We finally get to play a game tomorrow. I have a huge newfound appreciation for Greg Sankey’s calm, measured approach and for personally saving my mental state as we move into the fall. What was once considered a brash, foolish and medically irresponsible decision to move forward with football from the SEC/ACC/BIG12, is now the model for The BIG10 and PAC12 to safely return to play. After failing to implement proper protocol with months of prep time, the BIG10’s power play to cancel all of CFB failed. The truth of it is, after being a student assistant with the Dawgs in 13/14 (yeah I know we sucked, my bad) I’ve seen how much work goes into preparing for a season. From the players, to the coaches and support staff, to the video staff, to the nutritionists, to even the cleat chasers at Bourbon, the amount of work is remarkable. A season cancellation would have been a terrible waste for people who have dedicated their lives to this sport and university, hoping to receive a platform to do what they love and possibly build a future. Safety should be the first priority always, throughout the entire season, but it is a really good thing college football is being played this year.
Y’all D’wan None
Whether he won the job or whether he is going to be thrust into it tomorrow, it is becoming more and more evident that D’wan Mathis will be your game 1 starter. He also has a chance to lock up that position for the rest of the season in the next two weeks. What an incredible story. This kid has to go through a significant brain surgery, recover, receive clearance for play 7 months ago, continue to work through the age of coronavirus and then rise above Jamie Newman (via opt out) and JT Daniels (perhaps via injury) to start against Arkansas.
Maybe we need a QB like this? Finally, a guy who will wow us with big or extended plays but also drive us crazy with really poor early decisions. Maybe with a defense this good and a unit that is accustomed to playing a bend don’t break style, a few more turnovers from our offense won’t be a death sentence. If Mathis starts for an entire season, I would imagine he throws at least 8 picks and probably fumbles a few times trying to extend plays. Mathis feels like a high-risk, high-reward stock option while Fromm was the boring bond market or dull high yield savings account. Maybe by committing to a young gun with a ton of upside, we spark this offense, boost the confidence of players and play callers alike and become a fast pace offensive juggernaut. Or maybe Mathis throws 2 picks and fumbles once against the Hogs and the Dawgs win by 2. That’s why they play the games.
Maybe because Mathis taking this job is unexpected, it feels like he came out of nowhere. That is far from the truth as Mathis was a 4-star recruit committed to Ohio St until signing day 2019. When rumors of Justin Fields OSU transfer made their way to Mathis, he bolted for Georgia, a school he never visited once. Let’s keep in mind Urban Meyer/Ryan Day’s recent success in recruiting QB’s. The latest Ohio St recruits or transfers at QB under Meyer/Day:
· Braxton Miller: 3rd round pick as ATH
· JT Barrett: 2014 national champion
· Cardale Jones: 4th round pick after 11 college starts
· Dwayne Haskins: 15th overall pick in 2019
· Joe Burrow: eventual #1 overall pick in 2020
· Tate Martell: ok everyone misses at least once, #56 overall player in 2017
· Justin Fields: eventual top 5 pick
· CJ Stroud: Class of 2020 #42 overall player
The point here is that Ohio state has a long recent history of recruiting very successful QBs. They don’t recruit many bums. They didn’t just offer Mathis because he was an easy 4 star get from Belleville, Michigan. They saw traits they really liked in size, speed and arm strength that they could mold into eventual NFL talent. In fact, Mathis was their only QB recruit in the class of 2019. He was their #1 guy to carry on the tradition of successful QBs and to be able to pull him without ever visiting was definitely a win for the Dawgs.
I want Mathis’ amazing story of perseverance to become Georgia’s story. I want it more than anything in the world, Ron.
Instant Impact Freshman
o WR Jermaine Burton - Burton is getting all the press for a tremendous camp. He could be your game 1 starter opposite Pickens. He has quickness, suddenness and change of direction abilities that make him an immediate contributor to a beat up WR unit
o DL Jalen Carter - All indications are that Carter is a can’t miss 1st round pick. He will see plenty of playing time, especially on third down as he attempts to create interior pass rush havoc.
o TE Darnell Washington - This is less of an indication of how good Washington has been in camp and more so because there is almost no one on the TE depth chart with Tre McKitty sidelined for the first few weeks. Washington’s massive 6-8 260 frame will immediately be given an opportunity at significant playing time as he will start the season as TE2 behind John Fitzpatrick (who I think could have a really nice year).
o S Major Burns - As safety spots are decided with Lecounte and Cine, Burns’ role will likely be limited to special teams, but I think he has an opportunity to affect games with his long frame. Burns is apparently a player that Kirby has been very hard on in camp which is a lot better sign than being totally ignored by a man with tremendous experience in grooming DBs. Mark Burns down for one major special teams play this year.
o WR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint - While he doesn’t have as much preseason hype as Burton, Rosemy-Jacksaint is likely to see significant time at WR in a room with light experience and an injury to Dom Blaylock. He has a stronger body that is immediately ready for the college level.
The first four weeks really have me worried. This schedule is brutally front loaded, and we have a QB that has never seen SEC live action. A 3-1 record in the first four games should permanently win D’wan Mathis this job and setup well for a late season run. This is where our uber talented defense will be so pivotal. They will essentially have to buy our offense time to get into a rhythm and break in a new starter. If you go 5-1 in the first 5 games of the season, beating UF, you have 4 weeks late in the season to refine the offense, get young players valuable reps on defense and prepare for an SEC championship rematch with Bama.
TLDR: Make it through the first 4 games of the year with a 3-1 record and you have a shot at a really special season.
Preseason Game by Game Predictions
I reserve the right to change these on a weekly basis, but this is the preseason version of how I see Georgia’s season playing out:
1. Georgia 34 Arkansas 10
2. Georgia 28 Auburn 17
3. Georgia 31 Tennessee 10
4. Alabama 27 Georgia 20
5. Georgia 35 Kentucky 17
6. Georgia 28 Florida 17
7. Georgia 38 Mizzou 3
8. Georgia 34 Mississippi St 21
9. Georgia 28 South Carolina 17
10. Georgia 41 Vanderbilt 0
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Overall: 119-107-3 (53%)
· For reference, “The Bear” on ESPN who does this professionally, has an all time win percentage of 50%. The choice is clear people.
2019: 29-26 (53%)
1. Bama -27.5 vs Mizzou
2. Arkansas +28 vs UGA
3. Miami -11 vs FSU
4. Army +13.5 vs Cincinatti
5. Arkansas vs UGA Under 52.5
I don’t typically like betting on the Dawgs but when free money is sitting around, I will take it. Dawgs don’t cover and contribute to the under for the following reasons:
1. Kirby will not embarrass Pittman in game #1. He will pull back the reigns with a comfortable lead
2. Dawgs will show Auburn nothing
3. It will take D’wan a few series to settle in
4. Rakeem Boyd has enough talent to break a 55-yard run if a linebacker fills the wrong gap once
5. Kirby will want to play as many young players as possible to build “COVID depth”