Does Georgia have the horses?, part two

From Jerry Hinnen’s “Keys to the Game:  Georgia vs. LSU”:

… such is the Tigers’ incredible strength in special teams and defense that they rank a mediocre 62nd in total offense … and still a robust 13th in scoring offense at 38 points a game, better than all but seven other BCS conference teams. But as those low yardage totals indicate, putting together 8, 9-play drives that cover 75, 85 yards are not what LSU wants to do or what plays to their strengths. Even the 14-play, 77-yard march that got the Tigers on the board vs. Arkansas had to survive a botched option pitch and a near-interception from Jordan Jefferson to hit paydirt.

The Tigers can bang out those kinds of drives, of course, thanks to Spencer Ware and Michael Ford and the rest of LSU’s pounding ground game. But Georgia can answer that with the nation’s No. 6 rush defense, Jarvis Jones, John Jenkins, Christian Robinson and the rest. If Ware and Co. find some tough sledding somewhere between their own 20 and the end zone, is Jefferson good enough to repeatedly execute in the passing game — against the nation’s fourth-ranked secondary in opponent’s QB rating, no less — enough to put those usual 38 points on the board?

One thing about LSU that tends to get overlooked is how impressively efficient that offense is.  Jerry notes that disparity between total offense and scoring offense; LSU’s passing rating is just behind Georgia’s, as well.

Those stats are all the more remarkable because that’s an offense built to grind it out.  LSU is 74th nationally in plays of 10+ yards or more. (By comparison, Georgia is 28th.)  But it works because the Tigers are fifth in red zone conversions and first in turnover margin.  There are only two offenses in the country which have turned the ball over less than 10 times all season, LSU and Wisconsin.

These guys just don’t screw up very much.  And they tend to make their opponents pay for it when they do.  That’s pretty much what Georgia has to avoid to have a shot.

I’ve paid attention to winning the double positive – turnover margin and explosive plays – ever since I read that Bruce Feldman post.  If there’s ever a time for the Dawgs to win those battles, this will be the game.

One last thing:  Jerry mentions the 14-point deficit LSU faced in the Arkansas game.  It was the Tigers’ biggest of the season, not that it mattered as things turned out.  I don’t think they’ll fare so well if that miraculously happens Saturday.  Georgia doesn’t have the best passing game LSU has seen this year, nor do the Dawgs have the best defense the Tigers have worked against.  But what Georgia does have is the best combination of the two of any team to step on the field with LSU.  I doubt Georgia races out to an early big lead like that, but if it were to happen, I’d like its chances to hold on for the win.  I’d like them a lot.

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59 Comments

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59 responses to “Does Georgia have the horses?, part two

  1. BCDawg97

    Please just dont let it be a “if you’d told me before” game with +2 turnovers and 14-9 explosive plays yet we lose by 14. Dammit, where’s WF? I need some more hope…

  2. Saint Johns Dawg

    Bobo will likely use the run to set up the pass at first … but it’s also likely the Dawgs will quickly find tough sledding there. The Tech game showed he’s willing to stick with what works … but against LSU that’s going to mean more heat on Aaron to make plays.

    Somebody on here said it best … the whole game boils down to UGA’s offensive line.

    • Silver Creek Dawg

      I disagree.

      I think we need to use the passing game to set up the run. Get AM into a rhythm early with short to intermediate passes and then mix in IC and CT. I’d also like to see us run and pass out of the same formations to keep LSU off balance.(don’t tip our hand by formation).

    • The Lone Stranger

      As do most … but I think Murray needs an extra-sensitive timer inside his helmet Saturday that trips a click early so he can avoid lost yardage or, worse, a SC-style debacle.

      This could produce a lot of scrambles and broken looking plays, which is not, in and of itself, a negative. With AM hopping around behind the line though I can forsee mucho shallow drag routes with the WRs.

  3. One thing is sure LSU has the most obnoxious fan base more than any can imagine.

    • Big Shock

      I barely have them in the top 5 in the SEC in terms of obnoxious fans, behind FL, AL, TN, Auburn. They’re probably on par with UGA, but get to games earlier and generally cheer louder.

    • Grafton

      I totally agree. I live in Baton Rouge and get ugly looks and comments all the time because I’m always wearing my red hat with the G on it. There is nothing worse than having some crazy coonass yelling TIGA BAIT! at you while grocery shopping.

