Q&A with Georgia beat writer Chip Towers

AJC reporter and Georgia beat writer Chip Towers, a most estimable source for news on all things UGA, provides the insight on the Bulldogs this week. You can read his coverage here and follow him on Twitter here.

Q: What do you think of the notion that this team isn’t as talented as recent versions?

A: You know, I didn’t really buy that at first. But as I watched the Bulldogs struggle against the likes of Nicholls State and Vanderbilt, particularly on the offensive line, I started to see what Kirby Smart was seeing. I think UGA can still hang at the skill positions, though they’re not as talented as usual at wideout. But the lack of O-line talent is real.

Q: Where is Georgia most dangerous?

A: I’d say for Tech the biggest concerns have to be Georgia’s passing game and punt returns. The Dogs haven’t been real efficient through the air, but they’ve been taking more and more deep shots with Jacob Eason and his big arm, and hitting more of them. And Isaiah McKenzie is a threat to go “house” on any return.

Q: The Bulldogs are ranked 90th in offensive efficiency by one metric (FEI ratings) and others are in the neighborhood. They were fifth in 2014 and 63rd last year. What do you think has happened this season?

A: Again, it’s just the line. What they’re unable to count on this season is the regular 5-yard runs by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Their yards before contact is one of the worst in FBS. That’s left them in a lot of third and long situations. And that hasn’t been a good combination for a bad line and a young quarterback.

Q: How has Kirby Smart changed the program the most?

Well, the control factor is through the roof. As journalists, we get to hear from Kirby only and the players he hand selects. He is very organized from an operations standpoint and has brought in a virtual army of support personnel. So far, he hasn’t made the change he was brought it for, and that’s to get Georgia a championship. That one may take a while.

Q: What does it say about the Bulldogs that they lost to Vanderbilt but beat Auburn?

A: That they’re capable of beating anybody and losing the anybody. They truly are. That’s why the outcome of this one is so unpredictable. They caught Auburn at the right time without Kamryn Pettway. But Vanderbilt played extremely well and Georgia didn’t that particular day.

Bonus prediction: Dogs win on Rodrigo “Rec Specs” Blankenship field goal, 24-21.

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