Opposition Research: Arkansas State
It's Week 3, and No. 3 Georgia is set to host Sun Belt Conference member Arkansas State Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Kickoff is set for noon on ESPN2.
Of course, everyone knows the tragic story with head coach Blake Anderson losing his wife Wendy, who was also such a big part of the program. What can you say about the way the team has dealt with the situation?
Matheson: "The team handled it as well as you could ask. Wendy was very close to the team, and the team was very close to Wendy. The entire team attended the funeral and went to work on the practice field just a few hours later, determined to honor her memory this season. Wide receiver Omar Bayless was very close to Wendy Anderson, and has really elevated his play in the first two games. He was Player of the Game against UNLV, and dedicated his performance to Wendy when he was interviewed after the game. The team earned an impressive win at UNLV which coincided with Coach Anderson’s return."
What about the victory stood out to you above anything else?
Matheson: "It was an emotional victory, and I knew when Blake returned, the team would rally around him. I sent out a tweet Saturday night that said, 'The moment Blake Anderson walked into that meeting room this afternoon, the game was already over for UNLV. Blake's guys were going to rally around him, and that's exactly what they did.' The thing that really stood out to me was the effort from the defense. They completely shut down UNLV's triple-option attack. It takes a lot of discipline and poise to be able to do that."
What does Arkansas State have in quarterback Logan Bonner?
Matheson: "I've had some people give me crazy looks when I've said this, but I think Logan Bonner will prove to be better than two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Justice Hansen. I think Bonner has a stronger arm, makes better reads, and is more disciplined with the ball. That's a tall order for me to say that, given how good Hansen was, but Bonner has elevated his game over the past year in a very impressive manner."
What will Georgia’s biggest concern be in this game?
Matheson: "Let's be honest, Georgia is more talented across the board than Arkansas State, and will be expected to win this game by a few scores. If there's anything that could help Arkansas State make some plays it would be the talent at wide receiver. You have Omar Bayless who has elevated his game this year, Kirk Merritt who transferred in from Oregon and who has been a dominant player for the Red Wolves. His catching ability over defenders and his breakaway speed are huge for Arkansas State. You also have Dahu Green, a transfer from Oklahoma, and Bubba Ogbebor, a Boise State transfer. There's a lot of talent at the receiver position, and Arkansas State will attempt to use that to their advantage.
"The other factor will be how emotionally charged this team is right now, with Blake Anderson's return. They have adopted the #WinForWendy mantra, and have vowed to play at an elevated level in her memory."
How do you see Saturday’s game breaking down?
Matheson: "At the end of the day, I believe Georgia is going to win this one. The Bulldogs are an extremely talented team in the nation's best conference, and that will go a long way for them in the game. Arkansas State has some talent and some depth, and they are playing emotionally charged, due to Wendy's death and Blake's return, but I'm just not convinced that those factors will be enough for Arkansas State to steal a victory against one of the top teams in the SEC. I do believe this very well could be the last game that Arkansas State will lose this year, based on the talent and depth available to the Red Wolves."