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Georgia football’s 2018 season opener against Austin Peay should be fairly stress-free for coach Kirby Smart and Bulldog fans.

Georgia Football 2018 Opponent Preview: Austin Peay will be the most stress-free opener in years

Cy Brown

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Georgia Football 2018 Opponent Preview: Austin Peay Governors

SEC Media Days begin today, the closest thing we have to an unofficial beginning to the SEC season. So with less than two months standing between us and gameday in Athens, it’s high time we started looking ahead to the opponents Georgia will face on its quest to repeat as SEC champions and claim another national title.

This year, the Dawgs get their least exciting opponent on the most exciting day of the tear. The Austin Peay Governors from Clarksville, Tennessee will be the first FCS opponent Georgia has opened with since Georgia Southern in 2008. (Georgia Southern has since moved up to FBS.) A game against Austin Peay won’t touch the excitement an opening showdown with Clemson, UNC, Oklahoma State or even Boise State State — all teams Georgia has opened with over the last decade — can provide. But it should provide a stress-free morning and afternoon of tailgating ahead of the 3:30 ET kickoff and a nice tuneup game for the team. And with a potentially pivotal SEC East contest against South Carolina coming up the next week, that’s exactly what’s needed.

There’s little chance for a Georgia loss in this one — here’s where I make an obligatory mention of Michigan-Appalachian State and Georgia Southern-Florida — so I’m not going to look at the Governors through the lens of the threat they’ll pose to Georgia, as I’ll do for most other teams in this opponent preview series that will run the next few weeks. Instead, I’ll look at the ways Austin Peay can challenge and sharpen the Dawgs as tougher opposition looms. So let’s get into it.

Offense

After going 0-11 in 2016, head coach Will Healy’s first year at the helm, the Governors went 8-4 last season in one of the biggest turnarounds in college football. Their Ohio Valley Conference-leading offense was fueled by its running game, which averaged an OVC best 259 rushing yards per game. So more than anything the opener should provide Georgia’s defense a chance to test its mettle against a competent ground attack. More specifically, it should help the defense learn to combat a quarterback with wheels. Rising sophomore Jeremiah Oatsvall passed for 1,148 yards and 7 touchdowns while rushing for 549 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Defense

The Governors ranked in the middle of the OVC in passing defense, so the opener will provide Jake Fromm with an opportunity to feel out his receiving corps and identify a new top target in the wake of Javon Wims’ departure. It’s also a chance to get some new names such as J.J. Holloman, Kearis Jackson or (compliance willing) Demetris Robertson involved. And, as always, expect a healthy dose of Georgia’s running game against a strong FCS run defense.

What to expect on Sept. 1

Aside from G-Day, which only half counts, the Austin Peay game will be Georgia fans’ first opportunity to see their Dawgs in action since the College Football Playoff run. There’s more hope and optimism surrounding the program right now than I’ve ever experienced, so expect a festive atmosphere. On the field, if it’s a blowout as expected, we’ll get the chance to see pretty much every freshman and backup thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt rule. (And, yes, that means we’ll probably see Justin Fields in action.) If it isn’t a blowout, there will be a lot of panicked Dawg fans ahead of the South Carolina game in week two.

FPI Projection: 99.8 percent chance Georgia wins

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3-star DE Zion Logue commits to UGA

Georgia football picked up its 11th class of 2019 pledge as 3-star DE Zion Logue of Lebanon, Tennessee committed to the Dawgs. Check out Jeff Sentell of DawgNation’s post on what to expect from UGA’s latest commit.

Demetris Robertson is a Dawg

Former  5-star Peach State recruit and Cal wideout Demetris Robertson is transferring to Georgia. It’s a huge pickup for the Dawgs, as Robertson will step onto campus as the most naturally gifted receiver on the roster and add even more talent to a UGA roster that’s already chock-full with it. According to Sentell, who looked at how Robertson’s decision will affect UGA recruiting, Robertson will be the 18th player on the roster with a 5-star rating from one of the major recruiting services.

SEC Media Days begin in Atlanta

As I mentioned above, SEC Football Media Days begin today and they’re being held in Atlanta instead of Birmingham for the first time. Georgia will take its turn in the spotlight at 9 a.m. Tuesday alongside Ole Miss. Kirby Smart, Terry Godwin, Jonathan Ledbetter and J.R. Reed will represent the Bulldogs in Atlanta. All press conferences can be broadcast live on either ESPN on the SEC Network. Here’s the full SEC Media Days schedule:

MONDAY (All times Eastern)

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3:10 p.m.: Commissioner Greg Sankey and Texas A&M
  • 2 p.m. – 6:50 p.m.: Kentucky and LSU

TUESDAY

  • 8:30 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.: Steve Shaw, SEC Coordinator of Football Officials
  • 9 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Georgia and Ole Miss
  • 1:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.: Arkansas and Florida

WEDNESDAY

  • 8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.: David Fletcher, Football Bowl Association
  • 8:40 a.m. – 8:55 a.m.: Bill Hancock, Executive Director College Football Playoff
  • 9 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Mississippi State and Tennessee
  • 1:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.: Alabama and Missouri

THURSDAY

  • 8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.: Football Writers Association of America
  • 8:40 a.m. – 8:55 a.m.: National Football Foundation
  • 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina

 

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