Preview: Georgia vs. Clemson
Can you see it? Can you hear it? Can you smell it?
This Saturday will bring back the familiar sights and sounds of college football in the Classic City: The sea of red and black flowing down Lumpkin Street and Sanford Drive, the music of the Redcoat Band accompanied by the cheers of 92,746 fans, the scents of grillsmoke, freshly-cut grass… and of course, acrylic paint.
The 2014 season will mark the UGA Paint Line’s 16th season painting up and cheering on the Dawgs from the front row of section 110 in Sanford Stadium. This year’s line, complete with many old faces and several new ones, will be front-and-center again Saturday afternoon for Georgia’s marquee opener versus archrival Clemson.
They managed to steal a 38-35 decision from the Dawgs last year in Death Valley, but this year’s pack of Tigers has claws that are noticeably less sharp. Having lost star quarterback-receiver tandem of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, Clemson will start senior Cole Stoudt behind center, flanked by a running back corps led by senior DJ Howard and junior Zac Brooks. All-American defensive end Vic Beasley, a monster on their defensive front last year, returns to anchor the pass rush in 2014.
Though the Tigers are young and unproven, they’re not a team that the Dawgs can afford to write off.
With playmaking receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley sidelined for this game, the onus of offensive production for Georgia will rest on tailback Todd Gurley, a preseason pick to contend for the Heisman, as well as Hutson Mason, who’ll be making just his third career start at quarterback. The Dawgs’ defense, now under the command of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, will have to do a better job of limiting big plays than they did in last year’s matchup with Clemson. An inexperienced secondary, ravaged by offseason attrition, faces a tough test against a team whose passing yardage total has been ranked top 15 in the country each of the past three years.
Avoiding turnovers will be key in what should be a close ballgame that hinges on critical mistakes. But the winning formula is simple: Keep calm, and hand the ball to Todd Gurley.
The prediction: Georgia 34, Clemson 27
Coach Richt has asked all Georgia fans to “Spread the Red” on Saturday. The Paint Line will be in their red. Be sure to wear yours too.
(Written by Mr. Clay Reynolds. Clay is a senior who has painted with the Paint Line as an alternate in previous years. As a passionate Dawg fan and sports enthusiast Clay has graciously stepped up this year as our resident writer!)