Thoughts about Clemson-Georgia

So, how much weight should we put on Clemson’s showing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl?  I’m skeptical of assigning too much to a good bowl showing – Louisville, I’m looking at you – but there’s no denying that the Tigers have taken a great deal of momentum from their win over LSU into tomorrow’s game.

I watched the game and I took two substantive things from it.  First, Chad Morris knows what he’s doing.  Clemson only averaged 4.45 yards per play against LSU, its worst mark of the season, but Morris called 100 plays and that paid off, both in accumulating total yardage and, perhaps more importantly, in wearing down the LSU defense.  You’d have to think that fatigue played a part in Clemson’s epic fourth quarter comeback.  It’s something Grantham has to stay aware of, no doubt.  (Although Georgia’s defense held up much better against the other team I saw wear down LSU’s defense last season, Florida.)

Second, I don’t know how you come away from that game without being impressed with Tajh Boyd’s toughness.  Sacked five times and running the ball another 24 (Clemson had a total of 50 runs), he got pounded all night by a ferocious LSU defense and lived to tell the tale.  He’s not going to wither against the Georgia D, no matter how well that front six or seven play.

That’s on one side.  For Georgia, the biggest thing I keep coming back to is the huge advantage the Dawgs enjoy in the running game.  The question is how Bobo deploys it.  I’ve seen a lot of JUST RUN THE DAMNED BALL talk this week and understand where that’s coming from, but I don’t think it’s wise to ignore where Clemson’s defense is most weak.  And that’s the secondary.  This is a game made for Bobo’s favorite thing in the universe, balance.  Use the running game to keep the defensive backs and linebackers honest so that Murray can pick them apart with ease.  Georgia’s offensive balance and efficiency should be Clemson’s biggest nightmare.

I like the way Seth Emerson put it earlier this week.  Georgia looks to convert 75% of its drives into scores; for Clemson, it’s more like 60%.  The Tigers will look to make up the shortfall by running more plays.  It’ll be up to Grantham to spoil their math, likely with the turnover game.

Clemson reminds me of a more talented Ole Miss team.  If you remember last year’s meeting, the Rebel Black Bears made a game of it in the first half by being very aggressive with their defensive line play and linebackers.  I expect to see a similar effort in the Clemson defensive game plan, hoping to plug the run game and disrupt Murray’s timing with frequent blitzing.  How well that works is hard to say.  I expect Georgia’s offensive line play has improved from the Ole Miss game.  But Clemson has a lot more firepower on offense, more overall depth and more experience in the secondary than Mississippi did.

And don’t get me started on how nervous I am about special teams play.

Bottom line, I expect what most do, a relatively high scoring affair that should be pretty close.  I’ll save my game prediction for tomorrow, but in the meantime, let me know what you think.

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81 Comments

Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

81 responses to “Thoughts about Clemson-Georgia

  1. @gatriguy

    Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. If we’re +1, we win. If we’re -1, we lose. If it’s even, then it’s a last possession game. Not more complicated than that.

    • adam

      I agree that turnovers could make a difference, but I disagree with your premise that that is the only stat that will matter. I think we will score on more possessions than they will. Turnovers could make it close or a toss up, but I think that if turnovers go in our favor, it could turn into a blowout for the good guys.

  2. Noonan

    If Climpson brings the house early, I would love to see us dump it off to Gurley and Marshall in the flats.

    • Otto

      I’ve heard talk of lining up one of the 2 Marshal or Gurley at slot wr. It would be interesting to have both on the field. Running and short passes. I have no problem with lone back sets and spreading them out but still eat up the play clock and running to set up play action. It’ll be interesting how this palys out.

      I think the bowl says more about the direction of LSU’s offense and their motivation than Clempson. How many OCs has LSU had and Kragthorp (sp?) was demoted during the offseason? Yes he was demoted due to illness but it is still not good for building a direction as a team. I think Clemson is a ACC contender which translates to an upper mid tier SEC team. They can beat UGA especially in week 1 but UGA should pull it out. I’d feel much better if this game was week 3.

  3. Joe Schmoe

    Obviously turnovers make a difference (they do in almost every game), but I am in the camp that believes that our running game will make the difference. I think we will be able to slow down the pace of the game at times to allow our defense to rest and keep Clemson’s offense off the field. I am definitely not advocating a pure run-the-damn-ball strategy, but I do think their will be times that we need to utilize the running game to neutralize the crowd and counteract Clemson’s momentum.

