When starting QB Jacob Eason went down with a knee injury in Week 1, it was a nerve-wracking time for Georgia fans.
However, true freshman Jake Fromm has stepped up and performed admirably in Eason’s absence, leading the team to a 20-19 road victory over Notre Dame in his first career start. Now with the Bulldogs 6-0, Fromm has earned the starting job for the foreseeable future.
At the halfway point of the regular season, the Dawgs are ranked No. 4 in the AP poll and look like one of the nation’s top teams in Kirby Smart’s second year as head coach.
Still, challenges remain as the Bulldogs prepare for the second half of the 2017 campaign. Here are the biggest concerns Smart and his staff should have when preparing for each of the six teams left on their schedule:
Vs. Mizzou (Oct. 14) — Rat poison
After No. 1 Alabama struggled to a 27-19 win over Texas A&M on Saturday night, coach Nick Saban compared positive media coverage to rat poison.
Following No. 3 Oklahoma’s shocking loss to unranked Iowa State last week, coach Lincoln Riley agreed with Saban, saying positive press might have gotten to the Sooners’ heads.
Now a top-four team, the Bulldogs will have to make sure they don’t buy into the hype. If they don’t take Mizzou seriously, QB Drew Lock and the Mizzou offense are capable of putting up some serious points.
With a bye the following week, it’ll be important for Smart to keep his team focused ahead of a matchup that has all the makings of a potential trap game.
Vs. Florida (Oct. 28, Jacksonville) — Expectations
The Bulldogs have had high hopes for each of the past couple of seasons, but have instead watched as the Gators went to Atlanta as the SEC East champions.
This year, Georgia is the heavy favorite to win the division title, but Jim McElwain’s Florida squad still looms as a big challenge.
The Gators are a mess right now, but this game is more about the Bulldogs living up to expectations than about anything Florida is doing.
A win would cement Georgia as one of the country’s elite teams, but another loss to the Gators would signal another year of disappointment in Athens.
Vs. South Carolina (Nov. 4) — Jake Bentley
The Gamecocks are without injured star WR/KR Deebo Samuel and don’t have much of a running game, but Bentley is still making incredible plays on a weekly basis.
Bentley is perhaps the best quarterback the Bulldogs will face all year, so we’ll see if Smart’s secondary is as good as it has looked this season.
At Auburn (Nov. 11) — Stopping the big play
In three SEC games, Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham has been incredible, completing 40 of his 54 passes.
However, he also has completed at least one pass of 50 or more yards against each SEC opponent, which will present more of a problem for the Bulldogs.
In what should be a very good game between two of the conference’s top three teams, Georgia needs to only look back as far as 2013 to see how one big play can affect the outcome of a game:
The 2017 Tigers are going to move the ball against Georgia, but Smart’s squad just needs to be, well … smart when it comes to defending against big plays.
Vs. Kentucky (Nov. 18) — Stopping the run
Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr. is only averaging 4.2 yards per carry, but somehow he’s still second in the SEC through six weeks with 523 rushing yards.
Snell just keeps plugging away for the Wildcats and has found the end zone six times. He basically carries the Kentucky offense on his back.
The Bulldogs will need to have a game plan like they did against Vanderbilt, when they held star RB Ralph Webb to only 47 yards on 12 carries.
If Georgia’s strong defense can limit Snell’s effectiveness, the Bulldogs should close out their 2017 SEC schedule on a high note.
At Georgia Tech (Nov. 25) — No spoilers
By the time the annual rivalry game with the Yellow Jackets rolls around, the Bulldogs will almost certainly know whether they’re going to the SEC Championship Game the following weekend.
But against a Paul Johnson-coached squad that has beaten Georgia in two of the past three seasons, UGA must avoid a massive letdown.
If the Bulldogs enter this game undefeated (or even with one loss), they’ll still have College Football Playoff hopes. The Yellow Jackets could be heading to the ACC Championship Game by this point, too, but Johnson loves nothing more than trolling the SEC..