The Q&A concludes this season with the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate variety. Today we chatted with Dawg Sport’s own Macon Dawg. Keep reading to learn about the Dawg’s perilous QB situation for next year, their truly terrifying defense, and why he thinks Tech will cover on Saturday.
1) Georgia keeps winning games, but it seems like the national narrative is that the offense isn’t title-worthy and is just good enough to get by. Is the low output from the offense on scheme, playcalling, Fromm, or what? It’s certainly not the talent level with all the recruiting success Kirby has had.
It’s been a combination of things. Against South Carolina Jake Fromm threw a career high three interceptions and bobbled a snap for a fumble. To say it was the worst game of his college career would be a severe understatement.
But one of the things we saw in that game was Will Muschamp deciding to play press man coverage on the Bulldogs’ young receivers and it worked very well. Other teams have copied that and those guys are really struggling to get open in rhythm. George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock have emerged, but are still inconsistent.
Last week against Texas A&M things started to look a lot better, but execution issues (a couple of bad throws/missed reads by Fromm, a dropped pass and some busts on the offensive line) kept points off the board that were there for the taking. The sense is that this offense is close to putting things together and having a breakout. Bulldog fans just hope it happens soon.
2) With Fromm most likely in his final year between the hedges, and having chased off 2 other 5 star QB recruits, what’s next at the QB position for next year?
But is he? Before the season I was about 80% convinced Jake Fromm was in fact gone after this season. Now I’m not as sure. He’s not had a great year, in part due to the struggles on the part of his receiving corps. The thinking from some who cover the team is that his leaving may now be more of a 50/50 proposition.
If he does leave it sets up a quarterback competition with a lot of variables. Stetson Bennett is the second stringer, a veteran whose measurables aren’t great but who knows the offense and who teammates admire. True freshman D’wan Mathis has a ton of talent, but has been held out of contact all season due to off-season surgery to remove a brain cyst. It’s still uncertain at what point he will be cleared to play. Blue chip recruit Carson Beck will join the team in January, and reminds a lot of people of Fromm talent-wise.
There’s also been plenty of speculation that if Fromm leaves the Bulldogs will be active in the transfer market. Nevada QB Austin Kirksey, a Cobb County native, has already announced his intention to transfer and walk-on at Georgia. Athens has also been rumored to be among the possible destinations if Houston signal caller D’Eriq King does in fact transfer.
In short, Georgia will field a quarterback in 2020 but no one has any idea who it will be, nor even really who he’ll beat for the job.
3) Georgia’s front 7 are truly terrifying going into this game with our thin and inexperienced O-line that’s regularly having to play walk-ons - who will James Graham be running from the most on Saturday?
One of the most exciting things about the UGA defense this season has been the emergence of a group of young pass rushers. Redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari is the team leader in sacks from his outside linebacker spot. The 6’3, 240 pound standout from Marietta is a relentless pass rusher who uses speed to get the jump on blockers but also shows impressive strength after contact.
True freshman Nolan Smith has emerged as another weapon at outside linebacker with 2.5 sacks of his own. Smith is a very instinctive player with a very quick first step. I believe he will leave Athens as an All-SEC selection.
Inside, senior DT Tyler Clark has had a great final season, racking up 7.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 QB hurries. On passing downs the Jackets will also get a dose of true freshman Travon Walker. Walker recorded the game-clinching sack against Auburn, and has been seeing more and more snaps as the season goes on. He’s perhaps the most freakish athlete on a team with a lot of athletes, actually playing on the kickoff team at 6’5 and 290 pounds because of his speed and ability to tackle in space.
4) Kirby has certainly raised expectations in Athens recently, so will a NY6 berth be considered a successful season? Or is it an upset of LSU and a playoff spot or bust?
I think if you’d asked Bulldog fans before the season they’d have said a 2019 That didn’t end in a playoff berth would be a disappointment. A lot of those fans are now more realistic about how much Georgia lost from its 2018 offense and how much that may have hampered things this year.
UGA fans are certainly allowing themselves to get their hopes up a little. Hope is after all the default setting of humanity. And when you have an elite defense you’re always in position to make a game of it. But no one is lining up to bet the mortgage on the SEC Championship Game. Ultimately Georgia fans would be pleased if the team ends up in the Sugar or Orange Bowl and actually shows up despite not being in the playoff.
5) As an admitted homer, Tech doesn’t stand a chance in this game. What are you looking to see from Georgia this week against an over-matched Yellow Jacket team ahead of the SECCG the following week?
Some crisper offensive execution would be nice. But ultimately getting the starters out by the end of the third quarter with no serious injuries would be phenomenal. LSU is going to force Georgia to play a full four quarters of football to stand a chance in the Benz.
6) UGA is currently a 28 point favorite going into Saturday - does Tech cover?
I think so. I expect Georgia to do what it does: play solid defense early and put together a handful of scoring drives. Then the ‘Dawgs will likely run the ball and run clock. If Tech can stop that they’ll get a shot to put points on the board. The recipe in most recent Tech wins in this series has been for the Jackets to hang around then seize momentum late. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that kind of thing again, I just don’t know if the Engineers’ offense can put enough points on the board before it’s too late
Thanks again to MaconDawg for taking the time to answer our questions. Kick is at noon on Saturday. Be there and wear gold.