    The fact that Clemson’s defense gave up more total yards and passing yards per game that Tech’s defense last year – I just think we are going to shred them offensively. My prediction: Clemson scores 28-35 but it isn’t enough and we win something like 42-35.

    • WH

      Pretty much agree with all that.

      Clemson will try to go fast, and they will get their points. But Georgia can go fast, too, and unlike last year, we actually have some depth to rotate the Defense.

      Given that Murray can and should completely dismantle the Tiger secondary, the Defense doesn’t need to be stellar, they just need to be presentable.

      Even if Clemson manages to get an early lead due to Georgia’s mistakes (missed blocks, turnovers, blown coverage), I think we still come out in the second half and blow the doors off with our offense. Once we have a lead, a steady dose of Gurley sprinkled with Marshall will take all the wind out of Chad Morris’ sails.

      • adam

        As I said elsewhere, I’m looking forward to hands-in-the-air, “what are we supposed to do” look from Clemson’s defense after our second or third long run. You can’t win if you can’t stop the other team from scoring and I think we stand a better chance of stopping their offense than they do of stopping ours.

  4. BanjoBulldog

    Great post – concise but thorough… One of the best analyses I’ve seen so far previewing the big game.

  5. uglydawg

    Clemson can run the ball some too. Georgia must limit turnovers and penalties. If all things are even that-a-way…Dawgs win comfortably.

  6. Rp

    I agree with the Senator to a point and feel like the whole game is on Murray. If he can throw efficiently in this game (65%+ and no turnovers) starting in the first half, then that will allow 3&4 to completely take over as the game goes on. By the second half, the Clemson D will be lost. I’m not convinced that we can just run it at will without making the D respect our passing game.

    If i were Dabo, my key would be rattling Murray early. If Murray plays well we will not lose.

    • WH

      Again, pretty much agree with that.

      There is a voice in my head that expands the words “If Murray plays well” to “If Murray plays well and the O. Line gives him some blocking and the backs remember their protection assignments and don’t fumble the ball and the receivers actually catch the passes he throws them, and the Defense manages to get 1 or maybe 2 key stops/turnovers. Oh, and no one commits stupid penalties…”

    • Gravidy

      If Murray completes 65% of his passes with no turnovers, I’ll be ecstatic. I think it would be hard to lose under those circumstances.

      To the Senator’s point about Clemson blitzing… I hope that is the case. I think Murray would perform better in that scenario against Clemson’s thin secondary than he would if they drop 7-8 players back into zone coverage every play.

      • RocketDawg

        It’s really a no win for Clemson, stay back in coverage to protect their young and banged up secondary and we’ll run it down their throats, blitz and you leave those guys in man coverage which we will exploit for big passing plays. Now read that same sentence and substitute Georgia for Clemson…….

      • adam

        If you’ve seen how Bobo and Murray handle pressure historically, especially when emotions are running high, you would see blitzing as their best option. Hell, even if you didn’t, it IS their best option. Their only hope is to try to get some TFLs, luck into a sack, and try to reduce the amount of time Murray has in the pocket. If I were them, I’d blitz us every down.

        • Gravidy

          I don’t agree with that. Murray has developed a reputation for some badly timed turnovers during his career (deserved or not). And my memory of those is that there were as many or more interceptions by LB’s and safeties in zone coverage (hiding in plain sight, as they say) than there were interceptions caused by heavy pressure.

          • adam

            I just mean that I’ve seen more success blitzing us than not. Especially when the pressure is on. I’m not trying to pick on Murray. I think he’s great. It’s all relative. I think you have your BEST chance at affecting him and Bobo when you blitz. That’s all I really meant.

            • Gravidy

              To be clear, I like Murray as well. I know my last couple of posts sound like I was picking on him, but that wasn’t my intention. I think he’s gotten a bum rap for the most part among those who insist on bringing up “his” record against ranked teams.

      • Yeah, but if they do the latter, you’d think Gurley and Marshall would have a field day.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Clemson D played a big part in that 4th qt comeback.
      “Clemson’s defense dominated the fourth quarter, as Clemson held LSU to only 1 yard of offense. “

      • Hackerdog

        I think the LSU play calling is more to blame the LSU’s offensive performance than Clemson’s defense. Aside from punts, LSU ran 6 plays in the fourth quarter. Five of them were passes. Three of them came with less than two and a half minutes left in the game, when LSU had the ball and the lead. And their leading rusher, Hill, averaged 10.3 yards per carry in that game.

        That game was nothing more than another documented case of Les Miles being a stark-raving lunatic. Sometimes, it works for him. Sometimes, he Clemsons to Clemson.

