This is The Advanced Stat/Film Preview column that will appear on Thursday of every game week on our DawgsCentral subscriber’s forum. For the season opener I am going to put this content out here for free. My hope is that you’ll read it and find it essential enough to subscribe to our website. You will also get the best UGA football and recruiting intel that you’re going to find anywhere, and we are sharing all of our data on player grades, personnel tendencies, etc.
Fair warning that Week 1 is the hardest to predict. We have no priors, no film of this year’s teams, and no idea how quickly transfers will gel with new rosters. To make matters worse, Oregon has a whole new coaching staff. Still, with all of those caveats in mind, if this piece doesn’t give you some keys for Saturday that you see on the field I’ll eat my “Run The Damn 13 Personnel” hat…
Annnnddddd we are back. Talking season is finally coming to a close, and that means it is time to bust out this column for the first time since I picked Georgia to beat Alabama 34-17 in Janurary.
QB - Bo Nix #11 - Bo Nix is Bo Nix. We know him. Georgia has had a plan for him since his freshman season and it has always been a good plan. If you flush him he will press and make some mistakes. In his past two games against UGA he has been about a 50% passer and has about 5 YPA. Georgia pressured him 17 times last year. He was 5/18 for 39 yards on those throws. If Georgia wants to have a comfortable game on Saturday they will have to pressure him again. Nix is actually a pretty good deep passer.,,, When he has time. Georgia needs to get to him to get the ball out quick. When they flush him they will have to keep him from hurting Georgia with his legs. UGA will spy him a lot. I expect Smael Mondon to do that some, as well as Nolan Smith and Malaki Starks when he is on the field in DB heavy packages.
Ty Thompson #13 - Thompson is an athletic marvel with size, athleticism and a quick release. He is probably better with underneath stuff than Nix, but in the Spring Game he made some decisions that made me ask if he can actually read coverages. He is athletic but he definitely doesn’t have Nix’s elusiveness. He can be prone to throwing the ball behind his WR’s as well. If Oregon starts him it will be a poor decision. I would compare it to what Dan Mullen did when he threw his talented young QB into the fire in Jacksonville last year.
RB - Byron Cardwell #21 - Caldwell is likely to be the guy who sees the most snaps out of the Oregon RB’s. He’s a decent RB who can make some nice plays in the PAC-12. He has some nice size and ran for 417 yards on 61 attempts last year. His 6.8 YPC average is nice but I don’t think he has the speed to break a home run on UGA unless someone is wildly out of position, but he did have a couple games last year (Colorado & Washington St) where he broke multiple chunk runs. Against CU he had 127 yards on 8 carries with a long of 34 yards. His 2021 pass block grade was an abysmal 29.6. Oregon only asked him to pass protect 6 times last year, so it appears they know it’s not a strong suit of Cardwell’s. If you see him in the game he’s probably either touching the ball or going out for a route.
RB2 - Mar’keise Irving #0 - Irving transferred in from Minnesota where he had a productive season last year, running for 696 yards and 4 TD’s on 5.3 YPC behind one of the Big 10’s most productive lines. He’s the best pass blocker among the Oregon RB’s. His 2021 grade was 73.2.
SCAT - Noah Whittington #22 - Athletically speaking, Whittington is the only one of these RB’s that should scare UGA. For those of you who were watching UGA football at the turn of the century, his comp would be a stouter version of Tyson Browning. He played at Peach County HS in Georgia and transferred to Oregon after proving those who doubted him because of his size wrong. He had 6.1 YPC and 619 yards at Western Kentucky last year. If Oregon can get him in space with screens or routes out of the backfield he can be dangerous.
X Receiver - Troy Franklin #11 - Troy Franklin was one of the nation’s top 8 receivers in the class of 2021. His freshman season saw him catch 18 balls for 209 yards in mostly mop up duty. He’s 6’3” 178 and he can get deep. Against most DB’s he’s a jump ball threat but Ringo can matchup with his height. He does have a bit of a tendency to drop a pass. Franklin had a 14.3% Drop Percentage last year. Still, there’s a universe where Ringo doesn’t get his head around on a throw or two and Franklin cashes in a couple explosives for Oregon.
