Last night in Starkville, from a Georgia perspective

As I sat there watching the LSU defense bludgeon Mississippi State into submission (52 total rushing yards; 15 LSU tackles for loss), I couldn’t help but gain a greater appreciation for Georgia’s scheduling advantage this season.  Avoiding the Tigers’ fast, ferocious and fundamentally sound defense should make the regular season a more pleasant experience.  Check this box out:

LSU’S Rush Defense – 2011 Opponents

2010
Rush YPG
2011
vs. LSU
Oregon 287.6 95
Northwestern St. 106.2 -4
Mississippi St 215.9 52*
* Fewest Since 2008

Have a nice October, Gators.

And while LSU’s offense won’t win any admirers amongst the Gang of Six set, it’s well suited for a team which strength is in a muscular run game.  LSU’s receivers won’t scare anybody and Jarrett Lee won’t either.  However, they’ve stripped out all the busyness of Crowton’s playbook and while what’s left may be crude, it’s effective.  Witness Lee’s stats:  21-27, 213 yards, 1 TD, 1, INT, 148.86 passer rating.  That’s a competent performance and with that defense, LSU really doesn’t need more than that to win.  (Sort of reminds you of Georgia during VanGorder’s time, doesn’t it?)

Their schedule is daunting, with five top 25 teams remaining, so they’ll have to stay on top of their game.  The meeting in Tuscaloosa is shaping up as a classic SEC slug fest, but it’s the Arkansas game that looks really intriguing from here, as that should be the most dynamic offense LSU will see this season.  Still, if defense wins championships, you’ve got to say the Tigers definitely have a shot.

As for Mississippi State, Dan Mullen’s ability to control a game is admirable, but he doesn’t have the horses to translate that into a win against as good a team as LSU is.  MSU’s offensive line was exposed last night.  So was its receiving corps.  And Relf simply isn’t talented enough to carry that offense on his own.

Mississippi State’s defense is still fun to watch and it’s disruptive.  But LSU ground it down with a steady diet of running plays behind that big, strong offensive line and efficient play-action passing.

So what does that mean in Athens in three weeks’ time?  Well, nobody is going to confuse Georgia’s defense with LSU’s, but it’s not like MSU is walking in with an offensive line as good as South Carolina’s, a wide receiver like Alshon Jeffery, a running back like Marcus Lattimore or a quarterback as good as Kellen Moore.  I’m not expecting domination, but it’s an offense that can be controlled.  (Admittedly, I’d feel better about that if the Dawgs had at least one of the missing ILBs back on the field.)

The question is whether Georgia’s offense can function better than it did last year in Starkville and whether the Dawgs can avoid their penchant for self-destruction with untimely turnovers.  One thing I expect against that defense is for Orson Charles to have a big game.  If Aaron Murray can stay on his feet all day, I like Georgia’s chances.

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38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

38 responses to “Last night in Starkville, from a Georgia perspective

  1. One 'Dog Gone

    The amazing thing from last night’s game was how Missy State stayed with LSU into the third quarter. Don’t underestimate Relf and Ballard, both very good players, behind a weak offensive line though (sound familiar?).

    We are going to have to play our best game yet in we hope to establish that we’re the top ‘Dawgs in the conference.

    • piper

      “Mississippi State’s defense is still fun to watch and it’s disruptive. But LSU ground it down with a steady diet of running plays behind that big, strong offensive line and efficient play-action passing.”

      nearly 38 minutes of possession didn’t hurt them either.

  2. Brandon

    If that had been UGA it would have been a 38-19 loss followed by much complaining about Bobo’s playcalling.

  3. Will Trane

    Good observations and points to remember. They have two weeks to prepare for us. That should give them time to heal some injuries and adjust. The short practice week went against them. Think the road game, against Auburn took a little out ot them. And LSU’s defense is very good and deep. You know I am not a big fan of the I formation, but LSU can run that with efficiency. It looks good for them. LSU’s defense…they like to play physical and to hit, hit, hit, hit. No backing off from them. They do not miss assignments on D.
    Dan Mullen. Well, Dan, you keep up those antics on the sideline, and some official is going to send your butt home. Steve Spurrier, please hold a practice session for Dan on the visor toss. That is all he needs to exceed you by leaps and bounds.

  4. sUGArdaddy

    As long as we don’t ever get Mullen. That offense would sense back a decade. Ugh, I hate it.

  5. Mike

    The good Senator writes

    “Have a nice October, Gators.”

    That LSU defense is fierce. As well as the Bama defense. Weis will certainly earn his money in October, with the Gators playing at home against Alabama’s defense, on the road against LSU’s defense. Maybe getting a break against the AU defense and then at hom…er…on a neutral field against Georgia’s Todd Grantham led defense. Playing an exceedingly tough schedule is nothing new for Florida. In each of their National Championship years, the Gator SOS was either #1 or #2.

