Kirby Smart had a little trick up his sleeve in preparing for Georgia’s opener on Saturday against Clemson. He didn’t release a depth chart.

Gamesmanship? Absolutely. It’s not the first time it’s happened and it certainly won’t be the last. Of course, it comes as the questions of “will they/won’t they” surround players like Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith, both suffering injuries during the preseason to leave their statuses for the game in doubt.

Smart, of course, wasn’t showing his hand, and he has every right to not do so.

The Dawgs, by the way, haven’t started the season 0-1 since 2013. Their opponent that year? Clemson. The Tigers, meanwhile, have won 6 consecutive season-openers. Their last opening loss came in 2014, courtesy of — guess who? — Georgia.

Needless to say, this is a big game. No Playoff contender wants to start 0-1.

Here are 5 predictions I have for a Saturday night showdown in Charlotte;

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1. 3 or more sacks of DJ Uiagalelei

I’ve written about it, but the Dawgs’ pass rush has become significantly better over the past few years. It won’t feature players like Azeez Ojulari this time around, but Adam Anderson and Travon Walker are the primary names to watch out for in this department.

And I think they make things a little miserable for DJ Uiagalelei on Saturday. Yes, he played brilliantly in place of Trevor Lawrence last year, but I feel that the Dawgs can break down a strong Clemson offensive front.

2. Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint makes the most of a big opportunity and goes for over 125 yards

Rosemy-Jacksaint had a bittersweet day in the Cocktail Party game against Florida last year. On one hand, he made his first career touchdown catch, but in the process suffered an awful ankle injury that ended his season.

And with the absence of Arik Gilbert, Rosemy-Jacksaint is set to have an even bigger role in the Georgia offense, at least for the time being. With rather limited playing time coupled with Smart not releasing a depth chart, it works in the sophomore’s favor as the Tigers’ defense won’t quite know what his tendencies are and can’t put together a game plan for him in the same way they would for, say, Kearis Jackson.

I think Rosemy-Jacksaint shines in this one and breaks the 125-yard mark, setting himself up for a stellar campaign.

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3. The Bulldogs solve a stingy Clemson rushing defense

Of course, the Dawgs are the standard-bearers in this department as the owners of one of the elite run defenses in the country. But the Tigers have strength here as well, allowing just 3.1 yards a carry in 2020.

That said, it goes without saying that Georgia has an immensely deep and diverse running back corps. I’m primarily focusing on the 3.1 yards per carry number and feel that the Dawgs will favor a little more of a run-heavy approach, given the status of their injured receivers (which doesn’t mean Rosemy-Jacksaint won’t get his, by the way).

In 6 out of 10 games last year, the Bulldogs ran the ball 40 or more times. I’m predicting around 45 carries and 250 yards against Clemson. Can the offensive line hold up its end of the bargain, though?

4. JT Daniels records over 400 passing yards

Now, this is bold, especially considering the Dawgs’ injury situation. Daniels nearly had two 400-yard games in his 4 starts last year. He threw for 401 against Mississippi State and 392 in the bowl win against Cincinnati.

The Tigers have yielded 400 or more yards to just 1 quarterback in the previous 2 seasons: Joe Burrow, in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Burrow, of course, totaled 463 yards and 5 touchdowns to cap a historic season at the helm of the LSU offense.

I don’t think Daniels has quite that performance, but I think he’ll plant an early marker in the Heisman Trophy discussion with a strong outing against a secondary that includes Andrew Booth and Nolan Turner. Much of that, like the running game point, depends on the offensive line, but I think it does well enough to give Daniels the opportunity to work.

5. The Bulldogs finally get a kick return for a touchdown

It’s been a while since it’s happened, but Saturday just seems like the night where a Georgia player gets a house call. I’m picking Kearis Jackson to get the honors against the Tigers’ kick coverage team.

Jackson has the look of someone that could take a kick return the distance just about every time he touches the ball. He hasn’t done it yet, but I predict that all of that will change on Saturday in Charlotte.

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