Z Receiver - Dont’e Thornton #2 - At 6’5” 199 pounds he was the other stud WR that Bryan McClendon brought into Eugene in the Class of 2021. Franklin is gifted. He is 6’5” 199 pounds and he has some pretty impressive high end speed for his size. He only saw reserve snaps in the regular season last year before breaking out in Oregon’s bowl game against Oklahoma with 4 catches for 90 yards and a TD on 6 targets. He had 37 yards after the catch that night also. His 2.27 Yards Per Route Run is the best of any returning Oregon wideout. If there is someone on this roster who can hurt UGA downfield I think it his him. His ADOT against OU was 12.5 YPA
Chase Cota #23 (UCLA Transfer) - Cota transferred in from UCLA and is a big body. He never broke through with the Bruins and won’t have the speed to burn anyone but he’s a big body who can go over the middle and beat someone for a very well thrown jump ball. Kamari Lassiter should be able to have a nice day against him.
SLOT Receiver - Seven McGee #7 - Only targeted 9 times for 7 receptions in 2021 but is very shifty. He is 5’8” but he’s a stout 180 lbs. He also does a nice job in the open field. 8 of his 9 receiving targets came behind the line of scrimmage or less than 9 yards downfield. Total Average Depth of Target (ADOT) in 2021 was 2.0 yards. In Oregon’s Spring Game the Ducks targeted him downfield much more. He had rushing attempts last year as well, 14 carries for 61 yards with a long of 11 yards. That is the reason why you will see him almost exclusively as a WR in 2022. He should be the Ducks main guy in the slot.
Kris Hutson #1 - Hutson is a steady WR. He lined up as an outside WR about as much as in the slot. He’s not as speedy as McGee but he has good hands. 48 targets for 31 receptions in 2021 and 416 yards with 2 TD’s. He’s not a great blocker, and was responsible for 4 holding penalties last year. His ADOT was 12.9 yards, so they used him as a more downfield threat than an underneath slot type. His Receiving grade on throws from 10-19 yards was 94.7 and on throws 20+ yards he had a grade of 93.1. He had 4 catches on 10 targets for 143 yards when targeted on throws over 20 yards. He is not a big threat for yards after the catch, only having 4 missed tackles forced last season.
TE - Terrance Ferguson #3 - Oregon doesn’t have anything close to the TE’s that Georgia has, but Ferguson would be the closest thing to a receiving threat. He’s a big body and can go over the middle against zone coverage. He only was targeted 23 times last year but pulled down 17 of those for catches, giving him a respectable reception percentage of 73.9%. He is a terrible pass blocker, and Oregon is in trouble if they ask him to do it.
H-Back/TE 2 - Moliki Matavao #8 - Matavao is not a receiving threat but is an extra blocker in the pass and run game for Oregon. I think he’s a decent H-Back on the PAC-12 but I’m not sure he’ll be a solution for anything that Georgia throws at Oregon from a pass rush standpoint. He’s an extra body in the run game but I am suspect of how wise it would be of Oregon to try and go big against Georgia.
LT- Steven Jones #74 - Jones was Oregon’s sometimes Right Tackle last year and I think that he will move over to the LT spot this season. He’s a good player on a Top 25 team. He is not great but he handled himself well in the Horseshoe against Ohio State and he did a nice job in other games. Going up against Nolan Smith, Robert Beal, Ingram-Dawkins and Mykel Williams while protecting the blind side at LT is another thing though. Oregon’s staff has cross-trained LG TJ Bass at LT a lot and them doing so is indicative of the fact they’re not sure about Jones on a speed rush. Still, he only gave up 3 sacks and 16 pressures on 384 pass block opportunities last year.
