Schedule change ends up benefitting Georgia football after Alabama loss
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The 4 reasons why off week comes at perfect time for Georgia football
Georgia was supposed to be preparing for Kentucky this week. But due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Florida, the SEC reworked the schedules of Missouri, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia and moved Georgia and Florida’s off weeks up to Oct. 24.
So now the Bulldogs get a week off to figure out what went wrong and what is fixable following their loss to Alabama. Below, we give four reasons why this off week really benefits Georgia as it gets a chance to reset after its first loss of the season.
1.Examine the quarterback position
Stetson Bennett IV turned the ball over three times on Saturday. That is the single biggest reason the Bulldogs were unable to keep pace with Alabama in the second half.
Bennett needs to play better if Georgia is going to get to where Georgia wants to go. He said as much following the loss to Alabama.
“Yeah, don’t throw it across my body, which I’ve known that from the time I was 4 years old, so just a bone-headed play, just got to learn from it,” Bennet said of his third interception. “I was frustrated with myself, because at that point, it was just stupid.”
Many have assumed that the Bennett performance reopens up the quarterback battle, with most circling JT Daniels as his replacement. Daniels has the pedigree, with his 5-star ranking and 12 career starts at USC.
But does he have a healthy knee? That’s the question as it’s the reason he wasn’t cleared for Georgia’s opener against Arkansas. Daniels was cleared before the Auburn game and last week he was photographed at practice not wearing a knee brace.
Bennett earned the right to start against Alabama with how he performed against Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. But the Alabama performance raised the question of whether it was just one bad game or a proof that he is not the guy to lead Georgia past Alabama.
Between Daniels, D’Wan Mathis and Carson Beck, Georgia has other options to look at. And not having to focus on an opponent-specific game plan gives Georgia a chance to better evaluate its quarterbacks.
2. Ready for a physical Kentucky team
Kirby Smart has often made it a point to praise how physical Kentucky is as a team. After the loss to Alabama, the Georgia head coach did it once more.
“We’ve just got to play a really physical, physical Kentucky team first, and then go play Florida,” Smart said. “And Kentucky is always one of the most physical teams in the league.”
Having to play that kind of team a week after the Alabama game would not have been an ideal situation for the Bulldogs. Now Georgia gets an extra week to rest and watch the Wildcats play, as Kentucky is taking on Missouri this weekend.
And this Kentucky team is not the Kentucky football team of your youth. The Wildcats have won two straight including a 34-7 beatdown of Tennessee this past weekend. A strength of the team is its running game, as the Wildcats rank first in the SEC in rushing yards per game with 206 per game.
This also may not be the team you want to break in a new quarterback against, as the Wildcats have nine interceptions in the past two weeks. It’s also worth remembering Kentucky shutout Georgia in the first half of last year’s contest.
The Wildcats might not be as talented as Alabama, but this is by no means an easy win. So getting an extra week to get right and ready for Mark Stoops and his team could go a long way in getting Georgia back in the win column.
3. Get healthy on defense
Alabama torched the Georgia defense. There is no denying that, as the Crimson Tide rolled up 564 offensive yards against the Bulldogs on Saturday.
And while there’s no excuse for playing as they did against the Crimson Tide, the defense could stand to get a few contributors healthy.
Linebacker Monty Rice was a game-time decision with a lower leg injury. He ended up playing for the Bulldogs and registered six tackles. But the Bulldogs also played Quay Walker more than they normally do against Alabama. A week of rest should help Rice get back to the play he was during the first three weeks of the season.
Georgia cornerback DJ Daniel also did not play for the Bulldogs against Alabama. Whether that was injury-related or not is unknown, but given how Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith played, Georgia likely could’ve used his services.
Outside linebacker Jermaine Johnson also missed two games early in the season, though he returned to play against Alabama.
All these are examples of guys who will be able to refresh and get right as they don’t have a game to push through this weekend. It will also help the Georgia defense that it doesn’t have to play against the likes of Waddle and Smith in the coming weeks. As for Kentucky, the Wildcats rank last in passing offense in the SEC.
4. More live practice reps for young players
Georgia got meaningful contributions on the offensive side of the ball from the likes of Kendall Milton and Jermaine Burton. Milton ran for 44 yards on just six carries fort he Bulldogs, while Burton had four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.
These two will likely continue to become bigger parts of the Georgia offense. And now they get week to work on the fundamentals of the Georgia offense while also having meaningful game experience that they didn’t have in August.
Georgia also has a few more pass catchers it can look to get involved such as Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Darnell Washington. Tight end Tre’ McKitty, who is also in his first year in the program, missed time during camp, will get another chance to reintegrate himself back into the offense.
More so than in 2019, the skill players in this offense have had some encouraging moments. If the likes of Burton and Milton continue to improve and add to what the likes of Kearis Jackson have given to the Georgia offense, it should make whoever the quarterback is for the rest of the season.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football stock report: Some ups amid 41-24 loss at Alabama
- Georgia playmaker James Cook heating up; mind-blowing numbers from Alabama loss
- Jermaine Burton performance against Alabama serves as perfect metaphor for Georgia football offense
- Georgia football podcast: Picking up the pieces after another disappointing loss to Alabama
- Georgia football winners and losers following 41-24 defeat to Alabama
- Questions about Georgia quarterback JT Daniels expected, injury updates after Alabama
- Georgia football: What Alabama and Nick Saban said after that big 17-point win
- Georgia football drops in both AP and Coaches Poll after loss to Alabama
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