UGA Paint Line

Supporting the Dawgs For 18 Years and Counting

UGA Paint Line - Supporting the Dawgs For 18 Years and Counting

UGA vs. Tennessee Preview

While moral victories were few in Georgia’s 38-10 meltdown last week versus Alabama, we can hang our hat on the fact that the Dawgs have a tremendous chance to get better as a team by learning from what went wrong in the game. 

Sometimes taking one on the chin early in the season can be a good thing. A tough loss can expose unseen weakness and teach some hard lessons in the film room that help bring out potential that would’ve gone untapped if a team had only continued to win games. How Georgia responds to this adversity will help determine whether this season ultimately goes down as a disappointment or a success. 

The Dawgs will attempt to wash away the bad taste of last week’s debacle on Saturday’s trip to Knoxville for a 3:30 p.m. clash with Tennessee. 

Before we move on, a quick point of irony: Georgia faced Bama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin for only the second time last Saturday. The first meeting was in 2009 – his one season as the Vols’ head coach – when he handed the Dawgs a similar 45-19 result in what remains Tennessee’s most recent win in the series. 

Since he left, Georgia’s won five in a row, sweeping both Derek Dooley (fired after the 2012 season) and current skipper Butch Jones (whose job might be in danger if his team’s fortunes don’t improve quickly). The last four of those five games were decided by a single score, which speaks to both the perennial competitiveness of the rivalry and to Tennessee’s scrappiness in spite of records at or near .500 in the last two seasons. 

Whether in Athens or Knoxville, this rivalry game has historically been one that both teams bring their best to and fight out to the last second. 

Georgia’s last visit to Neyland in 2013 is a perfect example. Plagued by freak injuries that wiped out a number of key players, the Dawgs allowed Tennessee to overcome a two-touchdown deficit and take the lead late in the 4th quarter. But fighting to assemble a scoring drive with just moments left, Aaron Murray found Rantavious Wooten for a touchdown on 3rd and goal with just four seconds left to tie and force overtime, in which an inopportune fumble into the endzone on a would-be touchdown reception by Pig Howard would open the door for a Marshall Morgan field goal to win it on the ensuing Georgia possession. 

The Dawgs escaped with a win, and will be lucky to do the same again this time around versus a Volunteer team that’s improved in many ways since that first year under Jones. The only thing that hasn’t gotten better for them is their luck. 

Week two, Tennessee lost to Oklahoma in a pair of overtimes after blowing a convincing 17-3 lead at the end of the third quarter. They did nearly the same in Gainesville two weeks ago. Leading Florida by 13 with 10 minutes left, the Vols gave up two touchdowns in the final five minutes and lost 28-27. The disappointment only continued in a return to Knoxville last Saturday as Arkansas overcame an early 14-point deficit to win 24-20.  

Tennessee will no doubt be looking to end that streak of misfortune by any means necessary when the Dawgs come calling Saturday on Rocky Top. 

And Georgia will have its hands full with an offense that features multiple rushing weapons plenty of teams would kill to have just one of. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who measures 6-3, 207, is one of those rare Cam Newton-style quarterbacks whose elite speed is compounded by height and a long stride. His arm is only average, but allows him to make plays both as a thrower and a runner. And he’s dangerous in both respects. 

The other two members of the Vols’ three-headed backfield monster are the similarly-built Jalen Hurd – a fast guy whose size makes him a load to tackle – and Bama transfer Alvin Kamara – a smaller, faster change-of-pace guy they like to get the ball to in space. 

Containing all three will be a challenge for a Georgia defense that, all things considered, did pretty well against Derrick Henry a week ago. Stopping the run and forcing turnovers are two key ingredients in a recipe for success handling the talent Tennessee will throw at them. Leonard Floyd, who was terrific at helping bottle up Nick Marshall in last year’s Auburn game, should play a critical role in both pressuring and chasing down Dobbs in a pocket that’ll be about as wide as the field. 

As a always, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel’s success on the ground will figure into the offensive gameplan that’s destined to succeed if both ballcarriers are effective. For Greyson Lambert, re-establishing some confidence and comfort with the offense will be important with an eye on this game, as well as equally-tough ones coming later this month. 

There are no off weeks in the SEC. And Tennessee – consistently a make-or-break opponent for the Dawgs – presents a stiff test here for a team whose ability to rebound and get better after a loss should have a lot to say about where it’s going this year. 

The rivalry has produced some entertaining contests in years past. Saturday’s 45th meeting between Georgia and the Vols promises to be another one. 

