Here is what I’m NOT worried about for Saturday’s first 2021 home game against the Blazers:
1) These are nice guys. Just look at UAB transfer Jake Ganus. After the school shuttered the football program in 2014, Ganus came over and fit right into a LB slot for Georgia. See? Nice guys. Blazers don’t like Edisons or Newtons apparently, but I don’t think we have any of those on our roster.
2) For a couple of years there, Georgia had a tremendous pass rush but just didn’t seem to get home and sack the quarterback as much as we’d like. Sacks are sometimes a matter of luck – if the QB is mobile, or has a quick release, or simply throws it away (or to an INT), the sack stat itself may lack luster. Not so with these Bulldogs. Over the last two games, UGA has tallied 15 sacks and almost 100 yards of field position, often in critical moments. UAB doesn’t appear to give up many sacks (only 4 last season and 1 last week), but they also don’t appear to have seen Jordan Davis with his hands in the dirt, and Nolan Smith building up a head of steam behind him.
3) Hot Pod. Georgia kicker Jack Podlesny missed his first field goal attempt at the start of the 2nd quarter vs. Clemson. I’m not worried because A) he came back and split the pipes on a chip shot later in the game; 2) it was his first kick on scholarship and he was probably a little nervy, and when you’re nervy you pull it; and C) he did happen to kick a bowl-game winning 53 yarder his last time out. He proved he’s no fluke over the course of his freshman campaign – he can miss a couple of other 2nd quarter field goals as long as he’s hitting them late in the game.
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 versus the Trogdors of B’ham:
(This is with the ginormous caveat that J.T. Daniels will be suited up and taking snaps. If rumours of an injury prove true, just throw all the crap below out the window and worry about Carson Beck.)
1) Of the top 15 tacklers from the 2020 UAB squad, 10 of them are back so far in 2021. Almost all of their very deep secondary returns, a unit that ranked 7th nationally in 2020 in passing yards allowed. The 7th spot is also where UAB ranked last season in 3rd Down Conversion defense, and in Total Defense.
UAB is similar to that stout Cincinnati D in that they are laden with upperclassmen and have a lot of depth at every position. If we’re going to get the offense going, this is a veteran squad that will prove quite the challenge.
2) Speaking of getting the offense going, where is the vertical passing game? DawgOutWest and Dawg_Stats got into Monken’s scheme against Clemson where the plays were designed to be quick… not allowing the Clemson front to penetrate and to allow our young receiving corps to have simple routes and reads. But JT Daniels throws a nice deep ball, and I’d like to see it earlier rather than later.
Of course we’re missing Pickens, and Dom Blaylock and Kearis Jackson over the middle look to still be out of action this week. But do we not still have Arian Smith? With that kind of burner speed, can’t we use him as a decoy to get the underneath and seam routes more open? The Blazers defend the deep routes very well, holding half of their last 10 opponents to under 5 yards a passing attempt.
3) 3 feet and a cloud of dust. What is up with the foot fractures and Georgia football players? Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith both suffered broken bones in their feet during fall camp, and both have already undergone surgery to repair the breaks. Now Tate Ratledge goes down in the opening quarter against Clemson – also with a broken bone in his foot. He’s lost for the season and is having surgery at any moment.
ACL and MCL tears have often been attributed to poor Strength and Conditioning. Should we then look to the milk purveyors in the football dining rooms? Did someone miss a lecture in bovine husbandry? Or does this run even deeper, all the way to Beaverton? We are a Nike school, and someone there glossed over a little QC with the shoes shipped to Zion Williamson a couple of years ago. First no silver britches, and now bad soles. Do better.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about our season opener Between the Hedges with the Bulldogs of Georgia and the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham. And as always…