You've read a million previews, I've read a million previews, so let's make this quick and give the world one more look into the X's and O's of the game this weekend.
When GSU has the ball:
Right now GSU is a team that lost its offensive identity last year due to graduation and something called the NFL Free Agency. By "identity" I mean the Eagles' main weapon, who was Jayson Foster. The guy was a converted WR to QB, so he ran a lot, he threw sometimes and he could be seen playing bridge with the ladies on Thursday nights. So, he was a "do everything" type of guy.
However, he's gone and GSU has instead decided to suspend 8 players on top of that, with one being their starting tailback in Zeke Rozier, who looks like he might be a good player somewhere down the road. However, the road right now leads to Athens, GA and he won't be donning any pads and carrying the rock.
GSU's Offense is looking for any glimmer of hope and they just might find some of it in their QB position. You have Lee Chapple of Greater Atlanta Christian fame, and Antonio Henton, who is a transfer down from Ohio State. Both guys have played at good football programs in their own right and I'd be willing to guarantee that both are pretty decent players.
Since GSU is young and is trying out the new Offense, expect them to take as much pressure off of the QB as possible early on. There will not be a lot of forced throws, probably very little shots downfield early and expect a lot of running plays and rolling the pocket until their QBs feel a little better about playing in front of a crowd literally 3 times what they play in front of at home.
The real bonus is that this time around there will not be an Adrian Peterson waiting to steamroll us every chance he gets. That kid was a monster. Also, there's no "here's the ball, no there's the ball, no HE'S got the ball" kind of triple option attack like our last meeting in 2004. Although finding a way to defend the option early might not be a bad thing, given Georgia Tech's thumping of Jacksonville State tonight.
Anyway, real production from the GSU Offense will be light, not only because GSU is testing out what amounts to be a brand new offense, but also because we're going to give them hell up front and Rennie Curran has been drinking Muscle Fuel non-stop for 5 days in anticipation of gorilla pressing someone's ass into the dirt. On top of that, our corners and safeties are begging for an opportunity to show the world how much more they've improved in the offseason. When you mix an Offense trying to find its way with a Defense that is out to embarrass people, you have a recipe for some ESPN highlights.
Besides, we're loaded and lightening fast on Defense. Aside from being a little thin at the Safety position, we're absolutely stack and we might be the best and quickest Defense to take the field in decades, or possibly ever, looking at the talent that we have at the two-deep. It really is scary as hell when you think about it, but man we're going to stomp some ass when given the opportunity.
When UGA has the ball:
Well, I hope you're ready for the debut of guys like A.J. Green, Caleb King, Richard Samuel, Tavarres King Israel Troupe and Walter Hill. I expect you to be able to see all of them by the middle of the 3rd Quarter.
Other than that, to me this will be more like a glorified G-day game. I'm not saying GSU is an opponent that we shouldn't pay attention to at all, but I am saying that if our Offense is as good as we think it is and our playmakers are as good as we think they are, this game should be out of hand by halftime. Don't get me wrong, Mark Richt's not going to pour it on thick just to embarrass GSU or make a statement (he might against South Carolina, though), but according to the "How to win games big to get the media to talk about you without looking like a douchebag" handbook, you're supposed to establish a comfortable lead, sit your starters and let some other guys get in there to get some quality time, just in case. Don't blame me, that's what the book says.
You should get 100 yards out of Knowshon easily after he breaks one or two for scores and Stafford should get off to a rocky start, but will probably warm up quickly with a deep ball or two. Other than that, our boys are going to go out there and put in 60 minutes of good work. You'll get to see how our Offensive Line is coming along, how we'll look at Fullback and what our Running Back situation really looks like. Let's face it, folks, we're loaded and we have to see what we've got riding the bench.
I'm probably most intrigued by this area because we know what we've got in Brian Mimbs, but EVERYTHING else is up in the air.
Asher Allen is apparently our kick returner, with Ramarcus Brown backing him up, but for punt returner, it could be Logan Gray (you know, the one that THROWS THE BALL when he's not returning punts) or Carlton Thomas. I fully expect Thomas to be the guy when all is said and done. The kid is electrifying in the open field.
And that brings us to the biggest question of them all...can Blair Walsh kick the damn ball in a full stadium? We've all read the reports that say he can kick it in practice, and that's great, but when the lights are on and we need three points from 35+ yards out, can he be the guy that gets us to the promised land? I sure damn hope so because we've got no one else.
What I think will happen:
Make no mistake, I feel bad for GSU no matter if we take the ball first or not. If we do, then you can expect 7 points right off the bat. If we don't, then you might could expect the same, but at worst, we should see GSU punt on the first possession. The time has come for this team to make a statement that we are powerful, we're damn good and we're ready to take the nation by storm.
The nation's eyes will be locked in on Athens, GA at 12:30 tomorrow just to see what this team looks like after their amazing run last year. We'd better be ready to impress, because if we don't, we'll never hear the end of it in the media.
Look for us to show out the first half and welcome GSU to the SEC. I fully expect us to be up by two touchdowns, and maybe more, by the time we head back to the locker room to talk strategy. However, after that, all you'll see is a glimpse of late 2008 and 2009 as you see the backups take the field to help solidify the depth chart some. Besides, playing and cross training guys on the Offensive Line saved our ass last year and you can expect more of the same. If there's a big body up front that's eligible to play, you can guaran-damn-tee it's going to happen.
Dawgs lock it up early and the fan base has another reason to smile for 6 more days afterwards.
UGA - 38
GSU - 10
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!).