The prediction: Georgia 30, Tennessee 27 

UGA vs. Southern Preview

Fresh off an unprecedented 52-20 massacre of Carolina last Saturday, the Dawgs emerge from the first quarter of the season a confident 3-0 and look to finish September with a win before embarking on what’ll be arguably the most challenging stretch of games in the regular season next month. 

The opposition in Saturday’s noon tilt will be the Jaguars of Southern University, whom Georgia will be facing for the first time. Well known for their marching band, the Human Jukebox, Southern will bring quite a show at halftime. Their football team, a respectable 2-1 overall and unbeaten against the FCS this season, has its own share of tradition, but faces a mighty tall order in the game itself against a Georgia squad that last week proved it belongs in the discussion of best teams in the nation. 

For the Dawgs, this game’ll be a tune-up in advance of next week’s home showdown with Alabama – a game that’s been circled on the calendar since the 2015 SEC schedule came out last year. And while it’d be easy to go ahead and write this ballgame down as a win and start looking ahead, our focus this week should remain on the game immediately in front of us, but not because there’s any danger of losing it. 

The grave danger in beating an SEC team by 32 is getting overconfident, especially when the team coming up is against the ropes after a disappointing loss. Taking next week’s ballgame as seriously as possible begins with concentrating on the one we’ve got this week. And that’s as much our job as fans as it is the responsibility of the players and coaches. 

To quote Bill Belichick, we’re just getting ready for Southern. 

It’s unlikely to turn into an overly competitive contest, but this ballgame will be an opportunity to get better. There weren’t many “needs improvement” marks on last week’s report card after a record-setting performance by Greyson Lambert in the passing game and another staunch showing by the defense. Still, the Dawgs need to polish up their game in several areas, most notably special teams, which looked like a liability even in a major win. 

And as with the opener, this game will be another opportunity to get some younger players into the contest and give some much-needed experience to potential contributors that reside lower on the depth chart. If only we can get the entirety of the game in without being delayed by lightning. 

There’s some more adverse weather in the forecast, but hopefully it’s only rain that chooses to make its presence felt within a five-mile radius of Sanford Stadium. 

Be sure to bring a raincoat along with your voice and Georgia apparel on Saturday. We’ll look into finding some waterproof paint (Actually, that might not be such a great idea). 

The rain might be able to wash off a little bit of red and black paint, but the pride and spirit of 92,000 Dawg fans? Not a chance. 

Rain or shine, wet or dry, we’ll see you bright and early between the hedges. 

The prediction: Georgia 48, Southern 6 

UGA vs. Vandy Preview

After warming up in a week 1 rout of Louisiana-Monroe, it’s time to get down to business in the SEC. 

Conference play commences for the Dawgs on Saturday in Nashville, where they’ll oppose division rival Vanderbilt in a game whose outcome should have a lot to say about what kind of team Georgia will carry with them into an important stretch of home games beginning next Saturday. 

The Dawgs displayed plenty of promise in a 51-point effort last week, but left some questions still to be answered, among those how Greyson Lambert will perform asked to throw more often under greater pass pressure, if the defense can stretch a quality showing over four quarters and whether a look at a week of game film will allow the secondary to patch up the major holes ULM exposed with 23 completions, two touchdowns and 206 yards passing last Saturday. 

Vandy will no doubt provide a stiffer test than the Warhawks, but how much of a test? 

Georgia hasn’t had a particularly easy time playing in Nashville on either of its last two visits. In 2011, the ‘Dores hung around until late in the 4th quarter, when a blocked punt in the closing seconds gave them two shots at a score that would’ve won the game. Thankfully both heaves into the endzone came up empty and the Dawgs survived to win it 33-28. We wouldn’t be so lucky two years later, when Vandy scored 17 unanswered in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-point deficit and hand Georgia its third loss of an injury- and misfortune-plagued season. 

Those games are hard to forget, even when their memories were all but washed away by blowouts when the series shifted back to Athens in the following seasons. The most recent meeting was last year’s – a 44-17 victory in which Todd Gurley ran for 163 yards and passed for 50. 

It’s hard to tell whether a return to Vanderbilt Stadium will bring more of the struggles we’ve had playing there. 

One thing we know is that the ‘Dores haven’t won much in the last season. They  struggled to an 0-8 SEC record last year, winning just three games outside the conference in their first season under new head coach Derek Mason. 

He seems to have his team in a position to bounce back his second go-round. Vandy lost its opener last Thursday 14-12 to a good Western Kentucky team on account of three turnovers, but played better than the final score would indicate. 

