Welcome to a weekly experience in which we enrich the lives of Georgia fans by building up their confidence and convincing them that there is no possible way the Bulldogs will lose this week.
Look, Georgia’s not going to lose to Notre Dame. There’s just no way. The Bulldogs may not be perfect and the game may be a challenge, but here’s why I can already taste the victory.
This is Not a Hostile Road Atmosphere
Notre Dame Stadium is a joke. This offseason some adjustments were made to reduce (not a typo) the venue’s capacity to 77,622. Georgia will play 12 games this season; only three (Vandy, Georgia Tech and Florida in Jacksonville) will be in front of smaller crowds.
What’s more, Notre Dame fans don’t even stand up for games. Seriously. Someone asked if it was OK to stand up for the majority of the Georgia game over at One Foot Down (the Notre Dame SBNation site). The answer was adequate, but what’s most telling is that a Notre Dame fan had to actually ask if it was acceptable to stand up at a football game.
Georgia doesn’t lose to sitting fans. Not nowhere, not no how.
Sure, this is Jake Fromm’s first road start. It’s also his first start in general and for all I know it’s his first time flying in an airplane. But the fact that the game is at Notre Dame does not amplify the adversity that may accompany an evening of firsts. No one born after the 1960s has been blown away by the mystical experiences of playing at Notre Dame. His grandfather will probably be really into it, because grandpas love that kind of stuff. But this is going to be a small, Dawg-heavy crowd with a lot of sitting.
It’s not like he’s playing in Baton Rouge.
Notre Dame’s Offense May Not Actually Be Great
Everyone gets nervous when they see that Georgia’s playing a mobile quarterback, and the Dawgs might be playing one on Saturday. But they also might not be. Brandon Wimbush ran for 106 yards on 12 attempts last week, but that was against a Temple team with significantly less talent than Georgia (and frankly, most teams in the nation) under a new coaching staff. It’s possible that he has success on the ground against the Bulldogs, but he’s only played in three games over the course of his career. In two (including last week) he proved adequate on the ground. But he also found himself scrambling behind the line more often than not against Pittsburgh a few seasons ago.
Wimbush is being talked about like he’s the Madden 2004 version of Mike Vick. He’s not.
Running back Josh Adams has racked up 800+ yards in each of the past two seasons and his 160-yard output against Temple stood out. But he’s been bottled up before by the likes of Stanford and Michigan State. That could happen again.
Dexter Williams ran for 124 yards against Temple. Again, he may be a stud. But after averaging fewer than 20 yards per contest in 15 game appearances over the two previous seasons, it seems like a stretch to assume he’ll run wild against Georgia.
Equanimeous St. Brown gets lots of hype for good reason. He’s a dope receiver with a doper name. But Wimbush’s arm (184 yards on 30 attempts last week), isn’t terrifying even against a depleted secondary. I think it’s actually a good thing if the passing attack becomes the focal point of the Fighting Irish attack.
The ground game is the strength for both Georgia and Notre Dame. For Georgia, I think that strength comes more from the running backs than the offensive line. For the Fighting Irish, the opposite may be true. But there’s no way on earth I’m writing through a hangover Sunday morning and talking about Notre Dame’s three different hundred-yard rushers. I’d be very surprised if more than one hit the century mark.
Fromm May Not Have to Do Much
I really don’t foresee a scenario in which Notre Dame races out to a sizable lead and forces Georgia into a pass-heavy offense. I don’t think the Irish have the passing prowess to gain such an advantage, and I trust Georgia’s front-seven too much to expect them to get pounded to death for two or three consecutive series.
With that situation (hopefully) off the table, things get interesting for Georgia in that things don’t have to get interesting at all. Chaney Ball, boring and methodical as it may be at times (save for a short-yardage fourth-down run going to a 5-foot-6 receiver), should have some success against Notre Dame.
Last week, Temple’s Logan Marchi was fairly impressive in his first career start. He hit on about 55% of his passes and threw for nearly 250 yards, two TDs and no INTs. (Note: His efficiency rating was actually better than Wimbush’s for the game). He connected on a variety of passes. Of his 19 completions, eight were for 10 or fewer yards, eight were for 11-20 yards and three were 20+ yards downfield. There were opportunities to make plays in the passing game and the Owls succeeded.
I think there will be opportunities for Georgia’s passing game to feed off the running game—if Chaney and Fromm pick their moments and execute appropriately. And in a small sample size from the Dawgs’ coordinator-quarterback duo so far, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Fromm didn’t put up the sexiest numbers in the world nor was he a world-beater on an island last week against App State. But Chaney put him in positions to succeed and he executed. If Georgia wins the ground-game matchup (which I expect) and the crowd isn’t a factor (which it shouldn’t be), Fromm could put up numbers somewhere between where he was last week (10/15, 143 yards, 1 TD) and what Marchi did (19/35, 245 yards, 2 TDs) and the Dawgs will win.
That might be over-simplified, but if Fromm’s stat line is something like 15 completions on 27 attempts for 200 yards and more TDs than INTs (let’s call it 2 vs. 1), Georgia will win this ball game.
Georgia’s not losing this game. I said it last week about App State, and I was right. I’m excited about being 2-0.