Here is what I’m NOT worried about as we face the I-70 Tigers:
1) Turnovers. I was going to include this in last week’s column, but I felt it to be a jinx had I done so. As it turns out, I should have shouted to the heavens and sent up synchronized drones in formation to celebrate our control of the ball. Anything would have been better than that muffed punt, that pick, and that fumble. Saying that, rarely does a team turn it over 3 times in a half and still have control of the ball game. Previous Georgia teams would not have overcome these so easily. We are truly in a different era of Bulldog football.
2) There’s rumblings about the lack of a defined running game. Multiple factors are playing into this. McIntosh is not consistently at his best taking a handoff and hitting an inside gap, but he’s wonderful catching it or once he’s in space. That is why Monken is drawing up these plays for him. Milton and Edwards are getting more carries and yards than KMac – not just because we have large leads in the 2H but because they are better at hitting holes, breaking contact, and gaining yards from behind the LOS. You know who else is getting carries? McConkey, Bowers, and Bennett (If you’ve been injured making a poor business decision, call 555-UGA-RTDB). And Coach Smart specifically addressed getting Branson Robinson into the rushing game because of his skill set. It may not be what we’re used to, but it is working.
3) Only at UGA. Remember when the longest pass from scrimmage in the 2014 season was from a running back (Todd Gurley)? Maybe we can top that in 2022. The longest run from scrimmage is from a tight end. And the most rushing touchdowns by RBU is held by a quarterback and a tight end. I mean really, what are we even doing here?
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch. So here’s what does worry me about trying to beat the Central Time Columbians:
1) There’s a lot of talk about Tiger wideout Luther Burden and his commitment to playing at Missouri. He has since clarified that he’s “always a tiger”, yet there is a question about his availability thanks to an injury suffered against Auburn and that he wasn’t targeted in the passing game.
Remember that this was a big recruiting win for Missouri Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz to keep the #2 receiver in the 2022 class in-state. So does the Tiger offense now feature Burden against a marquee defense to keep him happy and at home? And does Burden also push for that, maybe because he secretly needs to show Kirby Smart that Georgia, suffering receiver injuries and off-field issues, could really use his skills in a potential portal maneuver? And not just catching passes – he is 4th on the team in rushing and returns kicks. Something tells me that Burden is about to show out in the Show Me state.
2) After week 3 and gaudy stats, there was some serious momentum behind “Bennett for Heisman”, even on the national level. Then after his long jaunt down Dooley field, another prodigious game, and ESPN highlights, the attention turned to Brock Bowers. But after seeing some issues with Georgia punching the ball in on the goal line, and offensive drives stalling a little too frequently, I think there is a “Hot Pod for Heisman” campaign being managed from the sidelines of Sanford Stadium.
He’s scoring 11 points a game, basically a full point over any Bulldog in the last 20 years. He took over the kickoff duties for the first time and is putting the ball in the end zone as instructed. He’s the most accurate kicker in Georgia history. I like the kid, but I’d much rather he just kick 7 PATs like he did in week 1.
3) Attrition. And it’s starting to add up. We lost speedster Arian Smith before the season, then AD Mitchell went down in the first play against Samford. Arik Gilbert isn’t ready to come back (I don’t think he’s traveling with the team this week). Now the defense is missing some ingredients. Jalen Carter wasn’t at full speed vs. South Carolina and was noticeably absent from the Kent State game. Now DB Javon Bullard made some mistakes and will miss playing time. And Bullard’s likely backup is Tykee Smith, himself coming back from surgery and an injury that caused him to miss the entirety of last season.
Add in that both Brock Bowers and Kenny McIntosh looked gimpy late in the game Saturday, and this is something to be concerned about.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the Bulldogs of Georgia versus the Tigers of Missouri. And as always…