College Playoff: Q&A with Georgia FanSided contributor

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 02: Nick Chubb /

Over the past few days, with both Oklahoma and Georgia busy preparing in sunny Southern California for their College Playoff semifinal contest on New Years’ Day, there has been about as much time devoted to media interview sessions as actual practice.

We felt it appropriate and highly relevant to take that same opportunity to ask a few questions from the fan’s perspective. So we reached out this week to one of the contributors to the FanSided site devoted to Georgia athletics, Alistair Penny, who writes for, to get the Bulldog outlook on the upcoming College Football Playoff showdown with the Sooners.

SiN: What was the reaction of the Georgia team when it learned it would face Oklahoma in one of the Playoff semifinal games?

DoD: I think they were pretty excited. I know the fans were! I have to admit that I don’t think our team really cares who they play. (Head coach) Kirby Smart’s motto of “chopping wood” seems to have sunk in pretty well with the Georgia players. But our fans are really pumped. Having never played the Sooners before in our history, this seems like the perfect program for us to play in our very first trip to the College Football Playoff.

SiN: What do you see as the key matchup in this game? Who will be the difference-maker for Georgia?

DoD: Everyone wants to talk about UGA’s defense (and we will later), but the key matchup for me is UGA’s offense vs. Oklahoma’s defense. While those two units are the weaker side of the two football teams, I think a lot of people are sleeping on just how good Georgia’s offense can be. UGA has blown out a lot of teams this year; they can score plenty of points.

The difference-maker is a Georgia defensive player, however. Sooner fans don’t get to see much defense in the Big 12, but (linebacker) Roquon Smith is a joy to watch. He’s head and shoulders above every other player on a very good UGA defensive unit, and if anyone can stop Baker Mayfield, it’s Smith. Every game, he has series when he single-handily causes three-and-outs. He’s the best defensive player I have ever seen between the hedges, and I think he’ll find a way to do something special before the game ends.

SiN: How will Georgia’s exceptional defensive unit go about stopping Oklahoma’s double-barrel offensive attack? (Shutting down the run game would be the fundamental way, but the Sooners are even more dangerous when the most accurate passer in college football puts it in the air.)

Dod: What makes UGA so dangerous on defense is their speed. Yes, they have some monsters in the trenches, but the reason they take the running game away from teams is that they shut down the edges with disciplined play and sideline-to-sideline speed from their linebacking corp, which is one of the best in college football. They also have great fundamentals and rarely miss a tackle.

They are going to need to stuff the run because stopping the pass is going to be a lot harder. They have never played a quarterback like Baker Mayfield, and the secondary is certainly the weakness of this defense. If they can improve their pass rush and get after Mayfield, I think they have a chance. But if (Mayfield) has time, I fully expect him to have a big day, and that thought is giving me plenty of sleepless nights right now.!

SiN: What are the three key elements of a successful Georgia game plan against OU?

DoD: 1) Can UGA control the clock and score at will on the Oklahoma defense? They’ve done just that to plenty of teams this year, but they can’t afford a bad game against Mayfield. They need to keep the pressure on by scoring and bleeding the clock.

2) Can they generate enough pass rush to force Mayfield to throw the ball early and not allow broken plays. The guy (Mayfield) is an (outright) terror out there when he buys time for his receivers to get open. Georgia needs to get him on his back and shut down those options.

3) Can UGA really shut down the (OU) running game? Everyone focuses on Mayfield, but Oklahoma can run the ball as well, and they did just that against a good TCU defense. Georgia’s run defense has been lights out this year, and if it can shut down Rodney Anderson, they’ll have a chance to get some three-and-outs. They will need some of those to win this game.

SiN: Your predication of the outcome of the game?

DoD: I’m in one of those tough binds because my heart and head are in two different places. I BELIEVE that UGA can go out and shock a lot of people and win this game. But just to be clear, there are some holes on this Georgia team, and it’s by no means the finished product. The secondary scares me, particularly against a player as good as Baker Mayfield., and my head keeps telling me that this could be a bridge too far for the Dawgs.

In the end, I EXPECT Mayfield to find a way to win this game. It’s going to be a close game, no matter what, and I really do believe that UGA will cause Oklahoma plenty of headaches, but I do think that (the Sooners) will find a way to win. Then, again, I wouldn’t get too happy about this, Sooner fans…I said exactly the same thing about Auburn in the SEC Championship game, and look how that turned out.