Goooooood morning, Bulldog Nation. It’s game week again. Well at least I think it is. For the time being, the Dawgs are set to take on the SEC’s other Bulldogs on Saturday night at 7:30 PM in Georgia’s last home game of the season.
Before we get into that, let’s talk about a big piece of SEC news...
Will Muschamp is out at South Carolina following Saturday’s 59-42 loss on the road at Ole Miss. The move isn’t a shock. Muschamp bought himself another year by upsetting Georgia in Athens last season, but most of the Gamecock fan base had grown tired of him even before South Carolina’s recent three game skid made their record 2-5 on the season.
Some thought that the current economic climate coupled with Muschamp’s buyout of $13 million would be enough to keep USC from making a move, but the administration felt that the fanbase’s growing apathy might do more long-term damage to the program than paying the large buyout.
This will be a fascinating coaching search. Could the Gamecocks snag Tony Elliot or Brent Venables from their coordinator jobs at Clemson? Might they go after Louisiana-Lafayette’s Billy Napier or Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell? Some wonder if Athletic Director Ray Tanner might be able to entice Joe Brady to come to the college ranks. Will USC hire an absolute dud like Bill O’Brien? We can only hope so.
A couple weeks ago macondawg and I were exchanging some messages following Liberty’s upset over Virginia Tech. He said, “Someone in the SEC is going to mess around and hire Hugh Freeze.” Might that someone be South Carolina? We shall see. In the meantime I’m curious what candidates you’d like to see South Carolina grab, and what potential hires would scare you.
It feels fair to wonder if some potential hires will be wary of the outsized expectations fans of the Gamecocks have for their program. The school’s all-time winning percentage is .509. Couple that with the fact that Clemson is going to scoop up the majority of the top-tier in-state talent and that any normal year is going to involve playing the Tigers, UGA and Florida and you have a place where it’s really really hard to win. Spurrier gave the Gamecock faithful a taste of the good life, and now they’re chasing the dragon. Consistent 8-4 and 9-3 seasons there is miraculous, but the fanbase wants to compete for SEC titles. Good luck to the next guy.
From the Georgia perspective, this news creates a couple of interesting storylines. The first is that Mike Bobo is the interim head coach. That means next week’s trip to Columbia is now the Bobo Bowl. You can bet that the former UGA quarterback and offensive coordinator will empty his bag of tricks against the Bulldogs, and by bag of tricks I mean watch out for the Fullback Screen and totally ignoring his star running-back inside the five yard-line.
The other big question for UGA revolves around USC QB commit Gunner Stockton. The five-star Rabun County product is the nation’s #1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2022 class. The Dawgs were a close second when he pledged to South Carolina a couple months back, but with Muschamp out the chips might be back on the table. 247 Sports has already labeled him a “hot flip target” as of Sunday evening, but the analysts there have speculated that Stockton won’t commit to Georgia in the class behind Brock Vandagriff. This will be one to watch, and if Kirby Smart can land both Vandagriff and Stockton he can ensure the future of the position. Stockton’s future likely hinges on whether or not Bobo and USC assistant and former QB Connor Shaw are retained.
So about Mississippi State... Other than rudderless Vanderbilt, the other Bulldogs are probably the worst team in the SEC. If Georgia does what everyone else but Bo Pelini has and drops eight defenders into a zone, they will probably eat up Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack. The man has had some great moments in his career, but he’s never seen a three-man front he didn’t want to throw into.
Vegas agrees that the Dawgs shouldn’t have much trouble on Saturday, pegging Georgia as a 24 point favorite. With the SEC East race all but over after UGA’s loss in Jacksonville, some fans might be tempted to do something else with their Saturday night than watch this game. For those of you who think this contest doesn’t matter, I have two letters and a last name- J.T. Daniels.
Extremely ready to watch this beautiful boi sling it around pic.twitter.com/bQtfSb90zV— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) November 16, 2020
The mustachioed man from the West is reportedly healthy and ready to take over the UGA offense, and while many Dawg fans have decided to write off all of the quarterbacks currently on Georgia’s roster, I would caution putting all of the eggs into the Vandagriff basket just yet. Vandagriff is definitely the future of the quarterback position at Georgia, but he is playing high-school A ball right now. Asking him to leap from there to starting against the Clemson defense in Georgia’s season opener on September 4th of next year.
Daniels has been the source of all sorts of speculation this season. Some have labeled him as an attitude problem, others think he’s been hurt until now, some believe that he’s been healthy this whole time, and some fans have decided that he’s forgotten how to play quarterback and is somehow worse than the quarterback options who went 9/29 with 3 interceptions against Florida.
No matter what theory you subscribe to, the fact is that Georgia is about to rollout a guy who is one of the highest-rated quarterback recruits of all-time. He was the future of USC football until a torn ACL knocked him out after playing only one half of football in the 2019 season. If you are one of folks who insist USC wouldn’t have let him go if he was that good, I sincerely hope you haven’t been posting about Justin Fields and Jacob Eason for the last two years. Stuff happens in football, and sometimes a new player asserts himself. That doesn’t mean the injured quarterback is bad.
Rivals rated Daniels as the #2 quarterback in the country, behind only Trevor Lawerence, as a sixteen year-old. As a seventeen year-old he played a full season of Power 5 football on a bad team that would have been way worse without him. The guy is a tremendous talent, and he possesses all of the physical tools that Stetson Bennett IV lacks while having a lot of the experience and coverage reading abilities that Dwan Mathis lacks.
On Saturday night he will make his debut for Georgia, and if he plays well the Bulldogs will have the piece they have missed all season. Georgia’s pass-catchers have been open all year, and there’s a good chance he will be able to deliver the ball to them. If you ask me, that’s exciting.