It will be no easy task for the Dawgs as they host a dangerous Clemson team that travels to Athens ranked No. 16 in the country and looking to show it can continue to play at a high level despite losing so many talented weapons from last season.
Kickoff at Sanford Stadium is scheduled for 5:30pm and the game will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN. Hopefully the stream for this game will work much better than the one for the Texas A&M/South Carolina whipping.
Here are five keys to watch during the game.
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1. Protect the Edge
Clemson has one of the best defensive ends in college football in Vic Beasley. He was a finalist for nearly every defensive award available last season and was a consensus All-American with 23 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Georgia will have its hands full in containing Beasley and the rest of the Tigers’ talented defensive line, but it will be crucial in helping quarterback Hutson Mason get comfortable and find a rhythm. The two starting tackles on the depth chart are John Theus and Kolton Houston, and the Dawgs will need both guys to play mean and physical to protect the edge.
There’s no denying that Georgia has serious questions in the defensive secondary, but hopefully some of those potential issues can be avoided by getting pressure on Clemson’s quarterback. With the incredible athleticism and talent Jeremy Pruitt has in his linebackers, let’s see if he can use them in creative ways to get into the backfield. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins chasing Cole Stoudt around Sanford Stadium all evening would be a great sign for UGA.
3. Slow the Tempo
Under offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Clemson has had one of the most explosive offenses in college football over the past few years. The Tigers love to play fast and wear down the opposing defense with an onslaught of plays. Mike Bobo can help the defense by creating a gameplan that slows down the tempo of the game and keeps the Tigers offense on the sideline. This could also help negate the risk of Georgia’s defense being susceptible to big plays in the secondary.
4. Know Your Assignment
I’ve mentioned the secondary in my previous two points, but this one is almost entirely directed at that group. It’s a young and inexperienced group that could be overwhelmed by the stage of playing against a top team in what should be an electric atmosphere. It’s important that these young players don’t try to do too much, but instead focus on their assignments and trust the playcalling. Too many times last season, the Dawgs were beat before the ball was even snapped because guys didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing. That can’t happen again this year.
5. Unleash the Backs
Georgia has arguably the best collection of running backs in college football. Between the proven talents of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, the intriguing potential of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and even the physicality of Brendan Douglas, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches in the backfield. Still, as we learned last season, you can never have too many running backs in the SEC. Let’s hope UGA takes advantage of its depth at the position and keeps rotating in fresh legs that will run hard at the Clemson defense. Four quarters of trying to tackle this group will be a very difficult task for any team Georgia faces this season.
What do you think are the keys to the game? Go Dawgs!