The No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs kick off their college football campaign this weekend with a trip to Fayetteville to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Here are the three keys:
By Steve Wright
Have a plan at quarterback
It is fair to trust that Kirby Smart knows what he is doing. Even so, it is a little worrying how little we know about the QB situation after presumed starter – and Wake Forest transfer – Jamie Newman announced on September 2 that he was going to opt out of the season and look towards the 2021 NFL Draft. Newman was a beast with no help at Wake and he was expected to be in the Heisman conversation sooner rather than later this fall.
Since the announcement, Smart has been very quiet about his starting signal-caller. In his Monday presser, he mentioned four names, though it seems likely either redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis, USC transfer JT Daniels, or – more than likely – both will get time on Saturday. Smart just needs to know what he is doing here to not get caught in the two-quarterback trap.
Run the ball
Georgia just needs to keep things simple here. The passing game is going to push the ball downfield more than we have seen in the past but everything will start with the road grading offensive line and a deep stable of running backs. That should be especially true for the first few weeks of the season as the offense beds in. Don’t take chances through the air and give the Razorbacks any reason to think they should win this game. Just pound the rock and move the chains.
The knowledge factor
It can be tricky taking on a head coach who was a recent departure from your own staff. That is what Smart is doing here as he faces Sam Pittman, who most recently spent four years working as the Georgia offensive line coach. While some principles will have changed since Pittman’s departure, it is fair to say he knows the players and the system that the Bulldogs want to run. Look for a few tweaks to what Georgia usually does in order to keep the ball moving on Saturday.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 3:00 PM CT (4:00 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.