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Justin Fields still does not have a defined role for UGA going in its third game.

Five things for UGA fans to watch for against Middle Tennessee State

Connor Riley

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What to watch for when Georgia takes on Middle Tennessee State

 1. The start of the game

As you likely know by now, kickoff for the game has been moved from 7:15 p.m. to noon on Saturday due in part to Hurricane Florence. The earlier start time likely means a less than capacity Sanford Stadium and possibly a more dulled atmosphere. It will be interesting to see if this has any sort of impact on Georgia.

In its first two games Georgia has gotten off to fast starts, which has thus led to uncompetitive blowouts. But as Penn State saw with Appalachian State, talented Group of Five teams can give you nightmares if you let them hang around. While Middle Tennessee State did lose to Vanderbilt earlier this year, it has beaten Missouri and Syracuse in each of the last two seasons. While Georgia is much better than both of those teams, the Blue Raiders won’t be intimidated walking into Sanford Stadium. Especially if the usually rocking Sanford Stadium is sapped of its usually energy due to the early kickoff.

2. Justin Fields, scripted or unscripted

Georgia fans’s favorite quarterback saw the field early against Austin Peay only to be reduced to mop-up duty against South Carolina. Middle Tennessee State is a nice medium between the first two teams’Georgia played, and it will be worth watching what offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and Smart have cooked up for the 5-star freshman.

If they feel comfortable easing Fields into the first half, or at least giving him meaning playing time, it could be a sign that we’ll continue to see Fields throughout the season if he can continue to grow into a more defined role. But if he is once against reduced to garbage time, Georgia fans really should give up on Fields seeing the field in a meaningful way this season, barring injury.

3. The left tackle spot

On Thursday, Smart said the regular starter at left tackle, Andrew Thomas, was “very doubtful” for Saturday’s game, it means Jake Fromm will likely have someone else protecting his blindside. Based off the South Carolina, that will likely be freshman Cade Mays, who swapped jerseys mid-game to step in for Thomas.

Mays looked strong in his debut, but with Thomas most likely out, it could give Mays a chance to potentially earn some extra playing time down the line. As we saw last season, the offensive line shuffled in Ben Cleveland into the starting line-up late in the season and it paid off for Georgia. Mays could have the possibility to do the same thing this year, especially if he is able to keep Fromm’s jersey clean on Saturday.

Related: Message of Georgia linemen to freshman Cade Mays? ‘Get in, let’s ball’

4. The pass rush

Through two games, Georgia has just 1.0 sack, and that’s courtesy of D’Andre Walker. This is might be a little concerning to Georgia fans, given that the Bulldogs have had massive leads in their first two games which should dictate more passing opportunities for the opposing teams.

But if Georgia can get out to a big early lead on Saturday, there’s a good chance that Walker, Tyler Clark, Jonathan Ledbetter and Brenton Cox will have plenty of opportunities to bring down Middle Tennessee State quarterback  Brent Stockstill. Vanderbilt was able to do it 6 times in the Commodores’ 35-7 win over Middle Tennessee State in week 1.

5. The Auburn-LSU game

Let’s be honest here, most Georgia fans wish the Bulldogs were playing a better opponent this week. Games like Auburn-LSU, Georgia-Auburn or Georgia-LSU are just better for college football. And with the UGA game now wrapping before kickoff of the Auburn-LSU game, Georgia fans have plenty of reasons to watch.

For starters, this will be a great chance to see Georgia’s toughest two remaining opponents play, so there is some value in scouting both teams. Secondly, this game is almost always entertaining. We’ll go further into this game in the picks section below, but this is something Georgia fans, even if they hate Auburn and LSU, should tune in to watch.

Two Bulldogs lead Bengals to a win

The best two players from Thursday’s NFL game both played for Georgia. On the offensive side, wide receiver AJ Green hauled in 3 touchdown catches, with all of them coming in the first 17 minutes of the game to give Cincinnati a 21-0 lead. The Baltimore Ravens were able mount a comeback, and had the ball down by 31-23 in the fourth quarter.

That’s when former Bulldog Shawn Williams made the game-clinching play. The safety broke through the line on a delayed blitz, swerved around All-Pro guard Marshall Yanda and walloped Joe Flacco as he was getting ready to pass. The hit forced a fumble, which the Bengals recovered.

It was a bounce back game for Williams, after he had been ejected from last week’s game after a hit on Andrew Luck. The former Bulldog also snared an interception in the game, which the Bengals won 34-23.

As for Green, he’s now got 4 touchdown catches in the first two games, both of which have been Cincinnati wins. Cincinnati also happens to lead the league in terms of most former UGA players, as Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling and Geno Atkins also suit up for the now 2-0 Bengals.

Week 3 picks

After a disastrous week 1, we bounced back nicely with a 5-1 week 2, including calling Arizona State’s upset of Michigan State and predicting the exact score of the Georgia-South Carolina game. As always, please don’t actually put money on these picks.

  • No. 3 Georgia vs. Middle Tennessee State, Noon ESPN News, Radio-WSB 95.5 FM and 750 AM: The early start time won’t bother Georgia all that much. Georgia hasn’t played with its food in either of its first two games and that will continue. The Bulldogs cover with ease, apologies to good friend of the program Nick Cole. Georgia 48(-33.5), Middle Tennessee State 7
  • Vanderbilt at No. 8 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. NBC: Vanderbilt’s offense has looked very good so far to open the 2018 season, as the Commodores have cruised to two easy wins. Meanwhile Notre Dame has rode its defense to grind out to wins against a good Michigan team and a not so good Ball State team. Look for Vanderbilt to make this a game going into the fourth quarter and keep it close. We all remember the last time an SEC team visited South Bend. Notre Dame 24, Vanderbilt 17(+13.5)
  • No. 11 LSU at No. 7 Auburn, 3:30 p.m. CBS: Good friend of the program Lauren Shute, an Auburn fan, is nervous about this game. Personally, I don’t see it. While LSU did look good against Miami, the offense didn’t score a touchdown after the midway point in the second quarter. Joe Burrow is now completing less than 50 percent of his passes. I think Auburn might have the best front 7 in the country. And while Jarrett Stidham isn’t the hottest quarterback in the country, he is still one of the best. Auburn wins comfortably. Auburn 27(-10), LSU 9
  • Florida vs. Colorado State, 4 p.m. SEC Network: Most of the time, I like to think logically about these picks. But not this one. Mike Bobo and the Rams are going to beat Florida. Straight up. Also if you get a chance, read DawgNation reporter Chip Towers’s story on Bobo, it is pretty great. Colorado State 31(+20.5), Florida 27
  • No. 1 Alabama at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ESPN: Under Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss caused more trouble for Alabama than anybody. Under Matt Luke, Ole Miss gave up 41 points to Southern Illinois. It won’t be the blowout it was last year, but Alabama is going to score a ton of points again. Alabama 55(-21.5), Ole Miss 24
  • No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 16 TCU, 8 p.m. ABC: This will be the Buckeyes last game without coach Urban Meyer while he finishes out his sham of a suspension. TCU has a significant coaching advantage and that will be enough to keep this one close. Though this game should be played at TCU and not at AT&T Stadium. Ohio State 33, TCU 24(+12.5)

Season Record: 5-7 (against the spread)

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