The SEC appears to have a clear hierarchy at this point in the season. Alabama’s offense is the single most powerful unit in the conference and the entire country as a whole. Georgia, when they play on brand football is a close second as a team overall, and then there is everyone else. The Dawgs and Tide completely control their destiny for a rematch in December. Given the level of play out of Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, along with the COVID & defensive woes of Florida, Georgia will likely be a heavy favorite in each contest until the rematch.
Obviously Georgia cannot take anyone for granted. One of Kirby Smart’s favorite sayings is that, “humility is only a week away in the SEC.” However, every team in the league now has 2 losses other than Alabama, Florida, and Texas A&M. Florida is going to have their hands full with Missouri next week for no other reason than lack of practice and reps due to their COVID outbreak which reached all the way up to Dan Mullen. It’s unknown how many, if any Gators will be unavailable by the time they’re set to kickoff Halloween Night at 7:30.
Despite throttling Tennessee in Knoxville for a 14th straight time, Alabama is even now facing some adversity. Jaylen Waddle is hands down one of, if not the, most electric and fun to watch players in college football. The Crimson Tide will now have to adjust to life without him after he suffered a broken ankle that will require surgery. Now, obviously, Alabama has tremendous wide out depth and DeVonta Smith, John Metchie III, and others are ridiculously talented, but impact of losing a playmaker like Jaylen Waddle cannot be overstated. Should Georgia and Alabama face off again, the Tide will be well versed in life without Waddle by then, but the fact remains that the most talented player on the field in the first matchup will not be participating.
It’s incumbent upon Georgia to focus on the tasks at hand and lean into their identity and strengths as a team. The Georgia offensive line is playing really well under Matt Luke and of course the defense is deep and super talented. I seriously doubt there is another game all season in which Georgia throws the ball 40 times. In fact, if Georgia gets up north of 31 or 32 pass attempts, it’s likely that the contest in which it happened did not go according to plan.
Georgia has the backs to be not only a good running team, but they’re on the verge of being explosive in the run game, which is a killer for defenses. Kendall Milton is going to play a bigger role from this point out and I had a source simply tell me, “he’s special.” Milton, White, Cook, and McIntosh all will be a big part of the Georgia passing game as well. Simply put, the running back unit is the best unit on the Georgia offense, followed closely by the tight end group, and both should be treated as such.
Stetson Bennett IV, despite some fanbase and media overreaction, is perfectly capable of distributing the ball to Georgia’s playmakers. He’s perhaps spread things out a little too well. George Pickens hasn’t been a huge factor so far this year and I’d look for that to change after this bye week. Kirby Smart’s messaging, and information we at Bulldawg Illustrated are gathering, suggests that Stetson is going to be guy for Georgia going forward. If that statement causes you anxiety, it shouldn’t.
I’m sure there was no bigger critic of some of the things that actually were Bennett IV’s fault than Bennett IV himself. The bye week came at a good time. Look for the Georgia quarterback to have learned a lot from the game at Tuscaloosa. Trusting and navigating the pocket, finding passing lanes, and either getting the ball to his check downs quicker or creating with his mobility when the first and second reads in the progression aren’t there will all be points of emphasis.
The reality is, despite the sky is falling attitude that can often times surround the Georgia program, the Dawgs have everything out in front of them and everything they need to go and get it.