        • Macallanlover

          Excellent. You wonder if a condition of employment for the new OC was control of playcalling. Some of The Hat’s playcalling over the years was fun but the decision to throw at the end of the game with Clemson was just retarded. But maybe that is why they are so confident.

    • Dboy

      If we really play 8-9 serviceable OLs, we should have them worn down by the 4th quarter. Assuming we have the lead, that is when the running game can really take over.

    • NRBQ

      UGA will not lose ANY game this year when AM completes 65% w/ no picks, including Pasadena.

  7. Mike

    Run or pass, I think Bobo will be instructed to call plays in order to maximize time of possession. UGA’s best defense might be keeping the Clemson offense off the field.

    • WH

      If Georgia has a 14+ point lead, I absolutely think that’s the case. I truly hope and pray they try to score early and often, try to get a key stop or force a mistake by Clemson, build that lead and then RTDB4TOPBOBO!

    • adam

      Or score a bunch and put the pressure on Clemson to try to keep up. Maybe it would be in Clemson’s best interest to try to keep our offense off the field.

  8. MikeInValdosta

    I am not sure turnover margin will matter as such as “Georgia looks to convert 75% of its drives into scores; for Clemson, it’s more like 60%.” Unless it becomes a field position type game, punt returns are as good as picks. Ball control via the running game and utilizing our tight ends in the passing game to keep the clock moving is the key from my perspective.

  9. AusDawg85

    Kept thinking we saw a preview last night in the SCar game. We can pound the ball and hit quick strikes. They may wear us out a little. But we really dominate the “best of the ACC” and should control the game short of giving the ball away 3+ times. Dawgs score 34 or more, Kittens in the 17 – 21 range.

  10. MUDawgfan

    I’d like to think the magic potion is holding them to field goals instead of Touchdowns. Assuming we’ll give up at least one long one, I like to think the shorter field helps our pups with communication and the fear of getting beat long.
    If Big Orange is getting inside the thirty and kicking, we’re in pretty darn good shape. HBTD

  11. hassan

    I am in the minority here and will take the under. If we can establish the running game, then 7 or 8 minute drives will be the order of the day. That will help Grantham’s D stay fresh and keep clemson off the field.

    I think there is a difference between go fast and number of plays. Clemson will try to maximize the number of plays. We will try to get set fast to keep Clemson from substituting, but not be in a huge hurry to snap. I don’t think clemson can grind it out. Their game is fast paced and to score quick. If we grind out the clock and force a couple of quick 3 and outs or turnovers, then we are in the driver’s seat.

    Of course there’s always the proverbial bullet to the foot that we can pull off as well.

    • Dog in Fla

      “then we are in the driver’s seat” going left as a result of the Jeff Gordon pep talk

      • hassan

        I guess “in the driver’s seat” could mean in control, or it could mean spinning our wheels going around in circles.

  12. The 100 plays against LSU is something Bobo needs to be warry of. Their 100 plays did not come from pace; they were not much faster than Georgia’s no-huddle O. And with 100 plays, they only scored 25 points. But they held LSU to 8 3&outs, a 4&out, and a 2&out with an interception. We’ve got to get first downs.

  13. Eyeore Dawg

    Georgia offense vs. Clemson defense. Advantage Georgia.

    Clemson offense vs. Georgia defense. Advantage Clemson.

    Clemson special teams vs. Georgia special teams. Advantage Clemson.

    Clemson suspensions vs. Georgia suspensions. Advantage Clemson.

    Home field and home crowd. Advantage Clemson.

    Three-touchdown Clemson win.

    • Dboy

      Eyeore,

      Not sure how you can make those comparisons: we’ve never seen the 2013-4 Clemson and Georgia teams play any football yet. I think we have a reasonable idea how the offenses will performed b/c there isn’t much turnover from last season, but the remainder is a huge question mark. It will be fun to watch though

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Eyeore?

    • NRBQ

      Just curious, Douche, but how long did it take you to construct that little progression?

      You get minus points for misspelling your handle, too.

  14. fetch

    UGA 49 CU 21

    • adam

      I was thinking 7 more for each team, but yeah. That’s the kind of thing I’m thinking too.

      • Macallanlover

        I may be surprised but I don’t think this will be that high scoring. If it does, it won’t be a good sign for us. While we won’t face another offense of that caliber, it would mean we will have to rely on the being the fastest gun in almost every game we play. Gunslingers don’t live long lives before they meet a faster gun, or better set of nerves. Clemson will burn us on a long play or two, just as we will them, but I am hoping this defense will stay disciplined and in their lanes to limit long drives. I am pretty confident we can score 35+ on them. Sticking with 35-24 and hoping for no key injuries before the main course next week.