  4. Go Dawgs!

    Yes, Georgia has the horses. Equestrian National Champs!!!

  5. JL

    I agree with one of the comments left above. This game will 100% come down to how well out O-Line can hold off their D-Line. The LSU offense if mediocre and the UGA D is stepping up. I think that we will be able to to hold off LSU if our Offense steps up!

    • The Lone Stranger

      And impacting that, I believe, is the viability of the RB position for Dawgs. Not only will IC and Carlton be able to grind out tough yards, but can they stand in there and be respectable enough obstacles against blitzers. I have to believe AM will see more consistent blitzing than in any game this season.

    • Sep

      I agree with this. It will all boil down to how we block. If we give the backs some lanes and Murray some time we can make this a game. We may give them more than they’ve seen but that’s the matchup.

      Our defense will play with them. Their offense is not as good as ours.

  6. It is always good when your team is in the TALKING MIX anyway you put it. There is always a reason why games are played, you never know who will wake up on the wrong side of the bed on Saturday.

  7. AusDawg85

    “I doubt Georgia races out to an early big lead like that, but if it were to happen, I’d like its chances to hold on for the win. I’d like them a lot.”

    It’s our only chance. My guess is on the first series, we’ll see if the OL can move the pile for IC or not…I’m guessing not since LSU will stack the box. Our next series, we’ll take our shots to Mitchell & Co in single coverage. If we hit, the Dome starts rocking, we get a lead and momentum. If we miss, it will be a few quick 3 and outs, pressure on our D, and not a good position to be in if we let a trick-play or ST for LSU hit for a TD.

    The more risky strategy for CMB/CMR is to come out firing on the first offensive series. Setting up the run by passing is actually more likely to work for us. I’d prefer this route and hope we’ve found something on film to find the creases and pick these guys apart on the opening drive. They’ll never have been hit in the mouth like that all season, and maybe they’ll panic just enough to give IC breathing room for us to control the clock, field position, and ultimately the scoreboard.

    I wonder what the over/under will be for sending CT up the middle on 2nd & long? ;-)

    • Sending CT right in the middle is the ultimate trick of BOBO on the BULLDAWG nation, the fact that he keeps of trying it out.

      • PNWDawg

        Removing Auburn as an outlier, I would be interested to see what CT’s ypc averages when sent up the middle. Makes me think we should just tell Bobo we have 3 downs instead of 4 so we don’t have to go through the motion. But I must say I’m happy with what he’s done as OC overall this year.

      • The other Doug

        CT has actually had some good runs this year between the tackles.

    • I dunno. I really liked Petrino’s patience with his playcalling early in that game. You could tell that LSU was just waiting to jump on something in the passing game. Instead, Petrino kept trying to run, even though Arky wasn’t getting much yardage with it. It made the passing game much more effective, IMO.

      Of course, once things got out of hand, it didn’t really matter.

  8. JRod1229

    Personally I expect Richt to try and make this a repeat of the Bama/LSU game. Pound the ball, get a first down or two, and punt. We’ll take our shots, but probably not inside our own 30 as we don’t want to give them the field position. I expect he wants them to earn their points by driving the length of the field repeatedly. if they manage that, they obviously we’ll open it up, but until they get up by an appreciable amount I don’t see us doing anything outside of repeatedly pounding the rock and short passes (he’s just not gonna give them a short field and risk Murray throwing an INT).

    This season has been about the D for our team, and I think he’d be wise to attempt to ride them even longer and hope we’re close in the 4th where anything can happen.

    I personally am hoping for a really boring first half (unless we somehow score 14 of course)

    • hailtogeorgia

      So you mean we’ll be playing ball control and relying on our kicker? Oy.

    • AusDawg85

      This is probably correct if CMR stays true to form this year. But he already has his “must have” wins to get rid of the hot seat nonsense for now. So…here’s hoping he goes back to his earlier days and plays looser. I just think this is the most interesting test (vs. important) for CMR in a long time…he’s really free to think about how he WANTS to play this game, not how he HAS to play this game.

    • Cojones

      I think the reasoning you use is exactly the reasoning that LSU will use. Can’t get past the feeling that we are toe-to-toe with these guys. Planning to prevent a loss is inferior to agressively planning to kick their ass. Their depth isn’t a big factor on D since we have players who seem to get better the longer they are in the game and hitting. If our ground game is clicking, LSU still has a slight advantage in how to defend because it doesn’t matter what RBs are in LSU’s backfield that would dictate their proclivities, we have to defend them all.. However the deficit they have with their QB(s) to our QB makes up for the scheming differences.

