Your obligatory “keys to the game” post.

I think it’s mandated in the College Football Bloggers Handbook that you have to do one of these posts for the first game of every season.  Since I’m on record as saying this Georgia team is a complete mystery to me right now, it’s the only reason you’re seeing this.

If you want the lengthy version, OBNUG‘s as good a place to start as anywhere.  (Although about those SEC officials – if you Boise State fans hear the name “Penn Wagers” announced, start high-fiving each other.  It’ll be a good night for you on the officiating front.)

Me, I’m keeping it simple.  For all the talk about what’s on the line for both schools, about the two quarterbacks, about Crowell’s debut, I’m going to stick with two keys.

The first is line play.  I don’t think Georgia has to be dominant on the lines to be successful Saturday night, although that certainly wouldn’t hurt.  But it does have to hold its own there so that Murray and Crowell have a chance and so that the linebackers can lead the defense to improve on last year’s abysmal third-down showing.

The second is psychological.  As Barrett Sallee puts it,

Georgia’s season and Mark Richt’s job do not – I repeat DO NOT – hinge on the outcome of the Boise State game. As a matter of fact, as long as the Bulldogs don’t get blown out, and figure some things out in the process, the game will serve as a nice primer to the SEC season, which begins in earnest for the Bulldogs the following week between the hedges against South Carolina. With that said, if Georgia gets in a hole early, look out! The culture of losing crept into Athens last year, which is a dangerous thing for any football team. If Georgia doesn’t come out looking sharp against the Broncos, the wheels could come off really quickly, and that’s not good news for anybody in Athens.

If I’m Boise State, I’m doing everything I can to throw that early knockout blow.  If Georgia starts to doubt itself, this game will be over soon after.  On the flip side, if Georgia can weather the early storm (watch those turnovers, fellas) and find itself in no worse shape than a close contest after the first quarter, I like the Dawgs’ chances as the night wears on.  Overall, they’re more physically talented and they’re deeper than the Broncos.  They’ll be in the game as long as their heads are.

Let’s hear what you guys think.

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UPDATE:  Doug, you ignorant slut.

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UPDATE #2:  Similar thoughts at OTA.

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45 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

45 responses to “Your obligatory “keys to the game” post.

  1. gastr1

    I din’t think there’s any chance that BSU blows us out. Mind you, I don’t consider wining by two touchdowns–or even 17 points in the case of Auburn last year–to be a blowout. Getting up big early–20+ points– and staying up big, that sounds like a blowout to me. That did not happen with last year’s team on the road, even.

    BSU might win, but I can’t see it by more than 10, frankly. I expect a close game that we win: 27-20 with a late score and later holds by the D. Very good performance by the new d; special teams make a difference; UGA offense is spotty, even more than usual.

    • I’m not suggesting a blow out. But if BSU gets up 10-14 points early, like it did against Va Tech last year, I’m not sure Georgia has it in itself to shake that off mentally.

      • That Place is the Beat of my Heart!

        Yes, they put a quick 10 points on the Hokies early via fumble recovery and a blocked punt, then added another seven on a first quarter touchdown for a 17-0 advantage.

        At Nevada, they also took a 17-0 lead, but that wasn’t until the second quarter.

        Deny them the quick first half lead and they’ll know they’re in for something new and different, And, they know their second half is slow and their fourth quarter is very, very slow (by BSU’s standards, anyway).

        The way to psyche them out is to run with them the first half. They may be 38-2 over the past three years, but they haven’t seen anything like that before.

      • JBJ

        Agree, this is my fear. If they did get down early and fight their way back for a win, then all of a sudden my eyebrows will be raised. That could be the start of a new era.

        Heading to ATL tonight. Braves tomorrow, Dawgs on Saturday. Woohoo. Go Braves and GO DAWGS!

  2. Gravidy

    “P*nn W***rs”

    I’ll ask you kindly to watch your language, sir. This is a family blog.

  3. Charles

    Culture of losing? Fair enough thing to be worried about when you’re 6-7. But, I’m heartened by the renewed S&C focus on winning the 4th quarter. All the better given that this team did have a habit of fighting back in the 4th, but ultimately came up short. Remember, Finish the Drill became an empty slogan.

    From what I’m hearing out of a journalism-type friend of mine who covers the team, the athleticism and intensity at practices is markedly better than last year. They did good work over the summer. Let’s see what difference it makes on Saturday.

    • Junkyard Dawg '00

      I would think there are a number of reasons for the increased focus and intensity of the team this off season, but the one that stands out to me is the fact that we begin the season w/ such a high profile game. I have to believe that these kids want to shake off the disappointment of last year and prove to the world that things are different this year.

      As the Mayor would say, ‘Thank God for Red Panties!’

