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Thursday ‘Dawg Bites Is Just Kickin’ It

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Life can seem like a bit of a rat race sometimes. But before you head out on the track to chase that cheese, take a quick pit stop to join us for this morning’s biggest Bulldog news.

The Red & Black looks at Jake Camarda’s strong start to the 2020 season. Camarda quietly leads the nation in punting average at 50.7 yards per kick. A cynic would say that just means we’ve made him kick from deep in his own territory and told him to boom it as deep as possible. But the optimist in me is pleased that when that has occurred Camarda has responded by frequently flipping the field.

Bulldawg Illustrated has an interview with sophomore linebacker Nakobe Dean in which he discusses his personal growth through the pandemic, his emergence as a leader on the UGA defense, and the loss to Alabama.

Speaking of the Georgia defense and that loss in Tuscaloosa, the AJC has some of Kirby Smart’s musings on why SEC offenses are scoring so dang many points this year. A stat to ponder: Georgia is currently 14th in total defense, surrendering 381.5 yards per game. If they’d surrendered that same total at the end of 2017 they’d be tied with Temple at 56th.

Honestly I think there’s more than one answer here. Several defenses (including the Tide’s) are replacing a lot of key players from 2019, and they’ll improve through the season and into 2021. But in Georgia’s case the veteran defense had played flawlessly up until last week. The truth is matchups matter and nobody is a good matchup for Mac Jones throwing to Waddle, Smith, and Metchie. Those guys are, to my eye at least, just that good and just that polished. It’s beautiful to watch as long as it’s not happening to you.

Speaking of things one should be glad are not happening to them, things are going poorly down in Gainesville, with Florida football activities remaining paused while Dan Mullen and at least 25 of his players battle coronavirus. Cousin Eddie says helpfully that “the majority of our guys had very minor symptoms.”

Does he mean a majority of the team? A majority of those who tested positive? How bad were the symptoms of the minority? As a reminder, Georgia is supposed to play the Gators in a little over two weeks. As a person, I hope the Gators dealing with the virus all make a speedy recovery. It’s tempting to dive deep into the crystalline pool of schadenfreude as we watch Mullen, who wanted to pack 90,000 people into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium struggle to keep 90 people moderately healthy. Let’s not do that.

I do think it’s acceptable to be a little cynical. As a cynical person, I hope the Sunshine State Saurians get things under control before coming to Jacksonville and spreading it to the Bulldogs. We do not know how many UGA players have had coronavirus. We do know that 4 weeks into the season no Georgia players have officially been listed as “out” for reasons that appeared virus-related.

We also know that at the time players reported Georgia had more active cases as a State than all but a couple of others, and that the University itself and Athens-Clarke County remain a hot spot for the virus. My suspicion is that there were an appreciable number of cases among players in July, August, and perhaps even into September, but things got controlled once the grind of the season kicked in. In-season players largely find themselves confined to the bubble of the football complex except for in-person classes and Sundays. So Georgia could have a lot of players who have quietly developed some immunity (the duration and effectiveness of which is an entirely different debate). Georgia could have done a very good job of keeping players isolated from the outbreak around them.

Either way, I would hate to see that trend reverse. Get well, Gators. You’ve got a butt-whipping coming your way and I don’t want you to have any excuses for why it happened. Until later...

Go ‘Dawgs!!!