Sophomore QB Johnny McCrary, a first-year starter, was solid once he got his feet underneath him. He threw for 217 yards and led a late scoring drive that would’ve tied the game if not for a completion short of the goal line on the two-point try. 

The mistakes he made he’s likely to have learned from this week in practice. And if he manages to stay turnover-free Saturday, will add a much-needed playmaking element to an team that was last in the SEC in total offense for 2014. 

His arm should present another challenge to a Bulldog secondary whose coverage of ULM’s Rashon Caesar last Saturday was underwhelming at best. It’ll be up to the Georgia D to put him under pressure that’ll force some more bad decisions. Otherwise, the Commodores could make this into a ballgame. 

At the end of the day, the Dawgs have an elite group of playmakers on offense in Nick Chubb, Malcolm Mitchell and others. If their execution is on par with what we saw last week, Georgia will have no trouble putting this game away late. But let Vandy hang around in front of a home crowd they’ve fed off of in our last two visits to Nashville, and all bets are off. 

The Prediction: Georgia 28, Vandy 14 

UGA vs. ULM Preview

For seven long months we’ve waited, trudging through endless days of tiresome anticipation with eyes cast toward fall. That seemingly infinite road we’ve traveled since the new year reaches its terminus Saturday at noon, when the Dawgs tee it up between the hedges in the 2015 season opener. 

Football season is back, and so is the UGA Paint Line. This year we begin our 17th season backing the Dawgs from row one of section 110, clad in our trademark red upper-body paint, wigs and aviators. 

The eyewear portion of that apparel will come in particularly handy Saturday, as we get a glimpse of what projects to be a very bright future for Georgia Football. The Louisiana-Monroe game will be the first action for a number of budding young stars who join forces with returning veterans on both sides of the ball. 

The newcomers to watch: Freshmen Trenton Thompson, Jonathan Ledbetter, Natrez Patrick, Michael Chigbu and Terry Godwin. Together with returning playmakers in Nick Chubb, Malcolm Mitchell, Leonard Floyd, Lorenzo Carter and Jordan Jenkins, they’ll put the Dawgs in position to contend for the SEC East title, and maybe more. 

Perhaps the fresh face Georgia fans will be most interested in seeing Saturday is Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert, who was picked Monday to take the first snaps of the season at quarterback over competitors Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. His performance this year (and his staying power in the starting job behind center) will amount to a major factor in whether Georgia plays at a championship level this year or spends it building on moral victories in hopes of a playoff bid in 2016. 

Can the Dawgs do it this year? The search for an answer to that question should make this season one of the most exciting in recent memory. 

What’s unlikely to be in question is the outcome of Saturday’s contest versus the Warhawks, who’ll amount to more than a pushover but less than a serious test. They bring in a senior-laden defense that’s expected to challenge Georgia’s air and ground attacks early in the ballgame. But an offense led by first-year quarterback Garrett Smith won’t fare well over four quarters against a Bulldog defense that will continue to improve in a second season under Jeremy Pruitt. 

Lou-Monroe won a total of four games last year, going a respectable 3-5 in Sun Belt conference play, losing a good number of matches by single digits. Three of their more-lopsided losses came versus SEC opponents. While offseason narrative has them trending upward, series history strongly favors the Dawgs, who lead the scoring differential in three previous meetings 156-16. 

Expect Nick Chubb to reel off a number of highlight runs, and get a jump on topping his freshman numbers (1547 yards, a 7.1 per-carry average and 14 touchdowns) in what will be his first full year as the Dawgs’ feature back. He’ll play one part of what should be a very special 2015 season, and perhaps the precursor to a championship run in the years to come. 

Saturday will provide a taste of that promising future, and, at long last, a taste of football. 

How sweet it is. 

The Prediction: Georgia 37, Louisiana-Monroe 10 

UGA v GT Preview 2014

Christmas is a loving time of year, but before ringing in the month of December, we’ve got to get some clean, old fashioned hate out of the way.

With the SEC portion of the season behind us and an indefinitely-hopeful postseason still to come, there’s still some unfinished business to take care of on this last Saturday of November and the regular season: beating Georgia Tech.

No football season is complete without a win over the North Avenue Trade School. And when we don’t get one, Christmastime just isn’t the same.

The Dawgs will have an opportunity to make it six straight years of not knowing what that feels like on Saturday, when the Yellow Jackets buzz over from Atlanta in a flexbone formation to take their best shot at a Georgia defense that’s been a figurative bug lantern for half of the last decade.

