Georgia football: Reassessing the Bulldogs after a 3-0 start
Georgia is one quarter the way through its schedule. Following a tight with against Clemson to open the season, the Dawgs have followed with blowout victories over UAB and South Carolina, improving to 3-0 and No. 2 nationally.
Sept. 25 should go down in the books as another win for Georgia as they head to Nashville to take on a 1-2 Vanderbilt team. Then, the road gets tougher. Sam Pittman brings an Arkansas team to Athens that has impressed thus far, followed by Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Kentucky is next, followed by the big one: the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville against Florida.
If Georgia gets through October unbeaten, then it’s hard to imagine it not ultimately running the table with Missouri (home), Tennessee (away), FCS Charleston Southern (home), and Georgia Tech (away) on the back end of the slate. But through 3 games, so far, so good.
Let’s take a look at where the Dawgs stand right now:
Who has emerged?
One player who has risen to the occasion is Brock Bowers. I’ve written about him, but he’s turning into a consistent option for Georgia quarterbacks. Through 3 games, he’s Georgia’s top receiver. That’s going to change down the road, but keep in mind that he’s only a true freshman. He’ll continue to grow and develop in Todd Monken’s offense as the season progresses.
Defensively, I’m saying Adam Anderson, not because he’s a surprise, but because he’s seamlessly taken the reins from Azeez Ojulari in the pass rush department. He’s at 3 sacks through 3 games, well on track to reach that elusive double-digit sack mark.
What’s been the biggest disappointment?
It’s through no fault of their own, but the biggest disappointment is not having Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith on the field throughout these first 3 games.
Smith was brought in as a potential impact transfer in the secondary, and Washington was projected to have a major role in this offense, but their foot injuries have held them out. Fortunately, both appear to be very close, so we’ll see if they’re in against Vanderbilt.
What’s my biggest concern moving forward?
The secondary. That part of the field has seen a few soft spots over the first 3 games.
We saw it against Clemson as Joseph Ngata totaled 6 catches for 110 yards. On Saturday, Josh Vann torched the Bulldogs for 128 yards on just 3 catches.
It’s a bit of a problem. It’s fixable but a problem nonetheless. Smith’s eventual recovery and appearance in the lineup should help.
Are they who we thought they were?
In my view, no. They’re better than we thought – at the very least, the offense is.
First, it’s Georgia and Florida in the SEC East, followed by everyone else. We’ll know how wide the gap is between the Dawgs and Gators after they meet on Oct. 30.
The pass rush has been better than expected even with Ojulari gone, recording 3 sacks of South Carolina quarterbacks to make it 13 in 3 games. (It could have been more, to be honest.) Of course, the 13 sacks includes the 7-sack performance against Clemson, but this unit is scary and displaying nothing suggesting that it can’t get better as the season goes on. As for the run defense, it has answered the bell as it normally does.
The offense looks to have built some steam over the past 2 games, and while that’s been against weaker opponents, we’re seeing what’s possible as players begin to regain health.
They’ll enter November with an 8-0 record
Sure, Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt and are in the middle of another rebuilding project under rookie head coach Clark Lea, but all of a sudden, that Arkansas game at Sanford Stadium on Oct. 2 looks like a trap game before a trip to The Plains to face Bo Nix, Tank Bigsby, and Auburn. But the way Georgia’s run defense and pass rush have been playing, it could be a long day for the Tigers.
That takes us to the Kentucky game on Oct. 6, where the Dawgs should certainly be able to bottle up Chris Rodriguez and hopefully keep Will Levis and Wan’Dale Robinson in check (this Wildcats team, by the way, struggled to beat Chattanooga) before the scene shifts to Jacksonville for the Cocktail Party.
I’ll give Georgia the slight edge in that one with Daniels, not Stetson Bennett IV, behind center, but the big question will be if it’s Anthony Richardson or Emory Jones taking the snaps for the Gators in that one. Either way, Georgia’s good enough to win that one.