Record 6-0, SEC 4-0
Georgia is starting to look like Alabama. They do not lose often, yet there are not a lot of players with great individual statistics. They are deep. They have a coach, Kirby Smart, who coached at Alabama. Presently, this is not a good sign for the SEC East, or the rest of the SEC for that matter. The Bulldogs lost eight defensive starters from the team that played in the 2018 college championship game against Alabama, but they have not lost since that game.
Currently the Bulldogs are seventh in the nation in total defense, allowing 283.2 total yards per game. But, Georgia has been piling up these stats against the likes of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina, and Missouri. This is not the upper echelon of the college football world. In their win over Missouri, they were vulnerable to the pass, giving up 221 yards through the air. However, they did not yield a touchdown through the air.
The Bulldog individual defensive stat sheet, after six games, looks odd. They rarely have a player averaging more than five total tackles per game. They are last in the SEC in sacks. They do not seem to have any individual who does anything far above average. Or, they play a lot of good players, who do not pile up a lot of great individual stats. Like Alabama, the Bulldogs play three defensive linemen, who tie up the offensive line of the opponent, so Georgia’s linebackers are free to make plays. One of these linebackers is senior D’Andre Walker, who has four sacks, eight quarterback hurries, and three forced fumbles for the season. Sophomore inside linebacker Monty Rice is second on the team in tackles with 26, 13 solos. Rice is questionable for the game Saturday, if one believes the Georgia injury report. His backup, senior Natrez Patrick is not bad. Sophomore defensive back Richard LeCounte leads the team in tackles with 33, 23 unassisted.
For the first time this season, the Purple and Gold will have to prepare for two quarterbacks on the same team. The starter for Georgia is sophomore Jake Fromm. Last season, as a freshman, Fromm and the rest of his teammates marched all the way to the national championship game, to fall short. This year, so far, Fromm has thrown 114 passes and completed 83 of them for a completion rate of 72 percent. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and been intercepted twice. This is good enough to be ranked fourth in the land in passing efficiency.
If the offense slows down with Fromm, the Bulldogs go to freshman quarterback Justin Fields, a dual threat player who performs the run-pass-option (RPO) very well. Fields is a threat to score every time he touches the football.
The Georgia running attack is led by junior Elijah Holyfield who is the eighth leading rusher in the league with 432 yards. However, Holyfield averages 7.45 yards per rush. Sophomore D’Andre Swift has rushed for 290 yards, averaging 4.92 yards per carry.
The offensive line is strong, despite the fact it is young. There are two freshmen and two sophomores starting on the offensive line. Freshman Cade Mays replaced sophomore Ben Cleveland at right guard a couple of weeks ago, when Cleveland broke his leg. Cleveland, a sophomore was Georgia’s best offensive lineman. Mays has filled in and kept the position strong. Left tackle Andrew Thomas, a sophomore and returning starter, was on the ESPN Freshman All-American squad. Senior Lamont Gaillard is the center, who is a converted defensive linemen. Gaillard is a three year starter who has also played guard in his career at Georgia.
The Bulldogs have a lot of good receivers. Juniors Mecole Hardman and Ridley Riley lead the team in receptions with 18 and 17 for the season, respectively. Hardman has caught four touchdowns, averaging 16.1 yards per reception. Riley has caught three touchdowns on the year, averaging 12.1 yards per grab. As usual, there is no one player who dominates the stat line. Everyone plays well. The Bulldogs are two deep at every receiver position.
Like the Purple and Gold, the Bulldogs have a good field goal kicker. He is junior Rodrigo Blankenship, and his range is beyond 50 yards.
This will be another war. Both teams are banged up, but this is nothing unusual for this time of year. Georgia is no easy out, and the Tigers will have to play a full four quarters to beat them.