… it should be a happy Saturday in Athens. Even the Mississippi State beat writer agrees. The Dawgs are the better team statistically, have more momentum on their side and play at home today.
As we’ve seen over the past three seasons to our frequent dismay, paper don’t mean shit sometimes. This team can do just enough wrong to bring any game into question. Granted this year we may not be taking into fair account how green this team is in certain areas, especially with the injuries. Growing pains aren’t pleasant. But a third of the season is now in the books. We should begin seeing improvements breaking out if the coaches are coaching and the players are absorbing.
One thing I’ll be watching carefully today is the play of the defense against the run. Grantham hints that he’s been getting ready for Mississippi State for some time now.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said there was focus on all of the SEC teams and Georgia Tech before the season. But he did give a hint that Mississippi State may have gotten some special attention.
He pointed out Mississippi State has eight offensive starters back from the team that beat Georgia 24-12. And when he asked if he hoped his defense was more physical this year, Grantham answered, “That’s why you work hard in the offseason and give up tee times.”
Line play should be in Georgia’s favor, as MSU’s o-line has been in a state of flux due to injuries.
“State is still regrouping after a season-ending injury to right guard Tobias Smith, and starting left tackle James Carmon (out the last two weeks with a knee injury) is expected to return Saturday. Carmon, though, will likely line up at guard to give MSU some weight in the middle. If that happens, Quentin Saulsberry will be able to move from guard back to center, leaving just one redshirt freshman (LT Blaine Clausell) starting on the offensive line. Experience was in short supply in recent weeks, but Carmon’s addition should help.”
The Dawgs may be able to control runs between the tackles, but the key will be doing a better job stopping the run to the outside than we’ve seen. Do that, and it may well turn out to be a pleasant afternoon.
One thing that’s puzzled me this week is the number of pundits who’ve called this game as a shoot out, with combined scoring anywhere from the mid-sixties to low-seventies. I’m not seeing it. I don’t think MSU has the firepower to force that against a decent defense and that leads me to believe that Mullen is going to do what he can to keep the game close in hopes that he can take advantage of Georgia misfires. Given what we’ve seen so far, that’s not a bad bet, and I have a lot of respect for Mullen’s game management skills, especially after watching the way his team beat Georgia and Florida last year.
And with that, I’m off. Consider this your game day comment thread invitation.