ATHENS — It’s Saturday in Athens. Time to tee it up between the hedges!
Maybe it’s only the G-Day Game, but those familiar words still get the blood pumping when Sanford Stadium announcer Brook Whitmire delivers them, which he will at right about 2 p.m. today.
When he does, my money’s on the Red Team.
OK, I don’t really have money on the game. I don’t think that’s even a thing. I’m guessing Las Vegas doesn’t produce lines or over-unders for spring football games.
I’m sure somebody somewhere would talk my bet, though. If they did, I’m putting it on Red. I’d probably even lay the points. If there were an over-under, I’d probably go with the over, too.
Here’s why: The Red squad today will feature Georgia’s No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Jake Fromm and the best O-line this side of the Mississippi. That, I believe, represents a big advantage over the Black Team, which will sport the No. 1 defense.
Simply stated, Georgia’s No. 1 offense is going to be significantly better than its No. 1 defense. From what I’ve seen and heard, I believe the Bulldogs’ offense is going to be better than pretty much everybody’s No. 1 defense.
Traditionally, G-Days have been low-scoring affairs under coach Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs’ fourth-year coach takes these spring games very serious. He likes them to be very competitive. That’s why he pits “good-on-good” most of the time. In other words, the No. 1 unit offensive unit faces the No. 1 defensive unit, then the 2s on 2s, and so on.
Hence, it usually produces a competitive result:
- The Black Team, led by quarterback Justin Fields, won 21-13 last year.
- The Jake Fromm-led Red Team won 25-22 in 2017.
- The 2016 game — better known by its pseudonym “93K Day” — was a relative blowout. The Black Team won 34-14 (but what else would you expect with Greyson Lambert as the starting quarterback?).
The difference in the last two games and the first one was the competitive balance within team. The dropoff was significant between the first and third units in 2016. That’s not the case anymore.
Especially on the offensive side of the ball, there’s just not as much difference in the 2s and the 1s these days. At the moment, that’s a bit of an issue on defense. Injuries have unevenly impacted that side of the ball this spring. Meanwhile, some of the the potential replacements are late to the party. Four defensive line signees haven’t enrolled yet.
The Bulldogs on Friday released the G-Day rosters via Twitter as they usually do the day before the game. There were some subtle hints therein as to what Georgia’s depth chart might look like this year.
For starters, it appears that Ben Cleveland has earned back the top spot at right guard. That’s a significant development, with former 5-stars Cade Mays and Jamaree Salyer giving him chase. And it looks Demetris Robertson has edged out Kearis Jackson in the slot, at least for now. Other than center Trey Hill, the rest of the offense is returning starters. Solid.
Defensively, it seems significant that noseguard Jordan Davis is not with the 1s. That nod is going to senior Michael Barnette on Saturday. And with defensive end David Marshall still sidelined, it seems odd that Malik Herring, last year’s primary backup, remains behind senior Justin Young. Hopefully that’s more about how well Young has played than how deficient Herring has been.
Everybody’s excited to see freshmen Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith in action today. It seems notable that they’ve been included on the No. 1 defense’s Black squad. Then again, Tae Crowder, Monty Rice, Walter Grant and Azeez Ojulari are there as well.
No matter how they shuffle it up, it appears that the offense-oriented Red Team is going to have an edge, especially when you add Fromm into the equation. The scuttlebutt on the rising junior from Warner Robins is he’s sharper than he’s ever been when it comes to distributing the football.
Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator James Coley is especially fond of doing that through the air. So between Fromm, a better-than-advertised wide receiver corps, D’Andre Swift AND Brian Herrien in the backfield and the Great Wall of Georgia up front, I just think the Black Team is going to have a hard time slowing down the Red Team.
The average score in the three G-Days under Smart was 26.6-16.3. Based on that, we’d have to set the over-under at about 43.
Gimme the Red and the over. I’d put money on it, if I could.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) April 19, 2019