Here is what I’m NOT worried about come Saturday night’s kickoff against the Fightin’ Irish of Notre Dame:
1) Getting James Cook to the edge, and really working the outside and edges. In the first game it was Demetris Robertson. He missed the Arkansas State game, and might be gimpy for this one. Is that a problem? No. Insert Cook. With more of a runner’s mentality, and pretty comparable speed to Robertson, we haven’t skipped a beat.
The zone reads, the jet sweeps, deep hitches, several bombs… the Georgia offense is really getting to the outside to help our plethora of playmakers find space.
2) They seem susceptible to the run. And we do the run, very well. Very, very well. We’re grounding out over 286 yards a game. Is that against stiff competition? Nope. Yet that is countered by the fact our rushing also includes backup quarterbacks, 2nd and 3rd string offensive linemen, and our #5 tailback.
Notre Dame is giving up over 230 yards a game, at a 5.0 ypc clip no less. I think their front 7 are very serviceable. I don’t think they can go deep in that same front 7, and Sam Pittman’s boys will be lathered up and ready to move some earth.
3) Early scoring. Georgia has scored a touchdown on it’s first possession every game this season. Even with a new coordinator in James Coley, those first 15-20 scripted plays look tight.
Each game has been fairly balanced as well. Even early, there’s a good mix of run and pass. And considering the opponents, most of Jake Fromm’s numbers (which are tremendous) are from the first half. Same for D’Andre Swift. If we continue this trend, build momentum, get a few stops on defense, with that crazy Sanford Stadium night crowd… boy howdy, I’m drooling already.
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:
1) Canadians. You never know when they’re going to sneak into your country and steal the spotlight. They’re not all Jesse Palmers, some of them can even play football. Like Irish wideout Chase Claypool. The syrup-licker from BC is 6’4”+, 229 lbs, and looks every bit like an NFL beast. I haven’t seen his speed, but his size alone has me worried. We’ve already given up one (and only one) touchdown to a big receiver (former Gator and current Murray St. Racer Daquon Green).
I’ve seen Tyson Campbell let opponents get behind him several times this year, and we’ve been fortunate to have pressure on the quarterback and some timely drops by the other team. We can’t count on being lucky against a team using a four-leaf clover as a mascot.
2) Ian Book. The Irish offense so far has faced the New Mexico and Louisville defenses (New Mexico is DFL in 2019 total defense). Our defense’s passing down Success Rate is 11%, good for #10 in the country. We haven’t faced elite receivers like the boys from South Bend, and Notre Dame hasn’t faced a secondary like the boys from the Classic City.
Despite averaging over 270 yards through the air, I’m more worried about his legs. He is the team’s leading rusher after all. There will be called run plays for Book, sure. Coach Lanning will also be sure to have our #5 nationally ranked run defense looking for those. It’s the broken plays and escaping the pocket for first downs that worries me. Considering we haven’t faced a running quarterback of this caliber so far, I think it will take a while for the UGA defense to find it’s groove in keeping contain on the mobile signal caller. And this will be the best offensive line we’ve faced by far. I recall Baker Mayfield running and throwing at will in the Rose Bowl in the first half behind a good O-line. In the second half, not so much. I imagine a similar scenario Saturday night.
3) Black Jerseys. I hesitate to mention this, as it seems to be a hot-button issue every fall. If I may, it represents more than just the jerseys themselves. It’s about the moment. More accurately, the memory. We have tremendous memories of victory, and relive horrid nightmares about falling on our face in the national spotlight. I don’t want the jerseys to be part of this.
We’ve already got enough juice to keep NE Georgia lit for a couple of weeks. It’s the highest ranked matchup of the season so far, ESPN is coming to town, CBS is sending their A-team, a night game, an historic opponent (and rare), and it’s reasonable to say this has national championship implications. That is plenty in my book, I don’t want to add jerseys to that mix. Let the jerseys stand on their own, and let’s win this like we should win it… by showing Notre Dame how to play football.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comment below on what worries you about the biggest game in college football so far. And as always…