Groo hits on something that’s bugged me since the second half of the South Carolina game:
… If Georgia showed a weakness on defense at Ole Miss, it was on the edge. The Rebels didn’t have the players or scheme to exploit it, but the next opponent does. I’m confident in the interior line to slow the dive plays and even the inside zone-reads of the MSU spread option. It’s when the outside defenders bite on the dive and the option develops outside that I get a little more concerned.
Ole Miss may not have had the personnel to do much, but as we saw, South Carolina did. Cornelius Washington in particular got taken inside and walled off by the right side of the ‘Cock line, allowing Marcus Lattimore to take it outside several times for solid to big gains late.
Mississippi State isn’t as talented as South Carolina. Vick Ballard’s a good SEC back, but he’s no Lattimore. And the MSU offensive line has been banged up (although the Bulldogs get one player back this week). That being said, they’ll be a big step up from the last two offenses Georgia has faced. Chris Relf is a formidable runner and, perhaps ominously, MSU saw its best success last week running the ball outside the tackles.
The good news for Grantham is that Mullen’s offense has struggled throwing the ball, scoring touchdowns in the red zone and converting third downs. So if the Dawg defense can get a handle on stopping the outside run, it may very well be able to control the MSU offense.
The second key for this Saturday is how Bobo game plans against that aggressive, physical Mississippi State defense. Manny Diaz may be gone, but if you watched the MSU-LSU game, you saw a team that was still zone blitzing early and often. They got their shots against the Tigers, but eventually wore down. If Georgia had LSU’s offensive line, I probably wouldn’t be as concerned, but a comparison of the sacks allowed numbers illustrates that’s not the case.
That being said, Bobo’s task is far from hopeless. For one thing, lost in the disappointment of last year’s loss is the fact that Georgia gained nearly 400 yards, outgaining MSU in the process. For another, Georgia is loaded with the best weapon against a team that relies heavily on the zone blitz: the tight end. Aron White’s coming out party last week at Ole Miss has to be a concern for MSU’s defense. Nor can they sleep on 344 fullback.
Certainly, you’ve got the general concern about Georgia shooting itself in the foot with dumb play. They got embarrassed by that last week. It cost them the South Carolina game. And it killed them in last year’s MSU game. But assuming that’s a bullet they can dodge this go ’round, watch to see how MSU’s outside running looks and how Georgia responds to the Mississippi State defensive scheme.