Here is what I’m NOT worried about for Saturday’s tilt against the Bizzaro Bulldogs from the Magnolia State:
1) Bulldog on Bulldog Crime. The flagship… no, the land grant… I don’t know, the Mississippi State Bulldogs have a 35-23-1 record when facing a school also using Bulldogs as a mascot. UGA is 18-6 vs. MSU, so that means they have a 17-17-1 record facing other non-UGA Bulldogs. I don’t really know where I’m going with this one.
2) Rushing. The Burgundy Bulldogs started off with a strong rush defense this season, giving up only 80 yards to LSU, 63 to Arkansas, and 84 to Kentucky – all pretty good running teams. Since then, they are surrendering almost 5 yards a carry and even let Vanderbilt run for about a buck-fifty. One would think that our offensive line and our stable of running backs will do very well here.
On the other side, they themselves do not run well. MSU averages 1.29 yards per rush, and they’re only at 129 yards total rushing through 6 games. That doesn’t necessarily tell the story. When you’re slinging it through the air 60-70 times a game, when you get sacked a lot, and when you gift the opposing team turnovers with alarming frequency so you’re constantly behind on the scoreboard, then you’re bound not to run the ball often or with great success. I look forward to the sack totals and tackles-for-loss UGA should tally come Saturday night.
3) Turnovers. Have our quarterbacks been pretty free with the pigskin the last few games? Why yes, yes they have. Has this ruined our chances of victory? Yep. Has it taken away the opportunity to win the SEC East? Indeed. Should we be worried? Not at all.
Mississippi State is pretty horrid when it comes to ball possession. They rank 92nd in the nation in fumbles lost, and are 124th in interceptions thrown. Considering that they’re also 108th in 3rd down conversion percentage, they are either handing, throwing, or punting the ball to their opponent at a torrid rate. We could use a few extra possessions a game to get the kinks worked out, or even to (gasp) try out a new quarterback.
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) Mississippi State has not won between the hedges since 1956. And this is 2020. What else can happen to us, except the once in every 64 year flood of Mike Leach getting a quarterback to read his mind and hit his own receivers in the hands for 450 yards?
We gave up over 400 yards and 4 TDs through the air to Alabama, and then we turned around and gave up over 400 yards and 4 TDs through the air to Florida. I smell a trend.
Sure, you can say we were decimated by injuries in the secondary. Sure, a ticky tack penalty or random interpretation of targeting hurt us even more. You can even say we went up against generational wide receiver talent, that we handed the ball back to the opposing offense with surprising ease, that we didn’t have the QB pressure needed due to absences of D-line stalwarts and had gimpy linebackers covering running backs on wheel routes, but those are just, like, opinions man. This. Is. The. Pirate.
2) Which quarterback will we see? You might think I’m asking who will replace Stetson Bennett IV, he of the bum shoulder. Will it be transfer J.T. Daniels? Freshman Carson Beck? Nah, someone else will likely ask that question.
Or am I asking about the signal caller for the wine-stained Bulldogs? Shall we see senior K.J. Costello, the LSU killer? Or Freshman Will Rogers, who took every snap for MSU in their last game, a victory over Vanderbilt? Costello seemed destined for the Heisman ceremony after his opening game heroics in Red Stick where he went full Air Raid and threw for over 600 yards and 5 TDs. His production immediately regressed, though his interceptions did not – he threw 4 picks and no points in their loss versus Kentucky.
Will Rogers seems to be where Bulldog philosopher Mike Leach is leaning, as he was slowly worked into the rotation the last 4 games and took the helm completely 2 weeks ago hosting the Commodores. Rogers’ line was meh – he completed 35 of 46 passes (wow) for 226 yards (is that all?) and 1 score (huh). Mississippi State overall has declined in throwing down the field as both quarterbacks seem to prefer the check down. Our triage unit of a defense will be running all over the place trying to cover bubbles, screens, slips, and crosses like crazy.
3) Uniforms. Here we go again. So the purported toothpaste was squeezed out of the metaphorical tube earlier this week, and many signs point to your Georgia Bulldogs playing in black jerseys this Saturday night on Dooley Field in Sanford Stadium.
Is it because UGA has lost 2 of 3 games, has faced postponements and cancellations, and Coach Kirby Smart wants to provide some juice and kickstart the team’s mojo? Or is it a promise he made to his seniors that they would indeed wear these alternate uniforms before they left Athens? And with no certainty of future ballgames, he’s going to give it a shot as this game is seemingly really going to happen?
Aside from LSU, Alabama, and Auburn, the SEC is replete with teams that have gotten creative with color combinations. Most of those programs could use some sizzle as the steak tends to be from malnourished cows. Heck, MSU is going to do it December 12 vs. Auburn. Does Georgia really need to fall into this same category? Personally, I’m good with the standards and don’t care much for deviation, but I can also agree that it is the appropriate carrot for players who recognize how special and rare it is. If you play that card too much, it becomes fake juice. Work with your team leadership and sell them on its unique value, and you probably have some extra motivation to employ on the field.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about between the Bulldogs of Georgia and the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.
And as always…