Welcome back to the UGA mailbag, where each week we invite readers to ask our expertise (our word, no one else’s) about Georgia football, UGA athletics or whatever springs to mind. This week Georgia finds itself, for the second time this season, headed into a game against another ranked team. And this time it counts in the SEC standings. So we get questions about Mississippi State, with some over-under prediction items, as well as queries about Isaiah Wilson, possible NFL early draft entrants, basketball and more.
But first, let’s start with Nick Chubb …
Do you believe that Kirby Smart and co. are limiting Chubb’s carries early in the season for the same reason they do early in games? So he can be fresh when the defenses are worn down, and run through them as he’s known for. Thanks Seth.
— Josh Ayer, UGA 2006 Alum
Hmmm. No one has come out and said that, and nobody to my knowledge has asked them about that. But your theory tickled my curiosity bone, so I looked at Chubb’s workload and yards per carry last year — the one year so far at Georgia he’s been healthy and a starter from start to finish.
In the first three games last year Chubb carried it 71 times, compared to 44 thus far this year. Now, Sony Michel was coming back from the hand injury last year, and all three of those games were close, unlike this year. So does that alone account for a 27-carry difference?
Chubb’s three best games last year all came after periods of rest or less workload: The season opener (222 yards vs. North Carolina), Week 6 after only carrying it once the previous week because of the ankle sprain (121 yards at South Carolina), and the bowl game (142 yards against TCU). But if you go back to his freshman and sophomore years, before the injury, Chubb racked up high carry totals and high amounts of yards week after week.
By the way, Chubb’s worst games tend to come when he isn’t used much. I know that sounds fairly obvious, but consider:
- Chubb in 2016-17 when he had 15 or more carries (12 times): 5.5 yards per carry.
- Chubb in 2016-17 when he had fewer than 15 carries (four times): 4.1 yards per carry.
First, thank you for the question about the family; they’re great and I hope yours is as well. Second, despite my inability to secure a ticket to the Notre Dame game prior to the trip (thanks for nothing), I went anyway, found a great tailgate, and bought a ticket for slightly over face value a few hours before gametime. Georgia fans are incredible, especially Brad, Kelley, Tammy, Zeb, and Steven. Thanks y’all.
Finally, do you think the MSU-LSU final score of 37-7 is a fair indication of the ability of those two teams? Final scores often don’t reflect the competitiveness of the entire game (Alabama in 2008, 41-30 hides the 30-0 halftime score). I didn’t see the MSU game and all the press I’ve seen is treating it as a blowout, but the halftime score was just 17-7. Is there some luck in that score, or is MSU really 30 points better than LSU?
Thanks for your time,
— Sam Irvin
You’re welcome for my generously printing that entire first paragraph. Let’s just start turning this mailbag over to people for such purposes; I see this mailbag as not only a valuable informational tool that, but as a community, where we share our feelings, bounce things off each other and exchange pictures of our dogs.
I don’t remember your question. Oh, OK.
Not to pick on you, Sam, although I already did, Georgia fans should hope their team isn’t reading everything you guys are saying about that LSU-Mississippi State game. This week I’ve seen countless posts on social media and message boards from fans who said they watched the LSU game and think it was more a reflection of LSU, that Nick Fitzgerald is overrated, Mississippi State got the benefit of penalties, LSU’s coaches and players were all clearly inebriated, etc.
Now having just said all that, I also tend to believe Georgia will win this game. It just has more talent, and the Bulldogs will be at home. It appears Las Vegas agrees, as its initial Georgia by 6 line was designed to lure in bets on Mississippi State. (There’s a reason those casinos are so big and fancy.)
The reason for concern, on the other hand, for Georgia, is two-fold: 1. It’s still too early in the season to make big judgments, so maybe the rout of LSU was a mirage, and maybe it wasn’t, just as we don’t know how much stock yet to put into Georgia’s win at Notre Dame. 2. Dan Mullen is a very good coach, and he knows what worked against LSU won’t necessarily work against Georgia. There will be some coaching chess this weekend.
Isaiah Wilson looks very chiseled and beastly to me. We could have used him to get a couple of those first downs we were short on. Either by blocking or running it himself, if you’ve looked at his high school game film. What do you think Kirby is thinking? My concern is if he redshirts we are looking at another Knowshon Moreno situation, where we will only get two good years out of him.
— Robert Burnham
Running it himself? If that ever happened I’d devote my entire Second Glance to breaking down and diagramming that one play.
The sense I get is that, before Wilson arrived, the staff hoped he could contribute this year, but also knew there could be adjustment concerns from high school and the New York-to-Georgia weather. (Believe it or not.)
The fact Wilson hasn’t played against Appalachian State or Samford would heavily indicate he’s headed toward a redshirt – but never say never until the season is over. If Georgia is chasing a championship and they decide Wilson has improved enough to help the team then they’ll play him. And that goes for any possible redshirt.
Over-under and true-false
Jon Crenshaw sets it up; I try not to fall on my face:
Goggles — 3FGs … Under. But I had to think about it because I do see some potential red zone problems with the matchup of Georgia’s blocking and Mississippi State’s front seven.
Fromm — 225yds … Under. Mississippi State’s secondary is vulnerable, and Todd Grantham will try to make Fromm beat them, but he only had 141 yards on 16 completions at Notre Dame. I could see this game playing out that way too.
