Jeff Dantzler’s five keys for a Dawg’s victory as Georgia travels north to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday.
1. DO IT D-LINE
Notre Dame’s offensive line is one of college football’s best, led by a standout left side, with tackle Mike McGlinchey (6-8, 312) and guard Quenton Nelson (6-5, 329) both All-American candidates and potential first round picks. Georgia’s highly-touted defensive front will have one of its toughest tests of the year. Can the D-Line win this battle in the trenches and disrupt the Irish offense? If the Irish get the Dogs D front on its heels, its big trouble for Georgia. This is arguably the most important match-up of the game.
2. BLANKET ST. BROWN
Big receivers gave Georgia fits last season – notably at both Ole Miss and Mizzou. The Fighting Irish have a big and talented group of pass-catchers. Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5, 204) had a sterling sophomore season in 2017, with 58 catches for 961 yards and nine touchdowns. Against Temple, he had four grabs for 80 yards and a TD. The Bulldogs secondary will have to be on its “A-game” and this is a spot where there is precious little experience past the returning starters. The Fighting Irish’s other starting receivers are 6-4 and 6-4, and tight end Durham Smythe is 6-6, 256. It starts up front, but the DB’s must be at their best.
3. KICKING GAME
It is always big, but early in the season, the importance of special teams is even more glaring. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart made the kicking game the top priority of preseason, and against Appalachian State, it was simply superb. It has been a source of angst for many years for Georgia, and to win on Saturday night capturing the kicking game supremacy is a must. Hidden yardage and hitting the kicks is a must for Georgia.
4. FINE FROMM FORM
Notre Dame will stack it up against Georgia’s elite tailbacks and put the heat on the Bulldogs passing game. Obviously, the O-line must give Jake Fromm time. The talented freshman has the touch, composure, and moxie to be a huge success. He doesn’t have a rocket arm – and that’s ok. Georgia must gear the game-plan to his strengths, which are many. The fact that he was prepared for the moment spoke volumes. But as big a play as the TD pass to Javon Wims was, that throw and maybe one more would be a major interception opportunity for the Irish.
5. MANAGE THE MOMENT
There is a so much excitement heading into this highly anticipated showdown – on both ends. Managing emotions, excitement and the expectations of this one is critical. Usually, after a couple of series, things settle down. But those first few minutes, a trick play or a penalty due to overzealousness could have a huge impact. Smart is driving Georgia to become a much more disciplined team. The scars of the penalties against Tennessee slow to heal but a harsh lesson and reminder.
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