The Georgia Bulldogs certainly looked like the best college football team in the country this past weekend. They threw the Oregon Ducks around Mercedes-Benz Stadium as though they were a collection of 11 plush dolls.
By Matt Zemek
It was men against boys. It wasn’t varsity against junior varsity. It was more like varsity against freshmen. Kirby Smart schooled former assistant Dan Lanning the way Nick Saban has outcoached former assistants over the years … until, of course, Smart beat Saban for the 2021 national championship this past winter in Indianapolis.
Georgia didn’t seem to worry very much about defending its national title. The Bulldogs did not look or act like a team bearing a lot of pressure. Maybe it’s because they are simply that much better than every non-Alabama team in the country. Maybe they were simply very prepared for what Lanning, a former Georgia coach, was going to throw at them. Maybe they knew what Bo Nix – a former Auburn quarterback – was going to do. Maybe Oregon isn’t nearly as good as expected. Maybe it was all of the above. At any rate, Georgia now moves to a cupcake game against Samford. There are no real keys to victory because victory is reasonably assumed. These are keys to program and team development over the course of the season, leading into SEC play later in September.
1 – Run-pass mix
Georgia surprised Oregon with more pass plays than the Ducks were anticipating. Against Samford, it’s a great time to run the ball more, shorten the game, burn the clock, and not create more chances for anyone to get injured. A game against an FCS team is precisely the kind of occasion when staying healthy is really the most important thing. Georgia quarterbacks threw 37 passes against Oregon, balanced against 25 total rushing attempts. Those numbers need to be flipped against Samford. Georgia did not produce a running play that gained more than 12 yards against Oregon. Expect that to change in Week 2.
2 – Continued balance
Seven Georgia receivers produced pass plays of 20 yards or more against Oregon. Let’s continue to see that, with the workload being evenly distributed and a lot of players being integrated into the offense. Leading rushers and leading receivers were not overworked. That’s a great thing heading into SEC league games. Keeping everyone fresh, and getting younger players meaningful work, are both part of managing a team for a 12-game season and engaging in long-term program building for 2023 and 2024.
3 – Pass rush
Georgia didn’t get a sack against Oregon. Sure, it didn’t matter that much, but there is always something to work on. This is it. Georgia also allowed 7 of 15 third-down conversions and 2 of 3 fourth-down conversions. There is room for improvement.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). You can watch this SEC football game on the SECN Network.