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15 Pre-Game Thoughts...Let’s Do This!

One of 2 things will happen today. Prophetic, I know...

Harvesting mandarin oranges in Sochi, Russia
Dogwood trees sure look funny down here.

I’ve been a bit quiet since our loss on December 4th. Much of it because of end-of-year workload as I try and finish up what I started back in January. Much of it from the disappointment of the game itself. Today is a new beginning and an opportunity for the Redemption Tour: Act 1.

Here are a few thoughts I’ve cobbled together as we get ready to hunker on down and take care of business. Usually I do this after a game, but this just isn’t any other game, is it? Woot!

Get your mind right

1. Can you imagine how this team would look if completely healthy? Fortunately, we seem to be as healed up as we’ve been in a long time with some key offensive pieces ready to take the field and do their thing. Guys like Kendall Milton should be close to 100% and running back depth could be huge in a game like this, particularly late. Jamaree Salyer is fit and ready to go.

Georgia should be at full strength (except for long-term injuries) at the offensive skill positions. Kendall Milton will be available at running back. All of the receivers are good to go and the tight ends are healthy. I’m told that Brock Bowers and Darnell Washington had some really good practices leading up to this game. - Jake Rowe, 247 Sports

2. I think George Pickens is the X-Factor tonight. There really hasn’t been much to report on George, other than the news that he cleared COVID protocol a few days ago and joined the team down south. George is a game changer and if he’s a better version of himself since the SECCG, look out!

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Alabama

George Pickens. He’s really good at football.

3. Injuries are part of any team’s reality by this point in any given season and we’ve had such a rash of bad luck in this regard that it’s almost comical. Yet here we are at 12-1 and playing for everything. Historically, we’ve had some dudes who were flashing during the biggest moments in the biggest games in recent years, haven’t we? Sony Michel was simply awesome vs. Alabama in the 2018 Natty before he got hurt. D’ Andre Walker was dominating in the SECCG game vs. Bama before leaving with an injury and the defense was never the same the rest of the way. The only thing that scares me more than a key in-game injury is a critical bad call by whatever officiating crew happens to be employed in that moment.

Anyway, enough negativity. We are as healthy as we’ve been in a while and that’s big.

4. Michigan will probably have their best safety available. Dax Hill, who has been dealing with some thing non-specific but perhaps COVID protocol related, is expected to be with the team and available as of this writing. We think. Ahhh, gamesmanship.

5. Michigan has a very good offensive line. The success of this team has been their ability to move people off their blocks and open space for the running game. They are weakest in the interior of the line and Jordan Davis could have a big game. We’ve got the kind of athleticism at defensive line that should have some success in occupying blocks and allowing our linebackers to do their thing. Getting Michigan in 2nd or 3rd and long is critical and if we can force them to become more pass-happy, I like our chances.

6. IF Stetson Bennett struggles we will see J.T. Daniels. There has been too much smoke about splitting first-team reps between both QB’s not to have a backup plan. Let us hope we don’t get to that point. I’ve been vocal about my support for The Mailman. I love both QB’s and their unique skill sets. By all accounts, both are ready and this might not have been the case only a few weeks ago. Faith in the coaches, my friends.

7. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we executed an opening touchdown drive on our first possession - whether we win the toss and defer to the 2nd half or not? Let’s see what scripted inaugural drive Todd Monken dials up this evening.

8. Bowl games are exhibitions. Weird stuff happens when you face an opponent that you normally never face. You really just don’t know how you match up until you actually start knocking heads. Then, it simply becomes football. In our case, we haven’t faced Michigan since 1965, although they are largely true to their roots as a run first, pass 2nd type of team - same as ever I suppose. I digress. If we get a big lead early, don’t get too comfortable. If they get a lead quickly, settle in and see what happens. Bowl games tend to be back and forth and that’s why they’re great.

9. Having said what I just said, I honestly haven’t had any kind of feel on how this game plays out for days now, and will attribute this directly to post-SECCG hangover/bias/depression/whatthehellhappened!

This morning, this is how I truly feel: We either come out flat and unfocused and get in a hole early and struggle, or, we come out seriously pissed. Like, really damn mad and wanting to prove a point. I think I’ll roll with the latter...

10. Georgia has been recruiting at a high level and has a lot of depth. Is this the type of game where this disparity makes a difference? Michigan is a good team, but they do not have the reserves who can plug and play like we do.

11. Could weather play a factor tonight? Well, we’ve been unusually warm for late December - even by SoFla standards. Today’s high will be about 83 with temperatures falling off into the mid-to-low 70’s this evening. It has been humid, though. Not July type jungle hot/rot humid, but pretty sticky. Will this affect the Yankee horde? Yeah, I’m probably grasping here...

12. We’ve been on the big stage a lot recently, which is important. Kirby Smart - going back to his Bama days - is fully acclimatized to the Big Game environment and will have his guys ready if you believe all the “It’s a business trip” chatter. Will Michigan show up a bit star-struck? Probably not, but then again it’s a brave new world for the kids from Ann Arbor. Sometimes, that “We’re just glad to be here” mentality shows up in big moments. Anyway, our recent past can’t hurt. Still, I’d like to see James Cook on a 65 yard wheel-route touchdown early, if you know what I mean.

13. Special teams are always critical in a game like this. Jake Camarda will probably have to punt a few times tonight and forcing Michigan to drive a long field is going to be key. Jack Podlesny has been gradually finding his groove of late. Will points be a premium tonight? Many feel it’ll be a low-scoring affair. It’ll probably wind up being something akin to Tennessee-Purdue last night.

Speaking of which...

Yeah, Wes. Cry me a damn river.

14. Everything aside - the regular season, the historic defense, the December 4th debacle and this very moment a few hours before kickoff is what we pray for as a fanbase. To have a chance to finish out the year on top is all we ask - any year. We are right where we want to be on the biggest stage.

15. I don’t do score predictions, but I do think we win tonight. I can certainly see this game being close and possibly low-scoring, but all that recruiting and depth should be the difference. It is a business trip. You’re either elite, or you’re not. Let’s take care of it.

All I want to do is F****** eat! Do you want it? Do you want it? Do you want it? SHOW ME.

- Head coach Kirby Smart

That’s all I’ve got.

As Always, GO DAWGS!