  4. Turd Ferguson

    I think we’ll basically be able to score at will against Boise (really not impressed by their defense … not yet, at least), so for now, my eyes are squarely on our defense. And unfortunately, all we really have to go on is the off-season happy talk. If the Geathers-Jenkins duo can (a) demand double- and triple-teams, and (b) stay relatively fresh for four quarters, I like our chances a lot. If they don’t, though, I think way too much pressure will be put on our secondary, and Kellen Moore will put on a clinic.

    • yurdle

      I’m exactly the opposite. The DL is the real deal, both against the pass and the run. LBs are weaker than DL, and DBs weaker than LB. They’re best up front, which is where we’ve got to fight ‘em every down. I think there is a real chance that UGA’s OL gets owned. (Not likely, but not impossible).

      Their O scares me less. Everybody but Kellen Moore is pretty standard fare for us – good skill, good frame, capable, but not outstanding – except their WRs look weak. Moore has a short-arm delivery that is fast as lightening but means he throws a lot of rainbows. Long-starting NFL receivers can make those catches, but I dont’ think those unproven guys will.

      And we win on ST.

    • Cojones

      Change that to score at will if we keep the little boogers out of our backfield. Like the Senator said, the game depends on the lines holding up. All the rest we are assured is in place to score points or limit the long ball.

  5. heyberto

    Which one is the ignorant slut? Manic doug or depressive doug?

  6. HC

    I hope that we lost most of the players with the losing attitude (those that like to fumble away on potential go ahead drives). And since it sounds like we will have several freshmen playing, perhaps they havent been infected with the losing spirit. I dont think that some (Aaron Murray) ever gave up last year.

  7. Russ

    Who is this Barrett Sallee and why is he speaking rationally? This is the internet, dammit! I won’t have my interest sullied like that!

  8. Go Dawgs!

    They wanted us. Well, they’ve got us. It’s time, baby.

  9. Zero Point Zero

    The key is putting KM on his ass early and often. A little fog in his helmet will slow things down. See 2005.

  10. JBJ

    Hey Jenny Slater still on hiatus (sniff, sniff). Miss the blog Doug. (sniff, sniff)

  11. Jim

    A stop on defense on their first drive. Power running game for a TD on our first drive a la Florida in 07 or yech in 09. Set that tone and I will be very very happy

  12. zdub

    I think you will see a very uneventful 1st quarter. I don’t expect either team to come out guns blazing. In fact, I think both will begin the game with a couple of stalled drives each. Both will try to run the ball and drop some early passes and both will be unsuccessful to start.

    Defense will be the focus of this game. It’s who can make the offensive adjustments after the 1st Q (once the teams get a better feel for each other) that I will predict to win.

    And that, as it stands right now, favors Boise. I don’t buy this all-world defense of theirs, but I know they aren’t bad at all. They will be more than a stumbling block for us and I just don’t see our offense ever getting a chance to fire on all cylinders. We will score some points, but it will be because of our defense and special teams.

    I also am still not buying the fragile UGA psyche argument that The Senator often brings up. These kids didn’t quit in the regular season last year, even when down big, and I don’t think they will this year either (UCF is a different story, but can you really quit if you don’t really show up?). Getting down early in a football game is the equivalent to getting too drunk too fast: go puke, rest a bit, compose yourself, make a plan for the rest of the night regarding how you will pace yourself, then come back strong. College did teach me something, after all.

    In the end, though, I think that Boise is the better team. I could be wrong, but I can only go off what I saw from UGA last year and it was not great. Hopefully the preseason happy talk is true, but I no longer buy into it like I used to.

    Prediction: Boise 28 UGA 17

    Someone feel free to save this and throw it in my face later, I would love to eat some crow if we win!

    • I never said they quit. But something was lacking – call it an inability to will themselves to a win, a lack of focus, whatever. It showed up in untimely lapses like King’s fumble to seal the Colorado loss and the poor blocking that led to the interception in overtime against Florida.

      If you don’t believe you can pull off the win, physical effort alone against a good opponent (or, in Colorado’s case, a mediocre one) won’t get ‘er done.

      It’s not anything new. And if Richt doesn’t have it fixed this season, I’m not sure there will be a next one in Athens for him.

      • revdawg

        I’ve always believed that hating to lose is more important than loving to win. Don’t think we HATED losing last year. (Saban might be best ex) It is the one thing that players like Woerner, Belue, Herschel, Greene, Pollack, all had IMO.

      • zdub

        I didn’t mean to imply that you said they quit. That was poor diction on my part. But you do bring up the fragile psyche argument and maybe I just misunderstand what you mean by it. If you mean that their focus is/was off last season then I agree. I took it to mean that you thought that if they get down early then they lose all hope even if some good things happen for them before the final whistle. If this team does that, then we may just win 4 games this year.

