The Saturday Morning Report: News and Notes ahead of matchup against Clemson
The day is finally here and Georgia football is among us.
My group arrived in Charlotte on Thursday night and we went out to some bars to soaks in the atmosphere. There were a lot of App State and Eastern Carolina fans out and about after the first game of the Duke’s Mayo Classic. I didn’t see many Dawgs or Tigers out on Thursday night. However, today there were lots of Georgia and Clemson fans arriving.
It looks like the Bulldogs arrived in the Queen City around 5 p.m. on Friday.
Sorry, for the banter, let’s just get right into it.
Here are my news and notes about the top-five matchup between Georgia and Clemson.
There’s been a lot of talk about Georgia quarterback JT Daniels and rightfully so. The former Mater Dei High School standout has a full year to work with offensive coordinator Todd Monken and the offense. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound signal-caller is a very cerebral player and understands the schemes. However, this game against the Tigers in Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night will be the biggest game of his life.
Daniels talked earlier this week about his mental health and playing it moments like this. He recalled a game during his freshman year at Southern Cal where he was starting against Texas. Daniels said the stadium was so loud that he had to yell to his running back to get the plays to him. Well, Saturday night will be no different and the crowd will probably be louder. The question is if Daniels can handle the pressure or not. Personally, I think this kid has charisma and a lot of confidence. He commands this offense and I believe that his teammates respect him.
If Daniels can make good reads and find his receivers in open space, then I think Georgia has a good chance of winning this game. That big and talented Clemson defense WILL get some pressure. Nevertheless, I think Daniels will be able to be mobile and find his receivers nearby or downfield. Look for senior running back James Cook to be split out wide as a scatback and be hanging around for those short passes.
If Daniels has over 250 passing yards, Georgia will WIN this football.
Daniels: “My best way of dealing with nerves is understanding what nerves are. It's just your body's response knowing that you're doing something that means something to you and matters. Just to breathe through it and be excited for the moment.”
The play of the Georgia offensive line will be crucial for the Bulldogs to secure the victory. It will set the tone for how to rest of the season plays out, too. No, I don’t think they will play perfectly, but I believe they can get the job done. Having Justin Shaffer and Jamaree Salyer coming back for another season was huge. The pair are the leaders of the Bulldogs’ offensive line. In the middle, Warren Ericson is probable, but I think freshman Sedrick Van Pran will get the start. The New Orleans native has had a year to mature and he will finally get his chance to shine in the national spotlight. However, I do expect to see Ericson play as well.
I am really excited to see Tate Ratledge play football in a red and black uniform. The Rome (Ga.) native should be the starting right guard. It will be interesting to see if he can hold off those talented Clemson defensive linemen. I would also like to see freshman Amarius Mims play as well. He could fill in at either of the tackle spots if needed. Regardless, the Tigers are going. to bring pressure and they going to do it early. So, the front five for Georgia is going to need to play tight and protect Daniels if they want to win.
I think Georgia will allow at least one sack. However, I do think Georgia has a chance to win if the offensive line can keep it at that number.
Clemson has so many questions on the offensive side of the ball. Obviously, quarterback DJ Uuiagalelei is talented and can make some big-time plays. But, Clemson has no proven run game and Georgia’s defensive line is one of the best in the country. It will be interesting to see if this young and inexperienced Tigers’ offensive front can hold off Jordan Davis and others. Davis will eat up a lot of blocks, so that will give guys like Devonte Wyatt and Jalen Carter can make some plays.
I think Uuiagalelei has at least two passing touchdowns against this inexperienced Georgia secondary. Still, I do think that Georgia’s defensive front seven will be able to bail out the secondary. Clemson’s wideouts are tall and physical specimens, but I believe Georgia will figure out the passing attack by the second half. Plus, we don’t even know if Tiger wide receiver Justyn Ross is going to be at his best. Sources have told me that is going to play but has a fractured foot. Look for Frank Ladson Jr., E.J. Williams and Joseph Ngata to be Uuiagalelei’s top targets on Saturday night.
If the Tigers can be explosive in the passing game, then they can break open this game. Consistency is key here and I don’t think the Clemson offense as a whole is proven yet.
I think that Ladd McConkey is going to be a big part of Georgia’s success on special teams. Both Arian Smith and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint should be threats in the passing game. Watch out for senior Latavious Brini, who will play the STAR position for the injured Tykee Smith. Specialists Jake Camarda and Jack Podlesny are going to play pivotal roles in this game as well if Georgia wants to win.
My prediction: Lay the points on Georgia to cover, but I wouldn’t bet the over because I think each respective defense is going to ball out.
Georgia will win this game 24-20 over Clemson.