If you’re reading this, you’re one of the few ahead of the prep game. That, or more likely you’re looking for any distraction. Either way, we’re glad you’re here and hope that each one of you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, spending time with those you care about. At Dawg Sports we’re grateful for you the readers, the commenters, and the contributors. Thanks for sticking with us as we wind down this historic 2023 season.
Here is what I’m NOT worried about as Georgia sets up shop in the capital city:
1. I mean, it’s only a bus ride. And one that UGA will be taking again next week. The only question is if it’s better to stay downtown or out in Decatur or Stone Mountain (we all know certain businesses reside close to the Tech campus). Considering that Kirby will marshal his troops to take essentially the same trip next week for the SEC Championship game, he can normalize the experience even more by staying at the same hotel. The week has enough distractions and disruptions with the Thanksgiving holiday plus the break from classes. I’m sure the staff has nailed down each minute optimally for the benefit of the program.
2. With a win this week, the current senior class will exit Athens tied for the most wins by any class (2022: 49-5, 2023-48-3). And they have a chance to extend that with the SECCG and a guaranteed bowl game. No matter what, they will leave having never experienced defeat in Sanford Stadium. They’ve got winning streaks against pretty much everyone, and are riding a 5 burger against Georgia Tech. That is 2 short of the longest win streak bu UGA in the history of this series. And he won’t admit it publicly, but I’m sure Kirby Smart and the staff are fully cognizant that Tech has an 8 game win streak in the rivalry – and he’s got a plan to supplant them.
3. Sign stealing. No, I’m not accusing of some nerd of dreaming up a scheme whereby GIT deploys technology and contracts a team of operators to advance scout upcoming opponents. Because you know that a 600 page manifesto is part and parcel of such a caper, and you know Techies aren’t that literate so they use ChatGPT, and AI can only come up with about 90 pages (most of which are about John Heisman, with a smattering of Bill Curry and George O’Leary).
No, I’m talking about the familiarity the current Tech program has with UGA. Consider that Tech’s current Offensive Coordinator is Buster Faulkner, a top UGA offensive analyst under Todd Monken and a key contributor to the last 2 national championships. Then remember that the 3rd leading receiver for the 2022 Bulldogs is now a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket – fan favorite Dominick Blaylock. And Brett Seither, a tight end who saw game action in at least 10 games the past two seasons for Georgia, is now a regular for the black and gold. Even their defensive coordinator, Kevin Sherrer, coached in Athens under both Richt and Smart. But let’s face it – Mike Bobo has a brand new green notebook he introduced this season so I’m not worried any of these guys took a picture of it on their way out the door.
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch. So here’s what does worry me about battling for the Governor’s Cup:
1. Just wait’ll we get our Haynes on you. And Georgia Tech have some good Haynes. To be clear, quarterback Haynes King and running back Jamal Haynes. Both are averaging over 6 yards a carry, and both have 7 scores on the ground this season. RB Haynes has more than twice as many carries at the next closest running back, so it’s not like it’s a big secret weapon or anything. Even so, he’s averaging a tuddy and over 100 yards on the ground the last 3 weeks – including 102 yards against a supposed stout Clemson front 7.
Haynes King is a true dual-threat quarterback. He’s using his legs about 25% of the time, and is usually effective both through the air and on the ground. Combining his rushing and passing, he racks up close to 300 yards a contest. And at least 2 scores a game to boot. The only saving grace is that he tends to throw picks – only 4 teams have thrown more interceptions than the rangy sophomore.
2. Hold onto the rock. While most (specifically the last 59:49) of the game time Saturday in Knoxville was pleasant, there were a couple of “oh crap” moments interspersed. A bad snap and a muffed handoff caused the pigskin to hit the pet cemetery turf, causing a matching TD drive to stall and the other a free gift to the Orange. Then an intermediate seam throw by Carson Beck on the right hash looked to be a sure interception until it was negated by a defensive penalty.
Georgia has normally been pretty stingy with the ball, only giving up possession involuntarily 11 times all season. This is currently ahead of both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. Tech has a penchant for taking the ball away from their opponents. They’ve captured twice as many fumbles and twice as many picks as Georgia has given up this year. How they do this and still have a bottom 10% defense is something only an engineering student could figure out. (Hint: as good as they are at gaining turnovers, they’re just as lousy at turning it over themselves.) But don’t give these Nerds any momentum, don’t give them extra possessions, don’t give them hope, or opportunities, or chances. Take care of the ball, and our Jimmys’ and Joes’ will win the day.
3. You’ve seen it everywhere. It’s on pretty much every blog and mentioned by every analyst. Kirk Herbstreit said it for all the world to hear. The Georgia Bulldogs are getting healthy. And a healthy Bulldogs team is a very dangerous one. No matter how meh the first half of the season looked on the scorebook, look how they have played against the best competition and have played the last few weeks against ranked opponents. Ladd is back (well, mostly). Brock is back. Mims is back. Hell, even Dangerous Dan Jackson is back! And you know what?
I’m scared to death a fluke play puts down a key player. Just when things are turning around, just when we’ve had so many nice things, just when there is so little time left, the football gods may decide enough is enough. So while the coaches may be hinting of resting players, they still threw Brock Bowers out there after an absurdly low rehab time – I don’t know if I can trust them. Especially when we are getting so close to another…. nevermind. I’m not going to tempt fate and speak it out loud.
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 visiting the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. And as always…