Following up from our earlier exchange with the Hobnail Boot, we're pleased to present a Q&A with another top Georgia blogger, T. Kyle King from our SB Nation counterpart, DawgSports.com. Quite frankly, the Bulldogs are kind of a mystery to us, so it was great to get Kyle's insights and general scouting report (note to Petrino: base your game plan on this interview and all will go well on Saturday).
Many thanks to Kyle for taking the time to share his knowledge, and keep an eye out for our answers to his questions coming soon on DawgSports.com.
Give us an overview of Georgia's strengths and weaknesses, and the players that are most likely to make the Hogs miserable on Saturday.
Hopefully, Justin Houston is one of the latter. The Bulldog defensive end is back from a two-game suspension, and not a moment too soon. The Red and Black got pretty good pressure on Stephen Garcia last weekend, but the South Carolina signal caller was able to squirt out of harm’s way. Ryan Mallett is a less mobile quarterback than Garcia and the Georgia defensive line is improved by Houston’s return.
While the Bulldogs boast a fairly solid secondary, receivers can find the seams and surehanded tight ends can turn short passes into big gains over the middle if the opposing quarterback is able to run through his reads. If Mallett lacks adequate time to throw, it will be because Houston is the missing piece of the puzzle for the Georgia front seven. If the Bulldogs can get to Mallett with four down linemen, it could be a long night for the Hogs.
You already know about A.J. Green, but you might be unfamiliar with Michael Moore (not the filmmaker) or Richard Samuel. Moore has stepped up his game to give the Bulldogs a credible second threat at receiver while the rest of the receiving corps matures.
Samuel has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the season among returning offensive players. Although he won’t be making anyone forget about Knowshon Rockwell Moreno anytime soon, Samuel has been stout at running back. If the Bulldogs’ experienced offensive line can open holes, Samuel can really get rolling. If that doesn’t happen, Joe Cox and the young receivers may struggle to get the offense clicking through the air.
Finally, guys named Brandon---whether Brandon Boykin or Branden Smith---are fast. If they touch the ball, the Hogs may be looking at the backs of their silver britches, because they could be gone.
What is your assessment of quarterback Joe Cox, and do you think he will last the season as a starter?
Barring injury, there is little doubt that Cox, the fifth-year senior, will be lining up under center for the remainder of the season. I am hopeful, however, that Logan Gray will be thrown into the mix more frequently, in the way that D.J. Shockley was given several series per game to run the offense while serving as the understudy to David Greene.
Obviously, Cox lacks the all-world arm of Matthew Stafford, but, seeing as how Stafford was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, that isn’t exactly a damning criticism. Cox came out of high school as the country’s seventh-rated quarterback and, after four years in the program, he has the respect of his teammates and knows the offense backwards and forwards.
While he doesn’t have anything like Stafford’s downfield range and his ugly pick-six against South Carolina undermined somewhat the notion that he is a Greene-like game manager, Cox’s critics have been overly harsh. Joe Cox is no Joe Tereshinski, and, with several other offensive playmakers stepping up their game, Cox will deliver an unspectacular competence that will keep the Bulldogs from losing games they ought to win.
What, if anything, about the Razorbacks and this game is keeping you up at night?
A night game on the road against a well-rested conference opponent represents enough of a daunting challenge, but all the evidence suggests that the Hogs are making steady progress under Bobby Petrino and an Arkansas team that is due for a breakout game would like nothing better than to turn Saturday night into its nationally-televised coming out party.
As was the case with the ill-fated opener against Oklahoma State, I’m less concerned with any particular part than I am with the whole. The thought of Georgia traveling cross-country into unfamiliar territory to face a squad that has had this game circled on the calendar all summer is quite enough to keep my stomach unsettled without my having to fret over specific players and coaches.
What does this game mean for the rest of Georgia's season, and what is your prediction for it?
While I hate to declare any game played in September a “must win,” a quick glance at the Bulldogs’ schedule reveals that a loss in Fayetteville virtually assures the Red and Black of heading into Jacksonville in late October with at least three losses. The Gators are ranked No. 1 in the land, Auburn appears to have rediscovered the concept of offense, and Georgia Tech is resurgent, at least by ACC standards. In other words, a stretch run comparable to Georgia’s November surges in 2006 and 2007 is unlikely. If the Bulldogs lose to the Razorbacks, the Red and Black could be looking at a season without a bowl game and quite possibly with a losing record.
As for a prediction, I wish I knew. I’ve been more wrong than usual in my forecasts for the last two games, and I knew a lot more about Oklahoma State and South Carolina than I feel like I know about Arkansas. I’ll work my way around to making an actual prognostication in time for “Too Much Information” on Friday, but, right now, I can honestly say that virtually no outcome on Saturday would surprise me too much.