You can check all the boxes for Georgia’s win over Auburn last Saturday night: Lights-out defense. An impenetrable D-line. Great tackling on the edge by the secondary. A dominant ground game. Success through the air. Execution on special teams and another authoritative win in the turnover battle.
Hard to ask for a better performance before a passionate crowd in primetime between the hedges. The only drawback was the unfortunate loss of Todd Gurley to a torn ACL that’ll spell the end of his season, and likely his career at Georgia.
But tons of promise awaits him in the NFL, and the future is equally bright for the Dawgs’ ground game behind the tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. We’ll officially turn the page to that new era this Saturday in Georgia’s next-to-last game of the regular season versus Charleston Southern.
This’ll be the last tune-up before a home grudge match against Tech next Saturday and whatever awaits the Dawgs past game 12, be that a bowl or the SEC title game. But Georgia can’t gaze ahead so intently that they overlook a Charleston Southern team that’s more than your prototypical cupcake.
Second-year head coach Jamey Chadwell has the Bucs back in the FCS playoff conversation again this year. But at 8-3, they need a win in this final game of their season to make a convincing case to be included among the field of 24 in the tournament. Though the odds of that are rather slim, the Dawgs will still get their best shot on Saturday.
Give them one more quarter last month and they might’ve knocked off Vanderbilt. Southern held the Commodores scoreless in the second half, but fell a point short in a 21-20 loss. Admittedly, Vandy is the worst team in the conference at 3-7 overall, but the fact that the Bucs challenged them in their home arena shows they’re not lacking for the confidence it takes to pull off an upset.
Whether there’s a difference against a top 10 opponent or not, Charleston Southern deserves to be taken seriously. Their across-the-board talent and depth won’t measure up with that of the Dawgs, but they have plenty of weapons.
Junior quarterback Austin Brown has thrown for just short of 2,000 yards on the season, and delivers the ball effectively to a diverse group of wideouts headlined by leading receivers Nathan Perera and Colton Korn. They spread the ball around even more when running it. Eight guys have carried the ball more than ten times for them this season, and the Bucs have outgained their opponents on the ground by more than a thousand yards.
Georgia could use some of the same defensive dominance they displayed last Saturday in the first quarter this week. Shut Southern down on their first few possessions and they’ll lose hope quickly as the Dawgs start to put up points. Get off to a fast start, and this one’ll be in the bag from the get-go.
But if the Bucs are given the opportunity to hang around, that could be a different story. Georgia can’t let them get too much yardage and move the chains in the first half, or this game’ll be longer and more frustrating than anticipated.
The Dawgs should have no trouble putting Charleston Southern away, but getting an early burst will be key to doing that early and turning this game into an enjoyable lead-in to the Thanksgiving Holidays.
But this game is no picnic. It’s preparation for that never-easy matchup versus the pesky Jackets in a week’s time. Georgia needs to bring the same kind of intensity on Saturday that we’ll all have when going after Turkey and the fixin’s on Thursday, so they’ll be fully prepared not to choke on the wishbone next weekend versus Tech.
The Prediction: Georgia 59, Charleston Southern 13
Highs will be in the upper-50s on Saturday in terms of weather, and point-scoring. For one, the temperature will make dressing in paint a much more suitable fashion choice than it was last Saturday. But all that offense also means a ton of push-ups between scores, likely enough to push the Paint Line above 1,000 total on the season. Let’s hope our arms hold up.
A sunny day at Sanford and some sore upper-body muscles make for a win-win on Saturday if you’re Georgia. Come out with us and let’s enjoy another great fall afternoon as only the Bulldog Nation can.
(Written by Mr. Clay Reynolds. Clay is a senior at UGA, majoring in Journalism, who has painted with the Paint Line as an alternate in the past. As a passionate Dawg fan and sports enthusiast Clay has graciously stepped up this year as our resident writer! Thank you Clay!)