Georgia Football: Is Ole Miss Winnable?
My colleagues here made quite clear the same thing I saw Saturday night: this Georgia team is okay, but probably not great yet. With an amazing inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities, an anemic run game, and a pass D that got shredded for 320 yards IN THE FIRST HALF against Missouri, one can safely state that the confidence gained from the fourth quarter of the opener is more or less gone.
That being said, Georgia is 3-0, and that’s better than any other record possible given the amount of games played thus far.
If you haven’t watched any Ole Miss football this season, you’re just not a big college football fan. They’ve appeared (and lost) in the marquee matchup in two of the season’s three weeks thus far. Assuming you have…you know they can play like a t0p-5 team or a top-150 team.
First half vs. second half Chad Kelly
Chad Kelly is many things: the SEC’s best quarterback, gunslinger (both literally and figuratively), rapper, and…the streakiest damn quarterback I’ve ever seen. When he’s on (see first half vs. Florida State, first half and last 3 minutes vs. Alabama), he’s dynamic.
For a defense that just allowed Drew Lock to–again– THROW FOR 320 YARDS IN THE FIRST HALF– Kelly could pose an issue. Teams have seemed to have trouble matching up with Ole Miss’ rangy receiving corps early, and only adjusting when it becomes evident yet again that the Rebs can’t run the ball.
If Georgia can force Kelly to be efficient– score on 9-10 plays rather than 3-5– he will make mistakes. The Dawgs just have to get some pressure from someone, anyone on the front seven and avoid coverage busts that made Missouri so damn stressful.
Ole Miss D-Line: Awesome
The line you saw creating havoc against Florida State (again, in the first half) and nearly decapitating Jalen Hurts last week is very, very good. For an offensive line that has yet to find any kind of rhythm, this could be…problematic.
They’re led in the post Robert Nkemdiche era by Marquis Haynes, who schooled Cam Robinson a couple of times last week. Freshman Benito Jones has three tackles for loss early on, as well. Nobody else has registered a sack, but D.J. Jones, Isaac Gross, Breeland Speaks, and John Youngblood are by FAR the most athletic D-line Georgia has faced (and will face, until Florida at least).
For Georgia, the line has to hold up at the point of attack, and try some screens out of the backfield to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and perhaps tunnels or quick hitches to Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin to slow the pass rush.
Advantage: Georgia. Where?
The Ole Miss secondary is hobbled, young, and wasn’t all that good to begin with. The quick hitters early will be key in order to provide Jacob Eason some time to get the ball downfield, because there WILL be openings downfield. You don’t want to get into a shootout with Kelly, but picking spots (as Jim Chaney did very well against UNC, not so much since) is going to be the key to Georgia keeping the Rebs at arm’s length.
Will Georgia Win?
Ole Miss’ strengths through three weeks mirror Georgia’s weaknesses. Georgia has not really established any real strengths yet, though I expect Nick Chubb to get back on track to some extent any time.
For a road game against a tough SEC West opponent, its nice to have a noon kickoff. Nicer still is the hope that Ole Miss is suffering from a bout of confidence issues after taking it on the chin in the second half of both of their notable games.
Normally, this would constitute the throwaway game on the SEC schedule– but with Tennessee set to face Alabama and a game Texas A&M, and Florida drawing LSU and Arkansas, the Dawgs have a chance to steal an extra leg up on the road to Atlanta.