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3 Things That Worry Me About Middle Tennessee

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Georgia is playing an opponent that is averaging 34 points a game, we’re coming off a big win versus a division rival, we face a scary road trip versus a 1st round draft pick next week, and we might have to deal with a tropical cyclone. What, me worry?

Middle Tennessee v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Here is what I’m NOT worried about come Saturday afternoon’s game:

1) The MTSU running game. In the NFL, 4.5 yards/carry is a healthy average. In college, it is not. MTSU has rushed for 204 net yards (293 gross) in just over 70 attempts through their first 2 games. Granted, that is more than USCe rushed for last week, but MTSU did not face our rush defense. Instead, they faced Vandy and University of Tennessee at Martin. Last season they finished 91st in the country toting the rock. They haven’t left the state of TN this year, and it looks like they’re not going to escape by running.

2) Passive UGA defense. I don’t know the stat to support this, but based on the infallible eyeball test, the Georgia defense is still incredibly aggressive. Players are flying to the ball, and in numbers.

We have 35 different student-athletes recording a tackle, assisted or solo. And of the 117 total tackles tallied to date (love me some alliteration), a full 48% are assisted. As in, more than one Bulldog on the ball. And that is a great sign of contain, keeping the offense in front of you, and staying with assignments. To compare, USCe and Austin Peay had almost 60% solo tackles versus our offense, which could mean our playmakers obtained space, crossed the defense up, or just weren’t as good. Either way, I’m not worried about our effort.

3) The halftime score. In Kirby, Tucker, and Chaney I trust. I keep telling myself this, and recent history bears it out. The Georgia coaching staff come in with a plan, but they are very good at getting the boys ready to play again after intermission. Few games are truly “a tale of two halves” in terms of performance under Kirby Smart, though you can readily see that they are prepared whenever they come out of the locker room. Results maybe, but not effort and performance. Come out in the second half, score quickly, set the tone, and wear them down. Sometimes it just takes a while to get there.

Let’s face it. The Blue Raiders are not one of the toughest tests Georgia will face this season. Based on history they have a mediocre offense, a porous defense, turn the ball over, and get penalized a lot. This is more an exercise about what the Bulldogs might do wrong than what MTSU can bring to the table.

With that knowledge, I was told they have a long-snapper that is ambidextrous, and he’s been practicing this week left-handed. Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch on AM radio, so here’s what I am worried about this Saturday Between The Hedges:

1) Jake Fromm holding the ball too long. Is he wearing stick ‘um, a la Lester Hayes? He doesn’t have a mental stopwatch, he has a mental hourglass. And Fields has been just as guilty with far fewer drop backs.

Based on who we’ve faced, I see no reason for any quarter back under center for the University of Georgia to have anything other than this running through his head as he signals for the snap: “1-2-3 throw high, or tuck it and run.” On the sideliens it should be “Man, we sure have a good receiving corp. I’ll just throw it where no one else can catch it. If there’s double coverage, I’ll just chuck it in the stands. If the rush comes up the middle, I’ll just roll and tuck it to live for another play.” I mean, surely our QBs have seen what Ridley can haul in, what Hardman can do with the ball in stride, and what Holloman looks like. Just get rid of it – we have the tools to make up for it on the next play.

Like my mother always said “nothing good happens after midnight, and nothing good happens if your signal caller can’t get rid of the ball in under 3.3 seconds.”

2) Florence. And not the town in South Carolina sitting at the crossroads of Hell and Purgatory. Florence The Hurricane. We won’t know how this affects team travel (hopefully none), fan travel (hopefully little), and field conditions until probably Friday. The last thing we want is something like this. But here at Dawg Sports we have the #1 rated SB Nation meteorologist on staff, and he’s keeping you up to date on all the latest. Now let’s throw it back to the studio and Kent Brockman.

3) The Dropsies. This will be even more worrisome next week, but Georgia benefitted (is this even a word?) last week from Cocky wideouts and running backs running with the ball before they caught it. Was that a product of hearing footsteps and dreading stout Bulldog defenders leveling their pads? Possibly, but all the SCAR players were veterans of SEC play so I doubt it. For whatever reason, they screwed up, we got lucky, and the rout was on. We can’t count on those bounces going our way as the season progresses – these things tend to even out over the long term.

What worries you about Saturday’s second season opponent from the Volunteer state? Leave them in the comments below. And as always…

GO ‘DAWGS!!!