OR TJ Bass #56
LG - TJ Bass - Bass was a dominant run blocker last year. His PFF Run Blocking Grade was 90.5 and he had some nice tape moving bodies around. If Oregon can keep him at LG I think it is good news for them, but he isn’t as productive against the pass rush. Still, his pass block grade was a respectable 74.0 and he only gave up 14 pressures on 450 passing snaps. The only problem for Oregon is that Jalen Carter is a real person who exists and will be playing football on Saturday. Bass is very good, but Carter gets to everybody eventually.
OR Steven Jones
C - Alex Forsyth #78 - Forsyth is solid. He’s not great and he is by no means bad. He has played a lot of football for Oregon and has been a consistent player. He only gave up 2 sacks and 3 pressures last year but he also isn’t going to blow anyone off of the ball. Dealing with Carter and Mykel Williams will be tough.
RG - Ryan Walk #53 - Walk is a versatile player who has played all over the interior line. He is, again, a solid player. That being said, he gave up 3 QB pressures each to Fresno St and Arizona in 2021. He is steady, but he can be had by high end talent like UGA’s.
RT - Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu #71 - Dominates at times against PAC-12 programs, but struggles against higher level competition. Against Washington last year he struggled. In Oregon’s second meeting with Utah he gave up 3 pressures. He’s a better run blocker than a pass blocker, but he isn’t great at either. I think Ingram-Dawkins, Beal, Smith and Williams can give him problems.
Free Safety - Bryan Addison #13 - Only significant coverage snaps were against Colorado last year. Gave up 4 REC’s on 4 TGT’s for 39 yards and 2 TD’s. I’m skeptical of how he will hold up in a game like this.
Strong Safety - Bennett Williams #4 - Played great in 53 snaps against Arizona, with 7 tackles recorded and had 5 stops (unsuccessful plays). Then played horrible against Oklahoma in the bowl game. 2 missed tackles and a 30.0 coverage grade. 3 TGT’s/3 REC’s for 89 yards and 1 TD. Georgia can pick on him with Bowers and the rest of the TE’s as well as its receivers.
Trikweze Bridges #11
Field CB - Christian Gonzalez #0 - He was really good last year at Colorado but he hasn’t seen too many stud WR’s. AD Mitchell is very good. He did face Drake London and gave up 4 REC’s on 6 TGT’s for 62 yards and 1 TD, which is actually a decent effort. I don’t know about his high end speed though.
Boundary CB - Trikweze Bridges #11 - Bridges is raw but he will be a good one. At 6’3” his size lets Oregon play him all over the field. For a guy that big he can cover well. He played a lot against OU in the bowl, but the most snaps he saw last year was in Week 1 against Fresno. He gave up 5 REC’s on 6 TGT’s for 78 yards and then was used as a reserve after that. He’s a bit of an x-factor in this game. Could be bait for Monken, but could also make some nice plays and do a really good job in run support.
Dontae Manning #8 - Only 149 coverage snaps in 2021. His coverage grade was 47.6. He is an unknown to me, only pressed into real action twice last year. Oregon State targeted him 6 times for 5 receptions, 52 yards and 2 TD’s.
Nickel - Jamal Hill #19 - I really like UGA’s opportunities to pick on Hill in the Slot. I think Georgia’s TE’s can actually beat him deep in most situations as well. This will be a spot to watch, especially with Jackson, Blaylock and McConkey all likely to see snaps. Hill got picked on at times by Utah. He gave up 37 catches for 416 yards last year. He allowed a catch 68.5% of the time when targeted. That’s problematic.
Bennett Williams #4
ILB - Noah Sewell #1 - COVERAGE LIABILITY… 40 TGT’s/28 REC’s and 240 YDS in 2021. Reception % allowed was 70%. ADOT was only 3.9 YPA when in coverage, but gave up 178 YAC. He’s 260 pounds, and while he moves well for 260 pounds this is the type of LB that Kirby was coaching at Bama in 2012. Think like a Dont’a Hightower. Sewell is going to have a tough time chasing KM X 2 around. If they’re relying on him to cover Darnell, Arik or Brock then forget it. Those guys will give him a long night.