    And good news for Georgia. Given LSU and UGA do not play against one another in the regular season, there is only a slim chance they will play against one another in the SECCG too.

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    Thought both teams played tough. MSU may have a losing record right now, but like a small schoolyard kid who puts up a lot of fight when picked on, the teams that beat them won’t want to play them again soon. Seems like an odd concept, but both coaches get maximum performance from their players.

  7. PatinDC

    Meh. The worst trend the Dawgs have shown in recent yeas is alwya playing to the level of the opposition. this leads to too many close games of which we have been on the wrong end of…think MSU game last year or any other of the many time sit has happened.
    IMHO Should we dominate, sure. Will we no. If we win at all it is a squeaker.

  8. PatinDC

    Sorry for the bad spelling. Posted before proofing.

  9. Todd

    I’ll give Miss. St. one thing, they are always physical. No matter who the coach. Mullin doesn’t have the athletes.

  10. AlphaDawg

    My one thought while watching that game was. Damn you Richt; if you had fired WM a year earlier we could have made a run at Chavis.

    • Hackerdog

      We did talk to Chavis, but LSU gave him a big raise to stay. But, while I think Grantham is doing good things, I wonder what Chavis could have accomplished last year since he would have kept the 4-3 in place.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Odd that the Hillbillies considered him all wash up at UT but now look at him. I guess the “fire the coach” meme can get out of hand.

        • Will (The Other One)

          Chavis was gone while Phil was fired and the Laner partly got the job because he promised to bring his daddy along. As good as Chavis had been (even UT’s last Fulmer-season’s D was very good), people figured the guy who had done record-setting defenses at Tampa Bay was better, and LSU scooped Chavis up quickly. It also appears Chavis has shelved the Willie-esque Mustang Package (a prevent defense that rarely worked.)

      • AlphaDawg

        I agree with you on Grantham, i’m not on “its the defense” wagon. I do believe our D has improved, with Boise being the exception we have been in every game since his arrival. Chavis was my 1st choice to replace WM, number two was Manny Diaz. I hadn’t heard much about Grantham at the time.

  11. William

    I don’t know where most of you are coming from, but the Miss State team that played last night looked good. Granted LSU ground them into something resembeling pulp, but they hung with them for 3 quarters really. Hell, they allowed less than Oregon. The thing that scared me was how efficeint they looked early on. Ballard accounting for a lot of their production, but so does Crowell for us. I’d say the game we have with them is a toss up in my mind, right now.

  12. greg

    Mullin’s antics on the sideline were over the top to say the least. Very low class. There is a fine line between being animated and being an azz. He crossed it easily and often last night. LSU’s defense is very good, and their players look like NFL players…even the freshman. What the heck is in the water down there?
    Did anyone see Lee go up to one of the MSU players after the TD pass and laugh at/taunt them? I wonder what that was about…

  13. mikeinflorida

    LSU’s offense is going to catch up to them. Mississippi State was without its starting LT and lost its starting C in 1st qtr. The replacements are redshirt freshmen, who had big-time problems against a deep LSU defensive line. Yet it took until midway through the 4th qtr before LSU could put away a team with no offense.

    • Did you ever have the feeling that MSU was going to take control of the game and win?

      I didn’t.

      • Merk

        No, but how many of MSU’s runs were 1-2 defenders from being the big play they needed for the lead.

      • Cojones

        Yes, I did. They stopped LSU in the first and second qtr. LSU had 3FG to 2FG for MSU. If LSU was UGA in that game, the “no red zone offense” rant would have been on. While recognizing that MSU was strong thru the first 3 qtrs, substitute UGA in their place and imagine the anti-staff rant reducing us to a feckless football team. If MSU had scored a TD and made it 10-9, then it could easily have projected that they had control of the game.

        You asked me before why I worried about MSU on our schedule and I replied that they played us strong in the last 5 yrs or so and always seemed to have a good running back that subquently went pro. No different this year except I believe now that we can beat MSU

        Last night I saw two teams that UGA is capable of defeating, not a strong MSU vs an extremely strong LSU. LSU is no different from the last several years. We were capable and close to beating them with those teams and I believe this UGA team is capable of beating LSU now. I sincerely hope that we face them in the SECC Game.

  14. I was impressed with the level of intensity that Mullen has them playing with. They were over matched at every position. Honestly, would a single MSU player start for LSU?

    When Mullen hits Athens, you’re going to have 2 coaches who are basically auditioning for the same job.

    • I left out the compliment for Mullen…they were over matched but still made it a game. No moral victories, but I would like to see us play as violently defensively as MSU did. They just weren’t good enough.

