Daily Dawg Thread – 06May2019 – Previewing The 2019 Georgia Bulldogs Football Season – By Matthew Hall
There is absolutely no room for questioning that the Georgia Bulldogs Football program has been and continues to be one that is on the rise in the Southeastern Conference and in the world of NCAA college football respectively. Even so, if one was asked to summarize the Dawgs’ last two seasons with only two words, the argument for “shock” and “disappointment” could fall into the realm of the conversation. In the 2017 season, of which is now etched into the UGA history books as one of the entity’s finest ever on record, Georgia and its faithful fans were “shocked” as the Bulldogs came up just shy of winning the College Football Playoff National Championship to the University of Alabama on the final play of the game which saw Alabama QB Tua Tagolovailoa complete a 41-yard touchdown pass to Devonta Smith with the Dawgs up 23-20 in overtime. Fast forward a year later and “disappointment” settled in as Georgia fell to Alabama in the SEC Championship by a score of 35-28 when the Dawgs allowed the Crimson Tide to score twice in the 4th quarter while failing to put up any points on the board in the final 15 minutes of the contest. Making these two losses even worse is the almost unbelievable stat and fact that in the final two games versus Alabama over the course of the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide led for only 9 of the 290 total combined plays yet somehow still won both contests. Adding insult to injury following the loss to Alabama last season was the defeat by the Texas Longhorns by a score of 28-21 in the 2019 Sugar Bowl.
With the “shock” and “disappointment” of the last two seasons out of the picture and now in the rearview, UGA Head Coach Kirby Smart and the Georgia Football program look ahead to 2019 with the same goal as before: win the SEC East, be victorious as Southeastern Conference champions, and come out on top of it all and over all others as the College Football Playoff National Championships. To do just that, the Dawgs will have to take care of business with regards to the opponents that it will face off against during the regular season in 2019. A preview and snapshot of what Georgia is up against in the coming months is as followed:
Game 1 has Georgia visiting Vanderbilt on August 31, 2019. Unlike many years and for the first time since 1994, the University of Georgia will open up against a conference opponent on the road. While they may not seem to be a formidable foe and Vanderbilt was in the bottom two teams in the division standings last season, this game is not one that the Dawgs should take lightly and simply assume it is a victory before it has even been played. One has to remember that this is the SEC and Vandy would love nothing more than to host Georgia into an opening season loss to kick off their college football season in style. Such an event and occurrence cannot be ruled out either as Kirby Smart and Georgia lost to the Commodores in his first year as the head coach for the University of Georgia. While the Vanderbilt game cannot be downplayed, the Commodores will have a tough time accomplishing the feat as they are pitted with replacing a veteran QB in Kyle Shurmur and they must somehow come up with a gameplan to stop the Dawgs’ running attack that has eaten them alive over the course of the last two seasons.
Games 2 (September 7, 2019) and 3 (September 14, 2019) are home games featuring Murray State and Arkansas State. Again, it cannot be reiterated enough that anything can happen in the world of college football and any team can take a loss on any given Saturday no matter who the opponent is. With that being said, and if Georgia plays as they should, the Dawgs should take care of business easily in both of these home contests. Murray State is coming off of a season where they only won 5 games and in the games that they lost, they were defeated by handily by their opponents. Arkansas State is most likely to feature more of the same as Murray State but the program has been on the big stage of games more than UGA’s week 2 opponent. In fact, the “Red Wolves” played Nebraska in 2017 and they played them closely only losing by a score of 43-36. Even so, Georgia should be able to hold them off with a win but it must be kept in mind that no game is safe and is simply a “gimme”.
Game 4 of the season is slated for September 21, 2019, in Athens, Georgia, and will be a highly anticipated game as Notre Dame will visit “The Classic City” to play football for the first time ever. The Dawgs’ defeated the “Fighting Irish” in South Bend in 2017 by a score of 20-19 of which was current UGA quarterback Jake Fromm’s first road test after assuming the helm under center when Jacob Eason went down with a leg injury. Prior to being defeated handily by a score of 30-3 last season in the College Football Playoff contest against Clemson, Notre Dame was undefeated. Look for this game to be pivotal and hyped up to the max. Notre Dame has in no way forgotten taking the loss to the Dawgs in 2017 and one can expect that they will be ready to play as this Saturday in the Peach State comes around. The Dawgs will try to secure this important home victory before hitting the road following a 3-game home stretch.
Game 5 features the Georgia Bulldogs visiting Tennessee for a second time in as many away games. This time it will take place in Knoxville as the Dawgs take on the Tennessee Volunteers on October 5, 2019. Georgia has won two straight against the Volunteers and shut them out the last time they were visitors to Knoxville by a score of 43-0. Do not think that Jeremy Pruitt, who is a former Georgia Defensive Coordinator, has forgotten that beating or the loss he took last season in Athens by a score of 38-12. One would expect Pruitt and company to make some adjustments and actually be in the game this time. Still though, Tennessee is arguably still in a rebuilding stage to a great extent and it will be tough for them to hold off the Dawgs given such. Likewise, the Tennessee program has suffered several losses in terms of offensive line players that have had to call it quits due to medical problems and issues leaving the program with some questions surrounding the position. Look for a closer game to occur against the Volunteers this season but one in which Georgia should still come out as the winners at the end of the day.
