1 – Care to Be There:
On the cusp of a second consecutive Southeastern Conference championship and playoff berth a year ago, Georgia lost a heartbreaker in Atlanta and just missed out on one of those final four slots. But it was Texas as the opponent, in the Sugar Bowl, one of the biggest of them all. The Bulldogs fell flat. If this team wants to beat an outstanding bunch of Baylor Bears, the players who are going to play, have to have the hunger and the fire. It’s a chance to go 12-2, finish in the top five and add to the legacy of these last three wonderful seasons.
2 – Run that Ball:
Identity is a must, and the Bulldogs need to win the run game. Against LSU, the Bulldogs carried 25 times for 61 yards. Ouch. Sam Pittman’s exodus to Arkansas, questions of who’s playing, that all loom large. But Georgia has horses up front and in the backfield. To beat Baylor, that rushing attack has to be on point and dictating. It’s the last game for some, and a big stage for understudies to shine. Next season, Zamir White, James Cook, and Kenny McIntosh will lead the running backs, and the bowl practice leading up has given them all the chance to get more touches in New Orleans.
3 – Aerial Sync:
The well-documented attrition and injuries at the wide receiver position has been the primary culprit for why Georgia’s passing game just could not get consistently in rhythm throughout the season. This depleted corps, the players who are left healthy, which unfortunately doesn’t include Lawrence Cager or Dominick Blaylock, has had a couple of weeks of bowl practice to work out some of the kinks with junior quarterback Jake Fromm. Though the passing game wasn’t nearly as lethal as the last two seasons, it should be pointed out that the Bulldogs threw interceptions in only two games, and that against arch-rivals Florida, Auburn and Tech, Fromm threw nine touchdowns and no picks.
4 – Defensive pressure:
The Bears offense has been huge at hitting the big plays. Georgia’s offensive success has been built more on sustained drives. The Bulldogs defense, which is one of the country’s best, has to get the Bears behind the chains. Discipline is always important, and Baylor certainly figures to have a trick or two up their sleeves. Bulldog defenders, especially in the secondary must “mind their gaps” and stay focused on assignments. Getting Baylor to a few second-and-eights, or third-and-11s is the ticket to success, and perhaps some created turnovers – the biggest area in which this tremendous stop unit needs to show improvement.
5 – Kicking Game:
Usually, bowl games and season openers are when special teams’ preparation and performance is under the extra spotlight glare. Last season in New Orleans, the kicking game did not perform well. That’s a must against the Bears. Jake Camarda has come on and become an excellent punter. The return game will miss Blaylock. Rodrigo Blankenship needs to be on point in his red and black farewell game. Trick plays, big plays and avoiding those dreaded Special Teams Disasters are a must.