1st Down: Mississippi Mayhem
When the season began, Mississippi State looked like a mere blip on the radar screen.
Shows what I know.
Instead, the other Bulldogs roll into Sanford Stadium a perfect 3-0 after its impressive rout of LSU last week in Starkville, 37-7.
Not taking a single thing away from Mississippi State, but the term “hot garbage” certainly applied to Ed Oregon’s Bayou Bengals.
Three games do not a season make and we’re going to need a few more weeks to truly get a real idea where MSU and Georgia both stand.
That said, it’s fun knowing that each school’s hot start has added some extra excitement to a game few folks were expecting to be a red-letter afternoon.
Credit Dan Mullen for this – the man knows how to develop quarterbacks.
Known for his work with Tim Tebow when he served as the offensive coordinator at Florida, Mullen’s progressions with his two most recent quarterbacks – Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald – are impressive.
Neither quarterback was highly recruited. Fitzgerald’s only FBS offers were from Mississippi State and Middle Tennessee.
Now, Fitzgerald is arguably the top quarterback in the SEC and will be the focus of Georgia’s defense in Saturday night’s 7 p.m. game.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have an opportunity to keep their brand in the national spotlight heading into next week’s game at Tennessee.
It’s certainly getting interesting.
2nd Down: Whither Jacob Eason
Give credit where credit is due, so kudos to my colleague Radi Nabulsi for correctly reporting in the last 3-2-1 column that Jacob Eason would return to practice this Monday.
The question now is when will Eason play?
Kirby Smart obviously isn’t going to say. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t give Mississippi State a heads-up either, although that doesn’t preclude me from doing a little speculating.
I don’t think we’ll see Eason play in Saturday night’s game.
The reasons are two-fold.
First, during practice on Tuesday, it was obviously clear that Brice Ramsey was getting all the second-team looks behind Jake Fromm. Although Eason was out there taking part in drills, it was again obvious that the sophomore was just getting his “sea legs” under him. Quite simply, he wasn’t practicing like someone preparing to play in a game that’s four days away.
Second, it’s my humble opinion that his sprained left knee isn’t quite where it needs to be for him to be back on the field. Although there hasn’t been a noticeable limp, if any, it did appear that Eason was being just a little cautious stepping into his throws. Again, I don’t consider myself an analyst, but I’ve seen enough football and been to enough football practices to have a general idea.
When Eason is ready – 100 percent ready - I think he starts. The sophomore had a tremendous offseason and was tabbed the unquestioned starter by Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney throughout all of fall camp.
While we’re at it, there’s a misnomer that needs clearing up.
It’s been mentioned on the message board and elsewhere that Fromm is more respected by his teammates than Eason.
That’s not necessarily true.
Yes, teammates admire and respect the leadership that Fromm has shown. He’s got “moxie,” and whatever other cliched adjectives you want to add. I'm not taking anything from Fromm at all. His mother and her two sisters would kill me if I did.
That said, Eason earned a great share of respect by the way he has handled himself in the offseason, how he’s displayed more leadership, work ethic and was everything off the field you’d expect your quarterback to be. In other words, Eason has a lot of respect, too.
Georgia’s lucky to have both Eason and Fromm. Their teammates will tell you the same.
3rd Down: Lack of picks a concern
Smart hasn’t seemed overly concerned about his team’s complete lack of interceptions through three games, but apparently that’s not quite true with Mel Tucker.
No, reporters haven’t had the opportunity to speak with the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator since mid-August, but the word we get is that Tucker is not very happy with that zero in the stats column.
Defensive back J.R. Reed suggested as much during his time with the press on Monday.
“Yeah, he not,” Reed said. “He lets us know, if we get tips, we have to get those. If they hit our hands, we’ve got to get those, too.”
Georgia had a chance for a pair of interceptions last week against Samford but failed to come up with the ball. Senior Aaron Davis was the unfortunate player on both plays.
“I don’t know, I know a lot,” said Reed, when asked how many interceptions the secondary has let slip through their fingers.
“He’s been on us about it,” Reed said. “I know we dropped two this past game, one the last game. We need to get those turnovers and this will be a good game to do it.”
Reed’s right about that.
Fitzgerald isn’t prone to many mistakes and coming up with a pick or two in Saturday’s game would help Georgia’s cause.
Georgia is certainly due.
4th Down: Give props to Stanley
Wide receiver Jayson Stanley has endured his share of barbs from Bulldog fans not quick to forgive the junior for what they perceive as a problem with dropped passes.
Yes, Stanley has dropped a few, a fact he’s been quick to own up to during the few opportunities we’ve spoken with the former Creekside star.
A quick glance at the stats will show that Stanley has yet to catch a pass in Georgia’s three games, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made an impact on this year’s Bulldog team.
Quite the contrary.
Stanley has made quite the impression on the Bulldogs’ coverage units on special teams, something Smart has twice pointed out this week. He also had his first career kick return - for 24 yards. Stanley is also one of the team's best blockers among the wideouts.
So, kudos to Stanley.
While he’s yet to make the impact at receiver he would like, there’s been no pouting or moping - just a desire to help the Bulldogs any way he can.