Tech’s last win over the Dawgs came in 2008, Paul Johnson’s first year as head coach, when Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones combined for 398 rushing yards against a discouraged Georgia defense on a rainy afternoon in Sanford Stadium.

That 45-42 defeat taught the Dawgs a lesson they still haven’t forgotten. Since that game, they’ve rattled off not one, not two, not three, not four, but five unanswered wins over the Jackets.

The rivalry’s 109th renewal on Saturday at noon will mark Jeremy Pruitt’s first-ever encounter with the triple option as a defensive coordinator, which is both exciting and concerning.

His last experience of a Johnson-style option offense came versus Georgia Southern three years ago when he was defensive secondary coach at Alabama. Though Pruitt has limited ownership of what took place in that ballgame, it still wasn’t a good day for the Tide’s defense. They won 45-21, but gave up three touchdowns and 341 yards, 302 of them on the ground.

He’d do well to call up his predecessor for some advice on how to draw up this week’s gameplan. Todd Grantham, now piloting the defense under Bobby Petrino at Louisville, was unbeaten in four tries against this Tech offense. No member of his defensive staff from any of those four years is still left in Athens, so minus the experience of Mark Richt, this team is essentially starting from square one in its preparation for the Jackets.

That’s not a good thing, seeing that this is probably the most dangerous edition of Tech’s option attack since their last win in the series. They have the third-highest rushing yardage total in the country this season, behind Georgia Southern and Wisconsin, with 3,607.

The Jackets spread their touches around pretty evenly, but they’re leading ball-carriers are Zach Laskey, Synjyn Days and the explosively-fast Justin Thomas. All three are a 25-yard run waiting to happen on every play, but Thomas, probably the fastest human being in the game of football right now, is the one you really want to be scared of.

He was the state of Alabama’s hundred-yard dash champion his senior year. And that speed has translated to the football field incredibly well in his first season starting under center. He’s already proven to be one of the best quarterbacks Johnson’s ever had when it comes to keeping the ball on the outside option play. Bite one notch too hard as a linebacker or safety and he’ll take it to the house on you in a heartbeat. The Georgia defense needs to keep tabs on where he’s at all game long if they expect to keep his scoring threat in check.

The Dawgs also can’t afford to turn the ball over and give him a short field. The Jackets’ execution in those situations this year has been second to none, and a big reason for their nine wins against a seemingly-difficult ACC schedule. They’ve gotten handed possession of the football like no other team in their conference this year, and have taken full advantage.

Both teams protect the football as if their HOPE scholarship eligibility depended on it. Tech’s +10 turnover margin is ninth-best in the nation, seven spots behind Georgia – the No. 2 team in football at +16. Safe to say we may not see a fumble or an interception Saturday, and if we do, it could be hugely-pivotal.

This game will be won on the ground, and lost by the defense that allows one too many rushing touchdowns. Much of the difference in the outcome will be made in the trenches, depending on which offensive and defensive line wins the battle.

Georgia’s defensive front was stout against nearly everything Auburn tried to do between the tackles two Saturdays ago. Part of the reason the defensive backs were able to make tackles on the perimeter was that they didn’t have to worry about much of anything getting past the big fellas on the interior of the D-line.

Just the same this week, sealing off the lanes Tech gets to run the toss and speed option plays outside begins with shutting down dive, trap and midline runs inside. To do that, the Dawgs need another big game from Mike Thornton, Toby Johnson, Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd in that front seven.

But the dominance of Georgia’s defense versus Auburn shouldn’t be taken as any indicator of how it’ll play against the Jackets. Years past should go to show you that containing this offense is never a certainty, and it sure won’t be on Saturday.

Fasten your seatbelts for this one. It oughtta be a wild ride.

The Prediction: Georgia 31, Tech 27

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to express our gratitude this week for the many things God has blessed us with, including freedom, family and football. We’re also thankful for the opportunity he’s given us to attend the greatest university in America, and for one final chance this season to paint up in support of the Dawgs.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, wherever in the Bulldog Nation that may take you. But be sure to make it back to Athens in time to join us bright and earlySaturday morning as we watch Georgia take care of business versus the Jackets.

(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!)

UGA v Charleston Southern Preview 2014

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!)

UGA v Auburn Preview 2014

It feels like it’s been forever since we last saw a Georgia Football game in Sanford Stadium. Oddly enough, it’s been the same amount of time since we watched Todd Gurley carry the football.

That was October 4th. Saturday will be November 15th. In between was 42 long, hard days for the Bulldog Nation that included four road trips of over 4,000 miles in total, three impressive wins marred by one disappointing loss and six weeks without getting to witness the dominance of a player who’ll go down one of the greatest backs to ever don the silver britches.

