Who are the Bulldogs to watch in Georgia’s season opener versus Appalachian State this Saturday between the hedges at Sanford?
NICK CHUBB (TB, No. 27)
All eyes will certainly be on one of Georgia’s alltime running backs to see if Chubb has indeed regained the power and speed he displayed in his sensational freshman season in 2014… prior to sustaining a horrific knee injury in 2015 at Tennessee. If Chubb can come out of the opening gate Saturday with, say, a 150-yard rushing game, Dawg fans will feel good about this offense heading to South Bend, Ind. the following week.
JACOB EASON (QB, No. 10)
No question, if there’s any one player that is key to the Bulldogs’ championship success in 2017, it’s the sophomore quarterback from Lake Stevens, Wash. Eason, after completing just 55 percent of his passes last fall, must take charge of Georgia’s offense from the get-go in Saturday’s opener against Appalachian State, throw the football on time and on target and quickly display that’s he’s going to be one of the SEC’s top QBs this season.
ISAAC NAUTA (TE, No. 18)
Jacob Eason should be throwing to one of the leading tight end corps in the country this season and that unit is highlighted by a mere sophomore … one Isaac Nauta. The rugged 6-4, 246-pound Nauta proved to be the Bulldogs’ third leading receiver as a freshman when he pulled in 29 balls for 361 yards and three touchdowns. It’s going to be crucial for Georgia to establish the tight end in Saturday’s Appalachian State opener and Eason would do well to look for his college roommate early and often!
JOHN ATKINS (NT, No. 97)
This 2017 UGA defensive unit is supposed to be one of the SEC’s best and if that’s to become a reality, the Bulldogs’ run defense will have to be stingy all season long. That’s where 308-pound senior Atkins comes in. Starting Saturday against the Jalin Moore- led Mountaineer rushing attack, the powerful Atkins must create stalemates up front so as to allow UGA linebackers Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick to make life tough on the ASU backs.
ROQUAN SMITH (ILB, No. 3)
Unquestionably the leader of the Georgia defense after recording a team-leading 95 tackles last season, this 6-1,225-pound junior’s play will be instrumental in Saturday’s season opener. To help stymie Appalachian State’s potent offensive pair of quarterback Taylor Lamb and tailback Jaylin Moore, Smith’s sideline-to- sideline speed should pay dividends for the Bulldogs’ highly touted defensive unit.
JIM CHANEY (OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR)
As the Bulldogs kick off the new season Saturday, the jury is still out on OC Chaney. That’s because the Georgia offense was hit or miss in Chaney’s first season with the Bulldawg Nation questioning his play-calling on more occasions than one (particularly with the tailbacks repeatedly running off tackle for little gain). To be productive this year, Chaney has to mix his run- pass game much more effectively and thereby keep the opposing defenses guessing.
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