Posted: 2:49 pm Saturday, August 30th, 2014

LIVE BLOG: Expect Georgia to open with win 

By Jeff Schultz

The only certainty about Georgia's secondary: Champ Bailey won't start.

The only certainty about Georgia’s secondary: Champ Bailey won’t start.

ATHENS — Hello. It’s hot. As I type this it’s 90 degrees in Athens but it feels like a 137 with the humidity. It’s days like this when I think a beer, ice bucket and deodorant concession stand would do quite well.

Anyway, onto the game of the day: Georgia vs. Clemson. I sat in the Clemson press box a year ago at this time expecting the Bulldogs to open with a defeat. The Bulldogs’ defense was missing Josh Harvey-Clemons and several other players because of either injury or suspensions. The Tigers had some of the nation’s best talent on offense, including Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. I believed it was too much too soon for Georgia. Clemson won 38-35.

This time, I don’t think Georgia is in trouble at all. The Bulldogs will win today for three reasons:

1. DEFENSE: While there’s significant concern about Georgia’s young and inexperienced secondary — largely the byproduct of offseason defections — the Dogs a have a strong front seven. I also believe defensive backs will have a clearer sense of their assignments under coordinator Jeremy Pruitt than they did under Todd Grantham. Players have been very open about how much they prefer Pruitt’s coaching style and his ability to teach. Here’s a free link to a MyAJC column I wrote a few weeks ago, in which defensive back Damian Swann says of Pruitt, “He tells you what he wants, and he demands it. And I don’t mean that in a bad way — he shows you. He’s an excellent teacher.” Linebacker Jordan Jenkins referred to Grantham, now at Louisville, as “an NFL coach.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment.

Just thought I'd run a pick of the Tailgate Car of the Week. (Photo by Sierra Schultz)

Just thought I’d run a pick of the Tailgate Car of the Week. (Photo by Sierra Schultz)

2. TODD GURLEY: Georgia has the best running back in the country in Todd Gurley. If Gurley can stay healthy — and that’s obviously been a problem for him to this point — he’s a legitimate threat to win the Heisman Trophy. But even beyond Gurley, the Bulldogs are deep at running back with Keith Marshall (returning for a torn ACL), Brendan Douglas and freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. They’ll be running behind what’s expected to be a solid offensive line. That should help ease the transition for starting quarterback Hutson Mason, who will be making the first home start of his career. (His two starts last season for the injured Aaron Murray came at Georgia Tech (41-34 win in double overtime) and vs. Nebraska in the Gator Bowl (24-19 loss to Nebraska). Mason — who last year completed 67 of 110 passes for 968 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions with eight sacks — is not at Murray’s level, nor is he the athlete that one-year starter D.J. Shockley was. But he can be a more than capable starter with the pieces around him.

3. HOME FIELD: Clemson, like most teams, is much tougher at home than on the road. Georgia is 10-3 in season openers under coach Mark Richt, even if having lost three of the last five after starting 8-0. None of the three losses were in Athens (although one might as well have been). The Dogs lost at Oklahoma State in 2009, to Boise State in the Georgia Dome in 2011 and at Clemson last year. They are 9-0 in openers in Athens under Richt, including wins over Clemson (2002), Boise State (2005) and Oklahoma State (2007).

Georgia also could get a boost knowing that South Carolina was bodyslammed in its season opener against Texas A&M, giving the Dogs an early leg up in the SEC East. Georgia travels to Columbia in two weeks.

Prediction for tonight’s game: Georgia 31, Clemson 20.

I’ll do some commenting during the game on this blog. Until then, the cyber-floor is now yours.

