7 Georgia football players to watch closely against Notre Dame
ATHENS — Georgia takes center stage in college football on Saturday in a game with No. 7-ranked Notre Dame that will set the 2019 narrative for the Bulldogs.
Much has already been learned about this season’s team, Georgia holding its No. 3 ranking with a 3-0 start that has featured impressive wins.
The Bulldogs have, in fact, been so overwhelming that top players haven’t seen a great deal of action in the past two outings.
Georgia legend Herschel Walker took note on Thursday, saying it’s time for Georgia to show why it’s Running Back U.
“You talk about Swift, people don’t know how good that kid is,” Walker said. “He’s only running the ball 11 times (per game), but he’s averaging 9 yards a carry.”
Let’s talk more about Swift leading the “7 players to watch” against Notre Dame.
This game has been a long time coming for Swift. Swift is coming off his first healthy collegiate offseason. The results are obvious, with Swift adding power and authority to his sharp-cutting arsenal since his big-stage debacle in the Sugar Bowl.
Swift’s 16-carry effort in the season-opener against Vanderbilt fell one short of his carer-high, but there’s a chance he could surpass that against Notre Dame.
The Irish will be loaded up to stop the run, but Swift’s ability to find seams, bounce runs and catch the ball makes him a sure-thing for a high volume of touches and more than 100 yards from scrimmage and at least one touchdown.
The “Great Wall”
The Georgia offensive line has received more fanfare and celebrity than any college line in recent memory, and this is the game for it to truly make its mark. Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley, Trey Hill, Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays are on task, with Isaiah Wilson possibly coming back from his ankle injury.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said his defensive line hasn’t gotten knocked off the ball this season, indicating the Irish’s porous run defense (120th in the nation) has more to do with fits and run support. The lights will be shining on the Bulldogs’ trench giants.
Why do I get a sneaky feeling the senior tight end might be in for a big night? Is it because his uncle, Scott, was an All-American who starred for Georgia and was part of the 1980 national championship team that beat Notre Dame?
Let’s face it, America loves a good storyline, and seeing Charlie Woerner have a big game against the Irish is what most every Bulldogs’ fan is looking for.
As for fast-rising tight end Eli Wolf, Tennessee is up next on the schedule, and the former Vols’ captain can get a carry into the Neyland Stadium end zone from the fullback position to make headlines that game week.
It’s time for Monty Rice to come out of relative anonymity on the national stage and show his value for Georgia. The Bulldogs have been playing a lot of defenders at linebacker, building depth.
But Rice is the front-line ‘backer and the heart of the defense. His sideline-to-sideline play and hard-hitting should be evident against the Irish. Rice has 15 tackles this season, but he could end up with 10 or more against Notre Dame.
Cook is a weapon who should touch the ball at least 10 times every game, whether that’s on handoffs, passes or in the return game. Cook averages 12.9 yards per carry and 9.5 per catch and 20.5 on kick return.
Explosive, dynamic and fast, there don’t seem to be enough adjectives to describe just how exciting of a player Cook is in the open field. Every time Cook touches the ball, there’s an electricity in the air that he could score.
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Pickens is on the DawgNation “Watch” List every week, and every week, the player wearing the No. 1 on offense shows why.
Smart said Pickens still has work to do, but the quarterback and offensive coordinator keep showing confidence in the work that he does with the football thrown in his direction.
Kudos to Smart and his staff recognizing that taking advantage of Pickens’ great talents. Even while he’s ironing out other wrinkles, having Pickens in the game plan gives Georgia its best chance to win.
Speaking of tremendous potential coming to fruition, outside linebacker Nolan Smith has a raptor-like burst that all-time UGA defensive great David Pollack described as “freaky.”
Smith saw limited snaps last Saturday, and one can’t help but wonder if Smart wanted to do his best to keep this elite pass-rushing talent under wraps for one more week.
Nolan Smith will be a household name in the SEC soon enough.