Last week’s Friday Five predictions did pretty well, if we do say so ourselves. The final score projection was right, as was the Jacob Eason and Sony Michel projections, starting lineups.
Don’t ask about Brian Herrien, though. Missed on that one.
So let’s try again:
1. How does Jacob Eason do, and how does it leave things going forward?
Eason will start, play at least 50 percent of the game, and put up big numbers. That much is certain. It’s also won’t matter the most.
The thing to watch with Eason: Does he manage the offense well? Does he get the team in and out of plays, without having to burn timeouts? Do they let him run the four-minute offense (unlike last week)? Eason’s biggest opponent on Saturday will be himself, and Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney will be grading him on his ability to manage the offense, not to make a pretty throw.
The guess here is Eason is starting this one because it will give him confidence heading into the next stretch. The coaches know how this will go, so assuming Eason doesn’t struggle immensely, he’s the starter going forward. But Lambert will get enough snaps to keep him ready in case he’s needed.
2. How many carries does Nick Chubb get?
Well under 32. And well less than half of 32 carries.
Part of that will be the obvious caution against injury, but it’s also because Chubb shouldn’t need that many carries to be effective. Volume was required against North Carolina – he needed 11 carries in the first quarter to gain 59 yards. Against an overmatched Nicholls State, Chubb may only need five carries to get 59 yards. And his first breakaway touchdown run won’t take until the final minutes, like it did against North Carolina.
The guess for Chubb’s stat line: Between 10-15 carries, about 150 yards, then riding the pine for an extended look at Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield and maybe even Tae Crowder. (This is assuming Sony Michel doesn’t play much, if at all. And Brendan Douglas will get carries too, but the staff knows what they have in him. This game is a chance to let the youngsters fly.)
3. Which players that didn’t play against North Carolina do play on Saturday?
Seven true freshmen didn’t play last week. They were offensive linemen Solomon Kindley, Ben Cleveland and Chris Barnes, CB Mecole Hardman, TB Elijah Holyfield, WR Tyler Simmons and OLB Chauncey Manac. Junior college transfer WR Javon Wims also didn’t play.
Hardman, Holyfield, Simmons and Wims are virtually assured of playing against Nicholls State. So might Solomon Kindley, who had been working second-team left guard in the lead-up to the season.
But the other two O-linemen, Cleveland and Barnes, are the likeliest to be held out. The tendency is to redshirt offensive linemen if they’re not in the two-deep. As for Manac, he’s a good talent but has a lot of talent ahead of him. It’s a 50-50 guess whether he plays Saturday or preserves a redshirt.
4. Name a few players who had quieter-than-expected openers who have bigger games.
OK, well since you’re making me.
Terry Godwin wasn’t used a lot against North Carolina because he’s not great run blocking, and it was a run-heavy gameplan. This game could open up, as the staff wants Eason to get comfortable, and that should mean more targets for the sophomore receiver.
Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy were held sack-less against a mobile North Carolina quarterback. Nicholls State’s quarterback is also mobile, and runs a run-heavy offense. But Georgia’s sheer advantage at the line of scrimmage should open up a chance for Carter and Bellamy to make at least a few big plays.
Even though Nicholls State doesn’t pass much, Dominick Sanders will have at least one interception, getting one closer to the school record.
Georgia’s special teams will also play better. Marshall Long got any first-game jitters out of the way and will punt better. The return game – Isaiah McKenzie on punts and perhaps Reggie Davis on kickoffs – will bring back at least one for a touchdown. (See, there’s an all-out prediction.) As for the place-kickers and kickoffs, well, let’s see.
5. How bad does this get?
Pretty bad. Nicholls State is coming off a 3-9 season, and while it returns 17 starters, including the punter and long snapper, it’s just overmatched. The punter and long snapper will get plenty of work.
There aren’t many point spreads on this game, but one out there has it at 49 points. The only hesitation in saying Georgia covers is the possibility Nicholls State puts together a few decent drives because of its offense. Still, Georgia’s offense should carry the day, and we see this around a 62-10 final.