Georgia O-Line and Quayvon vs. Zach Orr
You often hear coaches talk about “SEC caliber players” who stand out for schools that aren’t in BCS conferences. These are the ones that fell through the recruiting nets of the big boys, were late bloomers, or simply wanted to play where they are. Zach Orr is one of those players. He is a terrific linebacker. In his profile for North Texas’s top players in this issue, his credentials are clear. And to borrow again, do you think Mack Brown would have liked to have had Orr when Ole Miss was slicing up the Longhorns defense? For Georgia to run the ball with maximum effectiveness, the interior offensive line will have to get a push and “get a hat” on Orr. If the O-Line is tied up, there could be some classic collisions with the Bulldogs new star fullback Quayvon Hicks and Orr. North Texas will have Orr squarely focused on the nation’s top tailback, hoping to have him slow Todd Gurley down.
Pass Defense vs. Derek Thompson
It is obvious that Georgia’s young defense has a long ways to go. They are running, hitting and playing hard, but simply must continue to improve and get better results if the Bulldogs are to be a legitimate contender for the Southeastern Conference crown. Georgia’s pass defense will get a good test from North Texas’s uber-accurate quarterback Derek Thompson. His numbers are off the charts this season, completing 73 of 103 passes for 818 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in three games. He keyed a furious comeback by the Mean Green this past Saturday. North Texas got off to an awful start against Ball State, trailing 20-3 after the first quarter. But the boys from Denton rode Thompson’s arm for a rousing comeback, hitting on 31 of 47 aerials for 274 yards and a score. Thompson paced the Mean Green on the ground as well, running six times for 72 yards and a touchdown. Georgia’s pass defense must be on, and the Bulldogs defensive ends and outside linebackers had better stay disciplined against this dual threat.
Marshall Morgan is back from a two-game suspension. He was inconsistent as a true freshman, but has a good leg, which was showcased with clutch long field goals in wins over Missouri and Tennessee. Colin Barber, an excellent punter, and the mad men have done an excellent job on kickoff coverage throughout the first two games. Patrick Beless hit both field goals against South Carolina and is perfect on extra points. Georgia has to be solid here, though in games like the victory over the Gamecocks and the 2011 win at Florida, shaky field goal kicking led to aggressive fourth down play calling and touchdowns.
Was it really 30 years ago? Georgia’s 10-1-1 powerhouse of 1983 will be honored between the hedges. The campaign began with Charley Dean’s interception return for a touchdown in a 19-8 defeat of UCLA and ended with John Lastinger scampering into the end zone in a 10-9 Cotton Bowl topping of Texas. This gritty group has long been, and always will be, a favorite of the Georgia people.