imagined
2. Is Georgia’s team speed too much for Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State to handle?
You’d think that if Miss St can handle the team speed of LSU that they would be fine against Georgia. But out dudes can run on defense. Mainly Roquan Smith. I’m sure Roquan will have increased responsibility in containing Nick Fitzgerald and that should be great news for dawg fans given the way he has played. The “rover” type guy for LSU is 240lb Devin White and he did not have much success at all in keeping up with Fitzgerald.
3. Will the Georgia Secondary Play Their Keys
So far this season, the Georgia secondary has done an excellent job in maintaining assignments and avoiding huge plays. The first play of the Note Dame game was a flea flicker broken up beautifully by Dom Sanders. Nick Fitzgerald created two huge pass plays against LSU with hard run fake. Georgia DB’s have to let the front seven play the run up front and play their keys out
All that said on both the offensive and defensive side, I think the game breaks down to two key factors. Georgia run game versatility and team speed on defense. Dawgs 27 Dogs 17
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Last Week: 2-3 (garbage)
Overall Record: 35-27-1
Last week was unpleasant and I ain’t doing it again. I like these picks so rock with me. Back in the black this week. Also, if you’d like to wet your beak in some NFL lines, I highly suggest Colin Cowherd’s Blazing Five. Dude is 8-2 this year. Don’t think about it, just jump into it. Always a solid strategy.