ATLANTA — Georgia football legend David Pollack has proven to be as aggressive and direct with his analysis as he once was as an All-American pass rusher, and Friday was no different.
Pollack emphasized the importance of UGA tailback D’Andre Swift and dished out criticism aimed at Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm during a question-and-answer session at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Asked to rate the importance of Swift for Georgia in the SEC Championship Game against LSU at 4 p.m. on Saturday on a scale of one to 10, Pollack replied, “15,” and explained why.
“One of the keys would be to get him, and Brian Herrien the ball out of the backfield because LSU is not good at covering backs,” said Pollack, a two-time SEC Player of the Year and three-time All-American during his UGA career (2001-2004).
“I think (Swift) has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win, and it needs to be inside and outside. It needs to be screens, it needs to be finding ways to get him the ball … he’s the best back in the country in space.”
Pollack also said Fromm, the first quarterback since Florida’s Danny Wuerffel to lead his team to three straight SEC title game appearances, is “not playing his best football” this season.
Here’s more from Pollack’s Q&A on Friday:
Can Georgia hold LSU’s offense?
POLLACK: Define hold? Kirby and Company are going to have to check their egos at the door and understand that from 20 to 20, have all the yards you want, make it a slow death, and then make them be really efficient in the red zone and kick field goals. I don’t think anybody can stop this offense. I think Joe Burrow is operating on a level that, his worst game is 71 percent, I think. It’s not human.
It’s an offense where it has great answers for everything you do and great weapons and a running game. And not only that, there’s a quarterback who buys time and scrambles and breaks tackles and makes big plays. They’re gonna get theirs, and Jake is going to have to play really well.
What would you say to Georgia fans who have had questions about the Bulldogs’ offense?
POLLACK: You should. I tweeted about being excited about old school versus new school because it used to be defense wins championships. I don’t think it’s defense wins championships anymore. I think you have to have a great offense to win a college football championship, and the game has changed so much.
We’ll get to see if old school defense can still reign supreme. This is a Big 12 offense. This is not an offense that’s reinvented and does new amazing things that nobody else does. It’s just an offense that has answers that spread out the field, so it can throw the football to a lot of different weapons. They are gonna get theirs.”
What role do you think Jake Fromm plays for Georgia’s offense?
POLLACK: He’s not playing his best football. I can look at him and watch him, his mechanics need to improve. He’s fading away throwing the football way too much. That’s the kind of stuff for a three-year starter, where, you can’t do that. He’s definitely culpable. He’s missed a lot of throws that are wide open.
I think the system and the scheme is getting to know each other still and hasn’t really clicked together great yet, and it needs to do that this week. It will change a little bit more. It has done well at times, but it hasn’t put together a complete game and it needs to do that.”
The SEC West has had three teams in three years, Georgia has won three straight in the East, what does that say?
POLLACK: Florida is doing OK. Florida is back to back 10-win seasons for the first time since 2008, so Florida is doing their share and doing well. But Georgia is three times in a row here, that’s pretty dad gum good. If you had told Georgia fans that when Kirby got hired, they would have said sign me up for that. How about three straight years ending where you’re in the conversation for the college football playoff? That’s pretty dad gum good.
It’s still a pretty young team that’s not going to lose much on defense. Offensive line, who leaves early? Who leaves early, Swift will leave early. When he leaves, how many leave will be the better question. So it shows a lot about Kirby and how he has been able to recruit and restore.
What is the trick about this LSU offense that has made it that unstoppable?
POLLACK: “There ain’t no trick, Bro. It’s not a trick, they know how to execute, they know exactly if you blitz them, they have their answers. And if you want to play Cover One, they are going to hit deep overs and they are going to hit fades and gos. They do a good job. If you are going to play dime and nickel they are going to run duos all day and run the football at you.
They do a really good job of knowing how to attack every level of a defense. The offense (once) trended toward Golden State, it was threes and dunks, it was gos and screens, and they do a good job with their mid-range and attack. They do everything well. That’s why it’s hard to say, ‘I’m going to take this away, or that away.’ Every time you do, they have an answer for it. I think Kirby, as brilliant as he is defensively, can come up with something to make a few plays.