But the wait is over.

The Dawgs get back between the hedges Saturday night, and for the first time in over a month, Gurley will suit up with them as Mark Richt gets ready to turn him loose on Auburn in the 118th renewal of The Deep South’s Oldest College Football Rivalry.

And there couldn’t be a finer venue than Athens, with the chill of late autumn in full effect and Northeast Georgia’s fall foliage at the height of its beauty. We’ll get to enjoy all of that during a long afternoon of tailgating, then join together with 92,746 of our closest friends for a primetime kick in a game that’s certain to be yet another classic battle in this rivalry series.

Georgia and Auburn have played a lot of good ones, the most recent last year’s 43-38 heartbreaker that the Dawgs should’ve won, but wound up losing thanks to “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare.” Together with the “Kick Six” two weeks later in the Iron Bowl, that play helped set up a storybook ending to the Tigers’ season that concluded with a loss to FSU in the BCS National Title Game.

2014 hasn’t been nearly as fateful for the Plainsmen. Lady Luck showed up for them in most ballgames, but when your schedule has a midseason stretch of six consecutive opponents that are or were ranked in the top 25, she can only help you out so much.

Auburn fell to Mississippi State on the road back in October, then dropped a tight one at home to Texas A&M last Saturday. The latest loss all but eliminated them from contention for the SEC West Title and a spot in the playoff, but make no mistake, they’re a team that’d still be able to win the national championship if they weren’t playing in such a brutal division.

The 566 yards the Tigers put up last year is evidence to the potency of Gus Malzahn’s offense, which is always a turned-corner away from scoring with the speed of quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne.

Last year, it was mainly the ground game that ate the Dawgs alive on defense, but this year Auburn’s improved enough in the passing game that they no longer need deflections to complete throws downfield.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s got a majorly-talented receiving corps, but Marshall has developed an uncanny ability to throw strikes on the deep ball in his second season as the starter behind center. Duke Williams, his No. 1 target at wideout, will be out for this game with a knee injury, but Sammie Coates, Ricardo Louis and Quan Bray are still a group of route-runners that’ve probably kept Jeremy Pruitt up a lot at night this week.

No defense has managed to stop Auburn this year, and that stacks up as an extremely tall order for a Georgia D that had all the trouble in the world with Florida’s backs when they got in space on the edge two weeks back.

The experience could be very similar on Saturday. Only difference is the Dawgs are expecting it, and the defense they’ll be facing the other way is about ten times weaker than the Gators’.

So the key to winning? Simple: score more points than they do.

Whatever number you’ve got in your mind as the point total Georgia needs to win, add two touchdowns to it, and there’s your scoring target for the game.

Turnovers and mistakes will be a bonus, but neither team will be able to rely on them to make a difference. You can also throw your time of possession, field position and ball-control stats out the window for this one. And defensive stops? HA!

If this is the shootout we expect it to be, Georgia can settle for nothing short of endzone visits at the end of drives. Punting the ball on short fields and attempting long-ish field goals will more than likely prove to be a waste of time in a game where touchdowns are at a premium. The Dawgs have to put points on the board when there are opportunities to… and hey, every possession is an opportunity.

The outcome of this one could hinge on who ends up with the ball last. The odds of that played in Georgia’s favor the last time they had a game of this caliber in Sanford Stadium last year versus LSU. We’ll find out if the toss of the coin is as kind to the Dawgs this time around.

More than chance, this game is about playmakers. Auburn’s got several of them, and Georgia just got its biggest one back this week. In a game that’s about as huge as huge games get, it’ll be great to have a difference-maker like Todd Gurley back dotting the I in the Dawgs’ backfield.

He’ll surely be running with a vengeance. And his team would do well to climb back on his shoulderpads and fasten their seatbelts for what oughtta be a wild ride to victory.

The Prediction: Georgia 56, Auburn 55

We’ll see you Saturday evening around 5:45. Wear your red and black, dress warm and come ready to witness yet another classic Georgia-Auburn matchup and will the Dawgs on to a win.

(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!)

UGA v Kentucky Preview 2014

The Bulldog Nation had its collective spirit crushed last Saturday in a demoralizing loss to Florida that stole away most every hope Georgia had of contending for a national title.

It was a kick to the gut in more than a few ways for a team that expected to extend a five-game win streak it carried into Jacksonville and a fan base that was painfully reminded of what it’s like to lose to the Gators for the first time in three years.

