3 & OUT REPORT: Week 3 - NOTRE DAME
During game week the staff at Dawg News Daily previews the matchup between the Bulldogs and their opponent. We focus in on 3 key positions or players that will be the difference makers in Saturdays game..
Lets take a trip back to September 2017, the #15 Bulldogs were making their 1st trip to the Midwest in more than 50 years. True Freshman Jake Fromm was making his 1st college start due to a knee injury to Jacob Eason and little known freshman D'Andre Swift was the third option in a senior laden backfield. That night, UGA became Kirby Smart's Program! The defense was all over the field. Lorenzo Carter & Davin Bellamy were too much for Notre Dame's future 1st round offensive lineman and middle linebacker Roquan Smith was introduced to the world!
Fast Forward, The Bulldogs come in to the rematch a heavy favorite with one of the nation's top offensive lines! Notre Dame seems to be be a little outmatched when these teams are stacked up on paper. Jake Fromm and D'Andre Swift are Heisman Candidates and Kirby Smart has built on the momentum from the 2017 season to create one of the nations top programs. Notre Dame will be a tough contest for the bulldogs and maybe the toughest of the season. Sanford Stadium will be at an all time high and the reports of 200K+ people in Athens may be low... Expect this one to live up to the hype!
DAWG NEWS DAILY'S 3 & OUT REPORT:
1) Offensive Line: Reviewing the first two games, we noticed a couple lapses in the pass blocking from the Offensive Line. Twists and Stunts up front have caused some confusion and led to opposing defensive lines in the UGA backfield. We are unsure if its a communication issue or just some early season kinks that need to be worked out?
One thing is for sure, this is something that needs to be fixed and fast! The pass rush from the ends at Notre Dame is one of the best the bulldogs will face all year. The Irish are loaded with talent, depth, and experience at defensive end. They rotate four seniors there in Julian Okwara, Daelin Hayes, Khalid Kareem and Adetokundo Ogundeji. All are built for speed. They have 30 tackles and just one sack between them so far this season, but have combined for 26.5 career sacks along with 343 tackles. Notre Dame will load up the box to stop the run and put pressure on the wide receiver group to get open.
Sam Pittman and company are licking their chops as they see a Notre Dame defense that has been gashed for an average of 221 rushing yards in their first two games. UGA's Offensive Line weighs an average of 330lbs while Notre Dames' Defense Front Averages 275lbs. You don't see these types of weight differences in these kind of matchups! No update on Isaiah Wilson's availability this weekend but he is back to practice. It looks like Cade Mays will takeover duties at the Right tackle position while, Ben Cleveland assumes Right Guard duties. If UGA is able to run the ball effectively, don't expect to see too many passes from Fromm. But with Notre Dame overloading the box, it could open up the field and allow Fromm to pick them apart.
2) Defensive Backs: Notre Dame will want to run the ball against a stingy Bulldog defense. But maybe a better way to attack the Dawgs is down field. They’re averaging 313.5 yards passing a game (507 yards per game overall) and love to attack the flanks with quick passes and RPOs. The Georgia defensive backfield hasn't been tested much in the first three weeks of the season. QB Ian Book and the Fighting Irish will look to get the ball down field as well. Back in 2017, ND had success in cross routes and Post Corner routes against UGA's zone defense. With Tyson Campbell's availability in question (lower body injury), Eric Stokes, Tyrique Stevenson, and Mark Webb will look to keep defenders in front of them and be sure tacklers. One threat UGA will have to keep an eye on is Tight End (former UGA Commit) Tommie Tremble. More on him below.
3) Linebackers: QB Ian Book leads the Irish with 127 yards rushing and a 5.5 yards-per-carry average and 2 rushing touchdowns. So the run threat in the RPO offense is real. Expect Monty Rice and Tae Crowder to play "spy" during these formations. If the Bulldogs are able to keep him one-dimensional, it may be a long day for the Irish. The pass rush will be key for the Bulldogs. UGA has amassed 12 sacks in its first 3 games this season. They didn't hit that mark until late October in 2018. Havoc Rates are skyrocketing in Athens! Nolan Smith, Azeez Olujari, and Walter Grant will not only be trying to get in the back field, but they will be looking to set the edge on run downs and keep running lanes to a minimum.