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Red Cup Quick Hits: Georgia

The first and only team in our hearts is the Ole Miss Rebels, but we have to always look around the conference to see what everyone else is cooking. Red Cup Quick Hits will take fans through the SEC leading up to season kick-off, so fans will know enough just to survive in the office every day with that other team’s fan that annoys them.

Even with the loss of former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman, the Georgia Bulldogs have yet another team that could make another College Football Playoff. YAWN.

Yawning to be fair is the key mode of breathing for most of the peach state obsessed with UGA, so this is great for them.

They’ll need to find a suitable replacement for Jake Fromm, but the talent is there with transfer JT Daniels and 4-star redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis. Many thought Daniels would use his experience at Southern Cal to transition, but Mathis’ movement in the pocket and deep-ball ability are making things tough on head coach Kirby Smart.

Georgia’s schedule may have other things to say about a deep postseason run, however. Their October schedule is brutal: Auburn, Tennessee, at Alabama, at Kentucky. The trip to Lexington may not look like much, but on the back end of those three games, and with the game against Florida on November 7, it should make for a tough five weeks. They end the season with a run of MSU, at South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, but the damage could be done by then. A loss to Alabama is one thing, but another loss could cause them to lose a berth in the SEC Championship Game December 19th.

Players to Watch

Wide Receiver George Pickens

Last season, Pickens had 49 catches on 76 targets for 727 yards and 8 touchdowns. He led the team in each of those categories plus yards per catch and success rate. He also dropped just 1.3 percent of passes thrown his way—leading the team. All of this came in his freshman season in Athens. At 6’3, 190 pounds, Pickens has big things ahead of him.

Right Guard Ben Cleveland

Choosing an offensive lineman isn’t the sexiest thing, but UGA is known for producing NFL-ready lineman year after year. At 6’6, 335 lbs., the former top 100 prospect has the size to play inside but many project he could move to tackle after the loss of Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson. Cleveland was first team All-SEC by Pro Football Focus in 2019 and is on many All-American lists this preseason. He was 2nd on the team (behind top 5 pick Andrew Thomas) in run blocks blown, and 2nd (behind fellow PFF 1st Team All-SEC center Trey Hill). If Georgia gets to the CFP this year, it’ll be behind the guys up front.

Safety Richard LeCounte

The senior had four tackles for loss, four interceptions, three passes broken up, two forced fumbles, and four run stuff last season. He was everywhere, leading the back half of the defense in havoc rate (lineman tend to have more because practically any play they make counts) and pressure rate. LeCounte’s name litters preseason All-SEC lists, and he leads a defense that returns 74 percent of snaps and 76 percet of their tackles from last season. Seven of the top nine returners in snaps are seniors—so this Georgia defense is not only talented but they are extremely seasoned.

Two Numbers to keep in mind: 90 percent of the Bulldogs sacks return, as well as 78 percent of the teams TFLs, but just 34 percent of their yards provided by running backs will be on the 2020 roster.

Playoff hopes ride on:

10/17 at Alabama

11/7 vs. Florida

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