ILB - Justin Flowe #10 - COVERAGE LIABILITY. Flowe was targeted 7 times and gave up 6 receptions for 68 yards and a TD in pass coverage against Fresno State last season. (Only game). I think this game breaks down for Oregon at ILB. That’s a bit ironic considering the media narratives around this duo.
Jack LB/Edge Rusher - Bradyn Swinson #44 - Swinson has been pegged as the next great Oregon pass rusher by fans and some media after he had roughly 5 sacks in the first half of Oregon’s spring game. It is possible that he’s had the greatest one year leap ever, and I do think he can make some noise against most of Oregon’s schedule. That said, Swinson had an abysmal run defense grade of 46.0 last year and hasn’t been able to set an Edge to this point in his career.
DJ Johnson #2 - Incredible athlete who played offense and defense for Oregon last year, lining up at TE inline, in the slot and out wide. He can do a lot, but it is on defense where he will play in 2022. He’s going to be better now focused on being a true d-lineman but he did record 5 pressures and a sack last year in 67 pass rush snaps. That’s highly productive. He may have a better chance at setting Edges against Georgia than Swinson.
SAM/OLB - Mase Funa #18 - Funa had 13 pressures in 2021 on 171 pass rush snaps. He is not going to be able to create havoc on Tackles like Jones and McClendon. He had a 77 run defense grade last year, but didn’t perform nearly as well when he played good offensive lines. His run defense grade against Ohio St was 62.6, versus Utah 59.3 and versus Oklahoma was 56.1. He had 3 sacks and 11 pressures in 2021 in 152 PRSH snaps but I don’t know if he can create problems versus UGA’s Tackles. At 6’4” 233 pounds he is decent in coverage.
Nose Tackle- Taki Taimani #55 - He’s an athletic 315 and lead Washington’s DL in tackles last season. He recorded 7 tackles against Michigan and can be a problem in the run game. Georgia will have to do some things to move him out of the middle. It is big for UGA that Ratledge is back. It will be interesting to see how Truss handles him, but Truss’s strength is in run blocking.
Popo Aumavae #50 - Turned in some productive pass rush performances in 2021 by Nose Tackle standards. He can play the run well and is strong in the middle of the line. He and Taimani make for a pretty formidable pair of DT’s.
Defensive Tackle - Keyon Ware-Hudson #95 - Ware-Hudson is not a great tackler, compiling just 11 tackles in 2021 while having 3 missed tackles. He’s serviceable against the run in the P-12 but putting a 281 pound tackle on the field against Georgia is like bringing a butter knife to a nuclear war.
Defensive End - Brandon Dorlus #3 - Dorlus is the best player on Oregon’s team in my opinion. He is good. He’s not Will Anderson as a pass rusher but he’s a force. More of a bull rush guy at 290ish pounds. He can create some problems. 42 pressures in 2021 in 398 Pass Rush snaps. He’s not quite as good against the run, but he’s by no means bad. Georgia will likely have more success attacking the side opposite of him.
Bradyn Swinson #44
Matchup Analysis/Score Prediction
When Oregon Has The Ball…
We haven’t seen Kenny Dillingham in action yet at Oregon, so we’re forced to guess a bit on what the Ducks will try to do against the Dawgs on Saturday. That being said, we saw him at FSU the last two seasons and he was at Auburn in 2019 prior to that.
Expect his offense to be varied in its formations and try to spread it out more than Oregon did under Mario Cristobal. The Ducks will try to give Georgia lots of looks, but according to some interviews this week they seem committed to trying to play football at the point of attack.
One thing that has been a staple of his offenses is using his QB’s in the run game. Bo Nix ran for 429 yards in 2019 and Jordan Travis eclipsed 500 yards rushing each of the last two years. We know that Kirby Smart has a plan for Nix’s legs. The MINT front that has become a large part of UGA’s defense was designed around containing mobile quarterbacks on designed runs and scrambles. Georgia will spy Nix with Malaki Starks, Nolan Smith, Smael Mondon, or one of the other freakish athletes that UGA has assembled on defense.