      Think I’ll drift toward those Vegas boards and put my money where my faith is before they change downward with the probability of several UGA players now in the game. My entire put will rest on the gamble that Murray’s play will not be affected much by their rush. I’ll have my answer early in the game because I think they feel the key to the game is to rattle him early. Yep, they will get to him, but if he doesn’t get jumpy, Murray will make them pay for it. That will keep them off his back moreso than the O line. My money is on Murray wanting this more than anything in his life.

      • Junkyard Dawg '00

        Ahhh…. The simple life of a college kid. I can think of numerous times that I wanted it more than anything else in my life. Can’t remember many of their names though. :)

  9. Mg4life0331

    We have nothing to lose going into this game. I hope Richt and company let the team know that. I would rather Aaron Murray throw 3 picks and we run a fumble rooskie than play a field position run the ball 40+ times. Win or lose though Im still proud of the dawgs.

    • Junkyard Dawg '00

      Except for the SEC Championship…

      Not trying to dis you with that comment, but his job as coach is to play the game that gives his team the best chance to win… That being said, he may decide that it is to be played in the way you’d like to see. Just win Baby!

  10. Will Trane

    Tiger Rag says the Dawgs have no chance. The Dawgs have two chances of winning the game. They depend on the play of Jarvis Jones against Hilliard and the play of Crowell against Taylor.

    Most say the Dawgs have two chances…no chance and absolutely no chance at all.

    The key for me will be the ability of the Dawgs to rush the ball at all times in the game. It has to be consistent…especially 1st and 2 downs. To do that those 5 interior lineman have to play a hellva lot better than they did in their first game in the Dome and the last three games of the regular season.

    Does CMR take them back to the Dome for sound…because it will be much louder. Dawgs click off 70+ snaps they walk-out SEC champs. Think they will go hurry-up alot to keep LSU from matching the personnel and formations…but Dawgs run variations of formations. Malcomme did not play in first visit to the Dome and neither did Thomas. That hurts. This is where the hurry up gets tough for the Dawgs…lack of solid depth in running game. Not sure we can beat those guys throwing the ball all over the place…even the Hawgs had trouble doing that. LSU is not Auburn or Tech when it comes to LBs and secondary. Heck, even Bama threw at will on Auburn.

  11. WF dawg

    How’s this for hope? This week I’m going to pop in the 2005 SECCG tape to watch how we can abuse a starting QB (Jamarcus Russell) with a relentless pass rush and send him out of the game. Following that, I’ll pop in the 2008 game to watch what opportunistic Georgia LBs can do to a Jarrett Lee pass (see Gamble, Darryl). And for good measure, I’ll pop in the 2004 game to see what happens when a UGA QB gets in sync with his WRs, even against a vaunted LSU secondary. I’m not saying we’ll win Saturday–after all we’re playing the 2011 edition of LSU, not the earlier ones–but yeah, there’s hope.

  12. My personal hope is contained in the next to last line of your post. This is the best balanced team LUS has played. Oregon and ARK have good offenses but questionable D’s and obviously BAMA has great D but an ordinary offense . We got balance use it.Use the pass to set up the run…but don’t forget the run.Don’t screw-up special teams we’ll be alright I’m taking 13.5 and betting on the DAWGS.

  13. We tend to play our worst defense on opponents opening drives, then we play pretty much shut-down after that. If we can answer LSU’s opening drive with points, that would be huge (on the scoreboard & confidence wise as well).Just as in any big game, we can’t turn the ball over as you said, and we have to play our best game on special teams. We can’t let the ‘Honey Badger’ beat us on returns. We already have the Tigers attention, but if we play with the passion & intensity that we showed against Auburn (and I realize LSU isn’t AU), we will have more than just their attention. Talent is not lacking anywhere in this game on either sideline.

  14. Mike

    LSU’s speed on defense cannot be overemphasized. I went to every meaningful game Florida played, both home and away, and came away from the game in Baton Rouge almost in awe of the speed of every single defensive LSU player. This is especially true of their LBers.

    I think the UGA offense will have a very tough time putting up more than 17 points or so against LSU. Like was stated earlier, if UGA can get some points from special teams or on defense, then that will be its best chance to win the game. I do not think any team can line up against that LSU defense and put up significant points.

