Georgia Football: A Few Thoughts on the 2016 Opener
By now, you’ve probably heard about Georgia’s 2016 opener, the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game here in the beautiful A-T-L. Longtime readers/podcast subscribers will recall that I have split loyalties, as I hold a degree from North Carolina as well as Georgia. I knew the day would again come where the two schools would play (as they haven’t in 45 years), but September 3, 2016 is just too soon for me.
As this is a predominately Georgia site (duh) I will try my best to preview the Heels from a Bulldog perspective.
1) A little historical tie between the two programs: Sanford Stadium and Kenan Stadium share the same architect, T.C. Atwood. Kenan was opened in 1927, two years before Sanford. The base structures and footprints of the stadia are the same, both even located centrally on campus. Obviously, Sanford is the larger and more notable stadium now, but the ‘Between the Hedges’ touch of Sanford was modeled after UNC’s Kenan.
2) You have to go back to 1971 to find the last time the Heels and the Dawgs squared off, as they did so in the Gator Bowl. The head coaches for that game? Brothers Bill and Vince Dooley. Georgia holds a 16-12-2 all-time advantage in the series.
3) 18 months is WAY too much time to know what this matchup will look like personnel-wise, but a little primer on what UNC brings to the table:
– A hurry-up-no-huddle offense that will score points in the blink of an eye, but will as rapidly produce a lot of three-and-outs. Carolina was in the top 10 in plays per game in 2014, which underscores…
– …Just how bad the defense was this past year. You would think a bad defense would limit the number of plays an offense could run, but the Heels gave up points so fast that they still ran 77 plays a game. Remarkable, really.
– In an effort to fix the D, Carolina hired former Auburn coach Gene Chizik as the new defensive coordinator. Chizik plans to shift the Heels back to a 4-3 base.
4) Nick Chubb should still be in a Georgia uniform. As should Lorenzo Carter. Never a bad thing.
5) It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: the tailgate I put together is going to be the stuff of legend. Come one, come all, get me heavily sedated for this thing.
6) The Labor Day slate for 2016 is RIDICULOUS. In addition to this game, which seems to be set on the 4pm timeslot based on the past few years, you have: Clemson at Auburn, Alabama/USC (the real one) in JerryWorld, LSU/Wisconsin from Lambeau Field, UCLA at Texas A&M, and Notre Dame at Texas. Hopefully UNC boosts its profile in 2016 and makes this one matter, nationally, as much as those. I don’t like the odds of that.
If this were the 2015 opener, one would have to think its a 15-20 point Georgia win, even with the Dawgs breaking in a new quarterback. North Carolina has not yet shown under Larry Fedora that it is the type of program that should remotely compete with the SEC’s upper echelon. A good season under a revamped Chizik defense could make this matchup a LOT more intriguing as we count down to 2016.