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Letterman Roundtable: Former ‘Dawgs Talk Title Game

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Syndication: Online Athens Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Approximately 37 classes of senior football players in a row have now left the University of Georgia without playing on a national championship winning team. Those players have, year after year, given their blood, sweat, and tears to the cause of UGA football. More often than not they’ve experienced big bowl wins, even SEC titles. But if you think you’re starving to see the Red and Black win it all, imagine what those guys are feeling.

So, we decided to round up some of the greatest Bulldogs of the past two-plus decades and ask them. In addition to talking about what breaking the title drought would mean we also discussed some of the key matchups that will decide the game and what Georgia has to do to get revenge on the Tide.

MD: What would it mean to you as a Bulldog letterman to see Georgia win a title?

Verron Haynes: It is the final piece of the puzzle. Each year every team in the country sets goals… Kirby and his staff have been able to check off just about every box. Whether it be great conditioning in the off-season program, great recruiting, great facilities, etc. As a letterman you know that nothing is free, and these kids have busted their ass to get to this point. Now, it time go get it.

George Foster: As a Bulldog Letterman, a former teammate of Coach Smart, and a Coach Smart believer, I really want them to win a Championship to hush the naysayers. I know it hasn’t gone the way we’ve ultimately wanted it to go, based on the exceptional talent we’ve had. But, I strongly believe the program is in great hands.

Ryne Rankin: It would mean a lot to me because I know how much those players, coaches, equipment managers, strength staff, grad assistants, everyone worked to get to that point and it be a blessing to see them boys win!

MD: What does the Georgia defense need to do to get back on track after the SEC Championship Game?

Verron: They just need to play their game. I feel like if the defense comes out and plays how they have all year they will be just fine. The stage isn’t too big for them, they just have to go be themselves.

Ryne: Start early & let them know what’s up! Everyone’s tough and likes to talk til’ they get punched in the mouth. Play hard nosed junkyard type football & don’t let off their necks. THE WHOLE GAME! Same thing with special teams! Gotta let loose with that “Nut Squad” mentality like Coach Ekeler always said! “Either gotta be one, or have a lot of them”!

MD: Is it really possible to block out the loss to Alabama in the SEC title game? What would be your advice for Kirby Smart in terms of approaching it?

Drew Butler: No. You have to face it head on and have a neutral mindset. Own what happened, take it for what it is, and move forward. Georgia has no reason, or time, to get caught up in negativity. I think Coach Smart will relay that message to the team and give them concrete examples as to why they will be successful on Monday night.

MD: Fill in the blank: Georgia wins this game and hoists the national championship trophy if _______.

Verron: ... Stetson Bennett doesn’t try to be a hero and just plays his ball, if the defense plays up to expectations, and most importantly is the key to every game: win the line of scrimmage on offense and on defense. St

George: Georgia wins this game and hoists the national championship trophy if they disrupt Bryce Young early and often, and make some explosive plays.

{Seeing a quarterback the second time} is very different. We just can’t let up. I’ve come to the conclusion that he just does a lot of things innately, that gets them out of a lot of trouble. It’s a trait of his. Russell Wilson has the same trait. We just have to stress him all game. But if that front plays how they played against Michigan, they will be hell for Bama.

Drew: Georgia wins this one and hoists the national title trophy if the defense has more than 3 sacks.

Ben Dukes: The biggest key to the game is scoring more points than Bama - and while that seems simplistic, in this game, I argue that we do it with defense. There’s a theory that you gotta have a prolific passing attack with a 40 point performance. I disagree. I think if you hold Bama under 20, you win. UGA’s identity is that of a suffocating defense with a complementary offense that can score. So if the Dawgs will just be that, they can do it.

MD: What are the key matchups you’re watching for that could decide this game?

Ben: The primary matchups for me are UGA’s front vs. Bryce Young, and Stetson vs. the Bama secondary. Can the Dawgs prevent Young from having another Heisman performance? They need to get home on their pass rush and force him to throw balls under duress. He has incredible football IQ and escapability, but has shown his humanity under pressure. Gotta bring him down a notch.

And Stetson has to be good. That’s all. He doesn’t have to play outside of his mind. He just has to play within himself… know his reads, be aware of coverage shifts after the snap, be ready to chuck the ball 5 rows deep into the stands and play the next down if he doesn’t like what he sees. Or, do the thing that makes him a Championship Caliber QB - improv with them feets!

George: Of course I absolutely LOVE trench play, and I think it’ll play a big part in this game. But, that’s every football game. I think one of the more important matchups for both teams’ offense and defense is the matchup between receivers and the secondary.

MD: Finally, what’s your score prediction?

Verron: 35-28 Georgia

Ben: UGA 34, Bama 17

Ryne: 24-17, UGA

Drew: Georgia 31, Alabama 30

George: My score prediction is that Georgia will score more points than Alabama.

Thanks to all the guys for taking some time to help us preview tonight’s action. Let’s hope they’re all right about the outcome.

Go ‘Dawgs!!!

This post is one of a series previewing the Georgia/Alabama CFP National Championship Game brought to you by the folks at DraftKings. Odds/lines are subject to change. Terms & conditions apply.

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