        I agree that if a team doesn’t believe they can win then they won’t, no matter how talented they are.

        I think this team believes that they can win, I just hate that they don’t get to come out angry against Louisville (as originally planned), get a W and some positivity, then come out really angry against SCAR. A loss to Boise may drain this team physically, but emotionally I think they’ll be ok. If they let it make or break them then they’re doomed from the start, but again, I don’t think that’s the case here in 2011.

  13. AusDawg85

    Most of the losses last year were due to mental breakdowns. This team fought back against the gators…even a 10 – 14 pt early lead by BSU should not shake us…just bring more focus. Keys to the game are:

    - our O line controlling their D line. We win this, we’re running and throwing effectively.
    – our secondary against the hurry-up O and pin-point passing of Moore. They may move swiftly between the 20′s, but in the shortened Red Zone, the chance to be more physical and slow the pace should help the D hold, and they are suspect on FG kicking.
    – our mental game. BSU is better prepared for this setting than we are. Our young pups will struggle to stay focused early on, which could result in mistakes and a Bronco lead. This is where the coaching staff will really have to shine throughout the night…keeping our guys on balance, focused and not trying to do too much, too soon. I predict a fairly vanilla brand of offense in the 1st Q to test the waters. If the line is working, then we’ll open-up the playbook and really get things moving.

    Of course, if we find something working, CMB will certainly seek “balance” in the 2nd half, right?!

    So…(gulp!)…time to call it like it is. BSU has established a terrific record, won some big games, but it’s time to prove what many believe….they are not a team worthy of a top 5 ranking if SOS is factored in. Dawgs 34 – BSU 20. Woof!

  14. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    One more thought regarding Boykin’s tweet earlier this week: Could it be we have a “Music City Miracle” play planned for a kickoff and that’s why Boykin tweeted what he did? He did play QB in high school.

    Also, I think whoever wins does so by 14 points or more.

  15. AthensHomerDawg

    Hope we put last season behind us … or I’ll be booting this up frequently.

    • DawgPhan

      I was listening to Live From the Filmore East while reading this blog…thats for the video….first concert I ever saw was the Brothers…

    • Nellie Oleson

      Aaaiiiiiaaaiiggghh! Duane – your face! It’s melting! WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOUR FACE?!?! Duuuaaaaannnneee!

  16. NRBQ

    I know it’s September, ’cause Pulpwood has spoken!

    He has dubbed John Jenkins “Motel 6.”

  17. Cojones

    I like AusDawg85′s post. Each point is down-to-earth and logical. Feel that Boise will score more than 20 pts and see no reason why we can’t score more as well. It’s all up to the lines. Selecting a numerical score for accuracy is futuristic gamesmanship. I’m anxious to see favorites given chances to make plays by the lines. I think that all Dawg fans feel the change for the good that’s in their psyche. Their respect for each other and with players becoming fans of other players is the signature for that feeling. I think that they have the spirit and are anxious to show us.

    SIC’EM DAWGS!! WOOF, WOOF, WOOF!!

  18. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Penn Wagers is a douchebag and a crooked referee but, above all things, he understands who signs his checks. He will NOT do something bad to the Dawgs in this game because of the negative implications for the SEC if the Dawgs lose this game. Georgia is actually representing the entire conference against Boise State. Wait until the Georgia-Florida game, though, and you will see him displayed in full asshattiness..

  19. Mickey

    Here’s my 2 cents. Keys to game.
    1- Watch fumbles 7 interceptions on offense
    2- Burn them deep to get 8 out of the box–pass to set up run
    3- stop the run, force Boise to pass
    4- run for 200 yards to keep Kellen Moore on the bench
    5- limit to 1 td in red zone

  20. Scott

    My biggest fear is blown coverage on defense and/or getting torched for big plays. However, if we limit those big plays and pick off a couple of passes, it will be a win.

  21. I will be very happy with a 1 point win–but my gut feeling (wish) is that we are gonna blow them out–I know they are good just think this Dog team is gonna be special

  22. Nellie Oleson

    I think the key to the game just might be…R. Samuel…he’s got the mindset and the fight to grind out 5-6 yards per carry running right at them. I trust him to keep his nerves in check better than a freshman…although IC is just one step shy of catatonic in his interviews. And we may see O. Charles put the whole offense on his back and barrel through all comers.

  23. TL

    I’m calling it now — we *will* block a punt in this game. Boise State notoriously has had problems with blocking on punt teams, and I can feel the “gunner off the left side of the line” block (a la the 2002 SEC Championship game) as the first key play for us.

  24. Otto

    My keys to the game are, if UGA can have 3 or more drives of 4 and a half minutes and win the turn over battle. The defense will be good as long as they are not stuck in multiple bad positions.