What we learned as Georgia football prepares Notre Dame: Zamir White called ‘a pleasant surprise’
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What we learned about Georgia football heading into Notre Dame includes info on Zamir White
Quarterback: The last time Georgia and Notre Dame met, Jake Fromm was making his first career start. It wasn’t exactly his best effort, as he completed 16 of his 29 pass attempts that day while throwing for 1 touchdown and 1 interception. But Fromm did just enough to get the win, as the Bulldogs came away with a 20-19 victory.
That result seemed to spark a magical season for the Bulldogs, as they won the SEC and a College Football Playoff game. But as Kirby Smart told reporters this week, it also ended up being a huge moment for Fromm.
” It was a big win for Jake (Fromm), you know, to go on the road and play in a place like that and play well enough to win certainly helped things,” Smart said. “There have been a lot of games since then, too.”
Fromm went on to beat out two 5-star quarterbacks since that win and is now the face of the Georgia football program. He’s come a long way since that night at Notre Dame.
Running back: Georgia’s leading rusher is D’Andre Swift. That’s to be expected as he’s one of the top talents in the country and is averaging close to 10 yards per carry.
But Georgia’s second-leading rusher isn’t Brian Herrien or James Cook. It’s actually redshirt freshman Zamir White.
While he hasn’t been as flashy as either Herrien or Cook, White has scored twice this season and is averaging 7.82 yards per attempt.
“Zamir (White) coming back has been a pleasant surprise for us, and he continues to do good things and get better,” Smart said of White this week.
Nothing though about White’s style should be considered pleasant. White runs angry and with power, much like how a rhino charges.
White entered the season with sky-high expectations, and Saturday night might give him a chance to introduce him to the college football world. Notre Dame has one of the worst rush defenses in the country, as the Fighting Irish have given up over 200 yards rushing in each of their first two games.
Wide receiver: Prior to last week’s game, everyone was buzzing about freshman wide receiver George Pickens. And rightfully so, given his now weekly performances.
But don’t forget about another freshman wide receiver in Dominick Blaylock.
“He came in this summer and picked things up quickly. He’s a competitor,” Smart said of the freshman. “He’s very sharp and understands leverages, a very savvy route runner. He’s starting to develop a comfort level with Jake (Fromm) and that’s important to us.”
Blaylock actually has more touchdowns than Pickens does to this point, and only trails Pickens by two yards for the team lead in receiving yards.
Georgia has seen a rash of injuries at the wide receiver position. Tyler Simmons and Demetris Robertson are expected to play on Saturday, while Kearis Jackson’s status is still in question. But it looks the like the Bulldogs are going to be able to rely on Blaylock, even if he is only a freshman.
Tight end: DawgNation caught up with tight end Eli Wolf prior to the big game against the Fighting Irish. And Wolf is looking forward to the atmosphere that the Georgia fan base is going to provide on Saturday night.
Offensive line: We don’t say this often about offensive linemen, but it’s awesome to watch Cade Mays play.
Whether it be at guard or tackle this season, the sophomore has made it a point to demolish opposing defensive linemen. This often leads to some viral clips of him just burying some poor soul.
We saw that again in the Arkansas State win.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 17, 2019
At the beginning of the season, Mays was just fighting to try and earn a starting spot. But now, it looks like he’s pretty clearly one of Georgia’s top-3 offensive linemen. Whether he plays at guard or tackle on Saturday — Isaiah Wilson’s status is still uncertain as he tries to return from an ankle injury — there’s a good chance Mays is going to turn some unfortunate Notre defensive defender into a viral moment.
Defensive line: Georgia’s defensive line is going to have a challenge on its hands full on Saturday as the Notre Dame offense will test the Georgia front.
Part of this reason is because the Fighting Irish run one of the most complex offenses in all of college football.
“They have multiple formations, they have tempo, they have the ability to do a lot of things,” Smart said. “They have a lot of offense. You start looking at all the things they do, it’s hard to prepare for all of it in a week, in a week’s time. Then you throw in the fact they have the quarterback that he can make you right every play.”
