After a strong opening week, last week’s Friday Five projections were fairly horrendous, although I did predict that Georgia-Nicholls State would get “pretty bad.” The meaning of “pretty bad” was all that was off.
So let’s give it a go again, as a presumably chastened Georgia heads for Missouri and the SEC opener for both:
1. What offensive change could we look out for on Saturday?
Charlie Woerner plays receiver, or at least flexes out a lot. That’s not based on anything I saw at practice – Woerner was still with the tight ends – or anything I’ve heard. It just makes sense, a modest proposal if you will; Woerner played receiver in high school and was projected as a hybrid WR-TE type. Well in case you didn’t notice, Georgia is playing a lot of tight ends, Woerner has made some long catches, and Georgia’s receivers are struggling to run-block, so put that all together and ….
2. If Georgia wins, could someone who deserves credit be … Mark Richt?
Yes. Missouri’s defensive line hasn’t looked as strong as in years past, and it might be because its longtime D-line coach, Craig Kuligowski, was hired in the offseason by Miami.
But what about Georgia’s offensive line, you say? (With players entirely recruited by Richt). They’ll play better than last week. The offensive line was called out a lot this week – deservedly so – and in my experience it always responds with a good bounce-back week. (The strong performance in Game 2 against South Carolina in 2013 springs to mind, following a bad opening game at Clemson.) Kirby Smart has said many times this week that line blocking is about energy and motivation, and it was lacking last week. It shouldn’t be this week.
3. But never mind previous week’s problems (blocking and special teams). What concern could emerge for Georgia this week?
Pass defense. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock throws a good deep ball, and Georgia got lucky that North Carolina didn’t hit a few. Georgia’s pass rush, meanwhile, hasn’t been consistent, so if Lock has time to throw, Georgia’s defensive backs could have a long day. I don’t see Georgia’s defense being decimated by Lock and company, but in a close game it might be a difference.
4. The over-under for this game is 56 points. Well, over or under?
Over. Nick Chubb will break a few open against a leaky Missouri run defense. Lock will hit on a big play or two. Jacob Eason (and maybe even Greyson Lambert) will have some big pass plays of their own. And turnovers lead to a few scores too.
5. Georgia is favored by 6.5. Does it cover?
Yes. Not by much, because if Georgia gets a lead it will turn to the running game to run out the clock. But the Bulldogs are the pick because the Nicholls State near-debacle is a wake-up call, Missouri has its own weaknesses, and Georgia will have the best player on the field. He wears 27, he’s already done well once at Faurot Field, and should one more time.