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Georgia Football's Road to Atlanta - Arkansas Edition

Leading up to the 2020 season, Dawgs Daily on SI.com Lead Editor Brooks Austin and Recruiting Analyst Blayne Gilmer breakdown the Road to Atlanta.

Atlanta. It's become home away from home for the Georgia Bulldogs during the Kirby Smart era. The coaches, the team, the university, the media and the Dawg faithful now expect Georgia to meet the standard they've set of representing the SEC East in the title game. In the way this year is a 10 game gauntlet of SEC opponents in this COVID-19 adjusted 2020 season. Dawgs Daily on SI.com Lead Editor Brooks Austin and Recruiting Analyst Blayne Gilmer are breaking down the Road to Atlanta. The first opponent is Arkansas. In this episode we talk about the Razorbacks, preview the match up, make predictions, and more. Check out the summary below, watch the full episode above, and enjoy discussion about college football.

ARKANSAS (2019: 2-10, 0-8. 7TH IN SEC WEST. FIRED CHAD MORRIS)

Arkansas is in a steep rebuilding climb. After a very turbulent and unsuccessful Chad Morris tenure, the Razorbacks have turned to former Georgia Offensive Line Coach Sam Pittman to the new 'Head Hog' so to speak in Fayetteville.

Pittman brings energy and an uncanny ability to build trust with recruits and players. We've spoken with many recruits of Georgia's that began their relationship with UGA with Pittman as their primary recruiter. When doing so, the words the student athletes always use are love and care. Pittman lets young men know and demonstrates that he cares for their well-being and their development as a person, not just as a player. That is an admirable trait and is one reason that Pittman had so much success at Georgia, but the veteran coach knows it's going to take more than love and care to get things done at Arkansas. That is evident by the moves Pittman orchestrated this offseason.

TRANSFERS 

When coming off a 2-10 season, recruiting at a high caliber isn't easy. Pittman knew this and knew that he would need to go out and get experienced players via the transfer portal. Well, not only did Pittman bring in experienced players, but they come from winning programs. Even though it will not likely be enough to full scale turn things around year one the leadership that the players listed below can bring will help Pittman establish a sturdy foundation for his program when it comes to culture. 

QB Feleipe Franks (Florida), DE Julius Coates from JUCO, DT Xavier Kelley (Clemson), LB Levi Draper (Oklahoma), CB Jerry Jacobs (Ark St), Treion Smith RB (ASU)

COACHING STAFF

An infusion of talent from the tranfer market is great, but coaching is paramount in building a winning program. Georgia will be up against a well coached team the first game of the season, that is for certain. 

Pittman hiring Barry Odom and Kendall Briles as his defensive and offensive coordinators respectively is an absolute homerun. Barry Odom is a coach that Kirby Smart has a ton of respect for an despite the overall record not turning out like he would have liked during his tenure at Missouri as Head Coach, the defenses for the Tigers were always up to par and became a game that Georgia was always leery of.

Kendall Briles has high octane offensive in his blood. The son of embattled former Baylor Head Coach Art Briles, Kendall has coached at Florida State, Houston, Florida Atlantic, and Baylor. With the comments that Sam Pittman made in his opening press conference about not being able just to run the ball in tight formations in the SEC, expect to see Arkansas spread it out. You can either be better than, less than, or different than. Arkansas doesn't have the talent to be better than, so their only hope is to be different than. Even though we expect to see many wrinkles from a Sam Pittman coached team with Briles as the play caller, it shouldn't be so different that Kirby and company won't be able to handle it.

Pittman also has an excellent recruiter and coach in Special Teams Coordinator Scott Fountain. Fountain of course served in the same role at Georgia previously and made the move with Pittman to Arkansas.

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TOP RETURNERS

  • RB Rakeem Boyd: 734 as a freshman / 1133 yards last year. Has averaged 6.0+ YPC both seasons.
  • Bumper Pool had 94 tackles a year ago.
  • Young WR Trio: Treylon Burks, Trey Knox, and Mike Woods are all solid football players. 

GEORGIA IN THIS GAME

The Dawgs have opened as a 24 point road favorite. Undoubtedly the defense is going to be very strong once again, but all eyes are going to be on the new Georgia offense under Todd Monken. Not only is Georgia running a new system but they are in the midst of a three way quarterback battle between Jamie Newman, JT Daniels, and Dwan Mathis. We at Dawgs Daily on SI.com feel strongly that multiple quarterbacks will play in the first few games for Georgia.

Look for Kirby Smart to coach more aggressively this year. Despite the worries and adjustments of all the newness on the offensive side, we do expect Georgia to score more points this year. That aspect mixed with the fact that Georgia has one of if not the most talented and most deep secondaries in the country and you have a recipe for some face paced, exciting football. Georgia can go man coverage with anybody on the back end and that should allow Smart and Lanning to dial up even more exotic pressures and blitzes to create more negative plays than the past few years for opposing offenses.

Check out the end of the video podcast for what stock Brooks and Blayne are buying and selling when it comes to Georgia players and narratives for this game and the 2020 season.

GAME PREDICTIONS:

Brooks: Georgia 48 - Arkansas 7

Blayne: Georgia 52 - Arkansas 17

**Tune in next week for a breakdown of Auburn and Tennessee.**

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