Top three things to know: Georgia vs North Carolina 

Posted: 9:27 pm Friday, September 2nd, 2016

By Jay Black

Greyson Lambert started every game but one for the Dawgs last season. He will get to start the opener this year.

Has Georgia made any improvements in the passing game?

We all know this is the debut of Kirby Smart as UGA’s head coach and obviously one game won’t give us much to determine the future of Georgia’s program. But Smart has already made one tough decision by going with Greyson Lambert over hotshot freshman Jacob Eason.

Lambert is not pro material by any stretch of the imagination, but he does do one thing that coaches (especially those in their first game) love. Don’t turn the ball over. Lambert only threw two interceptions last year and set the UGA record for lowest interception percentage.

New offensive coordinator Jim Chaney comes in highly touted and will need to get more out of Lambert that Brian Schottenhemier did, but it’s not clear what kind of weapons Chaney has to throw to. Terry Godwin is solid, but he is a sophomore and this is his first time as a No. 1 wide receiver. Then it’s a bunch other of guys trying to break through.

Chaney is expected to get the loaded tight end position better involved. Jeb Blazevich is must be a focal point. His backups Jackson Harris and 5-star freshman Issac Nauta could all see action.

Nick Chubb returns for the first time following a serious knee injury last year at Tennessee

Will Nick Chubb be the Nick Chubb of old?

Despite all the changes and talk about QBs, this Georgia team is nothing without Nick Chubb. Smart says Chubb will not be on a “pitch count” despite this being his first game back since blowing his knee out last year at Tennessee.

If it truly is “Chubby Time (copyright Scott Howard)” then the Dawgs win big. The junior from Cedartown tied a UGA record with 13 straight 100-yard games before the injury. He has rushed for 100 yards or more in every single start.

He does get what appears to be a very good match up for the opener. North Carolina’s defense was not exactly great last year and it finished the season allowing a NCAA Bowl record 645 rushing yards and 756 total yards.

That’s not really good.

Chubb’s backup Sony Michel is still a game time decision as he recovers from a broken arm.

North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky looks to pass during an NCAA college football practice in Chapel Hill. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Will Georgia’s depleted defensive line be able to keep up?

Guess the number of seniors Georgia has in its projected starting lineup? The answer is one and it’s safety Quincy Mauger. That total bumps to two if graduate transfer Maurice Smith starts at safety.

Either way, that’s not a lot. But Georgia’s secondary should be its strength, coming off being the number one ranked pass defense in America a year ago. The schedule and opponents make that stat a little deceiving, but bottom line, they don’t stink. They will have their hands full though against UNC’s  three-headed WR monster of Bug Howard (who is 6-foot-5), Mack Hollins (nearly 25 yards per catch, suspended for first half) and Ryan Switzer (needs one punt return to tie the NCAA record).

On the other hand Georgia’s defensive line could be in for a long day. The Tar Heels will push the tempo led by junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky (40-for-47 passing as a backup, no INTs, 6.0 yards per carry) and the Dawgs defensive line is very young and not very deep. After Chauncey Rivers was kicked off the team and Jonathan Ledbetter was suspended for DUI, UGA needs bodies.

Junior John Atkins and sophomore Trenton Thompson are the most experienced players in the group and that’s not saying much. Thompson will be expected to carry the load as the former number one recruit in the country enters his sophomore season.

Smart’s 3-deep depth chart includes five freshman. Not ideal when you are facing an offense that broke school records for points and yards per game last season.