Schedule Sets Up Nicely for RBU

Schedule Sets Up Nicely for RBU

Han Vance on Georgia football: For two years running – and I’m meaning running a whole lot – the University of Georgia Bulldogs led the SEC in rushing, putting up a double-double.

First, Sony Michel (NFL first rounder and Super Bowl champion) and Nick Chubb (#2 on the all-time SEC rushing list) went off as seniors for 2,500+ yards running the rock, supplemented by true frosh D’Andre Swift out of Philly. Then, as a sophomore Swift shook off some nagging injuries to barely crack 1,000 yards rushing while starting in just five of 14 total football games. Less than expedient by elite running back standards, power back Elijah Holyfield also netted just over a stack. He benefitted immensely from the preseason injury on kick coverage at practice to Zamir “ZEU$” White, who was believed by many to be ahead of Holyfield at that time in the running back stable’s pecking order.

First let me say that under no circumstances was ZEU$ covering kicks anything other than a massive, major head coaching gaffe, which all things considered could have been the difference in UGA starting 11-1 again and actually winning it all last year. White is that good. He was the top running back in the country and was coming off a devastating high school injury. At Georgia, other athletes exist aplenty who can do such tasks as suicide squad and need the reps much more. I can see him running back kicks, because that is a much more specialized skill set that shows up in the win-loss column. Gurley returned kicks.

A primary consideration in Holyfield jumping into the pros early was that, though he wasn’t getting any faster, he had cracked the 1,000 yard threshold as the #2 guy, in all honesty sometimes the lead back. By mid-year, it was obvious Swift was the better back. In preseason, Swift was perceived to be the better back by the better analysts who weren’t so caught up in the last name and look-at-those-big-arms crap. Running back is mostly about the feet and eyes.

Swift chipped in almost 300 yards receiving in limited targets and wound up with 1,300+ yards from scrimmage. While this year versatile senior Brian Herrien comes in as his number two, I expect Swift to individually make a bigger impact in the passing offense and net 1,500+. Which is Heisman candidate level.

When Zamir White comes back, and with the maturation of speedster RB James Cook, now a sophomore back from a minor injury of his own, there will be no reason to rely too heavily on wide receivers – the current glaring weakness of the team, with the loss of Godwin, Hardman, JJ and Ridley. D-Rob and Simmons will get good long looks at leading wideout. Throwing it to tight end Charlie Woerner, running it behind the best offensive line in college football, which features seven starters worth of brawny beef in five slots. It’s going to be power football or bust.

Mash ’em, Dawgs!

The lone real football benefit of playing a neutral site game out of state every single season is this: every other year, you get one less road game. This is that year, only four away games.

Georgia opens in Nashville at Vandy. That looks like a fun win. Pitting the team that swept the SEC East in consecutive years with the home-standing Commodores, who won their state title over Tennessee, again, but went sub .500 in a good-for-them bowl year (6-7).

Couple of Classic City cupcakes and then the big one, as Notre Dame visits Athens on 9/21, get your (unofficial, copyrighted) T-shirts ready:

Canines vs. Catholics

…that’s no iconic trip to the American Heartland with a true freshman quarterback getting his first career start. The 20-19 win goes down in Georgia lore, sure, especially the catch by Godwin.

Georgia has not lost any games Between the Hedges in two years, and I’m expecting heat and humidity in the 2019 tilt. That ND made the CFP last year, is just further motivation for a Dawgs win.

Then a bye comes before the first true trip to hostile territory. Tennessee (5-7) didn’t qualify for a bowl game last year, so UGA rightly expects to win this game. The ambush is on. Won’t matter.

South Carolina, who slipped to 7-6 last year after a better year, Kentucky (Homecoming) who won 10 last year and deserved a bigger bowl but lose their best runner and defender, ever, to the NFL, are next. Georgia wins those games at home.

Then another bye. I’m worried about Florida this year. They finished more highly-ranked than Georgia in both polls and have program momentum. Just three years ago, they not Georgia had won the SEC East two years in a row, and now they have a better coach in year two. The state population being four times that of Georgia benefits Florida, in the long run. The game is in the GATOR bowl and all, the house of horrors. But Flordia lost their top two defenders and four of five starters from their offensive line.

Then, Mizzou (8-5) is back in Athens, with Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant at quarterback. The Tigers have beaten Georgia only once since joining the SEC.

Kirby is winless (0-3, all blowouts) in his trips to the SEC West. This has to end. Proud Auburn is deeper and more mature on defense, again, and the Jungle is loud. Their quarterback and running back were difference makers two years ago, when Auburn won the SEC West, led in the SEC championship game in Atlanta and then finally fell apart, pretty similar to Georgia this past campaign. I see Georgia being better prepared than in Kirby’s three-year start, more mature than in those sad blowouts.

Schedule snafu in the league as the Auburn game falls not in its traditional slot as the last SEC game of the year, which is a lot of what has made the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry such a strong one. I love the Georgia-Auburn rivalry. Auburn had a bad year but should not be overlooked at home, still I see Georgia winning the cross-conference away game.

These last two games pit Ol’ Georgia versus relatively closer to UGA teams, in terms of roster talent, compared to much of the schedule, as Jimbo Fisher brings his (finally) Texas A&M Aggies to Athens for the home finale. My grandpa’s college won’t win in my college’s stadium, after losing the best running back in the SEC early to the NFL.

The other two tough games are obviously Notre Dame and Florida, who could each be top 10. There’s a four-game stretch, where Georgia schedule goes in Florida, Mizzou, at Auburn, Texas A&M. Sweeping that four games looks fairly unlikely to me, coming off back-to-back 11-1 regular seasons. Georgia is a legit CFP and therefore national title contender in 2019. In the SEC East with Kentucky, Missouri, S, Carolina and Florida all not away games, Georgia has a home-away scheduling advantage in the division this year.

Up the street, Georgia Tech will be a program on the rise and a dangerous team soon, but not this coming year. Not in my ATL. For the last two years, UGA actually swept Tech in the three biggest sports (football, baseball, basketball). That ended one night this year at the Braves stadium in ATL, as Tech won at baseball 8-6 over a top 5 Georgia, to take 2-of-3. The football and basketball teams at the Flagship did their part, but the streak, as all streaks do, ended.

Nothing lasts forever. Heck, Bama was straight garbage for many years before Saban turned them around, and Clemson used to be famous for “pulling a Clemson” – which meant blowing it. Sounds familiar.

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