We’re more than halfway through the 2021 college football season and so far, so good.
Georgia defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 30-13 last Saturday in Athens to bring the Dawgs to 7-0 on the season with five games left on the slate. But before the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party kicks off the tail end of the schedule, the bye week comes on Oct. 23, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. There are a multitude of injuries throughout the roster, with receivers and defensive backs being hit particularly hard, as well as quarterback JT Daniels. But the bye presents an opportunity to get a number of those players back and get healthy before making the drive for the SEC Championship Game and 12-0.
It also presents me with an opportunity to sit back and reflect on what’s happened so far this season, and what we can expect to happen the rest of the way. So here is a smattering of midseason awards I’m calling The Bye-Weekies. (I know, the name needs work.)
I Can’t Quit You, Baby Award: Stetson Bennett IV. No matter how hard we may try, we can’t get rid of the Mailman. And who would want to at this point? He’s started four games this season and won them all, passing for a total of 996 yards and 11 touchdowns to two interceptions. I’m not sold on him as the starter the rest of the way—particularly because Daniels is much better on third downs—but Bennett is the best No. 2 quarterback in the country and would be a starter for dozens of programs.
Best Defensive Lineman in College Football Award: Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt and Jalen Carter. I’m almost certainly wearing rose-tinted glasses, but I think Davis, Wyatt and Carter are the top three linemen in the country. The way they’ve dominated offenses this year has been astounding. Kentucky averaged more than 200 rushing yards a game coming into last weekend and only managed 51 against the Dawgs, thanks in large part to this trio’s dominance. Wyatt and Carter also blocked a field goal and extra point, respectively, against the Cats. Godspeed to any tailback unlucky enough to face these dudes.
Who the Hell Is That Guy? Award: Dan Jackson and Ladd McConkey. Jackson, a walk-on safety, garnered playing time because of depth issues in the secondary and has started the last two games because of Christopher Smith’s injury. He’s responded with 13 tackles in the last two weeks. McConkey also received early playing time because of injury, and he’s made it count. The freshman is second on the team in receptions (17) and receiving yards (295). Even when the team gets healthier, expect to continue seeing healthy doses of both these guys.
Damn Good Dog Lifetime Achievement Award: Zamir White. In a different era of Georgia football—one not too long ago—White would be the best player on our offense and considered one of the best running backs in the country. But between the recent shift in offensive philosophy and the ridiculous amount of talent we have at tailback, it doesn’t make sense to run a player like White 20 times a game. Zeus is our leading rusher this year, though, with 400 yards and seven touchdowns. He may not put up the numbers of a Todd Gurley or Nick Chubb, but don’t be fooled into thinking he’s not every bit as talented.
Redemption Story I Didn’t Know I Needed Award: Will Muschamp. Although he was hired as a defensive analyst, he moved to an on-field coaching special teams when Scott Cochran took a leave of absence. But there’s no way you get a coach like Muschamp on the field and only have him coach special teams. Say what you will about Boom as a head coach, the man knows how to coach a defense. The exceptional caliber of our players is what has made our defense the best in the country. But we shouldn’t dismiss the effect of adding Muschamp’s mind to the Kirby Smart-Dan Lanning brain trust. Will Muschamp, DGD?
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