Some would look at Saturday’s game with Middle Tennessee as a trap game for No. 3 Georgia, because it’s sandwiched between two SEC road games. It’s a logical argument, but the 1-1 Blue Raiders still shouldn’t be an issue for the 2-0 Bulldogs in this noon kickoff (TV: ESPNNews).
The Bulldogs looked great in their 45-0 win over Austin Peay and their 41-17 victory at South Carolina, justifying their lofty ranking. There should be more big things this weekend before the Dawgs travel to Missouri next week.
Here are five things I want to see from Georgia this weekend:
1. Better pressure from the defensive line that results in sacks
Georgia’s defensive front is very good, so it’s odd that the defense has posted only two sacks in two games. That’s a number that needs to grow, and soon. Starting this week, please.
As a whole, the line is playing well, and it has been great at stopping the run. But to have only two sacks on 71 pass plays is surprising. It’s time to pick that up, because when SEC play gets hot and heavy, keeping opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable is going to be important.
2. More playing time for Justin Fields
I’m not rooting for a quarterback controversy in any possible way, because I’m on record as saying I think Kirby Smart has handled all of this perfectly. Jake Fromm has been great and deserves to be the starter. He played most of last week’s SEC opener against South Carolina, and we didn’t see Fields until the outcome was no longer in doubt.
It should be different this week. And I am so curious to find out just how good the freshman is, and how good he is going to be. This game should get out of hand early, so hopefully we’ll see more of Fields.
3. Rattle a veteran quarterback early and make him uncomfortable
Middle Tennessee has been known to scare people, even though they didn’t do it in the opener when they got thrashed by Vanderbilt. Still, it’s worth being careful here because quarterback Brent Stockstill is a fifth-year senior who has been around the block a time or two.
He has already thrown for 9,424 yards in his career, and that’s despite missing six games last year with a knee injury and three the year prior. He has beaten Power 5 teams Syracuse and Missouri in his career, so it’s important that Georgia gets after him early and knocks those upset thoughts out of him. He can be dangerous, as evidenced by his 407 yards passing last week with five touchdowns against Tennessee-Martin.
4. Continue to break big plays
We’ve seen a lot of big plays from Georgia on both sides of the ball so far, and that’s a very positive trend to start the season. It’s not surprising, with all that talent on the roster, but it is still nice to see them respond early. Now, keep it up.
We’ve seen a long interception return by Deandre Baker (55 yards, though we wish it had been a yard longer), long runs by Demetris Robertson (72 yards) and James Cook (36) and a long reception by Mecole Hardman (59 yards). Just keep it coming. All this explosiveness is fun to watch.
5. Make some noise on special teams
The Bulldogs haven’t had a chance to show off all their speed on special teams yet, mostly because of a lack of opportunity. For instance, last week against South Carolina, they didn’t return a single kick or punt, which is rare. They returned only one kick (24 yards) and three punts (for 9 total yards) in the opener.
With all that talent back there, the Dawgs can score a touchdown on special teams anytime they get the chance. Will this be the week that they get to break one?