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The time has come Dawg Nation. It’s time to return to the hallowed ground to all those who hail the Red & Black and yell “Go Dawgs” at the top of their lungs from every corner of Sanford Stadium. Welcome back for the 2015 season!
The opener promises to be an interesting feat. Georgia will face off against University of Louisiana – Monroe. Unlike the intense SEC/ACC battle opener against Clemson from last season, Georgia is the clear favorite to march into Week 2 undefeated.
However, what do the Red & Black loyal need to know heading into the 12:01 p.m. kick-off ?
Here are 5 keys to the season opener.
1. The New QB
Junior quarterback, Greyson Lambert, will start the game for the Georgia Bulldogs against ULM on Saturday. This name is not one UGA faithful have heard much. Unlike the former quarterbacks, Murray and Mason, Lambert has not made his presence known in Athens and Saturday will be his grand debut. Coach Richt named Lambert the starter earlier this week, stating it was one of the “toughest decisions, personal-wise, of his career”
“It really has been,” Richt said. “It’s a big deal because it’s a big position, and it’s one where normally you don’t roll guys in and out. Every other position you do that, but quarterbacks tend not to do that. It was a tough decision because they’re all extremely hard workers, they’re smart and they’re talented. They’ve all done well in our opinion.”
What is key to know about Lambert?
- He played two season at the University of Virginia (10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions).
- He beat out Brice Ramsey and Faton Baut for the starting slot.
- His overall performance in the off-season set him ahead of his fellow QBs.
- He is a 6-foot-5, 235-pound Jesup, Ga., native. (Welcome back home, Greyson!).
2. The Key Returners
Nick Chubb returns with a reputation to maintain. Chubb’s outstanding performance last year collected a total of 1,594 rushing yards last season. With a third of his action taking place between the hedges, Saturday is sure to be a thrilling display. Chubb was recently named the No. 2 player in the nation. With little hesitation, Chubb will be aiming for the No. 1 spot with his actions on the field. Last season, Chubb rushed for 14 touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per carry which boils down to an outstanding freshman year. After Todd Gurley’s departure to the NFL, Chubb will be the solid go-to man come Saturday and many thereafter.
Top returners also include: Sony Michel, Keith Marshall, Brendan Douglas, Quayvon Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, John Theus, Lorenzo Carter, Quincy Mauger, Marshall Morgan, and Malcom Mitchell will be ready for action against ULM.
Isaiah McKenzie has not be cleared against ULM. Justin Scott-Wesley underwent knee surgery and according to Richt is unlikely to see playing time. However, Scoot-Wesley has been able to step into more of a coach role after his injury.
3. The Coaches’ Perspective
Richt, per usual, is about focusing on everything Georgia has been working on for the past 45 practice sessions without a game. Richt will be concerned with taking care of business as the Bulldawgs face their first opponent of the 2015 season.
Pruitt boosted UGA’s defense to a new level after his arrival from the BCS National Championship FSU team in 2013. His system gave Georgia a new breath of life. The defense knows what to expect and what is expected of them from Pruitt. If the first year turn around was any sign of what is to come, the 2015 season will be one of great defensive strides.
Schottenheimer replaced Bobo as offensive coordinator and is sure to bring less predictable play calling. (A short brief on Schottenheimer: He transitioned to UGA from the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams (now the NFL home of Todd Gurley) for three seasons and the New York Jets from 2006-2011).
Georgia possesses a strong running game but will need to work the passing game. Georgia fans will remember how long it took for Hudson Mason to become comfortable in the pocket and let it fly. But again, when you have Todd Gurley, you feed the beast. Offensive rhythm will come with game action. Lambert will have sophomore tailback Nick Chubb to assist move the ball down field.
Overall, Schottenheimer will take his NFL experience and make it work in college.
4. Does ULM think they have what it takes?
According to press reports, Warhawks defensive lineman, Gerrand Johnson, plans to be the “better man” when he lines up against UGA’s Chubb. The task will not be an easy one for Johnson or his fellow Warhawks. Chubb has produces 8-straight games gaining 100-plus yards. Despite the 35-point favor given to Georgia, ULM will come in ready to prove their abilities against the Dawgs. In recent history, for the past three years the Warhawks have dismissed a Power 5 team. ULM isn’t afraid to hit the road and rough up opponents.
5. What to expect.
Don’t be surprised to see some inconsistency with the wide receiver slot. Georgia will be shifting through receivers. The receiver position remains young so be ready to see a lot of ground action. Can anyone say, “Run, Chubb, Run?” Be prepared to see a few QBs in the four quarters. Ramsey and Baut will be likely to get some reps against the Warhawks after Lambert completes his day.
Great Off-Season Behavior. The Bulldawgs completed a successful off-season without any arrest, suspensions- behavior or academic related – or dismissals. Way to go, UGA! Excited to have all player eligible for kick-off on Saturday between the hedges.
Their last meeting came in a 44-7 Georgia victory on Sept. 17, 2005, en route to the Bulldogs’ SEC Championship that season. Let’s hope history repeats itself.