The five young players we want to see shine against UMass
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The Friday Five, UMass edition
Normally on Friday’s, we dedicate this space to the five players that will help UGA win on Saturday. But given that Georgia is expected to steamroll UMass, we’re going to write instead about the five young pups (i.e. freshmen) we want to see take on big roles this week:
Justin Fields, freshman QB
This one is obvious. Justin Fields is going to be the main attraction on Saturday. Yes, Jake Fromm will play and start, but this game should be the first game where Fields gets extended playing time. We should see Fields lead multiple drives, instead of just getting a few plays here and there.
While Fields was 2 of 2 throwing the ball against Auburn, it wasn’t his best game. He took a very bad sack in the red zone that eliminated any chance Georgia had of scoring a touchdown. If Fields is going to be any kind of difference maker against Alabama, which a lot of fans still want him to be, then he’s going to have to show that he can do that against 4-7 UMass.
James Cook, freshman RB
Sophomore running back D’Andre Swift has been awesome the last three games, as he’s run for over 100-yards in each of the last three games. But Georgia shouldn’t need him to do that on Saturday. The same can be said for junior running back Elijah Holyfield. Both will likely play in a limited role to keep them fresh for Georgia Tech.
This wouldn’t be a bad game to try and get Cook some more touches. The No. 5 running back in the 2018 recruiting class has just 31 rush attempts this year, but he’s averaging over 5 yards per carry this year. This could be a nice audition for Cook, as a strong game for the freshman could lead to more potential touches down the line.
Trey Hill, freshman OL
Georgia is pretty banged up on the offensive line right now, with Kendall Baker and Cade Mays missing practice on Wednesday. And with Ben Cleveland still recovering from his own injury, the Bulldogs could once again rely on freshman Trey Hill to fill in. Hill first subbed in for Lamont Gaillard after the senior center got injured during the Kentucky game.
Hill did have an issue snapping the ball against the Wildcats, but he proved he was pretty good at just about everything else as Georgia ran for 331 yards against Kentucky. Georgia shouldn’t feel the need to put a banged up or injured player out there against UMass. It makes more sense to put Hill out there and give him a little bit more seasoning. Because if the Bulldogs do pick up another injury on the offensive line, it would be nice to know that Georgia can count on Hill.
Adam Anderson, freshman LB
There’s a number of young players you could put here, as Georgia has been rotating in guys pretty frequently in the front seven. There’s Brenton Cox, who did not play against Auburn, but did pick up a sack against Kentucky. There’s also Channing Tindall, as he continues to get reps at the inside linebacker spot.
But we’re going to go with Adam Anderson here. Part of this is due to Cox’s uncertainty, but Georgia also needs to show that it can rush the passer. We know senior D’Andre Walker can do that. Anderson hasn’t yet gotten a sack yet this season, but we think he gets his first one against the Minutemen on Saturday. If Georgia shows it can improve on pressuring the quarterback, that’s only going to increase its chances of taking down Alabama.
Eric Stokes Jr., redshirt freshman CB
Eric Stokes isn’t a name we’ve talked about a lot here. Instead it’s freshman cornerback Tyson Campbell who we’ve usually mentioned in this space. But against Auburn, Kirby Smart pulled the plug on Campbell and inserted Stokes into the game. The redshirt freshman broke up a key third down pass in the endzone, and it was the last time Auburn even got close to sniffing the goal line.
Teams have targeted the cornerback opposite of Deandre Baker all-season, and it’s with good reason. Georgia needs to play better at that spot if it is going to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Stokes is going to need to prove he can do that if he wants to find himself in the starting lineup against the Crimson Tide on Dec. 1.
College Football Picks week 12
A perfect 6-0 last week, though just barely as Alabama and Clemson came in right on the number. Again, just because I went 6-0 last week doesn’t mean you should put money on these picks.
No. 5 Georgia vs. UMass, 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network, WSB Radio 95.5 FM/750 AM
Georgia has been rolling recently, winning and covering in each of its last three games. The line in this one is 41 points. We think that Georgia is good, but as the saying goes, “good teams win, great teams cover.” And this week, Georgia won’t be a great team. Georgia 48, UMass 10 (+41)
No. 12 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC
This could be Notre Dame’s best chance to lose before the College Football Playoff, with only an underperforming USC left on the schedule. Syracuse meanwhile, almost upset Clemson on the road earlier this season, albeit the Tigers were playing their third-string quarterback. Last week, no team in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff ranking lost. There’s no way that happens for a second week in a row. Give us Syracuse to pull off the upset in Yankee Stadium. Syracuse 27 (+10), Notre Dame 23
No. 9 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Oklahoma State nearly pulled off the up an upset of the No. 6 Oklahoma last week. But this game screams emotional letdown, especially when you come that close to taking down a rival. While we normally love home underdogs here, we think West Virginia is going to win comfortably, setting up a huge game against the Sooners next week. West Virginia 42 (-4.5), Oklahoma State 27
Missouri at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Tennessee was good to us as a “home dog” last week, as it upset Kentucky. And while Missouri’ is a little bit better than its record indicates, we like the Volunteers to once again keep it close on Saturday. Missouri 24, Tennessee 19 (+6.5)
Duke at No. 2 Clemson, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
We’re going to keep riding Clemson here. The Tigers just barely covered on the road against Boston College, but they still covered a 20-point spread on the road against a ranked team. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones will pose an interesting test, but Clemson is just too good right now to not pick them cover. Clemson 51 (-28), Duke 14
No. 24 Cincinnati at No. 11 UCF, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
This is the biggest game of the season for the unbeaten Knights. Many, including Danny Kanell, would love to see them get a shot at the College Football Playoff. But this is a really good Cincinnati team, and we think that 10 points is just a bit too much for this game. UCF wins, but it doesn’t do so impressively. UCF 30, Cincinnati 24 (+10)
Record on the season (Against the Spread): 38-25-2
Best stories from around DawgNation
- Road to Atlanta: Georgia pass defense reason for optimism in Alabama matchup
- Former UGA WR Juan Daniels: ‘I would’ve done anything to play under Kirby and this group’
- Georgia football podcast: Reaction to 4-star RB Kenny McIntosh’s commitment
- ESPN lists the No. 1 reason Georgia fans should be excited for 2019
- Georgia CB Eric Stokes starting to blossom as full-time football player
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