Georgia/Clemson, a Steele-y comparison

The season opener is about a month away, so maybe it’s time to get the ball rolling, discussion-wise.  Thought it might be fun to start a conversation by looking at Phil Steele’s rankings of each team’s units and seeing how they stack up against each other.  Steele has Georgia ranked ninth and Clemson fifteenth in his preseason top 40, but has them spaced farther apart in the one power poll he publishes.  In that, Georgia’s sixth and Clemson’s 20th.

Here’s how he breaks down the respective units (he lists the top 45 nationally at each position):

  • Quarterback.  He’s got Clemson fourth and Georgia sixth.  Boyd’s got gaudier numbers than Murray and Clemson’s backup quarterback has more experience than any of Georgia’s do.  Still, those rankings are close enough to be considered a toss-up.
  • Running back.  Monster gap here:  Georgia is first and Clemson doesn’t even rank in his top 45.  Boyd is the Tigers’ leading returning rusher.
  • Receiver.  Another close one, with Georgia fifth and Clemson seventh. Both teams lost one of their top receivers, but still return a lot of depth at the wideout position.  Watkins will be the scariest guy on the field that night.  Georgia has more productive tight ends, though.
  • Offensive line.  Steele projects a pretty good-sized difference here. Georgia has his third-best unit and Clemson only ranks 28th. Both teams bring back experience, but Georgia brings back more.
  • Defensive line.  The shoe is on the other foot here, with Clemson at #15 and Georgia at #42.  The Tigers did lose a big, if uneven, talent in Goodman, but still bring back seven of their top eight from last season. The Dawgs… don’t.
  • Linebacker.  Back to the toss-up – Georgia is 30th and Clemson is 32nd. Clemson actually brings back more experienced players than Georgia does, so take that for what it’s worth.
  • Defensive back.  Close, but not impressive:  Clemson’s at #39 and Georgia is 44th.  And that doesn’t take into account JHC’s suspension.
  • Special teams.  Neither team shows up in his top 45, which in Georgia’s case is a little hard to follow, as he describes them as finishing thirtieth in his 2012 rankings and expects improvement this season.  On the other hand, Clemson’s place kicker has been more consistent than Morgan, who, yeah, won’t play opening night.  Call this the big wild card of the game.

I see two talented offenses, except that Georgia has a more balanced running threat (Clemson does have a couple of freshmen backs from whom it’s hoping for big things).  That’s probably not such good news for the less highly ranked defenses.  Subject to our old friend turnover margin, I’m seeing Gurley and Marshall as difference makers, but I’m a little concerned about who wins the special teams part of the night.  What do y’all see?


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

42 responses to “Georgia/Clemson, a Steele-y comparison

  1. Dawg in Austin

    Last team to score wins. Both team’s DBs are in trouble. Very green UGA defense playing on road, at night, against top tier passing game in front of loud, drunken Clemfolks. First game of year typically doesn’t generate the best execution so maybe we can catch Boyd on a couple throws. If not, it’s a toss up, and a hell of a game.

    • Mike

      Agreed that the first game typically lacks execution. Leading to a Dawgs V through ball control running game. 104-99 Dawgs.

      • The Lone Stranger

        I am seeing something similar—sit on the ball, barge it down the Tigers throat and maybe hit some PA down the seams when CU creeps up. You just have to pray against banking on the kick game.

  2. ARDawg (OKDawg relocated)

    Like many I see a high scoring affair, with both offenses ahead of the opposing defenses and Clemson with a field position edge due to special teams. I believe you’ve hit on the key advantage for UGA – a better running game. Or rather the key disadvantage for Clemson – their lack of a running game. I see Grantham able to scheme primarily for the passing attack and cobble together enough with some young pups to get the win. Without a real running threat to plan for, the defense should be prepared to weather Boyd’s passing storm. But if Boyd is able to scramble effectively and gain significant yards running on his own (which we’ve seen him do in the past), we could be in trouble.

