1) Can Georgia match Boise’s intensity from the start? Though most of the offseason emphasis was on finishing games, we looked at how Georgia had their best games last year when they started well. Auburn was the only exception. In Georgia’s other six losses, they scored a combined ten first quarter points. Boise, on the other hand, likes to start quickly. Until their bowl game, they scored first in every game and never trailed at the end of the first quarter. And then there’s this…
2) How will Georgia handle adversity? There’s never a leadership problem when things are going well. Hopefully, Georgia can play mistake-free ball and get a lead they’ll never surrender. That would make for a nice opener. But how will the team handle a turnover? Or a deficit? Or momentum swinging to Boise in a comeback? Georgia has done the right things in the offseason to forge its leadership and get everyone “on the bus.” Will they stay on board if the bus looks to be breaking down, or will they stay to get it running again?
3) Can Georgia hold off the Boise comeback? I see a lot of Ryan Mallett in Kellen Moore (apart from the significant size difference). I keep thinking back to the end of the Arkansas game last year and the effortless way Mallett led Arkansas to the win after Georgia had recaptured momentum. Georgia’s defense surely contributed, but you got to see what happens when a team believes in its veteran quarterback at the end of the game. Kellen Moore is every bit that kind of clutch quarterback. Even in their 2010 loss to Nevada, Moore drove the Broncos into position for the win. He engineered the drive that beat Virginia Tech. It’s a dangerous situation when a team never thinks it’s out of a game. Georgia’s preseason emphasis has been on finishing games, and they might not get a more stubborn opponent this year.
4) How will the freshmen handle the stage? There’s no doubting their ability. Reports from practice are glowing. It’s different when you step in front of 80,000, even if they’re on your side. The best thrive, and it’s not too soon to expect an impact: Mark Ingram announced himself to the world in 2008 against Clemson in this very venue.
5) How have the coaches adapted? From Mitchell to Smith to Figgins to Charles, the offensive coaches have no shortage of versatile weapons with which to create mismatches and advantages. The defensive coaches have speed across the board and an intriguing set of combinations on the defensive line. They’ll be contrasted with one of the game’s best at getting efficient production from his talent.