I’m just not going to worry about a Kirby Smart team having issues with a QB run game until I see it.
None of Oregon’s RB’s are what I’d call elite. They’re fine, but they are not capable of making the hero play where they make something out of nothing. They need blocking. The best chance of getting it is behind TJ Bass. The assumption is that he will be back in the LG spot where he earned a 90.5 PFF run grade in 2021, but Oregon might be forced to play him at Tackle. If they are then it’s problematic for the Ducks in my opinion.
I expect Oregon’s offensive line to be better against the run than the pass, but I also can’t get over the 2.6 YPC output they had against Utah in the Pac-12 title game. This group is experienced but I just can’t see them pushing Georgia around in the trenches. Mykel Williams, Zion Logue, Jalen Carter, Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, Nolan Smith, etc. are too good for that.
If they can get the ball to scat back Noah Whittington in space he might be able to make something happen, but UGA will key on him quick if that’s the gameplan for the Ducks.
Oregon has a nice group of WR’s. They are big and athletic and they can tun. That being said, downfield routes need time to develop. I think Oregon can take some shots on the boundaries and probably find some success, but how many of those can they realistically run against Georgia’s pass rush? I’m not sure.
This Oregon group of WR’s is also long on tall guys who run well in a straight line and short on shifty wideouts who can work over the middle on a quick slant. I expect Dillingham to run a lot of RPO’s early and try to confuse the young ILB duo of Mondon and Dumas-Johnson.
I think Oregon can make some plays down the field, but I don’t believe they can do it consistently. For RPO’s and play-action to be a threat the run game has to be able to get 4-6 yards a pop with some consistency. I don’t believe it can.
Dillingham will scheme up some nice stuff on his scripts on the first couple of drives, and Lanning’s knowledge of UGA’s systems will help the Ducks early.
Here’s the conundrum. Dillingham wants to make Oregon more of a spread passing attack, but I’m not sure they have the personnel to do it just yet. His personnel is better suited to the physical running attack the Ducks ran under Cristobal, but this is Georgia. The last team I would want to play that style against is the Bulldogs.
Oregon’s slot duo of Seven McGee and Kris Hutson are capable of doing some nice things after the catch. But the Dawgs are going to be using Javon Bullard to cover in the slot and he’s the matchup you want against shiftier players.
When the field tightens in the Red Zone I think UGA will have a lot of answers for Oregon. Those big WR’s are a threat on the outside, but Ringo matches up well at 6’3” and Lassiter is going to be physical enough to play press coverage against Franklin, Thornton and Cota.
If UGA’s front four ends up being as good as some people are saying they will be then they might blow everything up from the start.
When Georgia Has The Ball…
I think Oregon has some decent pieces in the middle of its defensive line. Taki Taimani is a good player and Brandon Dorlus is a good defensive end who is big enough to not get washed out of the run game. Where Oregon will struggle is with its pass rushers. None of their pass rushing guys are going to be able to hold up well enough to set edges against Jones and McClendon.
I think Georgia will test the edges early and see if the Ducks can hold up. When they get to the second level Sewell and Flowe will be waiting there. While those guys can thump, they’re also heavier linebackers who will have a hard time erasing angles if they get into traffic.
Georgia will be able to run the ball on Oregon. If they can run it well it’s going to be an extremely long day for the Ducks.
The unit with the most unknowns in this game is the Oregon secondary. From what I have seen on tape I don’t think they matchup well with UGA’s wideouts. Their Nickel/Slot corner Jamal Hill is a spot where I think UGA can make some plays. Kearis Jackson and Ladd McConkey are both capable of beating him badly off the line if he doesn’t get hands on them quickly.
I also can’t get over what Utah did to Oregon twice last year. It wasn’t a scheme issue. It was a straight up personnel problem. Utah ran more 2 and 3 tight-end sets than anyone in college football last year.
