No pdf this week, had some issues…
Opponent: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Kickoff: 8:00 PM
Well, in a performance that wasn’t enirely unexpected, we were sloppy with the ball and managed to snag defeat from the jaws of victory. Whatever. The season died for many in Knoxville and it was only a matter of salvaging wins for status. After beating Auburn you thought the corner was turned but apparently at halftime we turned back around. Oh well, up next? Just our bitter arch-rival with 2 weeks to prepare, bringing in a high-powered running game that requires discipline and sound tackling to handle. Just perfect.
About the Kentucky game…
The Good: Pretty much everything about the first 30 minutes. Without our most dominant player on offense we rolled up yards and points at ease. Our thin WR corps played amazingly well and Orson Charles was a devastating weapon at TE. Defensively we smothered an overmatched UK offense and went into halftime up big.
The Bad: The fact we had to play the last 30 minutes. We turned the ball over 4 times in the second half and generally shot ourselves in the foot. Much like the 3rd quarter against GT last year we came out worse than flat. Offensively we put our defense in horrible positions with bad turnovers and defensively we didn’t respond to any opportunities to bow our back.
The Key: Turnovers. Plain and simple. That kickoff fumble by Smith was a backbreaker. It’s like Richt said, if we hold onto the ball and drive to score, we’re up 3 scores and it’s not likely that UK can bounce back. We don’t and they do. Ugh.
- Everybody and their brother knows what’s going on here. They’re going to run the triple option at you, mix in enough wrinkles to keep you honest, then throw it up top occasionally. They lead the country in offensive plays over 50 yards. Don’t think of them as a 2-yards and a cloud of dust offense. They’ll make you sell out to stop the dive, and when you do, they bust a big one on the perimeter.
- At QB, Josh Nesbitt is an ideal weapon for this offense. Not because of his strong arm and stronger legs, more so because he’s tough as a $2 steak. The kid can get pounded and never really show it. He’s got a good arm but he throws against man coverage that most QBs drool for because of the offense they run. He’s a solid pitch man and has improved in his 2nd year running this offense.
- RBs are the core of this offense. It starts both literally and figuratively with FB Jonathan Dwyer. OK technically it starts with Nesbitt, but the FB dive is the first option you have to stop. Dwyer probably leads the country in 2 yard gains but he’s also got that burst that scares the crap out of you. Even with all those short yardage carries he’s averaging nearly 7 ypc on the year and has over 1,200 yards. Fast and solid, he’s a perfect FB in this scheme. Wingbacks Anthony Allen and Roddy Jones provide great results on the outside as pitch-men. Allen, a transfer from Lousiville is actually averaging over 10 ypc. Jones has been banged up some and was probably more dynamic last year but is a deceptive threat. It’s not exactly reassuring when the 4th running option went for over 200 yards against you last year.
- The GT WR position is basically one name, but if you’re going to have one guy, you might as well make him a good one. Demaryius “Bay Bay” Thomas, the bane of spellchecks everywhere, is like Calvin Johnson lite, a big, fast WR who excels going up for the ball and taking it away. The interesting thing there is that Paul Johnson’s offense is obviously not one that you think of great WR numbers and Chan Gailey was the NFL passing guru yet the results are similar. Thomas benefits greatly from single coverage as secondaries have their noses in the backfield trying to find the ball…to the tune of catching a pass of 50 yards or more in 7 of 11 games this year and 35 yards are more in 9 of 11. For the year he’s grabbed 39 passes at a 24.4 yards per reception clip. No other player on the team has more than 6 catches on the year.
- Don’t bother looking at the GT line because their measurables mean very little. Johnson’s offense basically asks these guys to get low and occupy somebody. It’s like watching a Chinese fire drill at the snap, before the snap some would say. They’re quick and well coached. Straight up traditional blocking would get these guys blown out of most games but they know what they’re doing and do a good job of opening holes…considering GT is 2nd nationally in rushing yards I’d say they’re doing better than good.
- Bottom Line: Let’s see, GT is 2nd nationally in scoring offense and UGA is 75th in scoring defense. Awesome. We’ve got a strong enough interior DL to stop the dive play (hopefully) and our DEs have been playing so much better lately that I’d think guys like Houston and Dobbs set up well with a guy like Wood being better suited to this game as well. We’ll likely see Boykin get to match his considerable athletic skills against Thomas in solo coverage all day. That leaves our LBs and Safeties to try and run the final two options and the wide stuff. Not good. We’ve done a pretty good job stopping the run this year but this is a different animal and we’ll have to get our best game of the year from those units to slow down an offense that has rolled a ton of folks. Miami and Clemson had great success from athletically superior DLs disrupting the plays early but someone still has to make the tackle and that’s where we’ve struggled.
- Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: Let’s face it, odds are that Rennie Curran and Reshad Jones are heading to the NFL after this season. If that’s the case, this game could be their legacy. If we were to somehow figure out a way to slow this beat of an offense, they along with senior Brian Evans (who was having a great game at safety vs. GT before getting hurt last year) will need to go out on high notes. Watch those guys. If they are out of position, as they have been often this year, it won’t take long to figure out as the scoreboard will be quickly rolling over.
- The GT defense has had its moments this year. Not nearly as solid as the offense, it has some next level talents but they’ve gotten exposed a few times, notably by big passing performances. They gave up 31 to both Miss State and Vandy, two of the worst offenses in the SEC so there’s hope that if we can hang onto the ball (frankly a very long shot at this point) we could put some points on the board. We’ll see.
