Kirby Smart (HC) – The Georgia Bulldogs hosting the Ole Miss Rebels this coming weekend will undoubtedly be Coach Kirby Smart’s most significant home game this year. Last year, it was against the No. 1 ranked Tennessee team, and now it’s likely to be against a top-ten Ole Miss squad. However, one thing we’ve learned about Coach Smart and his team is their ability to make big moments seem small. In the game against Kentucky, when everyone expected the Wildcats to rush for 200 yards and stifle the Georgia offense, the Dawgs emerged victorious. Following a bye week, and despite the absence of Brock Bowers, they secured a win against their formidable rival, the Florida Gators. Even last week, facing the No. 12 ranked Mizzou, Georgia controlled a significant portion of the game and sealed the victory with back-to-back interceptions. Coach Smart and his team just don’t quit, so we can expect them to remain composed and disciplined as they welcome the Rebels to town
Ladd McConkey (WR #84) – McConkey is coming off a season-high seven-reception game against the Missouri Tigers, so you can expect him to continue this trend when playing against Ole Miss, a team with a prolific offense that ranks third in the SEC in both scoring and total offensive yardage. If this game turns into a shootout, McConkey will be leading the charge. Mike Bobo may have to dig deep into his playbook, and if he does, McConkey will be the one making the plays. Whether it’s as a receiver, where he’s averaging 15.3 yards per catch this season, or as a runner, where he has a career average of 16.2 yards per carry, McConkey will undoubtedly play a significant role and be relied upon against Lane Kiffin and the Rebels.
Sedrick Van Pran (C #63) – Sedrick Van Pran is the key cog here, as the most experienced player on this offensive line. Beyond that, Georgia’s entire offensive line will need to step up against a defense that has multiple linemen with five or more sacks this season. If this game ends up being a shootout (and knowing Ole Miss and their style of play, it very well may be), Sedrick Van Pran and the rest of the offensive line will need to hold it down in the trenches to give Carson Beck sufficient time to diagnose the defense and make plays.
Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (WR #1) – With the highest average yards per reception among Georgia’s starting receivers at 17.1, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, also known as MRJ, should be a prime option for Mike Bobo and Carson Beck. While RaRa Thomas has been enjoying the spotlight as Georgia’s main ‘big body receiver,’ MRJ also possesses an impressive catch radius, standing at six-foot-two and weighing 200 pounds. What’s almost as impressive as his ability to catch the ball is his running ability after the catch. He may not be Ladd McConkey, but in the opening drive against Kentucky, MRJ was able to showcase his speed, which is just what the Dawgs will need if Ole Miss and their offense become a handful.
Mykel Williams (DE #13) – Arguably one of Georgia’s most physically gifted players, Mykel Williams has been haunting the nightmares of offensive linemen across college football for almost two years now, and for good reason. However, don’t let the numbers fool you. Williams only has three sacks on the year, but that’s mainly due to the way Georgia schemes its pressures. We can see that Georgia has been changing it up a bit since the bye week. Prior to the bye, the Dawgs had just twelve sacks on the season. After the bye, in just two games, they’ve put up seven. Mykel Williams is due and should have a good day against a pass-heavy Ole Miss team.
Smael Mondon (LB #2) – One philosophy that the Dawgs hold close to their hearts is that they don’t want anyone to be able to run north and south on them; no one should be able to penetrate the middle. This is to force runners to go east and west, where Georgia hopes to counter runs with speed on the defense. Smael Mondon embodies this philosophy and has the numbers to back it up, leading the team in tackles with 44. Given the way Ole Miss plays, moving players around and creating mismatches, the Georgia defense will need to be athletic, and that’s precisely what they have in junior linebacker Smael Mondon.
Malaki Starks (S #24) – He’s been a little quiet the past couple of weeks, but don’t forget that according to multiple sources, Malaki Starks is considered the best safety in the nation. With Ole Miss having three different receivers with over 600 receiving yards on the season, he’s going to need to play like it. Starks excels in coverage, and you can see how he’s used differently compared to fellow safeties/STARS Tykee Smith and Javon Bullard. Last week, the Rebels’ quarterback, Jaxson Dart, threw for 387 yards against Texas A&M, so Starks will certainly be tested. Expect him to be flying across the field come game day.
One of Herschel Walker’s greatest games as a Bulldog came in a 37-7 win at Oxford in 1981, as he carried the football 41 times for 265 yards and a spectacular leaping, spinning touchdown.
In Georgia’s 33-10 win over Ole Miss in 1982, the Bulldogs grabbed seven interceptions, Kevin Butler kicked a 59-yard field goal and Herschel Walker became the SEC’s career rushing king.
Georgia’s 2002 SEC champions defeated the Rebels 31-17 Between the Hedges, with Tim Jennings intercepting Eli Manning and returning it 64 yards for a critical Bulldogs touchdown.