    • I’m even more impressed with the speed of the Tigers’ d-line.

      I’m curious, and you’re the best one to put this question to: how much faster is LSU’s D than Florida’s? (I’m not asking better, just faster.)

      • Mike

        As you say, their D-line is very fast. Their LB’ers are TE to mid-range WR fast. I think the secondary can be burned, but maybe that is becasue they play a lot of press defense.

        The overall team speed of the LSU defense exceed’s Florida’s by a fair margin.

        As an aside, you and I talked about the several missed opportunites Murray had against the Florida CBs. He might get one or two of those against LSU, as the two teams play a similar secondary style. Murray better not miss those open guys in the LSU game.

    • The Lone Stranger

      Hope the Dawg staff has combed through the WV game tape. The final score may have looked ugly, but somehow those players threw over 500 yds. on the scoresheet.

  15. AlphaDawg

    If we get a lucky bounce or two we can win this.

    FYI, I tricked my best friend (Big LSU fan) into walking under a ladder last night. TWICE…. He’s comming over tonight to help finish the project, i’m thinking about getting a few mirrors from Wallys World and strategically place them around the basement just for good measure.

  16. They will absolutely blitz often. They play mostly man coverage with their CBs. Our OL is the key.

  17. AthensHomerDawg

    Special teams. Can’t miss any field goals.

  18. Starbreaker

    I have a bad clairvoyant feeling that we try the play-action deep ball on the first play and Murray gets drilled from behind and fumbles. I am just really, really worried about their speed rush getting around our OL very quickly. The people who said “pass to set up the run” are probably right, as I think just lining up and trying to open holes for IC will be tough in obvious situations. I like that our D is showing supreme confidence and I really hope the pups let it all hang out in this game. There really is nothing to lose when the whole world is expecting you to get blown out and it’s not like we don’t have talent. I think the biggest difference is the depth and the fact that they can keep everybody fresh the whole game and don’t lose a step. OL and Murray will be the key here, because we all know what happens when he is under duress and loses his mechanics or tries to make something out of nothing.

    • Cojones

      What’s important is that this team doesn’t have your fears. Come hell or high water, this bunch will make’em pay for every rush. Your concerns are not their concerns. This concern was expressed before our last 5 games and it was for naught. Relax and have two beers rapidly before kickoff. Hope and good athletic play overcomes worry in this game.

      • Starbreaker

        I am really excited to see what happens to Jefferson if we can stunt the run game and get in his face. Coming into the year I felt their QB situation would be their downfall and, stats aside, I feel like that’s still their weakness.

  19. Cojones

    Senator, I want to thank you for the upbeat and realistic basis for the push on this game. Instead of several people blaming some old perceived crap about the coaches and players, there are realistic schemes and faith aboundin’. It’s a different core appreciation for the team we see in response to your selections of material and the positive image you confer to your writings. It ain’t hype nor is it unrealistic jingo’ed hope. Many of us see your faith in this bunch of fighting Dawgs and it is catching on with those with renewed faith.

    Good Dawg.

  20. Cojones

    Fuck caution. Let’s win this one Dawgs.

  21. Part of the reason for LSU’s good passer rating is that they seldom throw because they have to. Any team that can choose when it throws as opposed to being forced to throw is going to have pretty good success doing it. Look at Tech’s quarterback rating for most of the year.

    As for our offense I think we should mix it up. If you stick with one thing too long against LSU they will make you pay. The other thing is that while we have to take our shots there is nothing wrong with throwing the ball away or even tucking the ball and taking the sack if need be at times. We don’t have to move the ball up and down the field on them, just get first downs here and there to help change field position. If we can get the ball to close to midfield then tell Butler not to worry about trying to down it inside the ten just kick it threw the endzone so as not to allow any big returns we have a good shot. Field position and limiting their big plays is going to be huge.

  22. W Cobb Dawg

    I’m not impressed with Robinson. Rather see Herrera in there if we expect help for ‘tree against the running game. C. Wash will have to step up too.

    • Junkyard Dawg '00

      I understand your enthusiasm for Herrera but I wouldn’t be too quick to discount Robinson’s leadership. He reminds me of some of the old Junkyard Dawg’s that didn’t have all the measurables or rating stars, but played as a team should.

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