Although spring football practice is on hold due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 and the current global pandemic, the Georgia football rosters are still set for the fall. Coming off a 12-2 season, the Bulldogs head into the 2020 season with high expectations. Bulldawg Illustrated is analyzing each opponent in a twelve part series that will continue for the next several weeks.
Following Georgia’s opening game against Virginia on Labor Day, in the CFA Kickoff Classic, the Bulldogs will quickly turn around and face the East Tennessee State Buccaneers less than a week later, in their home opener on Sept. 12 in Sanford Stadium.
Head coach: Randy Sanders
2019 Record: 3-9
After coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, ETSU returns starting quarterback Trey Mitchell, who struggled last year only completing 56% of his passes for 1,616 and 11 touchdowns with six interceptions. Mitchell struggled a lot as he finished the season rushing for -22 yards on 33 attempts.
The offensive line is a weak-unit, and as a whole last season they allowed their opponents to sack the quarterback 21 times. Mitchell caught the worst of it by being sacked 15 times. The Bucs should return 12 of 14 players from that position group, but the young group will definitely have a problem holding up against the Bulldogs front-seven.
As far as skill players go, running back Quay Holmes rushed for 1,187 yards on 206 attempts (5.5 yards per carry) and seven scores last season. Junior Jacob Saylors returns and had a decent 2019 campaign as he ran for 653 yards on 112 attempts (5.8 ypc) and four scores. These two also combined for 284 yards receiving and one touchdown in 2019.
The duo at running back are the strong point of the Bucs offense, but it will be interesting to see if they can create enough to space to challenge Georgia’s defense in open field situations. Last year Georgia’s defense only gave up two rushing touchdowns, and they weren’t to running backs.
ETSU’s leading receiver last season, Keith Coffee, only had 342 yards receiving last season, followed by Anthony Spagnoletti who had 306 yards. Freshman receiver Will Huzzie had 306 receiving yards, and tight end Nate Adkins totaled 241 yards. All four players caught two touchdowns, respectively.
In 2019, the Bucs offense only averaged 20,1 points per game. The highest number of total points scored was in a blowout win over Shorter University, 48-10. The offense proved to be inconsistent last year as the they scored 20 points or less in nine of 12 games. The Bucs averaged just 161.0 passing yards per game, and only 171.8 on the ground.
ETSU will lose their leading tackler, Artevius Smith, who racked up 89 total tackles, one tackle for loss, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Senior Zack Yancey returns who was the teams second leading tackler with 69 total and 5.5 tackles for loss. The Bucs do lose Nasir Player, who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks.
Early Prediction: Georgia over ETSU 56-7