It’s probably little consolation that the Dawgs still remain in the hunt for the SEC East Title. Wins over Kentucky and Auburn combined with a well-placed conference loss for Missouri can punch Georgia’s ticket to Atlanta, although potentially beating the SEC West representative in that game is unlikely to earn a playoff berth, barring further chaos within the ranks of the once-beaten in the coming weeks.

The hope of what might have been that Georgia fans left in Jacksonville last Saturday will no doubt color the remainder of the regular season, regardless of what happens in its final four weeks. And the Dawgs have that heartbreak and disappointment to chew on as they make the trip to Lexington this weekend for the final road game of the 2014 campaign.

Georgia will attempt to pick up the pieces and rebound versus Kentucky, whose fans, for a change, have a relevant football team to occupy their attention until their basketball squad’s home opener next Friday. The Wildcats have a winning record a week into November for the first time since 2008, thanks to revivalist Mark Stoops, who’s turned the Kentucky program from bottom-dweller in the conference to a team you really don’t want to have to play just a year and a half into his tenure as head coach.

They’re only 5-4, but the Cats have made a ton of noise in all of their losses, save for LSU. They took Florida to three overtimes, gave top-ranked Mississippi State all it could handle and fell to Missouri last week by just 10. Games on the road haven’t been particularly good to them this year, but they’re only once-defeated at home, where they’ve played their most inspired football.

At this point, Kentucky is in no position to play for anything in the postseason more than a bowl game, but they’ll get a great deal of enjoyment out of trying to wreck the Dawgs’ conference title chances in the process of becoming bowl-eligible.

Georgia would seem another upset win ripe for the taking. And Commonwealth Stadium is a place the Dawgs have had plenty of trouble playing in the past, especially seasons of late. They lost to the Wildcats in Lexington with a freshman Matthew Stafford at quarterback in 2006, and very nearly got a run for their money there on subsequent visits in 2008 and 2012.

2014 has every bit of potential to become another nightmare if Georgia allows the effects of last week’s loss linger in another overlookably-tough conference game against a hungry team in a hostile atmosphere.

But hunger isn’t the only feather in Kentucky’s cap. They’re a very talented and well-coached team with a number of emerging playmakers on either side of the line of scrimmage. Perhaps the best of those is sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles. He’s got an NFL arm, but also features impressively as a scrambler, with some size and durability that makes him tough to bring down outside the pocket.

The Wildcats spread the ball around offensively. They have four backs with 40 or more carries in the season, and eight receivers with double-digits in catches. Running back Jojo Kemp and wideout Ryan Timmons lead their respective skill departments in yardage, but not by a lot.

Kentucky’s defense isn’t gonna shut you down, but will frustrate you if you give them the opportunity to. They’re a unit that normally keeps their offense in a spot where it can win games if it takes care of business.

And that’s what the Georgia defense didn’t do last Saturday. Though the Dawgs’ struggles were multifaceted, more than one turnover and an answer for the speed of Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor on the defensive side would’ve helped greatly in preventing that game from getting out of hand so early. The defense needs to return to form on Saturday, or another boatrace might be in store.

For the Dawgs, winning this game is as simple as moving on from Florida and returning to the solid football they were playing in the two weeks prior. But that’ll be a challenge given the confidence of the Wildcats, who have absolutely nothing to lose. They know this is a winnable game, and they know they’re getting a Georgia team that’s on the ropes after having their hats handed to them last Saturday. The Dawgs have to bounce back from the loss in every way, especially mentally, or it will indeed be another long day in Lexington.

A loss to Florida really deserves a week dedicated to statewide mourning, but alas, this is the SEC, where every game is one you can lose. And if the Dawgs still are a team that belongs in the SEC title game, they’ve got to prove it in this difficult contest on the road.

The Prediction: Georgia 24, Kentucky 21

Not all is lost. The 6-2 Dawgs still have a lot to play for with four games to go. So don’t lose heart, ‘cause once this trip to Lexington is in the books, we’ll at long last be back between the hedges, where we’ll see you next Saturday to watch Georgia #FreeGurley and beat up on Auburn.

(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!)

UGA v Florida Preview 2014

After a short hiatus from Georgia Football last Saturday, we now turn down the home stretch of the season toward Lexington, Atlanta and a hopeful destination in the January College Football Playoff, but more presently, toward Jacksonville and that yearly rite of fall: the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

This weekend, the Dawgs and Gators meet down on the St. John’s for the 88th-consecutive renewal of their 110-year-old rivalry – a matchup that, year-to-year, has produced some of the greatest moments in either program’s history.

