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Graham Coffey

A #1 vs #2 matchup. The eyes of the entire nation upon Athens, GA… These are optimal conditions for HOT TAKES from all sorts of media types. 

We at DawgsCentral believe in doing actual research and giving actual football analysis when sharing our football predictions and opinions. This might shock you… But that isn’t always the case in the College Football media space.

Normally we don’t get these types of bold predictions until late in the week, but I’ve seen media types predicting a Tennessee win over Georgia since before the Neyland Stadium goalposts hit the bottom of the Tennessee River. To be clear, it is totally fine to think UGA will lose to Tennessee this weekend. What’s not fine is doing it without sharing any reason why you think it’s happening. 

This list of non-evidence based takes will be updated throughout the week as more and more hot takes are served. We’ll also share a few pieces of “analysis” that are just plain wrong and can be easily disproven with factual info available to anyone. Without further delay, let’s get it started…

#1… Connor O’Gara & Matt Hayes on the Saturday Down South podcast

Ohhhhh buddy. This is a doozy.

O’Gara: “Have you officially joined me in predicting that Tennessee is going to beat Georgia?”

Hayes on Tennesee: “I know they’re beating Georgia… You watched that Georgia team yesterday! You think that Georgia team is beating Tennesee?!”

Oh, Matt? Are they? 

For the uninitiated. This is the same man who has had classic takes like the following…

"The trend line is no longer pointing upward for a Georgia program that a few short years ago seemed to be on its way to becoming the next Alabama" - Hayes, December of 2019

The list of Hayes swing and misses is too long to print, but you would think he’d have caught onto this by now. The real question is this…

Did YOU watch that Georgia team versus Florida? If you did you would have seen a team that won by 22 on a neutral field versus a team that UT beat by 5 at home. Georgia held the Gators to a 27% Offensive Success Rate. Tennessee allowed a 45% Offensive Success Rate to the Gators. Furthermore, UGA topped the Gators 555-371 in total yardage. The Vols had 574 yards versus Florida and gave up 594 to the Gators. 

Hayes is welcome to think that Tennessee can come to town and beat Georgia… But there is absolutely NOTHING in the comparative analysis of how the two teams played against Florida that should give any analyst that type of confidence. 

#2… Dave Hooker of Off The Hook Sports

Hooker covers the Vols and published an article on Monday highlighting the “Three Reasons Why Tennessee Will Beat Georgia On Saturday

Hooker’s first reason is that “Georgia isn’t very mature.” Okay? That’s a take I guess.

Hooker’s second reason… “Georgia doesn’t contain the quarterback”

He goes on… “The Bulldogs have a significant weakness when it comes to stopping mobile quarterbacks. Florida’s Anthony Richardson turned in some key runs that kept the Gators in the game against Georgia. That should open some doors for Hendon Hooker on Saturday.”

Anthony Richardson’s Rushing Stats against UGA: 11 Attempts for 19 yards, 1.7 YPA

14 of Richardson’s whopping 19 yards came on 1 carry in the game. Furthermore, he is one of the hardest dudes to tackle in college football. Hendon Hooker is fleet of foot, but UGA’s strength as a defense for many years has been containing mobile QB’s. Hooker is great at taking yards up the middle when teams let him step up. Georgia hasn’t shown a tendency to do that at all this year. 

Richardson averages 6.2 YPC so far this year and has rushed for 45 YDS against every opponent not named Kentucky or Georgia. Hooker should know, as the Vols gave up 62 YDS and 2 TD’s to him on the ground when the two teams played in Knoxville. 

UPDATE… Wednesday, November 2nd

3… Matt Hayes Tees it Up Again For Us

Man oh man… Matt Hayes is just the gift that keeps on giving…

A day after serving up the take above on audio he went a step further in print. Here’s the piece he wrote… 

First and 10: Tennessee has everything 2019 LSU did -- and that worked out perfectly

Okay, there is A LOT to take in here. Hayes wrote out 3 whole points on how the 2022 Vols are the 2019 LSU Tigers, who were maybe the best team in college football history, reincarnated before our eyes. There is so much erroneous logic and comparison in this piece that we could spend the next 3 days picking it apart. Instead of doing that we’re going to spend our time actually previewing the Georgia-Tennessee game, but here are a few passages that are easily refuted with just a little bit of actual research. 

From Hayes… 

We can no longer avoid it. Tennessee, the surprise of the college football season, is quickly morphing into a dangerous version of the 2019 LSU national champions.