 Some recent ramblings (free links)
– AJC: Cantor’s magic tallis has cure to Braves’ problems (on Fridays)
– AJC: Weekend Predictions (no lie): Dogs over Clemson
– MyAJC: Richt, Georgia need another highlight
– MyAJC: Braves CEO Terry McGuirk vows ‘Everybody accountable’
– MyAJC: Full Q&A with Braves CEO Terry McGuirk
– AJC: It’s ‘Sack Schultz’ time. Think you can grill me?
– MyAJC: If Tech wins, it will be with a better option
– MyAJC: Predicting Georgia Tech’s season, game-by-game
– AJC: On Braves, McGuirk and repairing baseball
– MyAJC: Baseball repair list: Pardon Rose, quicken pace, shorten season
– AJC: Braves find a groove, but so do Nationals
– MyAJC: Mike Tice has a challenge — and he knows it
– AJC: Bobby Petrino, Todd Grantham reportedly feuding already
– AJC: Falcons can survive without Baker, not others
– AJC: FSU No. 1, Georgia No. 12 in poll of insignificance
– MyAJC: Trent Miles trying to change attitudes at Georgia State
– AJC: With Braves six back, is ‘Fat Lady’ singing?
– MyAJC: B.J. Upton, Braves continue their zombie walk
– MyAJC: Cancer didn’t slow Michael Cooper
– AJC: Braves’ attendance reflects lack of confidence
– MyAJC: Falcons showing humility, lack of comfort — and that’s good
– AJC: Braves being hurt by shortage of leaders
– MyAJC: Can ‘Power 5′ conferences handle this power?
– AJC: Who’s most to blame for Braves’ fall? (vote in poll)
 
562 comments
C-Kirk
C-Kirk

We didn't do so good on man to man coverage. Our blitzes of the second half kept enough pressure on the QB that his receivers didn't have time to get open with our Defense going to zone. It is refreshing to have a Defensive Coordinator make changes at half that work.Pruitt is definitely a keeper. 

Terry1961
Terry1961

St_Simons_he-ne-ha, Hutson Mason manage the game like he was suppose too, but in no way did he look better than Aaron Murray.

St_Simons_he-ne-ha
St_Simons_he-ne-ha

1, Gurley. Heisman. Over.

2. I TOLD you 3 yrs ago Hutson Mason was better than Choke Murray. If Mark would have let the best man be the qb, we'd have a crystal trophy from 2012.

3. The SEC has GOT to do something about the Tom Ritter crew of Birmingham refs. That crew has been so biased against Georgia for years, & it is glaringly embarrassing at this point.

4. Jeremy Pruitt for governor.

HockeyFan99
HockeyFan99

When did Grantham EVER hold a major college team to 15 total yards in one half. When I said give Pruitt a raise and make him HC in waiting, that was obviously tongue in cheek. Still, you now have a competent DC whose defense won the MNC last year. Go Dawgs!!

eeerpu
eeerpu

Georgia's backfield is the best stable of running backs since Hampton, Henderson  and Worley of the mid 80's.

keendaddy
keendaddy

How about we play and win one game at a time. Let's see how the season pans out, before we anoint Coach Pruitt HC. His second half adjustment tonight, mixed with our ground and pound and our vastly improved Special teams, is what won the game.

midtowncowboy
midtowncowboy

Wasn't the FSU QB arrested for shop lifting?  And yet he is playing in the first game.  Comical.  What a shi+ stain of a coach and institution.  

ARdawg
ARdawg

The best 2nd half defensive adjustment I have seen since Erk

HotDawg
HotDawg

Dawgs win! Dawgs win!

HockeyFan99
HockeyFan99

Can we please just make Pruitt the HC in waiting? Please???

PGH
PGH

You called it Jeff. Defense and Gurley. Boom. Go Dawgs!

SinceVince
SinceVince

Our Defense was swarming to the ball.

SinceVince
SinceVince

I thought Clemson was very physical in first half but you could tell our defense was even better from last year even in the first half when it was 21 up.

LADawg
LADawg

Offensive linemen should be lining up to come block for these backs.

HockeyFan99
HockeyFan99

Give Jeremy Pruitt a raise for Chrissake!!!

SinceVince
SinceVince

We have a Defensive Coordinator.... Boo Boo had me worried at times.... I was wrong.... I was still skeptical......

HockeyFan99
HockeyFan99

We now have the 4 Horsemen: Gurley, Marshall, Michel, Chubb

LADawg
LADawg

Derrick Henry made a good choice flipping from UGA to Bama. At Bama, he's good enough to be second team.

GTBob
GTBob

He also just gave up 21 points in a half to a team with serious injury problems, no QB, and pretty much zero skill players. Nice adjustment but they never should have played that bad in the first half.

LADawg
LADawg

@midtowncowboy I believe he missed an inning with the baseball team. Obviously, Pruitt has more class than that bunch in Tallahassee.

GTBob
GTBob

@ARdawg You guys should double his salary and make him the head coach in waiting like you wanted to do with Grantham at one point.

LADawg
LADawg

@SinceVince I was wrong, too. Gurley four offensive touches in the first half? By the end of the game it all made sense! Kudos to Coach Bobo!

