Friday, October 24, 2008

Dawg Barkin' Chasin' Down a Hoodoo There

The title of this post comes from a line in CCR’s “Born on the Bayou.” Of course, we’ve taken some liberties with the spelling of “Dawg.” This is a Georgia blog, for God’s sakes, and we all know what Saturday brings, the first trip to Tiger Stadium in 5 years for our Dawgs. One of the most respected, revered, but most importantly, feared stadiums in all of college football, if not the most. This Saturday afternoon, and thankfully not Saturday night, is what college football and the SEC are all about. Unfortunately, I won’t be there, but BNE will be well represented.

Onto the game…

LSU knows how to win. Just look at its game last week against South Carolina. The Gamecocks, as usual, doubted themselves at the end, and LSU, with a little help from the ref tackling, took advantage. The Bayou Bengals are a confident bunch, especially in the friendly, bourbon soaked confines of Red Stick. And they should be, winning 19 of their last 20 home games. Thank you AR-Kansas for that one loss, but we all know that LSU was undefeated in regulation last year, right Les…

The line of scrimmage will play a huge role in this game. It played a huge role in the Alabama game. We all know what happened there. The Dawgs will be starting the same offensive line lineup as in the Vanderbilt game. When was the last time the Dawgs could say that? LSU will throw DE’s Tyson Jackson and Ricky Jean Francois at them and DT Kirston Pittman. This is a veteran group. I expect the LSU front to occupy the Dawgs’ offensive line all day, in turn opening holes for the LSU linebackers to come free on the blitz. Even though Bo Pelini is gone, LSU still plays a similar blitzing, man-to-man defense that we all got used to when Nick Saban was coaching there.

The key will be the Dawgs’ backs picking up the extra man. Fortunately, Georgia is coached well here. And the Dawgs have an advantage on the outside with MoMass and AJ Green against LSU’s CB’s Jai Eugene (#4) and Chris Hawkins. Eugene is a gifted young player, but if Stafford has time, Eugene will have trouble covering MoMass or Green without safety help. The other CB won’t be as good for LSU. Speaking of safeties, LSU’s Harry Coleman (#24), Curtis Taylor (#27) and Chad Jones (#3) are headhunters in the typical LSU safety mold. Taylor is a veteran and Jones was highly recruited. LSU will bring the safety up, especially at the beginning of the game, to help against Georgia’s running attack.

While very good to this point in the season, I don’t know what to expect from Georgia’s running attack. I’m leaning towards the LSU linebackers, but Knowshon is just so good at changing the game on one drive.

On defense, Georgia will a tough time covering the man opposite Asher Allen’s side. It will either be Demetrius Byrd (#2) or Brandon LaFell (#1) depending on who Allen picks up. Both receivers are very good. And Trindon Holliday (#8), the 5’5”, 165-pound waterbug, is tough to catch. A mini Percy Harvin. Terrance Tolliver (#80) is yet another very good LSU wide receiver. He's the big target at 6'5". Only a sophomore, he plays behind Byrd and LaFell.

Georgia is saved here a bit because of LSU’s quarterback situation. Andrew Hatch (#14) will come in to run the option and throw occasionally, while Jarrett Lee (#12) will come in to throw the ball more. But, Lee’s not a huge threat with only 2 touchdown passes in 4 games. Neither quarterback will be the starter when LSU visits Georgia in 2009. That will probably go to Russell Sheppard, a hot shot recruit. Georgia has to take advantage of LSU's inconsistency at quarterback by pressuring and intercepting some footballs. Georgia has been in good position the last two weeks, but has failed to catch the ball, negating the turnover. Georgia’s defensive backs can’t drop the ball this week. When a turnover presents itself, and it will, it has to be made. If not, Georgia doesn’t win.

Even though LSU has a veteran offensive line with players like Herman Johnson and Ciron Black, I fully expect Georgia to slow down LSU’s running game. Georgia has been great at this all year, with the exception of the Alabama game. But, I don’t expect LSU’s coaching staff to maintain the run as much as Alabama’s coaching staff. Georgia’s defensive line should be ready as well as Georgia’s linebackers. Darryl Gamble is going to play a huge role and he is good enough, with help from Rennie Curran, to carry Georgia’s linebackers. Expect Reshad Jones to continue to help on run support from his safety position. He reads the play quickly now and responds like a cheetah. He’s turning into a combination of Sean Jones and Thomas Davis before our eyes.

With LSU’s quarterback problems, they won’t throw many deep balls, if at all. Georgia should creep up a safety all day and roll the other safety over to help the side opposite of Asher Allen.

As good as LSU is on the lines of scrimmage, I expect their lack of quarterback play to extremely affect the outcome of this contest. And to that, I give a slight advantage to the Dawgs.

Georgia 21, LSU 16

It will be a back and forth affair and the place will be very loud for the entirety of the game. A couple of turnovers should give both teams a short field once. Both teams will cash in on their opportunities. But who scores the touchdown and who kicks the field goal? In the end, what’s there not to like about the Dawgs on the road? They are a road team. And Knowshon will have his game changing drive…he’ll have more than one against the Gators…

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