      • AusDawg85

        MSU’s defense was swarming and smothering, only giving-up one busted deep pass assignment (and sure, helped by a lot of LSU miscue penalties). But Mullen is a terrible QB coach….should have let Relf run more to the corners, and that young man just looks completely dazed and confused standing in the pocket. Nice to see they’ve started an ineffective QB controversy too. Mullen’s tirade over the illegal procedure call when some ref blew a whistle early and the umpire was not even clear of the center was justified.

        They really need a QB coach who has the resume of working with NFL caliber QB’s, both of the running and passing variety, is familiar with the SEC, and an affinity for bulldogs. Hey, I know one…..

      • Newt

        Agreed on their intensity. I love that, coming off an emotional loss and a short week, Mullen had them hit every day in practice. It may have caught up to them late, but they were very physical early on. I’m a believer that teams only get up that high a few times a year. MSU used one of theirs last night, just like we probably did last week. We all would like to think that teams can get sky high every game, but it just isn’t the case. LSU got their absolute best shot for 3 quarters.

      • I like their secondary. Broomfield is an underrated DB.

        But there’s a clear drop off at LB and DL from last year. The zone blitzing helps cover up some of the shortcomings in personnel, but there’s only so much you can do when you get pounded like that.

        I’d like to see Bobo mix up some twin TE, I-formation sets with that quick passing game drive we saw at the end of the third quarter of the SC game.

        • I do a sad laugh when I read things like this from Georgia fans:

          I’d like to see Bobo mix up some twin TE, I-formation sets with that quick passing game drive we saw at the end of the third quarter of the SC game.

          I’d like to believe that’s what is going to happen based on the South Carolina game, but there’s just too much history of going away from what is working for me to get excited about a potential gameplan that could be successful. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer or anything, just not getting my hopes up until I actually see it.

  15. Nate Dawg

    I thought LSU’s first drive was stalled severly by the no-call pass interference on third down so they had to settle for a fg. Wonder what woulda happened if they’d scored there? They certainly aren’t scared to use their freshman WR who appears like he’s gonna be a force…maybe that’s the key for us, Mr. Crowell – often and all day long. MSU was very intense early on and into the 3rd, kudos to Mullen for that on the short week.

  16. Pingback: LSU-MSU Post Game Thoughts | Tide Bits

  17. Russ

    LSU to me looked very good. I felt they were always in control of that game, even when MSU was playing well. I just had the feeling that LSU was going to grind them down, and that’s what they did. Same as they did to Oregon. LSU’s offense out of the I was a thing of beauty to this old Dawg. I’d love to see us run more of it. Their runners hit people instead of getting hit. The QB was efficient. Their receivers caught the balls thrown to them. Just a very efficient, methodical performance. Sort of like how we used to be.

  18. McDawg

    Relf will give us fits but they are not dynamic enough-NO TURNOVERS

  19. Macallanlover

    I have been impressed with MSU all year, except for the defensive effort on The Plains last week. Relf and Ballard are a load, we will have to be prepared as they look much better than last year in Starkville. I don’t think we will see the intensity we saw last night from them. Coming off an emotional loss, playing at home on a Thursday night against a rival rated #3 is hard to duplicate. Doesn’t mean we should prepare any less, but that was as strong an effort as we will see from them this year, imo.

    On a related subject, did anyone else notice how athletic and fit the LSU linemen looked? No guts hanging over the belt for them, as trim as someone 290+ can look. Not saying they would be used in a Weight Watchers commercial but I would prefer to tangle with ours than theirs if visual indicators are any factor at all. With all the problems we have had at OL in recent years, I have noticed the difference in better OLs than ours, and appearance is one of the factors I see. Look at LSU, Wisconsin, etc., they just carry themselves better than us. It might be the height/weight ratio, but the difference is noticeable to someone who just doesn’t think all 290+ pounders are all alike.

    • Slaw Dawg

      And “athletic and fit” linemen, or lack of same, is part of the problem. UGA’s O line is neither as adept nor as deep as LSU’s. It seems unlikely that it will match LSU in pounding away at MSU’s D line and opening up running lanes and time for accurate passing. UGA’s D line is not as strong or experienced as LSU’s D line, so it seems unlikely that it will have similar success against MSU’s O line. MSU’s depth problems were probably exacerbated by a short week following a tough loss–that won’t be the case in 2 weeks. If we run a lot of I-formation with an emphasis on FB and TE blocking, that’ll help. But we tend, of late, to lose tough battles in the trenches and close games. I’m not optimistic about how I’ll feel on the a.m. of Sep 25, but will be hoping desperately for the best.

  20. Historically the second year for a new SEC HC has been one of his best. That does not necessarily hold true for the long haul.
    I still believe in the DAWGS not the Dogs.

  21. 2011-dante22000

    The maroons are 1-2 calm down. I would hate to think UGA’s best option is mullen ever.