As Georgia prepares to go to war with Clemson on Saturday, a few storylines are worth monitoring both before and during the game.
The game should prove to be one of the biggest regular-season non-conference games in years. Both programs are in the top-5 annually, and both are national title favorites heading into the 2021 season.
There are a few key things that could turn the tide of the game. Here are the biggest questions left for Georgia to answer against Clemson.
What is the status of Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith?
Tight end Darnell Washington and safety Tykee Smith reportedly underwent minor surgeries a few weeks ago. Both procedures were successful, and they are already on the recovery track.
The injuries aren't considered serious, but can Washington and Smith turn around in just two weeks to take on the Tigers? The initial reaction was no, but Washington took to Instagram Live to hint towards a possible return to action this Saturday.
It should be noted that upon the initial news of the injuries here on Dawgs Daily, we reported a timetable for the return of 4 to 6 weeks, leaving both out for the Clemson matchup. However, head coach Kirby Smart went on to say that both players were "day to day" and that he was "pleased" with their diagnosis.
Georgia should fare fine without the duo, but returning two key players for the biggest game of the season would be ideal. Dawgs Daily will continue to update readers on the status of both Washington and Smith, though we don't expect either to play at this moment.
How does the offensive line handle Clemson's front-seven?
The Clemson front-seven is one of the most fearsome groups in the country. They return multiple starters, and every member of the unit has seen legitimate playing time against national powers.
The Bulldogs have a few key offensive linemen returning, but they will start two new players along the line. Taking on this front-seven is a big ask of anyone, but it will be even more challenging for the newcomers.
Fortunately for the offensive line, Georgia has an experienced offensive coordinator and quarterback. Todd Monken will have to find some way to keep JT Daniels clean while also remaining explosive down the field.
We here at Dawgs Daily expect the starting lineup from left to right to look as follows:
Jamarree Salyer, Justin Shaffer, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, Tate Ratledge, and Warren McClendon.
With Warren Ericson still in a cast, he will likely travel but isn't expected to contribute unless there is an injury up front.
Can the Bulldog pass rush throw DJ Uiagalelei off his game?
Clemson signal-caller DJ Uiagalelei has a chance to be the next big thing in college football. He only has two career starts to his name, but the redshirt freshman has all of the tools to become a first-round pick.
Georgia has an improved secondary, but if Uiagalelei has all the time in the world to find receivers, then the back-end won't be able to hold up. The Georgia pass rush has to get home and not let Uiagalelei find a rhythm.
The Clemson offensive line returns a few quality starters, but this Bulldog pass rush could be the best in the SEC. The group is lead by a trio of defense tackles Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt and Jalen Carter, but the team also has several solid edge rushers. Travon Walker, Adam Anderson, and Nolan Smith all possess the ability to get after the quarterback, and they'll need to put that ability on display Saturday.
Pressure on a young and inexperienced quarterback, no matter how talented, could lead to some unforced errors.
Will JT Daniels rise to the occasion?
The offseason hype around JT Daniels is warranted. The final four games of the 2020 season left most Georgia fans clamoring for more. So, as the 2021 season kicks off, and JT Daniels is a Heisman hopeful heading into the year, can he live up to the expectations in week 1?
It's a tall task for any football team to start the season against the likes of Clemson, especially when you consider the injuries this team has battled through already this preseason.
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