In game 6 Georgia will play host to Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks in Athens on October 12, 2019. The Dawgs have had South Carolina’s number over the course of the last few years winning four in a row against them. Many expect that trend to continue this season and for the Dawgs to make it a fifth victory in a row over South Carolina for a number of reasons. They will visit Athens this time around without the services of wide receiver Deebo Samuel and several other offensive players that have now departed. With that said, they do still retain the services of veteran quarterback Jake Bentley and Wide Receiver Bryan Edwards as well. South Carolina has been known to ruin it for Georgia over the years so the contest against them can be taken lightly. If all goes as planned as it should for Kirby Smart’s Dawgs though, they should play well enough to fend off this foe in the coming season.
Game 7 features the Georgia Bulldogs playing host to the Kentucky Wildcats in Athens on October 19, 2019. The Dawgs have virtually owned the Wildcats over the last two decades and have a current winning streak against them of 9 games in a row. Look for more of the same this year and for the Georgia Bulldogs to make it 10 consecutive wins against Kentucky who recently lost veteran and star RB Benny Snell, OLB Josh Allen, and several other veterans on offense and defense.
Game 8 will ensue on November 2, 2019, and will feature the annual contest of Georgia versus Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. The Dawgs have defeated the Gators handily over the course of the last two seasons and one might expect that this trend will continue on. Such expectations should be guarded however as this is the University of Florida. They are coming off of a Peach Bowl victory over Michigan from last season and it is a deep and heated rivalry game of existence for a long time. Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen retains the services of starting QB Felipe Franks as well as the program’s top receiver in Van Jefferson. With that said, there has been a great deal of trash talking and trolling on the part of Mullen, the Florida program, and their fan base. Look for such to fuel the fire in UGA Head Coach Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs to fan into flames of victory over the Gators this upcoming season.
Game 9 on the schedule for the Dawgs brings them back to Athens to take on Missouri on November 9, 2019. Georgia has only lost once to Missouri since they joined the SEC and that was in 2013. They will have a tough road ahead of themselves to defeat the Dawgs in the coming year after losing veteran QB Drew Lock, DT Terry Beckner Jr., and several other veteran players. Given that this game is at home in Athens and when considering these key losses for the Tigers’ program, one can expect Georgia to win this one and keep rolling.
Game 10 will be a key one during the 2019 season as Georgia will travel to Auburn to take on the Tigers on November 16, 2019. “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” is never an easy contest and this year looks to be more of the same with that tradition. Auburn will be on the lookout for revenge after dropping it’s last 2 contests to the Dawgs. In fact, the last time they beat Georgia was during the regular season in 2017 and they did so at home where the game will be played this time. Nonetheless, if Auburn plans to make due on that revenge against Georgia it will have to do so without veteran QB Jarrett Stidham who left early for the NFL and several other players that have since departed. This game also lines up to be an interesting one as Tyler Fromm, the younger brother of UGA QB Jake Fromm, will conceivably play against his older brother for the first time in their collegiate careers. Tyler Fromm was a recent part of the commitment class of the Auburn Tigers. In any event and in light of all fanfare, this game is a must win for Georgia in it’s pursuit of becoming SEC and hopefully College Football Playoff National Champions.
Game 11 is another scary one aside from the fact that it will be played at home and “Between The Hedges” in Athens. In this contest, Georgia will play host to Texas A&M on November 23, 2019. While they have not been opponents very often and the Dawgs have won the last two games in which they have faced off against each other, the Aggies have a decent football team and program and will not be coming to Athens to lose. It will be the first trip that Texas A&M has made to “The Classic City” since joining the SEC back in 2012. However, they have an efficient playcaller in quarterback Kellen Mond and a good group at the wide receiver position so the Dawgs will have their work cut out for them and will have to play well if they plan to be victorious. The fact that this game is played at then end of the season also presents some pressure to play well and finish given that the Dawgs are in the hunt for the SEC title as they are expected to be. It will take a well-played and concerted effort on the Georgia Football program to win this one and it is one of the most important games on the UGA Football schedule in the coming season.
Game 12 and the regular season finale has the Dawgs traveling to Atlanta to take on hated in-state rival Georgia Tech on November 30, 2019. Incredulously and quite surprisingly, the Georgia Football program has not lost in Atlanta to the Yellow Jackets since the turn of the century. GT has a new coach in Geoff Collins who is attempting to revamp and turn the program around there. As so, he will in no doubt be a man on a mission to turn the tide on the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech. The question at hand right now is whether Collins keeps the tripleoption offensive scheme going in Atlanta that his predecessor Paul Johnson had in place. Odds are it will still exist to some degree but one would expect there to be some change to it or it could completely be scrapped for a different offensive gameplan altogether. In any event, Collins is attempting to rebuild a program and revamp what it encompasses in year one of a transition as it relates to head coaches. This circumstance alone makes his job tough as GT attempts to revise itself into a different form of football program. Look for that to be an arduous task that does not lead to a victory against the Dawgs in 2019.