From Hayes… “Same explosive offense, with a white-hot quarterback and 3 dangerous receivers. Same athletic and emerging defense, growing more confident by the week. Same supremely confident team hitting the road for a November game to remember against the defending national champions. Three years ago, it was LSU’s trip to Alabama. This time, it’s Tennessee rolling into Athens to play Georgia…”

Hayes continues further into the article… “If you’re still not convinced this is more than just numbers and Tennessee will get exposed at Georgia, consider this: In 7 career games away from Knoxville, Hooker has thrown 21 TDs and only 1 INT. Once Tennessee wins at Georgia — like LSU did at Alabama — the comparisons with 2019 LSU will come full force.”

His logic for picking the Vols over UGA appears to be that he already told the reader he believes Tennessee is 2019 LSU. That is apparently the only burden of proof needed to understand why he thinks UT will win this game.

One problem Matt… Tennessee has just a 31% Blue-Chip Ratio. They are ranked 19th in the 247 Sports Team Talent Composite. No team with a roster composed of less than 50% blue-chip recruits (four and five-stars are the blue-chips in this model) has ever won a national title. The closest was 2016 Clemson with Deshaun Watson. Look friends, Hendon Hooker ain’t Deshaun Watson. 

2019 LSU felt like an out of nowhere story… But the Tigers were 5th in the 247 Sports Composite rankings. They were the 5th most well recruited roster in college football… Not the 19th. That LSU team had like 8 dudes drafted off of its defense, an incredible array of offensive weapons, and a guy named Joe Burrow who was absolutely unreal. 

Hayes goes on to talk about the importance of quarterbacking to winning a title in college football, an absolutely groundbreaking take that no journalist has ever made before… “Forget about Georgia last year. It was an anomaly — and Tennessee will prove it this week in Athens. The college game is all about offense, about getting the right quarterback and surrounding him with athletic and fast talent — and overwhelming defenses by scoring points in bunches. Georgia last year was different because the defense was so good, and the Alabama offense was so limited without its 2 best receivers (injured John Metchie III and Jameson Williams didn’t play 3 quarters of the national championship game), Georgia simply willed itself to the title with a nasty defense and an offense that made plays when it had to.”

Hayes then lists out the last 5 national title teams prior to 2021 UGA and then throws out this doozy… “It’s not a secret sauce, it’s right there in front of everyone to see. Get the right quarterback, surround him with talent, and a run at the Playoff isn’t as far away as you think. Tennessee, which hadn’t been a prominent player in the national title race in nearly 2 decades, will prove that case again Saturday at Georgia — and look more and more like LSU 2019 in the process.”

So Matt makes a couple points here. The first? UGA won the title last year because of its defense. Okay, I certainly won’t argue they could have won a title without their elite defense. At the same time, Stetson Bennett finished the 2021 season 3rd in QBR, 3rd in Yards Per Attempt… The list goes on and on. Statistically speaking, Bennett was as efficient as anyone not names Bryce Young or CJ Stroud last season. He did not have the same volume of attempts, but when he was asked to do something he did it. It’s not like UGA’s defense drug Joe Cox to a national title.

Matt’s second point appears to be that Tennessee’s quarterback is really good and Georgia’s is really not good. Well, we just talked about what Bennett did last year. Let’s talk about what the two are doing this year. 

Adjusted Completion % on 20+ Yard Throws: Hooker-56.3%, Bennett-50%

Adjusted Completion % on 10-19 Yard Throws: Bennett-64.6%, Hooker-58.5%

Adjusted Completion % on 0-9 Yard Throws: Hooker-89%, Bennett-88.6%

Adjusted Completion % Under Pressure: Bennett-72.4% on 40 attempts, Hooker-60.9% on 25 attempts (interesting note… Hooker has been pressured on 56 dropbacks. Bennett has been pressured on 49. Pressure Hooker and he bails out of the pocket half his time. Pressure Bennett and he is hanging in and delivering good balls down the field)

Adjusted Completion % When Kept Clean: Hooker-78.8%, Bennett-77.5%

This tweet from our friend Brent Rollins provides some interesting context as well.

So, now that you know all of this I must ask you… Do you think Hayes might be overselling Hooker a little bit? I mean, Hooker has a very comparable stat line to  Stetson Bennett. According to Hayes he is the guy whose defense drug him to a title. Remember… Hooker is 2019 Joe Burrow. How could he be a less accurate intermediate passer than Stetson Fleming Bennett IV?

Whoops… Looks like that narrative just got torpedoed. 

We will be updating this piece as the game draws nearer. Stay tuned throughout the week as more takes are served…


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