Top 3 things to know: No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 23 Ole Miss 

Posted: 10:05 pm Friday, September 23rd, 2016

By Jay Black

Quincy Mauger had two of Georgia’s three interceptions last week.

Georgia’s pass defense vs. Chad Kelly

In the first half against Missouri, Georgia’s pass defense looked lost. In the second half against Missouri, Georgia’s pass defense looked fine.

It didn’t hurt that the Tigers let their foot off the gas and ran the ball, but three interceptions is no joke. What is also nothing to laugh at, is the Dawgs gave up more than 300 yards passing in 30 minutes.

Missouri’s Drew Lock is good, but Chad Kelly is better.

The Rebels QB is a legit NFL prospect. He’s second in the SEC in passing yards and first in TDs. But he can turn the ball over too. Kelly is tied for the league lead with three interceptions (all against FSU), a year after he finished second in the conference with 13 picks.

So if Georgia’s pass defense is more like what we saw in the second half last week then Kelly better be careful. If not look out.

He’s got plenty of targets to pick from, but his favorite is tight end Evan Engram who is the SEC leader in receptions (20) and third in yards (302).

Don’t forget, the only time Kelly faced Kirby Smart was last season while Smart was leading Alabama’s defense. Kelly won with 341 passing yards, three TDs and no INTs.

Nick Chubb has had trouble staying on his feet since the opener.

Is Georgia’s running game really sunk?

Everybody knows what the problem is.

“We’ve looked at every combination we can,” says Kirby Smart about adjusting the starters on his offensive line.

“We’ve got great backs,” says guard Lamont Gaillard. “So we’ve got to put it in his hands and open up holes for him.”

Jacob Eason is now the undisputed starter on this football team and that’s nice, but he can’t be the focal point of this offense.

This team is — and always will be — a running team.

“Our identity is not going to change,” says Smart. “We have to just play better.”

Eason can’t pass the ball 55 times again, but he’s got to become a respected threat. Nicholls and Missouri sold out to stop the run by putting eight and nine men in the box and daring UGA to beat them over the top.

Alabama did prove it’s possible to run all over Ole Miss’ Landshark defense. The Tide rushed for 334 yards last week to drop the Rebels to next to last in the league in rushing. But I think this team has more talent than that.

Nick Chubb will struggle to get his 100 yards this week. But the Dawgs will have to have it.

Ole Miss is a desperate football team after getting up by Alabama and FSU.

Who will be ready for the early wakeup call?

Evidently coaches don’t like playing at noon any more than those who have to get ready for an 8 a.m. broadcast (yours truly).

“As a coach, you’re always real concerned with playing that early,” Smart said. “Getting your players for a 6:15 a.m. wake up call, that’s not normal. A 7 a.m. pre-game meal, that’s not normal. And then the fact that we didn’t play well against Nicholls.”

Yeah Georgia’s first noon game wasn’t all that good was it?

You’d think the opponent, the stage and the stakes would be enough to get ready but you never know.

Ole Miss has to be ready because their season is already on the line and it’s not October yet. The Rebels have already blown two 20+ point leads to No. 1 Alabama and then No. 4 Florida State.

This team has the talent to be No. 1 in the country but they just haven’t finished.

It’s going to be a hot, muggy, sticky, lazy Saturday in Mississippi. It’s not the easiest wake-up call to answer, but there is a significant reward for the team that does.