Ranking the 5 best players Georgia still has to play this season
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The 5 players UGA has stop in the coming weeks
With the first month of the season just about wrapped up, Georgia has already taken on a handful of talented players. The Bulldogs limited Deebo Samuel of South Carolina and Drew Lock of Missouri on the way to impressive Georgia road wins.
And the team is going to have to find a way to limit a number of talented players in October and November if it wants to play in December and January. So here’s a look at the five best players Georgia still has to try and figure out how to stop this season. And as of right now, this list only includes regular season opponents. So you won’t see Tua Tagovailoa or Nick Bosa on the list just yet.
5. Josh Allen – Kentucky linebacker
No, this isn’t the former Wyoming quarterback and current starter for the Buffalo Bills. Allen is a force at linebacker for the Wildcats and a big reason the Wildcats have been able to stifle both Mississippi State and Florida.
Allen also took home defensive player of the week honors after his performance against Mississippi State, as he finished the game with six tackles, two of which were for a loss and a sack as well. Georgia might have offensive lineman Ben Cleveland back by the Kentucky game, and a healthy offensive line will play a big role in keeping Allen off Georgia’s running backs and quarterback Jake Fromm.
4. Greedy Williams – LSU cornerback
Ask about any Georgia fan and they’ll tell you that Deandre Baker is the best cornerback in the country. And they might be right! But the other candidate for that title is LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Like Baker, he has two interceptions this season and was named First Team All-SEC prior to the start of the 2018 campaign.
Both Williams and Baker figure to be first round draft picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Williams will have a chance to lock up one of Georgia’s talented receivers, whether that be Mecole Hardman or Riley Ridley. Fromm might be best advised to avoid throwing to Williams’ side of the field, as he hauled in six interceptions last year. But can Georgia really just choose to avoid one cornerback for an entire game? It didn’t work out for Missouri when it did something similar against Baker.
3. Jarrett Stidham – Auburn quarterback
So Stidham and the Auburn offense haven’t looked as good many thought it would at the start of the season. Part of that is because the offense played LSU, which has two players on this list. Part of the reason is that Auburn hasn’t established a dominant running game. And another reason is that Stidham hasn’t looked like the quarterback many thought he would. Through four games, he’s thrown just three touchdowns to two interceptions while averaging 7.4 yards per attempt.
If this list was made at the beginning of the season, Stidham might have been at the top of the list. But while the Auburn offense has struggled, he showed last year against Georgia and Alabama that he can carve up a defense when given the chance too. And that’s something Georgia fans still need to be weary of.
2. Devin White – LSU linebacker
If there is going to be a linebacker who plays close to the level that former Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith played at last year, it’s going to be White. Like Smith, he’s got incredible range from the linebacker position and is very likely to end up as a first round draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Through four games, White leads the SEC in tackles with 38. He’s also picked 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack and he’s got three pass break-ups, a forced and recovered fumble to his name. He can pretty much do anything he wants. It’ll be pivotal for Georgia to know where he is at all times when these two teams meet on Oct. 13 in Baton Rouge, La.
1. Benny Snell – Kentucky running back
Most people knew who Benny Snell was before the season. But nobody knew that he’d go on to maybe become the best running back in the country through the first month of the season. He leads the SEC and is third in the country in rushing, with 540 rushing yards through his first four games.
He’s also got a great nose for the endzone, as he scored all four of Kentucky’s touchdown in its upset win over Mississippi State. Given how Georgia looked against Missouri, the Bulldogs will have to make improvements in their run defense if they are going to slow down Snell. Oh and it’s best to not say anything at all to the junior running back because he will absolutely own you on Twitter.
The Alabama comparisons aren’t going to stop, so just ignore them
Given that Alabama and Georgia met in the national championship game last year, are ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country and Smart spent years working with Alabama coach Nick Saban, the two teams are going to be compared often.
And it’s already exhausting. Given that Alabama is the reigning champ and have owned college football for the past decade, just about everyone is going to say the Crimson Tide do X better than Georgia. Part of this comes when you sign so many No. 1 recruiting classes and are essentially an NFL feeder team. Georgia will no doubt get there eventually, but in 2018, analysts are going to hold a microscope to Georgia and say, “the Bulldogs don’t do this as well as Alabama.”
The latest example of this came on Wednesday, when Tom Luginbill and DJ Shockley were comparing the two teams on SEC Now. This time, the two talked about how Georgia’s defensive line isn’t quite as good as Alabama’s.
“I think there’s a big gap in the front — the defensive line,” Shockley said. “Right now, Georgia hasn’t been getting pressure on the quarterback like they have in the past. … Three sacks right now for Georgia. Sixteen for Alabama. It’s a difference up front.”
Shockley’s point is fair and accurate. But when added into all the other Alabama-Georgia comparisons, this whole bit is going to become overdone rather quickly. These two teams aren’t even set to play each other yet and the comparisons will continue to come. Even if Georgia looks great, someone will be there to say “Well they haven’t done this as well as Alabama.” And those comparisons won’t stop until these two teams meet on the field again.
Why the Clemson quarterback situation is worth monitoring
For those who missed it, Clemson went ahead and named freshman quarterback Trevor Lawerence the starting quarterback on Monday. Lawerence was the No. 1 overall prospect in the country in the 2018 class, just edging out Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields.
The reason we’re bringing this up on Wednesday is because the man Lawerence is replacing, Kelly Bryant, has now missed the last two days of practice. Getting benched, after going 16-2 as a starter, is a tough blow for someone who is 22-years old. Bryant is likely taking his time to make up his mind and whether or not he wants to stay at Clemson or look elsewhere for playing time.
This is an important point to make with regards to the Georgia quarterback situation. Should Bryant decide to leave, and no one could fault him for looking elsewhere and wanting to play, Clemson would only have Lawerence and redshirt freshman Chase Brice.
Should Georgia decide to make the change from Fromm to Fields, and this point it doesn’t look like that’s even in consideration as Fields played just one snap against Missouri, no one would blame Fromm for thinking about his other options. And if he were to go elsewhere this season, Fields would be the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. Again, this is all hypothetical at this point but it is something Smart would have to factor in when hypothetically thinking about a quarterback change.
Constantly being told you’re great and then suddenly being told you’re no longer good enough is going to make any human, let alone a college kid, question everything. I think it’s just important to remember that these guys are largely still kids and that fans shouldn’t scream on Twitter at them while they’re taking time to evaluate their future.
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- Georgia football podcast: One stat makes UGA’s win vs. Missouri look more impressive
- Cover 4: What will be the major midseason talking point for UGA football?
- Why Georgia being a massive favorite is a new standard for UGA fans
- On the beat: Only one way for Tennessee to contend at Georgia
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