Georgia Football: What To Watch For vs. Nicholls State
With a solid week 1 win in hand, Georgia’s schedule sets up really nicely for the next two weeks.
The game against North Carolina, win or lose, ultimately meant nothing in Georgia reaching reasonable goals for the 2016 season, but a few things were established:
- Nick Chubb is 100% and will be the workhorse going forward, all while Sony Michel got an extra week to rest;
- The quarterback position may still be in a state of flux, but neither guy went out and LOST the job;
- The defense is still a work in progress– the front seven was decent, but not great on Saturday. The secondary, however, proved it is closer to its 2015 performance vs. the numbers, not the competition it faced. That’s a great sign.
As such, the game against Nicholls State (and to a lesser extent, Mizzou, who probably couldn’t hang 20 on Buford High School right now) provide great opportunities for Georgia to establish some semblance of consistency going into the meat of the schedule.
Here’s what I want to see on Saturday against an overmatched opponent:
An Alabama-style beatdown
Here we go comparing the program to Alabama again. My apologies. The 52-20 wins over Buffalo, 45-21 over North Texas…they need to become a thing of the past. Under a new regime, I want to see every player who can reasonably call himself part of the future of Kirby Smart’s program face live bullets. I want to see Jacob Eason get enough snaps to where there’s comfort unleashing him into hostile environments, and allowing him to go out and win games if need be.
I want to see a defense get three-and-outs, swarm to the ball, and destroy an opponent’s will to live.
Yep, back to Eason
Andrew and I discussed it on the Week 1 pod, but Georgia’s ceiling can only be met if Jacob Eason steps forward as QB1. I was shocked to see Greyson Lambert go back in for victory formation on Saturday, but perhaps that was a wink and a nod to him for being good enough to win.
Now its time to bury him.
Take some deep shots early against Nicholls. Based on the results against Carolina, Eason is already the upside call (10.9 YPA to Lambert’s 6.8, three touchdown drives versus one) and Georgia needs to take the early ‘bye’ week to show the nation that he can compete on this level.
If nothing else, it gives defenses pause about loading up the box to try (and fail) to stop Nick Chubb.
Work the injured guys and young two-deep in a rhythm
Rico McGraw may have gotten Wally Pipped by Malcolm Smith on Saturday, but that’s fine. He’s a sophomore and needs reps. Sony Michel’s presence in the running game would be nice to give Chubb a breather, even with Brian Herrien looking damn good on Saturday.
On the defensive side, I liked what I saw from Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick in their first extended LB duty. D’Andre Walker and David Marshall acquitted themselves well, too. Trent Thompson and Julian Rochester both played plenty of meaningful snaps on the DL.
Whereas this still serves as a honeymoon year for smart, getting the young guys meaningful reps and separating the future from the future transfers will allow Georgia to establish a baseline of excellence for legitimate title shots in 2017 and beyond.
After week 1, the Bulldogs are playing the next two games with house money. Time to double down and establish a core that will exceed expectations in 2016, and exceed the Richt standard beyond.
In that regard, yes, the Nicholls State game is very meaningful to the future of Georgia football.