With the Clemson game being tomorrow, I decided to sit down with Clemson insider John Eckley and get his thoughts on the game. John is a Clemson graduate who knows his Tiger football better than anyone I’ve ever met, and surprisingly, has a full set of teeth.
What are Clemson’s biggest strengths?
Defense. Clemson’s front seven returns almost everyone including Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett and the back four should be much-improved with the addition of Mackensie Alexander and others. Dabo Swinney has said Alexander would have started last year, had he not pulled up with a groin injury that plagued him all last fall. This is clearly a team that will need to be carried by its defense after the loss of so many offensive weapons from last year’s team.
What position scares you the most for Clemson?
I can think of several places that make me nervous including wide receiver, placekicker, and even running back, but the clear answer is quarterback. In many ways this is a best-case scenario for Clemson at the position, having a seemingly poised fifth-year senior to replace the most prolific QB in school history, but when Saturday night gets here and 93,000 Georgia fans are yelling for his head on a silver platter, it’s just impossible to know how a kid is going to react. All indications are that this kid is a cool customer and he has NFL bloodlines, but it’s hard to imagine a tougher scenario for a first start.
What scares you the most about Georgia/ What will Clemson have the hardest time with with Georgia?
The four-headed monster that is Georgia’s running game. While I don’t claim to have any idea if the two five-star freshmen will play, the amount of talent in the backfield is sick. Speaking of sick, that’s how I feel when I’m reminded of the fact that Clemson finished second for both Gurley and Marshall. Additionally, a Pruitt-led Georgia defense comprised of lighter, sleeker, more hurry-up-no-huddle-equipped defenders also concerns me.
Biggest breakout player that people might not have heard of or at least really played yet?
While I could easily go with the up and coming tight end Jordan Leggett who will undoubtedly get more touches due to loss at WR or with redshirt freshman shutdown corner Mackensie Alexander, my outside the box prediction is Wayne Gallman, the former Grayson standout. You may remember him as being Robert Nkemdiche’s teammate, but don’t forget that he was a four star prospect in his own right. But the real reason I think he could be a standout is both a combination of the fact that I’m not sold on the man in front of him, senior D. J. Howard, and the fact that he is a punishing runner. Clemson is going to have to have a runner who can generate yards on his own against a front seven like Georgia’s, and I’m not convinced Howard is the guy.
Who will be the star on the defensive side of the ball in this game?
The easy picks would be Vic Beasley or Grady Jarrett, but I’m going to go with linebacker Stephone Anthony. Stephone is coming off a great off season and a career performance in the Orange Bowl. If Clemson is to have any chance in this game, it’s going to have to tackle well on the second level, and that starts with the leader of this group.
Who will be the star on the offensive side of the ball in this game?
Charone Peake. From this point forward known as the poor man’s A.J. Green (PMAJG) due to his similarities in stature and speed but probably not in overall talent, Charone Peake is the lone four star leftover from Clemson’s 2011 recruiting class that produced both Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant. PMAJG was poised to breakout last fall prior to suffering an ACL tear. Much like Georgia’s own Malcolm Mitchell, after fighting through rehab, PMAJG tweaked his knee and had to have it scoped. Unlike Mitchell, he is set to play on Saturday and is said to be experiencing little ill-effects, but will the lack of practice time that resulted affect his conditioning? My guess is that he will be given his touches regardless due to Clemson’s glaring need to find someone on the outside who can be a playmaker.
What will Clemson’s game plan likely be?
Defensively, with Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley out, I think it’s reasonable to think that Clemson will send a good mix of blitzes to try to put pressure on a relatively green QB. Clearly, establishing control at the line of scrimmage when Georgia has the ball will be a challenge with Gur-shall back in the mix, but if somehow the Tigers are able to make the Dawgs one-dimensional, it really could make things interesting. Clemson believes its D-Line with Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and co. is one of the best in the country.
Offensively, it’s likely that we’ll see a much different approach than we saw last year. The talk out of Tigertown has been of a much more Auburn-like attack with more focus on the run. However, I’m just not convinced that Clemson is going to be able to run the ball consistently. I would expect a considerably greater emphasis on getting the ball to Clemson’s two young tight ends Jordan Leggett and J. J. McCullough. With such a loss of playmakers, here’s to thinking the Tigers will spread the ball around and give a number of players an opportunity to step up.
Terry Godwin – ☆☆☆☆☆
Rivals – #8 Overall; #1 ATH; #2 in GA
247 Sports – #49 Overall; #4 ATH; #7 in GA
ESPN – #35 Overall; #5 ATH; #6 in GA
Importance To This Class: #1
What Stands Out?
Terry could very well be the best receiver recruit UGA has had committed since AJ Green in 2008. From watching his film, there’s no glaring weakness that I’m able to see. He has great speed, great agility, and ball skills second to none in the class of 2015. I’m amazed at how fluidly he runs and shakes off defenders, and you can tell right away that this is going to be one special kid.
How Will He Fit In?
