Unbeaten Dawgs Should Stay That Way Against Upset-Minded Volunteers

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Unbeaten Dawgs Should Stay That Way Against Upset-Minded Volunteers

Nick Chubb (27) rushes 28 yards to the endzone out of the "Wild Dawg" in the third quarter of the UGA-Mississippi State game. - Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 -
Nick Chubb (27) rushes 28 yards to the endzone out of the “Wild Dawg” in the third quarter of the UGA-Mississippi State game.
– Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 –

I’ve got to say Georgia’s 31-3 pasting of a then 17th-ranked and unbeaten Mississippi State team last weekend was the most complete performance I’ve seen the Bulldogs pitch in the last 15, 20 years.

Now, question is, can Kirby Smart’s football team carry that performance forward as the Dawgs move deeper into the Southeastern Conference waters … starting Saturday afternoon up on the hill in Knoxville, Tenn.

Yes, despite their current 3-1 record, the Tennessee Volunteers have been most erratic in this still young 2017 season, letting what seemed like a sure victory against the Florida Gators get away on the last play of the game and also having to sweat it out profusely to nip a winless UMass team last Saturday, by 17-13. Of course, the Vols did outlast Georgia Tech in the season opener, 42-41.

But at the same time, with all the furor swirling around UT head coach Butch Jones these days, I’m thinking the Vols may play with a bit of fury Saturday while shooting to knock off the nation’s 7th-ranked

Most certainly, as they’ve displayed in the four outings to date, the unbeaten Bulldogs are a superior team to Tennessee this season as Georgia boasts one of the top 10 defenses in the country at the present time and also, an offense that is showing marked improvement with each game. Throw in the special teams units that have been simply superb in the wins over Appalachian State, Notre Dame, Samford and Mississippi State and, well, what’s not to like about the Georgia Bulldogs right now?

But, again, this is the SEC and for Georgia, it’s the SEC on the road Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium. No matter how well the Bulldogs have played to date, no matter where they are in the national rankings, none of that means squat when they move against a fired-up Volunteer team that has whipped up on Georgia the last two seasons.

I don’t think we can expect Kirby’s team to duplicate the nearly flawless showing they put up in Sanford Stadium against the Maroon Bulldogs as that kind of performance occurs only once in a blue moon; however, as long as Mel Tucker’s swarming defense doesn’t take a day off, this Georgia team is going to be in every game the rest of the season. Thus far, it’s been no picnic for opposing offenses to move the ball and score points against the likes of Roquan Smith, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Trenton Thompson, Deandre Baker and the rest of the gang-tackling Bulldog unit.

And, like I said above, the UGA offense is beginning to come up with the balance that makes Jim Chaney’s crew difficult to slow down as well. You saw the 203 yards rushing and 201 yards passing the Bulldogs compiled against a supposedly tough MSU defense this past Saturday night in a rocking Sanford Stadium. If  the ever-improving offensive line can keep providing the space for Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift as well as continue to provide good pass protection for freshman QB Jake Fromm (and Jacob Eason, too), I see this Georgia offense complementing the stingy defense in good fashion as the rest of the season move along.

To win in Knoxville Saturday, Georgia must hit big plays on offense and continue to go on long drives, which will help the Bulldogs eat clock before all those nearly 100,000 fans dressed in Halloween orange. And defensively, just get after the SEC’s leading rusher, John Kelly, as well as get good pressure on the Vols’ two quarterbacks, Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano, who love to get the ball to ace wideout Marquez Callaway.

I’m going with the unbeaten ‘Dogs by a pair of touchdowns in this one, say by 31-17. You wouldn’t think the Tennessee offense will be able to muster up 17 points against this Georgia defense but then, the ball has bounced crazily for the Bulldogs in recent years on the banks of the Tennessee River. Let’s  hope it doesn’t do so this time!


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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.