Georgia football: 3 things I want to see in Dawgs' 'Old Friends Bowl' vs. South Carolina
Georgia isn’t going to the College Football Playoff. You don’t need me to tell you that. A New Year’s 6 bowl is likely in the cards once more as, again, the Dawgs will be good but not good enough to break through that ceiling.
Fortunately, the schedule is quite light down the stretch, with South Carolina, Vanderbilt and likely Missouri still to come. And while the Gamecocks sprung an upset on the Dawgs between the hedges last year, this season has been a loss and has seen Will Muschamp pay for it with the loss of his job.
(Or, more accurately, the University of South Carolina is paying him $13 million to no longer do the job he wasn’t very good at doing in the first place.)
Enter interim head coach Mike Bobo, who requires no introduction to Georgia fans. He and Kirby Smart obviously go back a long way — 25 years, in fact: Bobo, the junior quarterback from Thomasville, and Smart, the freshman safety from Bainbridge. And now, after having faced each other on opposing sidelines under different head coaches over the years, along with a couple of stints working together on the Bulldogs’ sideline, they meet for the 1st time as head coaches.
Let’s call this the “Old Friends Bowl,” then.
The Gamecocks obviously have nothing to lose at this point, but Georgia will be looking to avoid a stunning loss that would knock them out of a NY6 slot. Here are 3 things I’d like to see from the Dawgs on Saturday:
1. A 2nd straight great showing from Jermaine Burton
The entire country got to know Burton last Saturday against Mississippi State. Apparently, all it took was the Dawgs giving the reins at quarterback to JT Daniels for the true freshman to have a breakout game: 8 catches for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns, coming close to breaking Tavarres King’s single-game yardage record.
What does he do for an encore, though?
Of course, Burton’s performance requires the disclaimer that it was against Mississippi State, after all, and that’s fair. And if he has another strong game against the Gamecocks, we’ll need a similar disclaimer. But though these are opponents the Dawgs should be putting up big numbers against, it works wonders for a freshman’s confidence to be able to do so, confidence that will come in handy next year with a full season under his belt.
2. The defense making life miserable for Luke Doty
The good news is that the Dawgs weren’t hurt by massive plays from Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers. It was more of a death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts situation: He simply took what he was being given by the defense.
Bobo hasn’t tipped his hand yet on whether it will be Collin Hill or newcomer Doty starting on Saturday. But Doty made a strong case for himself after Hill was benched during the Gamecocks’ loss to Missouri.
The difference between Rogers and Doty: While both are freshmen, Doty hasn’t had nearly as many reps as Rogers this season, and he hasn’t had the chance to show what he’s capable of as a starter. And while he showed well against the Tigers despite not being able to pull off the win, a defense that has had more hits than misses has the opportunity to take advantage of any jitters he may be facing.
3. The running game to get back on track after a dismal showing against Mississippi State
It’s rare for the Dawgs’ running game to show no signs of working as we saw in the Mississippi State game.
Fortunately, the Gamecocks might be the perfect team to get back in the right direction. They’ve allowed 166.4 yards on the ground this season, 11th out of 14 SEC teams. So it’s highly unlikely the Dawgs will finish with 8 yards rushing again.
Memo to Todd Monken, though: If there are signs of it absolutely not working, don’t keep going back to it over and over again, especially when your quarterback threw for more than 400 yards the last time out.