With the loss of so many offensive playmakers next year, Godwin is exactly what this Georgia team needs. I don’t think it’s going too far out on a limb to say that he could be starting at wide receiver for his first game as a Bulldog. Since AJ Green left in 2010, UGA hasn’t really had an elite wide receiver who’s demanded the defense’s attention. Sure Malcolm Mitchell has shown spurts, but we’ve never gotten to see what he can really do due to all his injuries. For the last few years, Georgia has just had “possession” receivers. They haven’t been bad, but they haven’t done anything spectacular. I think Godwin changes this. With defenses having to respect the strong running game of Georgia, Godwin will be able to stretch the field and have an enormous impact. Like AJ Green, Godwin will force teams to put an extra defender on him, leaving other, also talented, playmakers in single coverage. Another way I believe Godwin will be featured is with the jump ball. Think AJ Green vs. LSU:
It will certainly be fun to have another receiver who you can throw it up to and know he’s going to come down with it.
I also believe Godwin will have a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball. He has stated many times that he would like to play both ways, and he’s certainly capable of that. It’s has been ages since UGA has had a shutdown cornerback, and it would be nice to feel comfortable about that position instead of it always being our question mark.
Check back daily for more recruiting updates!
Georgia Football: A New Look for the Worst Special Teams in College Football, UGA Modeling Itself After Georgia Tech, and Leonard Floyd: SEC Defensive Player of the Year – Daily Dose of Dawg
Georgia Trying to Change Its Special Team Woes
Last year, with the exception of Marshall Morgan, Georgia’s special teams were abysmal. Every time they took the field, you covered your eyes in fear, and with good reason. The Bulldogs were ranked dead last in total return yards with 465, 122nd in punt returns with just a 2.92-yard average, and 108th in kickoff returns at 18.6. There were two high punt snaps, two blocked punts for touchdowns, a kickoff return for a touchdown, two muffed punts, and a fake field goal for a touchdown.
Still, Mark Richt, refused to hire a special teams coordinator, but he did restructure some things to hold more people accountable. Chip Towers of the AJC has the story here.
Slight Renovations to the Bulldogs Appearance
A week after his death, Georgia will honor legendary Bulldog, Dan Magill, by sporting a “MaGill” sticker on the back of the helmets.
For some reason, UGA has also decided to change the appearance of its field by having alternating light and dark bands.
When you look at this picture your thought process probably goes something like this: “Hey, that looks pretty cool! Hmm that looks kind of familiar though. Ok, I’ve definitely seen that field design before, and it’s not a good thing.”
Well that’s because the Nerd Herd also features this exact same look.
Really Georgia, I expect much, much more out of you.
Big Things to Come From Stud Linebacker, Leonard Floyd
In his freshman season at Georgia, Leonard Floyd was one of the few bright spots on the team. He was always flying around terrorizing quarterbacks and was one of the main reason the Dawgs beat LSU. But still, time after time you would watch #84 getting picked apart while in pass coverage. Our genius of a defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, had a smash-mouth pass rusher dropping back to cover wide receivers on a regular basis, and that was a big problem. Thankfully Jeremy Pruitt brings brains with him to Athens, and Floyd will be used differently as a result. Pruitt has assured us that the “pass coverage days” for Leonard Floyd are over, and the “see quarterback, hit quarterback” days are upon us. I look for Floyd to have a monster season in his new role, and winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is not a stretch at all.
Edward Aschoff of ESPN thinks Floyd is one to keep your eyes on as well. Story here.
Andrew Hall (@DudeYouCrazy on the Twitter) gets on the horn with Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd) and Daniel Palmer (@Dpalm66) to preview the Georgia Bulldogs’ season opening matchup with the Clemson Tigers. Every facet of the game is discussed and predictions are made.
Be sure to download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.
Stream online via Spreaker, or check it out on Stitcher Radio.
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John “Tackle” Football has found a new hobby now that he has lost the starting job in Cleveland to Brian Hoyer. He prefers to go by Johnny Jazzer-size now, but either way we can all agree I think he found his true calling. I do hope we see Johnny Football on the field this year, because he makes watching the Cleveland Browns bearable and if you are lucky he might just flip off the opposing team. Just think of the dream team of Johnny Football and Crowell leading the Browns to the Super Bowl. Imagine the after party! Check out the full commercial here.
Hoddy Toddy Gosh Almighty
We all hated the targeting rule last season. I mean when you have the call reversed, why the heck does the 15 yard penalty stand? That is now a thing of the past, but Ole Miss had the privilege last night of being the first ejection of the year. It is a pretty warranted ejection, but I still am not a fan of the over protection of the game I grew up watching. Let the boys play. They have pads and know the risk when they strap up each and every game. Check out the ejection here.
JR Smith or Dominick Sanders
JR Smith does not play for the Bulldogs, but Georgia’s Dominick Sanders has a a chest full of tattoos that rival that of JR Smith’s. I personally do not get why people get tons of tattoos, but hey like my hero Gorilla Zoe says, “it aint trickin’ if ya got it” and I certainly do not have it. See this Bulldog’s impressive chest landscape here
Poor Arty Lynch
Former Bulldog Tight-End Arthur Lynch will not be playing for the Miami Dolphin in 2014 due to a back injury that will require surgery. Lynch was on track to be one of the two starting tight-ends for the Phins this season, so we hope he has a speedy recovery. As someone who grew up watching Tripp Chandler drop several touchdowns for the Dawgs, it was nice seeing ole’ sure hands Arty out there each and every saturday. Check out his full status here.