        • adam

          Here’s hoping the young ball hawk DBs get a few picks. It could make a huge difference in this game.

          • Macallanlover

            I will drink to that, hopefully several times. It sounds like our young DBs are gunslingers and take risks to get turnovers which means they will get burned a few times, but take a few back. That is better than our past philosophy where we played loose with big cushions and still got beat deep.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          Perhaps we are not one of those types of “gunslingers”.
          “Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp lived 10 months past his 80th birthday. He died quietly and peacefully at his Los Angeles, California home on January 13, 1929.”

        • Otto

          The thing with the quick strike is even UNC was getting South Carolina tired. UGA’s offense has been known to take a qtr off, which qtr is always everyones guess. A couple of 3 and outs, will get the young defense gassed… scary. Nothing would suprise me in this game, even a low scoring game. My guess is along everyone else both teams get their share of big plays. I still don’t trust Murray and Bobo if it becomes 2 gun slingers, due to turnovers and 3 and outs at the wrong time. I do trust UGA’s 2 RBs, and a fresh D.

  15. I’m very interested to see if we win the coin-toss if Coach Richt does his traditional defer or if he wants the offense to touch the ball first.

  16. TennesseeDawg

    Bubble screens!

    • AthensHomerDawg

      “From the snap, they were pretty much bringing a full-house blitz,” Murray said. “We had a little jailbreak screen, and it was either going to be a huge play or a bust.”

      Said Conley: “All I had to do was catch it and run.”

  17. Cojones

    My thoughts? We lead by 1 pt, in possession and control of the ball with about a min to go. Clemson pulls a GT and allows us to score freely with their hopes of scoring (plus 2) to tie and go into overtime.

  18. Hobnail_Boot

    I’m worried as hell about our secondary. Otherwise, this looks like a mismatch.

    Dawgs 35-24

  19. mg4life0331

    I keep thinking about Lee Corso in NCAA 2005. *whistle* over the top!

  20. Rebar

    Dabo is saying that this defense is the best front 7 he has ever had at Clemson. Their players have been talking smack about “jumping on Georgia right out of the gate like Carolina did last year”. I’m very interested in seeing what plays Bobo calls on our first possession. I think we take them to the woodshed and win by 17, but I’ve been wrong before.

  21. chirodawg

    Don’t forget about Quayvon Hicks! He’s a damn BEAST! and ready to hit someone!

  22. Slaw Dawg

    What I think is I should be worried as Hell about this game. It’s at Clemson. Game Day is there–usually bad luck. We have seemed very vulnerable to dual threat QBs the last couple years. Heck, Munson would say “we don’t even have a defense–or special teams, either!” And the Dawgs have been so inexplicably unprepared for a couple of recent big games (Boise State in ’11, SC last year) that I wondered aloud who it was they’d been expecting to play.

    But the fact is that I’m not very worried. Green D or no, Georgia should win this game by at least a touchdown. We have the talent edge, we have a major running game edge and we have what may be the best fleet of receivers in the country. The gap between Clemson’s O and our D is real. But the gap between Georgia’s O and Clemson’s D is massive. We only lose if we come out flat and/or just keep turning the ball over.

  23. kckd

    Simply put, you are in a pretty good position when you’ve got a Heisman caliber player at RB, QB and a deep Oline with lots of experience. That’s what we have and to boot, Clemsux is gonna defensively try to make us beat them by attacking what is the weakest part of their defense on paper. From an offensive standpoint, don’t know if there is another top ten team that would be a better matchup for our offense.

  24. Tom

    The Senator mentioned special teams. That is my biggest concern. Hope the coaches put some emphasis on this. Otherwise we match up well and should win the trenches. We win the trenches and the special teams balance out, we win.

  25. Biggity Ben

    I didn’t bother reading everything on here, but I did rewatch that game on Wednesday and LSU was starting THREEEEEE freshmen on the OL.

  26. Chopdawg

    Interesting comment about Clempson’s momentum carryover from their bowl-game win. I’ve heard very little about Georgia’s bowl-game win: a huge win over a traditional power, who’d beaten us by 39 points last time we played them. Hoping we can ride a little bowl-mo ourownselves.

  27. Red Tide

    Isn’t now about the time the dawgs start chanting fire Richt?