Notre Dame also has a very good offensive line. Of course, the 2017 Notre Dame team had two top-10 picks on it and Georgia had no problem getting a pass rush. Keep an eye out for senior Tyler Clark to have a disruptive game on Saturday, as he’s played well to start his 2019 season.
Outside linebacker: Through 14 games in 2018, Georgia picked up only 24 sacks. In just 3 games this season, the Bulldogs already have 12.
A big reason for that is because Georgia has gotten much better production from its outside linebacker room. A total of 5 Georgia outside linebackers have at least 1.0 sack this season.
The leader, both in the sack department and in the actual leadership role, is redshirt freshman Azeez Ojulari. He’s picked up 0.5 sack in every game so far and looks to be getting better every week.
“Azeez has taken over the room. He’s such a positive impact,” Smart said of Ojulari. “He’s a great leader.”
Inside linebacker: Georgia’s linebackers will face their toughest test of the season to this point. Not so much because of the running threat Notre Dame poses, but rather how quarterback Ian Book is able to scramble and extend plays.
Smart said that Book can be a frustrating player for defenses to deal with in part because he’s able to keep plays alive with his legs.
“He has a lot of explosive plays where he scrambles to throw and scrambles to run,” Smart said. “And it’s frustrating. You have to be really patient because you want to get him as a rusher and then when you don’t get him, you get frustrated, and it goes from being a lost yardage play to being second and five.”
One way to possibly keep Book from extending plays with his legs is to have one of Georgia’s inside linebacker possibly spy — or follow him like his own shadow — Book. Georgia did this two years ago, but that’s when the Bulldogs had Roquan Smith and Notre Dame was starting Brandon Wimbush.
Monty Rice, Tae Crowder, Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker are going to have to play disciplined and fast if they’re to prevent Georgia from getting beat by another mobile quarterback, as Joe Burrow, Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Hurts all gave Georgia plenty of problems a season ago.
Defensive back: Tyson Campbell was playing the best football of his Georgia career. Then he got hurt and exited the game with a right foot injury. Such is life sometimes.
Campbell’s status for Saturday is uncertain at best. Smart was very cryptic when updating his status on Tuesday.
“He’s pushing through. He was out there today, trying to work and help us out,” Smart said. “But he’s mentally getting prepared and he’s not able to take a lot of reps.”
Should Campbell not be able to go, the Bulldogs will turn to two newcomers in either D.J. Daniel or Tyrqiue Stevenson as a replacement. Daniel took over for the injured Campbell a week ago and will likely have the first crack at doing it again on Saturday.
Whoever ends up starting will have the unenviable task of trying to guard Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, a 6-foot-4 mountain of a wide receiver. It’s a real shame Campbell and Claypool might not get to face-off, as Campbell’s size and athleticism would allow him to match up better with Claypool than any of Georgia’s other defensive backs.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia legend Herschel Walker: ‘Time to show why we’re Running Back U’
- David Pollack personally thanks Kirby Smart for bringing ESPN GameDay to ‘home’
- Official visit preview: Noah Sewell feels something he can’t describe about Georgia
- Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality concerned UGA-Notre Dame ‘could get out of hand’
- What the national media is saying before huge Georgia-Notre Dame contest
- 3 things Georgia must avoid against upset-minded Notre Dame
- Ex-Bulldogs Jeff Treadway and Willie Anderson selected for Georgia Hall of Fame
- Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton an example that Georgia doesn’t win every recruiting battle it wants
Dawgs on Twitter
We finally found someone who's picking Notre Dame to beat the Dawgs: pic.twitter.com/tPCSArf8CI
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) September 19, 2019
“Who’s going to win the SEC this year? A Big-12 team or an SEC team?”
— ESPN Podcasts (@espnpodcasts) September 18, 2019
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) September 20, 2019
My time coming…🙇🏾♂️ pic.twitter.com/i2KBIkKFbF
— Malik Herring (@HerringMalik) September 19, 2019
Good Dawg of the Day
… you guys, willow loves a party pail filled with water. pic.twitter.com/5GCPpVElo6
— fake nick ramsey (@nick_ramsey) September 19, 2019