- The star of the GT defense is junior DE Derrick Morgan, a projected top-10 pick in next fall’s NFL draft. A pass-rushing threat on a big frame, His 17 TFLs and 12.5 sacks on the season easily make him GT’s leader in both categories and one of the more feared DEs in the ACC. The remainders of the DEs have yet to develop into anything opposite him. Inside, Logan Walls and Ben Anderson have started every game but haven’t really distinguished themselves.
- Jr. Brad Jefferson leads the team in tackles from his MLB spot and is flanked by 2nd leading tackler Sedric Griffin on one side in every game. The other spot, or Wolf LB, has seen a rotation of guys trying to develop as a playmaker. Youngsters Steven Sylvester and Julian Burnett have largely gotten that call but neither has been dominant though both show promise.
- Jr. Morgan Burnett is as good a safety as you’ll find not named Eric Berry. Yes I’m including Taylor Mays in that (that guy is just too big). He’s a ball hawk, with another 4 INTs on the year so far and his 4 pass breakups lead the team. Given Cox’ penchant for being careless with the ball in some games, Burnett could have a big day if we’re not careful. Mario Butler and Jerrard Tarrant are a couple of physical CBs with good size.
- Bottom Line: Frankly I don’t know how you approach stopping the UGA offense. Do you play to stop a running game that’s largely stopped itself all year and basically wait for the passing game to turn on itself? It’s what I’d do but you’re playing with fire. The UGA passing attack features the exact mode of attack that GT has struggled with at times, capable WRs, dangerous TEs and a QB who can complete the long ball. Sure we turn the ball over more than most but does Tech really want to gamble that that will hold for another week? Are they willing to risk a shot at the BCS for that? I wouldn’t. I imagine they’ll drop more in coverage and make us beat them on the ground. King and Ealey have become quite the tandem here recently. Maybe we can avoid those costly turnovers and come up with a performance to send Cox out on…a good one.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: We’ve done a great job of keeping Cox upright this year but Morgan will likely be the best pass rusher we’ve faced outside of Dunlap at Florida. Morgan is prone to big games and making plays in bunches. Boling and in particular Davis will have their hands full. As good as he is rushing the passer, he’s equally adept against the run. If we can slow him down, the rest of their DL isn’t in his class, but not many are.
The GT Game Overall
Here’s the deal with UGA. We’re not a great football team. That’s pretty clear. The thing is though, we’re not nearly as bad as some of the results and by no means are we at a point where this game should be considered a foregone conclusion. Look, if we don’t turn the ball over against UK we win by 3 TDs and come into this game on a complete high. If we continue to turn the ball over at the rate we’ve done so far, we could lose to anyone. Turnovers are a problem but far and away the more difficult aspect of our current turnover predicament is the fact that we can’t seem to force a turnover. We’ve managed to jump on one fumble all year. Just one. That’s failure on an epic level. We’ve managed a mere 7 INTs on the season. Given the fact GT will likely throw it barely a dozen times, it’s unlikely we’ll force an INT. One weakness of an option offense is typically a propensity to put it on the ground. If we can manage to somehow win the turnover battle our chances go way, way up. I feel confident saying if we finish -4 again we might as well not go.
This series has been about streaks. You have to go all the way back to Tech’s 16-7 win in 1977 to find a win by either team that wasn’t part of at least a 2-year run. Let’s change that. A win this weekend would shatter Tech like few losses could. For the first time in a long time many GT fans genuinely think they are going to win and not just the bluster of an excited fan. Frankly, they should. They’re the team with a punishing offense that’s rolled off 8 straight wins and we’re the team who just lost to Kentucky. GT rarely comes into this game favored. They are this year. It’s unfamiliar territory. For once the psychological edge in this game goes to us. Let’s take advantage. If you allow Paul Johnson another win, it’s more than a blip, it’s a major problem and it won’t be going anywhere soon.
I’ve thought all year that we would show up on both sides of the ball and dominate someone. It hasn’t happened yet and it some point it has to (right?). I’m by no means saying we win, not at all, I’m just saying that were we to pull this one out, I wouldn’t be as shocked as I imagine some around the country will be.
- Richard Samuel managed to get a concussion at RB in a “thud” practice and won’t play this week. He hasn’t had a carry in weeks so that doesn’t have a huge impact on us but it bears mentioning.
- I’d be in favor of a complete makeover of our entire kickoff coverage unit.
- Rambo apparently won’t be able to go. That pretty well thins out our safety ranks. Let’s pray for no injuries.
- Wooten “tha ball carrier” has some crazy concentration skills. Great plays on both of his TDs.
- We gotta keep getting Orson Charles the ball. That guy is just a big playmaker.
- So I saw the story about Jimmy Clausen getting punched in the face by a fan. How much money could Notre Dame raise just by auctioning that off?
- I imagine Green is out for the year. It’s just the way it goes for us. Other teams’ best player’s get hurt, are questionable “at best” and play no problem. We have guys miss multiple weeks with finger injuries.
- I don’t want to hear anymore about how much money the athletic association is making. They have 6 home games a year and we manage to not have a technical snafu about once a year. The clock Saturday was a new spin on an old trick. Just disappointing that we gross $50 million per year yet can’t get something every high school stadium in American manages to get right.
- If you’re going to do student tickets as ID required, you’re going to have gaps like we had in the corners of the student section Saturday on the weekends when the students are home for break. Sad but true.
- Tim Tebow’s last home game. If people think UGA fans are hung up on Herschel, I can’t imagine the deification that’s about to occur when Moxon, I mean Tebow, heads on to the NFL.
Have a safe weekend,