It’s time for Dawgs and Hogs. That’s the best alliteration the 2021 schedule is going to give us, so forgive me for using it freely while I can. This matchup has everything you could want…
*CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC*
A former assistant coming home, an upstart team full of heart versus a squad stacked with blue-chip recruits and future NFL players, two Top 10 teams, College Gameday in town, and… er.. um… a noon kickoff?
Yes, I’m a bit thrown off by it too folks. With the Razorbacks in town this is the perfect game to smoke a pork butt for a dozen hours while gathered under a pop-up tent, but if you want that experience you’re going to have to start your tailgate a few hours before your favorite Downtown Athens establishments close their doors. For DawgOutWest, this is a 10:00 AM kickoff, and coach has been in the training staff’s ears all week trying to figure out what pregame schedule he needs to implement in order to avoid body clock issues.
Other than the odd start time for a game of this magnitude, UGA-Arkansas checks all of the boxes on the surface. When this game was put on the schedule it felt like it would be a pretty friendly homecoming for Pittman and an opportunity for Razorback fans to travel to the best college town in the SEC for the first time in a decade.
While Kirby Smart and Sam Pittman have said all of the right things about each other and the opposition all week, this game has started to take on a bit of a chippy feel. Razorback fans on the internet have been emboldened by the program finding relevance for the first time since Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle, and judging by this tweet from Arkansas running back Trelon Smith on Thursday evening, that confidence appears to have carried over into the locker room.
Calling out the Georgia defense before a big game is certainly a strategy…
For his part, Kirby Smart has said this week that he’s not buying the hype on Georgia yet. As far as UGA’s social media presence, the UGA Football twitter account released a David Greene narrated hype video with a meteorological slant. It’ll get you fired up.
|— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) September 30, 2021
️ Voiced By: David Greene pic.twitter.com/2oE9TH81YX
So what’s going to happen on the field Saturday? We’ve got you covered from all angles. GlimmerTwinDawg is in his usual Munsonesque mood and gave us three things that worry him about the Razorbacks. Feeding off some of Glimmer’s excellent analysis, Dawg_Stats and I hit the film study and analytics angles over on Dawg Sports Live.
For my part, I like the Dawgs to handle business on Saturday. Both these teams want to win by playing physical at the line of scrimmage. Give me the one that has Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, Devonte Wyatt, Nolan Smith, Adam Anderson, and a slew of other small dwellings that run 4.5 forty’s on the front seven.
KJ Jefferson is a talented player, but he’s not a precision passer. Treylon Burks is LEGIT but UGA will have a plan for him, and Kelee Ringo is one of the few DB’s in the country who is an as good or better athlete than him. The teams that have given UGA problems under Kirby Smart have been vertical passing attacks with 4-5 legit options. Arkansas isn’t that.
There’s been a lot of talk about Barry Odom’s defense and the drop eight tactics of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The good news for Georgia is that Todd Monken has a playbook full of zone beaters, and JT Daniels has matured into a patient quarterback who will deliver death by a thousand paper cuts. Actually, I think Odom will have to do more than sit back in a zone against this UGA offense, and if that happens I like UGA’s chances to bust some explosive plays.
Make no mistake, Arkansas has some strong players on the defensive line, but they are prone to overpursuit and missed tackles. This defense gives up a lot on the edges, and this Georgia offense has proven it’s more than willing to play outside the hashes if it needs to.
In all of this, it’s important to remember that Arkansas from a talent perspective is basically the same team they were a year ago. The year two bump under a new coach is a real thing, but the type of magical season we saw Georgia have in 2017 usually only happens when a new coach walks into a roster with lots of talent. We love Sam Pittman here, but let’s remember what this roster is actually made of. Arkansas ranks 10th out of 14 conference teams on the 247 Sports Talent Composite. As a reference point, the pieces that make up South Carolina’s roster are 8th.
The only way that type of across the board talent gap can usually be overcome in college football is by elite quarterback play. That might make Ole Miss versus Alabama an entertaining contest for a few quarters, but Matt Corrall is not walking into the Razorback locker room. You can expect Arkansas to play hard, fight admirably, and do some good things against the run. You can also expect them to lose by a few possessions.
Just because it’s a nooner it doesn’t mean it can’t be plenty of fun. Sanford Stadium should be chock full and it should be as loud as its been in the last 22 months. For that we can all be grateful.