Welcome back to Overreaction Monday, which last week stated that the “next two weeks” should provide clarity about Georgia’s quarterback situation. As it turned out, one more week was all we needed.
Georgia (6-0 overall, 3-0 in SEC)
What happened: The Bulldogs defeated Vanderbilt 45-17 and have won their first three SEC games by 100 points (117-17).
What’s next: Georgia, now ranked No. 4 by the AP, plays host to Missouri (1-4, 0-3) and is a whopping 28-point favorite.
Overreaction narrative: “With this defense, this offensive line and Jake Fromm, we can’t lose! Playoffs!”
Reality check: Maybe. But slow the roll a little. The Dogs have six regular season games left. I’m guessing they will be favored in all six, including at Auburn Nov. 11. But while any Georgia fan is naturally going to be thinking playoffs right now, hold onto these two thoughts: 1) Three of the remaining six opponents are far from certain wins: Florida (duh), Auburn (strong team at home) and Georgia Tech (rivalry game). Coach Kirby Smart will do his best to make sure everybody realizes that. It’s why you’ll likely see him get even shorter with the media anytime the conversation drifts to the undefeated record or the potential of an SEC championship or playoff appearance. Stay in the moment. 2) While it’s clear the quarterback competition between Fromm and Jacob Eason is over — despite Smart’s preference to not make a declaration — Fromm still has much to prove. Over the coming weeks, more will be put on his shoulders in the passing game, because at some point Georgia likely will need him to make plays to win a game. At the very least, even if the Dogs win the SEC East with the nation’s 118th ranked passing offense, they won’t be able to run the ball at will against Alabama without the threat of a completed pass. Fromm has made great progress in the last three games, making two or three plays per game with his arm that either kept a scoring drive going or resulted in a touchdown. Logic suggests he’ll throw more against Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky because those are easily winnable games. His learning curve has been faster than what most would have expected for a true freshman. Meanwhile, Eason wasn’t put into the game until Georgia led 45-7. If that doesn’t say it’s over, nothing does. Eason could transfer but my guess is he’ll wait to see how the rest of the season plays out before making that decision. Sitting out a year, which he would have to do if he moved to another FBS program, would not be not an easy decision.
Georgia Tech (3-1 overall, 2-0 in ACC)
What happened: The Yellow Jackets were off following last week’s 33-7 win over North Carolina.
What’s next: They visit Miami Saturday in a game originally scheduled for Thursday night (pushed back because of hurricane-related scheduling changes).
Overreaction narrative: “Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech. This is when we meet our doom in the ACC. Doom, I say!”
Reality check: Let me start with this: Miami (4-0) is a good team, not a great team. Miami’s defense is allowing 383.5 yards per game, which ranks only 11th among ACC teams. There’s a reason the line is only six points (with Miami originally opening as a 10½-point favorite). I’m not going to argue about the potential for trouble in Tech’s remaining schedule. The Jackets have yet to play a true road game. The season opener vs. Tennessee was held at a neutral site and the Central Florida game was canceled. So yes, the Jackets are going to be severely tested in the second half. Of the remaining six games, four come against ranked teams (11-Miami, 2-Clemson, 15-Virginia Tech, 4-Georgia) and four are on the road (Miami, Clemson, Virginia, Duke). Quarterback TaQuon Marshall and B-back Kirvonte Benson have proven to be more than adequate replacements for Justin Thomas and Dedrick Mills, respectively, in the option offense. But it makes you wonder how strong the running game could have been with both Mills and Benson had the former not been dismissed just before the season. That’s key because even though the Jackets have allowed only 10, 17 and 7 points in their three wins, stuffing Jacksonville State, Pitt and North Carolina doesn’t compare to who’s coming in the second half of the season. But it’s better than we’ve see before from Tech’s defense.
What happened: They were off, and they needed to be off, after a 23-17 home loss to Buffalo, during which injuries continued to pile up.
What’s next: They’re home against the Miami Dolphins (2-2), who are coming off a 16-10 win against Tennessee.
Overreaction narrative: “We’re in trouble.”
Reality check: If they lose to Miami, then they would be in trouble. But they won’t. The Dolphins beat Tennessee with 178 yards in offense and quarterback Jay Cutler throwing from 92 yards (12 for 26) and a 52.1 rating. In short, they stink. If the Falcons win, they’ll be 4-1 going into a stretch of three straight road games (New England, New York Jets, Carolina). There are two keys to how their season plays out: one is health (more on that shortly) and the other is turnovers. The defense has only two takeaways in four games and ranks near the bottom of the league. The offense has six giveaways, including five interceptions. At least two of those were deflections off of receivers hands, but Ryan has not been as clean in the passing game as he was last season. As for injuries, the bye was well-timed. The wounded include Julio Jones (hip), Mohamed Sanu (hamstring), Ryan Schraeder and Terron Ward (neck) on offense, and Vic Beasley (hamstring), Ricardo Allen (concussion), Jack Crawford (torn bicep) and Courtney Upshaw (ankle, knee) on defense. Crawford is the only known long-term injury — he’s out for the season. Sanu and I’m guessing at least Beasley will be out this week. If Jones plays this week, it could be in a limited role because the Falcons need him to be healthy against New England. Bottom line: The Falcons are not clicking yet. But it’s early October. They don’t need to be clicking yet. Hold off on the panic for a while.
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