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg At Bama he has a chance at winning a championship.

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob You'll be singing the praises of the Tech D if they hold the Tigers to 21 in either half.

HockeyFan99
HockeyFan99

Really?? 1st game with a new team with mostly players you didn't recruit against the 16th ranked team. Darn right he made the right adjustment....and how.

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

@GTBob @ARdawg  If he continues to demonstrate the same acuity as he did tonight, your suggestion may be on point Bob.

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob @LADawg You must not have watched any of the Bama game. WV is not much better than Wofford and gave Bama plenty. Bama is not even the best team in their state now.

birdrow
birdrow

@GTBob @LADawg Bobby, go back to watching paint dry and analyzing the Teck game today.  You know The Good, and The Bad?  The good you played a high school team, the bad you suck as usual.

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg After watching Clemson tonight, if they score more than 14 points against GT then I'm fine with our DC being fired.

GTBob
GTBob

He did. Against a pretty bad team. Frankly, Clemson shouldn't have scored in that game.

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg If you want to believe that then go ahead. FSU didn't start being shady when Richt left.

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg True. Bama was rough today. Eventually they will put Coker in there though and settle down. They will be in the conversation all year. They always are. Saban demands it.

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob Type up his walking papers. That's a given,

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

@GTBob  Well, inserting "frankly" into your sentence certainly  put a stamp on it for me. Clemson is so rotten the pre-season polls had them at #16 but what do they know compared to ole Bob.

keendaddy
keendaddy

FSU's entire organization, beats the hell out of the scum you named yourself after, GTBob...

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob @LADawg Bama's schedule demands it. Open the season with not one, not two, but three cupcakes. They could lose two or three conference games this year. 


If Coker was the second coming, he would have won the job for the Noles last year. Mighty Bama depending on another teams reject no matter how we slice it.

GTBob
GTBob

@keendaddy we are by far the worst. I agree.

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg Bama's schedule? Look at UGA's schedule. They just beat a Clemson team that has little chance of winning more than 8 games. Their only tough game the rest of the season is Auburn. You may not want to trash talk others schedules when you have cupcakes most of the season.

keendaddy
keendaddy

Glad we agree on something. Btw, thanks for staying out of our game-blog as long as you did...

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@GTBob @LADawg At least the Dogs should get credit for having Tech on there schedule,surely you don't infer that the Yellow Jackets are dare I say a 'Cup Cake"

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

@GTBob @LADawg  Bob, you may be the only person I know that would call an SEC schedule "cupcake." Keep up the good work.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

@GTBob I think South Carolina will be a tough game in Columbia. So will the Florida game. Missouri might be tricky and Auburn will be a test. 

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob @LADawg Give Tech the Dawgs cupcake schedule and they're a six or more loss team.


Something you can count on is that one of Clemson's wins will be against your Jackets.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgWhisperer I'm not paid to promote the SEC so I can actually talk about reality.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgGoneIt yeah, SC was stellar against A&M. Tough game there. Missouri? Really? Your only real tough game left is Auburn.

LADawg
LADawg

@DawgGoneIt @GTBob No SEC team has to apologize for their schedule. My comment about Bama's schedule was relative to other SEC schools.


Every ACC schedule is a cupcake because they play one another. The difference with the Noles is they are an SEC quality team playing in the All Cupcake Confernce.

DawgWhisperer
DawgWhisperer

@GTBob  Bob, there is a reason you're not paid to comment on collegiate football and the sooner you realize it, the better off we'll all be for it.

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob The only real team in the All Cupcake Conference is up by 3 on a "mediocre" Big 12 team.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@GTBob What was the TECH /Wofford score at the half?Lucky Tech did not open with a FBS school .

GTBob
GTBob

@LADawg, no FSU is an ACC quality team, because that just happens to be the conference they play in. There is no SEC quality. Take a look at SC or Vandy for this weekend, or even LSU, who is losing to a mediocre Big 10 team or Alabama who struggled against a bad WV team. The notion that you guys are above anyone is laughable.

GTBob
GTBob

I thought they were "SEC quality". Personally I hope Ok St pulls it off.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@GTBob Kind of like that great wofford team Tech beat today.Or the lucky Wolpack of NC state that were lucky to squeak by GA southern by 1 point.

LADawg
LADawg

@GTBob Yep, SEC quality. Any other ACC school would be down by two touchdowns, at least.