Chubb — 18 carries … Over. But I had to think about that one too. I’ll say Sony Michel is slowed enough that they rely on Chubb a bit more than they did at Notre Dame, when both seniors had 13 carries.
Secondary — 1.5 INT … Under. The drought does end this game, I say, but Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has been pretty accurate.
True/false: You watched the Emmys Sunday … False. I was re-watching the Samford game and doing the At Second Glance. (But my wife did watch it and reported that she hadn’t watched any of these shows.)
I don’t usually cover recruiting, but …
Do you think that Georgia is recruiting at a level with the likes of Alabama or will it take a couple of more classes to get to said level?
— Allan Frazier
I can handle this one because it’s one of those “overall view” recruiting questions. And based on what Jeff Sentell and other recruiting experts tell me, and my own institutional knowledge, I have an overall view.
Based on the class from last year, Georgia did recruit on an elite level, but as you said, it takes more than just one class. The current one is showing some promise, especially if they get Justin Fields and he corrals in some other top guys.
In fairness, it’s not like they didn’t recruit well around here prior to 2016. Georgia ranked sixth in the 247Sports composite team rankings in 2015, and eighth the year before, and Mark Richt had a couple of years where the Bulldogs finished third in the national Rivals rankings.
But what Alabama does is recruit on that level every year.
What can be done to get INTs more often? Players are in position to make plays but aren’t even though it seems to be focus in practice.
I have to believe it’s just fluky, barring evidence to the contrary. The only rational explanation is that the defensive backs are still building chemistry, which would explain Aaron Davis dropping one because he almost ran into a teammate trying to catch it. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about yet.
With Parrish returning possibly in the Miss St Game. What does this do to our defensive positions and the musical chairs? Aaron Davis and company have been doing pretty great stepping up, and I can’t wait to see what happens when we get Parrish back out there!
At this point, I’d be surprised if Parrish got significant snaps, and if he did it would probably be as an extra cornerback in the nickel or the dime. Considering the Fitzgerald factor, it might make sense to leave Lorenzo Carter out there as the star, and have Davis and Baker at cornerback, with Reed and Sanders at safety. Although it was Reed at the star against Samford, for what it’s worth.
Obviously we all know about Chubb, Michel, Carter, Bellamy and Sanders all passing on the NFL and returning for their senior years. What do you think are the chances of Roquan Smith, Ledbetter, and Trenton Thompson doing the same? Thanks!
— Will Cotton
Even Kirby Smart has acknowledged that had any of those five seniors been projected to go in the first round they would have gone. That tended to be how it went at Alabama: They tried to get players to maximize their stock, and so far it appears Lorenzo Carter is improving his stock by returning. This time, there’s a long way to go, but I looked at three 2018 NFL mock drafts (CBSsports.com, Bleacher Report and Walterfootball.com), and the only Georgia player I saw projected in the first round was Thompson, and that was only on one of those mocks. But that could always change with a strong season from those guys.
My alma mater’s Bears played an inspiring game against Auburn. Mercer plays Alabama later this season and played Georgia Tech last year. Any talk of a renewal of the Mercer-Georgia rivalry?
— Michael Ruffin
Actually I wrote about this over the summer. Short answer: Some talk but nothing imminent.
A lot of buzz about a Blackout game this Saturday. Will it happen?
— Chris Daly
I’m told there’s nothing blackout-related in an official capacity. Fans are of course free on their own to wear whatever they want. (I plan to wear a green sundress.) As far as black jerseys, last year they designated a specific game (Louisiana-Lafayette), but so far there hasn’t been a designated one. So I guess you can never say never.
Happy fun-time basketball question(s) segment
Preseason picks (both online and magazine variety) popping up- many targeting UGA 10 or 11th in SEC and yet again no NCAA. If it plays out that way- do you think heat is turned up on Mark Fox – particular with Yante Maten back in the fold and eight year run with no NCAA wins as the resume..?
— George, Memphis, Tenn.
It’s just really tough to say without seeing how the season plays out. If the SEC really is stronger, a team like Georgia could finish in the lower half of the league – maybe not 10th or 11th, but 8th or 9th – and still make the NCAA tournament if their overall body of work is good enough.
In the macro sense as far as Mark Fox, he seems to have the program at a point where it’s very consistent: You project out based on the current roster and recruiting, and you don’t see any big dips coming, but you also don’t see any major launching points. So the question for UGA is whether that’s good enough or whether they want to take the next step. And if this year’s team is once again on the NCAA bubble, and the last few years that was good enough, then what would be different this time around?
You know what would really help Mark Fox this season? Beat some really good teams. That would quiet a lot of critics.
Mark Fox has quietly put together a couple of good recruiting classes. Any other big names in the mix.
– Mr. Loften
Georgia has three open scholarships for next year, and the Bulldogs have one commitment thus far: Amanze Ngumezi, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Savannah, rated the nation’s 130th-best prospect by the 247Sports composite.
Point guard Will Richardson, rated No. 53 nationally overall by the 247Sports composite, visited UGA this past weekend. He’s a big target at a need position. Richardson, formerly of Liberty County High (Richard LeCounte’s alma mater), is now at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.
Georgia is also targeting Khavon Moore, a 6-8 small forward from Macon’s Westside High School, who’s rated No. 56 in the composite. (Florida is considered the target.) Another UGA target: Landers Nolley, a guard-forward from Fairburn, is rated No. 85 nationally in the composite.
And finally …
Actually, that’s it. Big game Saturday. See you there.