Georgia is peaking at the right time. There were concerns about the defense not being as good as years past, a quarterback in his first year as a starter and the offense's ability when star TE Brock Bowers went down with an ankle injury. However, Georgia has been dominant week after week. This week should be no different as Georgia is a 10-point favorite on the road against the Tennessee Volunteers.
Georgia’s offensive depth and balance
I was wary of the Bulldogs' offense without Bowers, who leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving scores. Bowers missed games against Florida and Missouri, yet the offense with quarterback Carson Beck is humming, the team is 10-0 and it's clinched spot in the SEC title game against Alabama on Dec. 2. With Bowers sidelined, it was WR Ladd McConkey who shined in his place, racking up 230 total yards on 13 receptions in both games.
What was missing earlier in the season was offensive balance. The data and the eye test tell us the Bulldogs are a dropback team. However, Georgia has been excelling in rushing efficiency lately. Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards are top 15 in total EPA and top 10 in EPA per play. With Edwards' scoring ability (10 rushing touchdowns) and Milton’s explosiveness, this is a strong rushing offense to complement the already stellar passing game.
It’s because of this depth and balance, the Bulldogs lead the nation in touchdowns scored from the red zone. Having the ability to run the ball when needed is a nice tool to have.
Georgia vs. Tennessee
This was a game early in the season that piqued my interest. Now, with two games left in the regular season, it has lost its luster after the Vols face-planted last week in Missouri and underperformed most of the season. The Bulldogs will be the best offense the Vols have seen. Against the only two strong offensive teams Tennessee faced, it allowed 10.5 yards per pass to Alabama’s Jalen Milroe and allowed Missouri to run for 255 yards, its best rushing production of the season. Tennessee was outscored 70-27 combined in both games.
Beck has the second-highest passing grade in the SEC. Among qualifying quarterbacks, Tennessee’s Joe Milton is 12th out of 12, with the fifth-lowest YPA and the third-lowest adjusted completion percentage ahead of Auburn’s Payton Thorne and Kentucky’s Devin Leary.
Unfortunately for the Vols, Tennessee’s offense heavily relies on Joe Milton. He does have mobility but it hasn’t translated to efficiency, ranking 20th among quarterbacks when rushing and 121st out of 136 quarterbacks in yards after contact per attempt at 1.62. For comparison, LSU’s Jayden Daniels ranks seventh at 4.31 yards after contact per attempt.
Georgia did show vulnerability against a mobile quarterback in late September in a 27-20 win over Auburn, allowing Thorne to rush for 92 yards. This game shouldn't be that. For one, Kendall Milton didn't play against Auburn. Secondly, Tennessee has regressed and doesn’t have the offensive playmakers to contend. The Vols' last two wins came against Kentucky and UConn, sandwiched between losses to Alabama and Missouri.
Take away Joe Milton’s rushing ability and force him to throw, and you have a recipe for turnovers and sacks. Milton has been sacked nine times in his last four games compared to just five in his first five contests. The only play is for Georgia to get the 10-point road cover.
SEC championship early look
The early odds are out for the SEC title game between Georgia and Alabama on Dec 2. The opening line was Georgia -3 and has since been bet up to -4. As much as the Bulldogs can be recognized as a team that’s progressed each week, the Crimson Tide are the same.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe is a legit dual threat and a dangerous deep thrower. Milroe is third in the country in yards per pass and top 10 on deep balls. Add on the sixth-graded defense with a top-10 pass rush and that’s a dangerous recipe. The College Football Playoff rankings have Alabama eighth, but the eye test says Bama is a top-three contender. This is a great one to look forward to.