That’s particularly true for Georgia. The classic games and highlights come by the dozen when you look back over the series history. But there have been plenty of them to take place as recently as the last three years – the first period in which the Dawgs have beaten the Gators three seasons in a row since Jimmy Carter was president.

2011 saw Georgia pick up just its fourth win over Florida in 22 years – a four-point decision that came thanks to two fourth-down conversions and some inspired running by Richard Samuel in the fourth quarter. In 2012, Jarvis Jones and the Georgia defense stepped up to force six turnovers and silence their critics, while a freshman Todd Gurley rushed for 118 yards to vault the Dawgs over the Gators 17-9. Then just last year, Gurley returned from injury to rip off 187 all-purpose yards and carry the load on a game-ending drive that swallowed nearly half of the fourth quarter, allowing Georgia to hang on and win 23-20.

Saturday’s game sets up to be another memorable one, if only for its implications in the Dawgs’ hunt for the division, conference and national championships. Beating Florida would put them a step closer to running the table and getting back to Atlanta for a shot at redemption after an SEC title so narrowly escaped them two years ago.

More than that, this is an opportunity for Georgia to make it four straight wins over their most hated rival, and that’d be the first time that’s happened since 1983. A win Saturday would virtually turn the tide on nearly three decades of dominance by Florida in the rivalry series. A four-game win streak would signal a return to the position of superiority on the field, in the conference landscape, on the recruiting trail, and most importantly, in the department of bragging rights.

And the last two seasons haven’t been much to boast about for Gator fans.

It’s been well-documented that Florida is a program in dire straits. At 3-3 on the year (7-11 since 2013), they’re fighting to maintain relevance under Will Muschamp, whose job is clearly in danger as the Gators’ season rapidly goes south.

That, and the way Florida has played in a lot of games this year would make you think this’ll be one that the Dawgs run away with. And although we’re due for a woodshed game sooner or later, Georgia very rarely beats the Gators in Jacksonville by more than a few.

And what hope the Dawgs had of hanging half a hundred on the scoreboard Saturday was dealt a major blow Wednesday when the NCAA announced Todd Gurley will be suspended for an additional pair of games beyond the two he’s already sat out in penance for accepting thousands of dollars in a memorabilia scandal. Now, barring a successful appeal of the suspension, he’ll also miss the Florida and Kentucky games and be slotted for a November 15th return in a home matchup against Auburn.

After the Dawgs’ offense dazzled in two games without their Heisman contender, many would argue they can make it in this game without him. But let’s remember how his role against Florida the last two seasons was probably a deciding factor between a win and a loss.

Without Gurley’s transcendent play, Georgia probably doesn’t have the offensive efficiency to win in 2012, nor does he help create the early lead that kept them in control of the game last year. His contributions will be dearly missed.

But one guy the Dawgs also didn’t have either of those years was Nick Chubb, an All-American back in the making who’s gotten better and better each week as the new go-to in the Georgia offense. He will undoubtedly continue to provide the offensive horsepower that fueled solid wins over Arkansas and Mizzou. The Dawgs will definitely need it.

Florida provides probably the stiffest defensive test this offense has seen the entire season. I guess that’s really not saying much seeing how Georgia has shredded the defenses that were previously given that label, like Missouri, Arkansas and South Carolina. Still, for what it’s worth, the Gator’s D is one of the best in the conference, and in the country. They’ve allowed the second-least yardage total of any team in college football this year, and are 12th in the nation in average yardage allowed per game. Featuring a shutdown corner and future pro in Vernon Hargreaves, they have guys who can make plays on that side of the ball.


Too bad their offense is in such dreadful shape. Nothing good has really happened for the Gators with the ball in their possession this year, mainly because they can’t manage to keep the ball in their possession. They turn it over a lot. Between quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris, Florida has thrown 11 interceptions this year (the 10th most in the country). They’ve also lost a whopping five fumbles.


They gave up three turnovers apiece in their losses to Alabama and LSU, and turned it over six times against Missouri. Georgia can only hope to get that kind of help from the opposition on Saturday.


Key to a winning effort is converting those turnovers when they happen. The Gators aren’t likely to give up many big plays or long drives, unless they simply come unglued. The Dawgs need to focus on pounding away offensively and then make them pay for those mistakes.


One thing Georgia can’t do is let Florida hang around. That nearly came back to bite them last year, and it will do the same this year if Mark Richt and Mike Bobo don’t keep their foot on the gas. The Gators may be a tired, demoralized team, but they still have some fight in them – fight to prove themselves to their doubters and fight to win for their beleaguered head coach.


Dangle a chance out there, and they’ll grab it.


