Georgia got through its first four games as expected. It sits 4-0 with an upcoming game against Alabama, which everyone has been looking forward to since the season started. The Bulldogs have only endured one real questionable moment and it came against Vanderbilt, with the Commodores threatening to make the contest a one-possession game late. Georgia answered with a Jake Ganus interception and ended up with a 17-point victory.
Needless to say, Georgia has gotten through the first third of its season relatively easy. It’s averaging a margin of victory of 32 points against opponents and hasn’t endured a situation where its backs were against the wall.
Alabama could be the first opponent that challenges Georgia through four quarters.
Instead of focusing this blog on Georgia’s 48-6 win over Southern, I’m going to break down five things we now know about Georgia after its first four games of the season.
Georgia’s rushing attack is dangerous, but hasn’t received tough enough test yet
Nick Chubb is obviously a Heisman contender. If Sony Michel started for any other program he’d probably be considered as such too. Georgia ranks 17th in the nation statistically in rushing offense but, quite honestly, it's as good as any in the nation. However, Vanderbilt’s rushing defense is the best Georgia has faced all year. The Commodores rank 37th against the run, allowing an average of just 3.7 yards per rush. South Carolina is 74th, and Louisiana-Monroe is 82nd. Southern allowed an average of 234 rushing yards against FBS opponents Georgia and Louisiana Tech. However, Georgia has to go against Alabama, a team ranked fourth in the nation in rush defense. Opponents are only running the ball an average of 1.97 yards per carry. Georgia had success running the ball against plenty of teams a year ago but this will be its first major test in 2015.
Well-rounded offense have given Greyson Lambert confidence, improved him as a QB
Lambert has emerged as quite the efficient quarterback. He’s coming off of back-to-back games where he’s only thrown one incompletion each time out. A 59-percent passer with Virginia a year ago, Lambert has completed 76.5 percent of his throws through four games. His yardage total is only at 733 but he’s thrown seven touchdowns to zero interceptions. Virginia fans must be wondering how Lambert has made this kind of leap. It’s simple, really, especially after watching this past Friday’s game between Virginia and Boise State. Matt Johns had no time to go through his reads and was forced to rush throws. On top of that, the Cavaliers don't have much of a running game. Lambert not only has those things at Georgia, he has one of the best offensive line and rushing attacks in the country to lean on. Lambert’s playing with a lot of confidence and that should continue to grow if he continues to get the same kind of production.
Defensive line will get first true test against Derek Henry, Alabama’s offensive line
Georgia hasn’t had to worry much against opposing running backs. This week, that changes. Alabama running back Derrick Henry will easily be the biggest challenge Georgia has faced this season. Previously, that honor went to Vanderbilt’s Ralph Webb, who was held to 68 yards on 25 carries. Henry is averaging 105.5 rushing yards per game and possesses a nice blend of size and speed at the position. During Georgia’s second quarter against Southern, the defensive line had some issues wrapping up and tackling. It won’t be able to afford any mishaps in that area this week.
Malcolm Mitchell will make run at being a first-team All-SEC player
Despite the fact Georgia hasn’t thrown the ball too much through four games, Mitchell ranks fifth in the SEC in receiving yards with 306. In the past two games, Mitchell has been on the same page with Lambert. Mitchell went for eight catches, 122 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina, before going for five grabs, 96 yards and a score against Southern. Mitchell already has three receiving touchdowns in four games. He looks the part of an all-conference player thus far and could make a run at the honor as the season progresses.
Georgia’s special teams need some fine-tuning before upcoming stretch
Special teams will prove crucial during the upcoming three-game stretch. Marshall Morgan made two field goals against Southern but Collin Barber had a punt travel only 24 yards. Isaiah McKenzie had a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown against Vanderbilt but the special teams return teams struggled against the Jaguars this past Saturday. Kickoff coverage improved this past week but performed poorly against South Carolina. The special teams groups are still a work in progress and will need to show some more improvement.