New Oregon OC Kenny Dillingham’s first game for Oregon will be against the defending National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Can Dillingham’s stacked offense lead Oregon to an upset win? This is going to be big boy football with five-star and Top-100 recruits all over the field, and Dillingham will have the national stage to show what his offense can do.
Georgia Will Reload on Defense
The Dawgs lost five defensive players to the first round of the NFL draft and 15 in total to the draft. Whew! That’s a lot to replace, but I’m not going to break down every player they lost and who’s projected to fill each spot.
This is Georgia football; replacing all that talent isn’t an issue!
Duck Offensive Line Has to Be Great
Oregon has one of the top offensive line units in the country that goes seven guys deep with solid game experience. The Ducks have some serious road graders on that line, so they will want to establish the run game for Byron Cardwell and Sean Dollars. Not only will they want to go for well over 100 yards on the ground, they will also have to pop some big runs if they want to win this game.
The Dawgs will counter with projected first round NFL pick DL Jalen Carter, the No. 18 player in the 2020 class. He is matched with a stable of other big-time dudes, the UGA defensive line talent is as good as Oregon will see all year. But UGA replaces its top three inside linebackers. Look Dillingham to attack those new inside backers with misdirection and play-fakes trying to confuse them, or just take them on with that big line.
Ducks Passing Game
Oregon has great young receiver talent that will pose a problem for all of the UGA secondary but Kelee Ringo. Ringo will be a top 10 NFL draft pick and Oregon should just stay away from that dude! Maybe the Ducks can beat Ringo one-on-one with Top 60 receivers Dont’e Thornton or Troy Franklin, but if Bo Nix misplaces one throw Ringo’s way it’s going to be picked off. Ringo is just too big-time to play with, and the Ducks can attack elsewhere.
A great place to attack is going to be those new inside backers with crosses over the middle or with an RB on a wheel route up the sideline. Look for Dillingham to attack these backers in multiple ways, looking to catch them in a coverage bust, for Dillingham creating confusion is key. Another place to attack will be the new cornerback on the opposite side of the field from Ringo. Derion Kendrick, last year’s starting corner who was the Orange Bowl Defensive MVP in Georgia’s playoff win over Michigan, has moved to the NFL.
Dawgs’ Pass Rush
Mr. Nolan Smith the 2019 No. 1 rated player in the nation will be a big problem for the Ducks on the edge. Smith must be big for the Dawgs, and they will scheme for him to be that guy, but don’t forget about the other UGA pass rush talent. Robert Beal Jr. who led the team in sacks last year is another star edge player, who along with Carter on the interior line will be trouble in the pass rush.
While the UGA pass rush won’t be what it was at the end of last season, it’s no joke! Oregon has to execute here mentally and physically because this a unit that is going to get after the QB. This is a key matchup, as the Ducks want to avoid strip sacks, or the QB throwing a bad interception while under pressure.
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Two Game-Changing Wild Cards
Both these wild cards belong to the Ducks, bringing some good and possible bad. Oregon receiver Seven McGee, a back converted to wide receiver, has that take it to the house factor. Oregon will want to get him a dozen touches and will do that in lots of ways. Look for McGee to motion from receiver into the back field for some carries, and they also may just line him up in the backfield to run. Getting McGee on a wheel route out of the backfield could be a play we see him break for a long gain. The dude is trouble for the Dawgs, and Dillingham will make them account for him in lots of ways. Again, creating confusion for the Dawgs, will be key for Dillingham.
Bo Nix is the unknown wild card. Will Nix with a better offensive line, skill players ball out and look the five-star dude he was supposed to be? Nix has 34 SEC starts. Now is the time for him to put it up, and if he does, the Ducks are in this game until the end. Or, will we see the bad Nix who throws a couple bad picks, one of them a devastating pick six?
Georgia has deep talent but has had to replace eight players on defense for the start of this season. If there was ever a time for the Ducks’ offense to play the Dawgs, it’s this year in Game 1! The Dawgs’ defense will not be as good as last year’s unit, though it will improve as the players get more game experience as the season progresses.
This game will be more competitive than the pundits think, and I expect the Ducks will have success on offense early in this game. I’m looking for this to be anyone’s game heading into the fourth quarter.
Duck fans what do you think of these key matchups, the impact players to watch? Do you think the Ducks’ offense can have success against the Dawgs’ new defense? Share your thoughts in the OBD FORUM!
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in SLC, Utah.
I was born a Cali kid and my uncle is a USC Alum. Remember going to an SC game when I was like 5 with him. I moved to Oregon in 77 when I was 6 and became a Duck fan long ago. I remember Reggie Ogburn OB days, so it was before the Ducks got good. I’ve been a sports nut since I was a kid.
I went to Tigard High about the same time as linebacker Jeremy Asher did, and I watched him team with Rich Ruhl on the inside of the Gang Green defense.
Lots of Ducks memories, Danny O’Neil’s passing in 1st Rose Bowl, Kenny Wheaton, Joey’s comebacks early in his career and how jacked up he got!
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