So, we play Georgia today. Pretty big game. Top ten matchup and all.
We were kind enough to answer some questions for Dawg Nation and their putrid red and black website (it’s icky), so they reciprocated in an attempt to make this formerly brotherly-love rivalry smooth once again.
The main story for Georgia this year is about Jake Fromm taking over for Jacob Eason after the opener. What strengths does Fromm possess over Eason that makes him the clear starter right now? And what happens with Eason moving forward?
Jake Fromm's football IQ is off the charts. One early clue to that came in last season's Army All-American Game. Fromm threw a gorgeous 76 yard touchdown pass to Florida State commit D.J. Matthews. Afterward we learned that Fromm had seen a weakness in the West defense and sent Matthews on the scoring route from the line of scrimmage. This was after he learned the entire playbook overnight and corrected the coaches on the route progressions on the first morning of practice: https://www.dawgnation.com/football/recruiting/theres-one-more-jake-fromm-story-from-texas-that-must-be-told
None of that was surprising to those of us who watched him play at Houston County High in football-obsessed Warner Robins. His high school coach has made the case that Fromm may actually have an eidetic memory. Eason has a better arm. A golden arm, even. But when it comes to the unique geometry of moving people and footballs around a field, and remembering how to do so without a chalk board present, Jake Fromm is the best I've ever seen. Opposing defensive coordinators and commentators keep waiting for him to have his "bad freshman game." It may very well not happen. As good a game manager as Aaron Murray was, good enough to break most every SEC passing record, Fromm is even better at the same point.
That's a tough break for Jacob Eason. With every week it becomes clearer that he has a decision to make at the end of the season. He didn't come to Athens to hold a clipboard, but there's just no way you change horses midstream when Fromm has such a command of the offense so soon. I'm sure the coaches will try to convince Eason to stay for 2018 and compete again with Fromm for the starting job, but I expect him to head elsewhere. He'll have three years to play two seasons, and could compete for the starting spot at any number of schools. I can guarantee you Georgia fans will be rooting for him wherever that is.
You've got a couple guys who honestly seem like they've been at Georgia forever in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. We're familiar with what they do, so who are the other weapons on the Bulldog offense?
An overlooked aspect of the Georgia offense has been the emergence of Terry Godwin and Javon Wims in particular as reliable receivers. The 6'5, 215 pound Wims is as physical a receiver as Georgia has had since A.J. Green. Godwin, averaging 22.2 yards per reception, is sure-handed and sneaky fast. Sophomore Mecole Hardman has come into his own after moving over from defense, and will line up outside at receiver, in the "Wild Dawg", and as a sort of super speedy H-back.
But perhaps the most underappreciated weapon on the roster has been Georgia's other three regular tailbacks: D'Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield, and Brian Herrien. Jim Chaney and running backs coach Dell McGee will switch backs not just possession to possession, but even a couple of times per series to get fresh legs in the backfield. That has paid off for them in the second half this season. If Georgia has a solid lead in the fourth quarter (a really, really big if in my opinion), the 'Dawgs may not put the ball in the air for the final fifteen minutes.
Georgia's got the third-best scoring defense in the country right now. What area of the D should opposing teams try to exploit?
Georgia's run defense is rock solid, joining Alabama as one of only two units in the conference allowing less than 100 yards per contest. And the secondary has been generally strong, albeit a little susceptible to big, physical receiving corps. The nightmare scenario for Bulldog fans on defense involves a combination of a pass rush which has been a bit streaky not getting to Jarrett Stidham, and Stidham having the time to find Tiger receivers downfield for big plays.
South Carolina in fact stayed in last week's game largely on the back of three separate third down conversion passes of fifteen-plus yards on which Jake Bentley had hours to find a receiver. Stidham's increasing familiarity with the Auburn offense and ability to improvise make that scenario even more dangerous this week.
There's a feeling that Georgia hasn't been tested yet. When you played Notre Dame, the Irish were still breaking in a ton of new pieces, and the stadium was hardly majority Domers. Do you worry that Georgia hasn't been punched in the nose yet?
Not really. Most of the contributors on this team were contributors on the 2016 squad that came from behind for four wins last season, including two in the final minute. They're the same guys who lost that heart-breaking Hail Mary game to Tennessee. They haven't forgotten those experiences.
It's also worth remembering that it wasn't just Notre Dame that was playing early season football that night in South Bend. It was Jake Fromm's first start period, much less on the road. That was also the night the Bulldog defense really came into its own, with a handful of young contributors (CB Deandre Baker, Star J.R. Reed, and DT Tyler Clark) having their own coming out party.. So I'm not really worried about Georgia not knowing how to take a punch.
I am a little worried about Georgia playing tight. There's still a real danger that at some point players are going to wake up and realize the stakes they're playing for. But if there's any set of coaches capable of sealing out that noise and maintaining focus, it's Kirby Smart and his cadre of assistants who learned how to do it in Tuscaloosa.
They say your Georgia Quarterback name is your 5th grade teacher's last name + the color of your car. What's yours?
Tra Battle Chartreuse, Jr. I heard your Auburn quarterback name is your social security number plus your mother's maiden name, it would be awesome to hear what College & Magnolia commenters' would be. So if y'all could screenshot those and email them to me I'd appreciate it.
Tell us how bad you think you guys beat us.
There was a time when the home field advantage was non-existent in this series. But I don't think that's the case any more. Auburn appears to me to be peaking at the right time, and the passing attack is a tough matchup for Georgia.I think Jordan-Hare is the difference in a 41-38 Auburn victory in yet another classic revival of the South's Oldest Rivalry* that isn't over until the very end.
*Yes, I know it's commonly called "the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry." But the alleged "South's Oldest Rivalry", contested between Virginia and North Carolina, was first played nine months following the first Auburn/Georgia game. The ACC can't play football or read a damn calendar, apparently.
This guy thinks we win today. He’s trying to bamboozle the hell out of us and get us comfortable just in time for a big fall. Down with him and his hairy mutts! War Eagle!