2021 UGA had at least one tight-end on the field for 90.3% of its offensive snaps. I expect UGA to show the 12 and 13 Personnel sets early and often. Why? Let’s take a look at what Utah did to Oregon with multiple tight-ends. I compiled some clips of the havoc the Utes wreaked on Oregon here.
The Bulldogs had two TE’s on the field for 38.4% of its offensive snaps in 2021. That’s one of the highest percentages of any team in college football. They had 2 or 3 tight-ends in the formation for 44% of its plays.
12 Personnel 2021 - 379 Plays (38.4% of all offensive snaps)
235 Run - 1339 Yards, 5.7 YPA, 51% Success Rate
144 Pass - 1291 Yards, 9 YPA, 49% Success Rate
12 Personnel Runs
Inside Power - 67 att - 28.5% of 12 Pers rush att - 301 yards 4.4 YPA (55% SR)
Inside Zone Read - 44 att - 18.72% - 245 yards 11.1 YPA (48% SR)
***151 Yards off Tackle Counter at 13.7 YPA (64% SR)
***94 Yards off Counter at 8.55 YPA (45.5% SR)
That’s NINE YARDS PER ATTEMPT on pass plays with 2 TE’s. That’s VERY efficient offense. UGA ran 13 Personnel way less, but it was still part of their offense. Expect that number to go up with the TE room UGA has this season.
13 Personnel 2021 - 55 Plays (5.6% of all offensive snaps)
37 Run - 279 yards, 7.6 YPA, 62% Success Rate
22 Pass - 196 yards, 8.9 YPA, 55% Success Rate
Let’s take a quick second to see Utah’s tight-end usage in its two games against Oregon last season…
I think Georgia is going to line its tight-ends up all over the field and I don’t think Oregon can stop it. The weapons that UGA has to go with those TE’s are also way more explosive than what the Utes fielded in 2021.
I don’t think Oregon can match the physicality that Georgia’s multiple TE sets will being to the run game and still keep personnel who can cover them in the pass game on the field. It will be too much for the Ducks.
If those clips from Utah looked familiar there’s a reason why. Here’s Georgia running a lot of the same concepts against Kentucky last season.
In my opinion, where this game really breaks down for Oregon is when Flowe and Sewell get stuck in pass coverage.
Flowe was targeted 7 times and gave up 6 receptions for 68 yards and a TD in pass coverage against Fresno State last season. What UGA trots out with its tight ends and Kenny McIntosh will be a lot more to handle than Fresno State’s personnel.
Sewell was targeted 40 times last year and gave up 28 receptions for 240 YDS. His reception percentage allowed was 70%. The Average Depth of Target of the pass catchers he was covering was only 3.9 YPA but he still gave up 178 yards after the catch.
Sewell is 260 pounds, and while he moves well for 260 pounds this is the type of LB that Kirby Smart was coaching at Bama in 2012. Think like a Dont’a Hightower. Sewell is going to have a tough time chasing UGA’s running backs around. If they’re relying on him to cover Darnell, Arik or Brock then forget it. Those guys will give him a long night. Knowing Todd Monken, he will find a way to get his TE’s and RB’s isolated on Sewell.
Oregon will hit some plays early and their script will probably be good, but once UGA adjusts it’s going to be a long night for Oregon. We know Smart has had a good plan for Nix for a few years now, and I don’t think they will be able to give him enough time to produce a consistent vertical passing attack. UGA’s depth and star power will win out at the point of attack.
Georgia’s offense is going to come out humming and will have lots of favorable matchups downfield. While Oregon goes deeper on the defensive line than most programs, they do not have the high end talent to create havoc on this UGA offensive line.
Expect Bennett to have a big day and Kenny McIntosh to have some big opportunities in the passing game. Sewell and Flowe can’t cover him on a Wheel route. Georgia’s tight ends and OL will lean on Oregon in the run game and dare the Ducks to bring in more big bodies to stop it. If they do, they’re dead, Georgia will go over the top for big plays. If they don’t, they’re still dead…
Georgia 45 - Oregon 20