From Bill Connelly’s sobering preseason analysis of Boise State:
… Boise State was outstanding in the way that they knocked opponents on their heels immediately; even in their two closest games (the Virginia Tech win and the Nevada loss), they went up 17-0 in the first half each time. They struggled a bit late in games — Tech scored 16 points in the second half to tie, Nevada scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to do the same — but they proved just how much the first half matters. Do well enough in the first half, and it might not matter what you do late.
If Georgia is looking up at a seventeen-point deficit in the first half, it’s going to be ugly, ugly in the Dome. And, yes, as Bill notes, there were teams that clawed back into games with the Broncos last year after being down early. But with the Dawgs’ brittle psyche, who knows if they’re capable of that?
One more thing – Boise State is not some current version of 20o7 Hawaii, all show on offense and nothing on defense. Compare what I wrote about that Hawaii team before the Sugar Bowl…
… Hawaii is ranked 41st nationally in scoring defense. Ignoring strength of schedule for the moment, consider the school that Hawaii is tied with in that category: Florida. Georgia scored 42 points against Florida. Georgia Tech, against whom Georgia put up 31 points, is ranked 18th. Auburn, ranked 5th nationally and giving up eight points per game less than Hawaii, allowed Georgia to score 45. If the Dawgs can hang those numbers on Florida, Tech and Auburn, why the hell should we expect Hawaii to do better?
And that’s without factoring in strength of schedule considerations. Steele, in his infinite wisdom, says Florida checks in at #9, Auburn at #38 and Georgia Tech at #63 in national SOS. Hawaii ranks 119th. It’s simply not realistic to expect Hawaii to do a significantly better job of holding the Dawg offense in check than those three schools did.
… with what Bill has to say about BSU’s defensive line (by comparison, the Broncos were 2nd in scoring defense last season with Sagarin’s 81st-rated strength of schedule).
Ten different linemen registered at least two tackles for loss, and eight return this fall, led by a pair of outstanding, and identically productive, ends: Shea McClellin (22.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL/sacks, 1 INT) and Tyrone Crawford (22.5 tackles, 13.5 TFL/sacks, 1 PBU). But it is at tackle where Boise shines. A four-headed monster of Billy Winn (19.5 tackles, 9.5 TFL/sacks), Chase Baker (19.0 tackles, 6.5 TFL/sacks), Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (17.5 tackles, 6.5 TFL/sacks) and Mike Atkinson (7.0 tackles, 2.5 TFL/sacks in four games) returns to manhandle the interior of mid-major and major conference lines alike. The squatty (6-foot-0, 312 pounds!) Atkinson is perhaps the best of the bunch, but he was suspended for the last nine games of the season for disciplinary reasons. This is a great line either way, but it could be even better if he keeps his head on straight. If Georgia fans are looking for something over which to wring their hands about their season opener against Boise State, this is it. The ‘Dawgs could do alright against a Boise offense working in some new pieces, but their thin offensive line could get blown up.
No, they’re not as big as Georgia goes on the d-line, but they’re not a bunch of midgets, either. There’s enough depth and experience to go along with that to challenge the Dawgs’ offensive line all evening.
The Broncos’ secondary can be exploited, but of course that begs the question whether Georgia has the weapons with which to attack it.
Ironically, given what happened last year, if Georgia can make this a four-quarter game, I think it stands a good chance of winning. Get down big early and it’s likely to be a long night.