But duplicate the dominant performances we saw in the last two weeks, and Florida will have no chance.


The Prediction: Georgia 35, Florida 13


If you’re a Dawg fan, Georgia-Florida is one of the best college football weekends out of the year. Enjoy it, whether that’s from your living room or a tailgate around EverBank Field. To those headed to Jacksonville and the coast for the weekend: Have fun. Be Safe. And bring back another win.

(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!)


UGA v Arkansas Preview 2014

Another week. Another long road trip. And another Saturday the Dawgs will be without their top tailback in a key SEC ballgame.

Todd Gurley didn’t travel with the team to Little Rock on Friday morning, meaning he’ll remain suspended on allegations of NCAA rule-breaking for a second week as Georgia goes to face Arkansas.

The Dawgs hope they can manage to win without him, as they did last week, when Hutson Mason, Nick Chubb and Brendan Douglas threw a combined shutout of Missouri. The defensive unit put together its best performance of the season – a product that, together with near-flawless execution in every other aspect of the game, amounted to a 34-point win which’ll go down as one of Georgia’s most impressive in the Mark Richt era.

Even without Gurley, the 5-1 and now 10th-ranked Classic City Canines have a lot of positive momentum following their fourth-consecutive win.

But, to quote the great Earl Weaver (and stay with the baseball theme), “Momentum is only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher.”

As great as last week’s win was, it only means something if Georgia can follow it up with another one over Arkansas. Finding a way to beat them on the road would put the Dawgs back in “the conversation,” and establish them as the favorite to oppose the eventual division champion out of the West in Atlanta.

Arkansas is no longer in contention to get there after two consecutive losses that dropped them to 3-3, to last place in the SEC West and out of the top 25. The Razorbacks were taken down by 6th-ranked Texas A&M in overtime and No. 7 Alabama in a one-point decision last Saturday. Both were games that could’ve easily gone the other way.

Georgia will be Arkansas’ third-straight top-10 opponent. And still without a win in SEC play, you’ve gotta know they’ll be hungry to get one versus the Dawgs.

This year’s edition of the Razorbacks play a different brand of football than they did the last time they met with Georgia. Under second-year head coach Bret Bielema, they’ve moved from slinging the ball downfield every other play to a system that focuses on pounding it. And they’ve done that well this season.

Their ground game, led by co-feature backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, is 11th in the country in average yards per game and 13th in total yardage. The Razorbacks are also the 19th most productive scoring offense in college football.

They run the ball eight ways from Sunday behind an offensive line that doubles as a road-grading crew for the Arkansas Dept. of Transportation during the offseason. And though they do throw the ball more than their reputation would advertise, their offense lives and dies with the rush. For the first time in a while, the Dawgs’ defensive success won’t depend on coverage and pass pressure, but on whether or not the front seven can make key stops.

Can Mike Thornton, Sterling Bailey and Ray Drew eat up the rush at the point of attack? Can Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera make stops when those ballcarriers get into the open field between the hashes? And can Jordan Jenkins, Leonard Floyd and Lorenzo Carter seal off lateral runs to the edges? These are the questions that’ll probably dictate most of whether or not Georgia can win on Saturday.

Arkansas averages 6.2 yards a pop on the ground – the 7th best in the nation. Can you guess who’s 6th with 6.3 yards per attempt? Georgia.

With or without Gurley, the Dawgs’ offense is at its best when it uses the run to set up the pass. Last week, Nick Chubb and Brendan Douglas’ 210 yards on the ground served as a great foil to the passing game, which in its second week with Malcolm Mitchell back, produced 169 yards through the air. That’s the second-best game this year behind South Carolina.

Versus an Arkansas defense that’s really good in the trenches, Mason and his corps of receivers will need another good-looking game to put Georgia in a position to win.

The Dawgs and Razorbacks look like two pretty equally-matched teams. Barring something unexpected, neither team should run away with this ballgame. The outcome will more than likely swing on changes in momentum and who makes the least number of mistakes.

Georgia has what it takes to get a win, but they’ll have to avoid turning the ball over and capitalize on the opportunities they’re given. It’d be unrealistic to say the Dawgs can put together a performance as sharp as the one they had last weekend in Columbia. But play a game that’s more than half as good and they’ll be flying back from Little Rock Saturday night with their sixth win in hand.

The Prediction: Georgia 27, Arkansas 24

Let’s hope the ride back for Georgia fans is as pleasant as the one we made from Missouri last weekend. That drive down 78 is a lot longer when you’re 5-2 than when you’re 6-1.

(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!)