Tua (Tagovailoa) last year was on a roll coming into the dome, and cooled off big time, got hurt, too. It’s what can you find that can slow them down for a possession and you win. Auburn tried the tower approach, tried to go with three down and bring in a bunch of speed, it kind of worked. But what can you bring in and slow down just for a little bit, and hold the rope and hopefully your offense makes plays and hold the ball a little bit and works together.
Could Coach Orgeron win Coach of the Year?
POLLACK: In the league, or nationally? Yeah, Ryan Day, he’s done a heck of a job, and you look at P.J. Fleck and Baylor’s Matt Rhule, he’s definitely in there. How about his record against Top 10 teams, and the hire of the offseason, nobody can debate that. I know who the Broyles Award winner is, I don’t think anybody else is nominated, it’s just go ahead and give it to Joe Brady.
Can Joe Burrow lose the Heisman Trophy?
POLLACK: Sure, I mean people have those moments when they start to have doubts and questions. He’s by far and away commanding the lead, but what if he struggles mightily and limps to the finish and then all the sudden, you see a huge game from Justin Fields, or somebody like that, it can jump up, maybe. It’s a small, small chance. I think Joe Burrow has done enough throughout the season. But it’s a big-time stage where you have to prove things, but I think some people could have some doubts, still. I find it very hard to believe he’d lose it.
LSU’s Grant Delpit says he’s close to 100 percent, is that what you’ve seen on film from him?
POLLACK: I’m trying to measure my words here. He hasn’t had his best year, this year. I think the secondary on a whole, you see a ton of talent, but you’ve also seen more big plays than you’re accustomed to seeing, more missed tackles than you’re accustomed to seeing. Yeah, they are getting healthier, but they’ve got to play better. That’s why Ohio State is No. 1. You can nitpick and say Cincinnati is a Top 25 team, or whatever, Ohio State has been more dominant, their defense has been more dominant. That’s the difference between LSU and Ohio State.
I could also swing the pendulum and say who has Ohio State played offensively that’s any good? Even Cincinnati is not very good, Penn State is not very good, Wisconsin’s offense, those all leave a lot to be desired. Michigan is pretty good, and had some success. I think defensively it’s very interesting we are sitting on championship weekend and we’re pointing the finger at LSU and it’s at their defense.”
How important is it for Georgia to keep Joe Burrow in the pocket?
POLLACK: “I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. You better cover really well, and you better get him to the ground. I don’t care about where you keep him, when you get your hands on him, you got to get him to the ground. He’s strong, he’s physical, but he’s so dad gum tough. He doesn’t give up. He’s not like a Manning back in the day, you saw people get close to them, they would kind of take a dive. That’s not a shot at them, but Joe Burrow is going to physically go through anybody he needs to.
When he runs the football, he lowers his shoulder, he’s going to make plays. So when Georgia gets there, whoever that is, get your hands on him and get him to the ground. I think another key will be batted passes. You want to take away some of those throws over the middle, when I’m a pass rusher and I know I can’t get to the QB, I get my hands up and knock the ball down. Now maybe it’s second-and-10 and you’ve got a better chance.”
Is this game important to determine if Georgia has the right offensive identity?
POLLACK: “We’ll see. I think that it’s pretty proven now that offenses win, and you have to score. You have to win a championship game, a playoff game and another playoff game to be a champion. And to do that, you’re going to play offensive juggernauts, and you better be able to score points.
If you can’t score points, and you can’t be an explosive offense, it’s very hard to win that many games in a row. It’s like the NFL being in the playoffs, and you have to string three together, that’s a tough thing to do.”
#Georgia has named Jake Fromm, J.R. Reed and D’Andre Swift as game captains … seemingly a good indication that Swift (shoulder) will play, although….. But, Brian Herrien was a game captain for South Carolina and he didn’t play in that game (back spasms).
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 6, 2019
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