Georgia football hasn’t played Clemson since 2014, but the two will revive their age-old rivalry this September. This epic showdown will kick off the 2021 college football season. With such a huge matchup on the horizon, everything these two teams do will be put under a microscope from now until September.
Georgia just played through their third scrimmage Saturday. This ends spring practice for the Dawgs, but there is still fall practice to go before the season kicks off. This gives Georgia football plenty of time to work out any kinks the scrimmage shined a light on. However, that didn’t keep at least one Clemson site from calling Georgia pretenders after G Day.
Jeff Benedict, of Rubbing The Rock, had this to say about where the Dawgs are after G Day:
The Tigers are deeper and more talented at receiver, tight-end running back, linebacker, and special teams; they also have a better coaching staff.
UGA will be without their best receiver George Pickens as he tore his ACL a month ago. Receivers Jermaine Burton, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, and Dominick Blaylock are all expected to be ready by fall camp but have suffered some type of knee or ankle injury over the last six months.
Here is why Georgia football is far from pretenders.
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Georgia football quarterbacks targeted eight different wide receivers during the Bulldogs’ scrimmage. These eight will be joined by Burton, Rosemy-Jacksaint, and Blaylock in the fall. That means Georgia has at least 12 receivers that can make plays for their quarterback. The injury to Burton was just a knee hyperextension and shouldn’t affect Burton at all this season.
These comments about Georgia football’s receivers show wishful thinking and a bit of hidden worry. Georgia’s receivers aren’t as banged up as the writer would have you believe. However, he is hoping that is the case as it gives Clemson an edge. Yet, even if Burton wasn’t able to go there is reason to believe Adonai Mitchell has shown that he is more than capable of being Georgia’s X receiver.
Mitchell was targeted 12 times in Georgia’s scrimmage. He was able to pull in seven of those for 105 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 15 yards per catch, showing he is truly a playmaking threat. Now, imagine this playmaker on the field at the same time as Burton, Kearis Jackson, and Arian Smith. Georgia is not hurting at receiver, not by a long shot.
Benedict goes on to say, “Clemson football is far better than UGA at this point and the score will reflect that UGA is once again nothing more than pretenders instead of contenders.” Speaking of scoring, Clemson put up a combined 27 points in their scrimmage while Georgia put up 51. That alone should be a bit concerning for the Tigers. Georgia’s offense is quite potent and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Georgia football’s offenses combined to put up 787 yards while averaging 6.1 yards per play. Meanwhile, Clemson’s offenses sputtered to combine for 531 yards while averaging 4.4 yards per play. In today’s college football, offense rules the day and this is not looking good for Clemson. They should be a lot more explosive than this, especially if they want to win a CFP Championship.
Benedict also said, “they will feel great at quarterback and defensive line but are going to struggle on the offensive line and with secondary play.” This comment about Georgia’s secondary is true, for now. Those watching G Day probably loved watching the aerial display by Georgia’s offense, but what about the secondary giving up all those yards?
Well, to those worried about this, and rival fans that see it as a weakness, do not fret. In May transfer Tykee Smith will be able to join the team. He will be joining his defensive backs coach at Georgia, Jahmile Addae, who was also at West Virginia last year. Smith was one of the best slot defenders in college football last season.
According to PFF, Georgia football is actually getting an upgrade with Smith over what they had last year:
Smith may not be Georgia’s last secondary transfer get either. Kirby Smart and crew are currently mulling over whether or not former Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick would be a good fit on this roster. Kendrick is a former 5-star recruit that got into some recent legal trouble which is why Smart and his staff are doing their due diligence before pursuing him.
As far as the offensive line is concerned, after watching G Day multiple times, the only player that struggled was Tate Ratledge, a second-year player. He gave up two sacks and one quarterback pressure. The rest of the offensive line group combined gave up just two sacks and two quarterback pressures. That isn’t as bad as some have thought the offensive line played.
All in all, you could say that Benedict’s article was mainly based on his wishful thinking of a Clemson victory in September, but as Lee Corso is known to say, “Not so fast my friend.” This Georgia team is a lot better than he is giving them credit for. Whether he wants to admit it or not the Tigers are in for a fight. The Dawgs aren’t going to Charlotte to be the Tigers’ punching bags. Let’s get that straight now.
Make no mistake about it, these Dawgs are looking to make a statement. These Dawgs are tired of being overlooked, laughed at, and disrespected. A reckoning is coming and it will be at the expense of a long-time bitter rival. What better way to announce to the college football world that these Dawgs aren’t the same old Dawgs of old than to take down one of its kings in their own backyard?
That is exactly what this new breed of Bulldog is looking to do. JT Daniels is ready to take his offense up against anyone. There is not one challenger that he will back down from. Tigers, meet him on September 4th if you will. He’ll be there, loaded down with weapons, ready for a shootout. If you’re looking for a fight he is more than willing to be your Huckleberry.