  3. RocketDawg

    I think that the defense will be better than expected. The sheer size of our D-Line and ILB’s should make Clemson a perimeter running team if they have any run game other than Boyd scrambling at all. What worries me the most is how our DB’s stack up against the Clemson WR’s. They are going to have to tackle well as they will often end up in space with Watkins and the like catching quick screens and hitches.
    I agree that the difference will be our RB’s and Oline. If we can control the tempo of the game and make it a smash mouth grind it out affair, I like our chances, maybe even a blow out. If we get into a track meet then anything can happen. With Morgan out I don’t like the idea of the game coming down to a last minute FG.

  4. Bobby

    Special teams will not be a factor–except to the extent that a team commits glaring mistakes. If a team puts itself in bad field position or commits turnovers, that will be the difference maker. I don’t think explosive returns or clutch kicks are in the cards for either team.

    If our pass rush creates substantial pressure, we win, but I expect us to give up at least 4 TDs, regardless. Our offense should have little difficulty scoring.

  5. Keese

    If the Dawgs D can keep Boyd in the pocket, maintaining lanes and gaps and get a decent pass rush I really like our chances against this ACC Clemson squad

  6. 69Dawg

    Seems with a QB like Boyd you have to go with contain. This means the pass rush must be under control and not overly aggressive. This will give him time to pass but if we can just make him feel it, it might put him off of his game.

  7. ScoutDawg

    I think we go old school and run, run, run. If we are getting at least 4-4.5ypc, which I think is feasible, we smoke Clempsun. Plus, we blood our D. I see UGA 35, Clemp 21.

  8. Rebar

    I hope we beat them bloody and leave them gasping from the onslaught. No better way to start the season than taking out a top 20 team in their own house. I think our offense beats their defense. I think their offense is surprised by our green defense. We are lighter and faster this year and if we apply frequent pressure, it will only help our young DB’s. I also think this is the year you can’t let up on the offensive side of the ball. No mercy, crush ’em all.

  9. Macallanlover

    We will all have a better feel when we get a week away from gameday and know who is healthy after summer camp. If we stay healthy, I agree with Scout Dawg that we are 10-14 points better.

    Turnovers and huge mistakes (blown coverages, kick returns) could certainly overcome the talent gap, but if this weren’t a monster opening game for Clemson, at home, at night, UGA would stomp them. Fortunately, the loud factor of that crowd goes against our most experienced unit, Murray can communicate and stay cool. But make no mistake, that will be an amped crowd that gives Clemson more than the usual 3 point advantage for home field. Dawgs too strong, too talented, and too diverse on offense for the Clemson D.

    I have said before, I can live with a Clemson loss if it occurs, we must beat SC the next week. We all want to win them both but there is no comparison about these two games if you are going to come out 1-1. Like GT, it would hurt a little, but neither impact us getting to Atlanta with a chance to win the championship.

  10. Terror 'Tween The Hedges

    We all know what firepower these offenses have. That said–UGA’s offensive numbers have to be more impressive based on the conference schedule. I don’t care how highly rated Clemson’s D is: there is no way they are going to stop the offensive attack of Murrary/Mitchell/Conley/Lynch/Gurley/Marshall/Bennett. You load the box, you lose. You get too soft in the zone, you get shredded. You press coverage? You probably get beat on a crossing route or the bomb. After seeing Gurley and Marshall gut their run defense for about a quarter and a half–I suspect a few play fakes will back them back out of the box and allow more ridiculous running numbers to amass. As far as ranking the DAWG’s D: This is basically impossible because only 2 people in this game will have been starters last year. So: The biggest wildcard in this game is going to be just that. The DAWGS will have to grow up fast facing two completely different offensive schemes in Games 1 and 2 of the season. if they survive, we are in for one heckuva season. If we don’t–we’re still in for one heckuva season. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Losing to Clemson doesn’t really matter that much in the long run. Just win your conference and beat Bama in the SECCG and you have a shot at the title. South Carolina coming down to Athens is the game to circle out of that those first 4. Man can you tell I’m PUMPED?????


    • adam

      Herrera, Garrison Smith, Swann, and Jordan Jenkins all started last year. So I don’t know what you mean about only 2 guys on D started last year.

      We have several other guys with a decent amount of playing time. I think the defense will be better than people expect.

      • Cojones

        Agreed, plus Clemson’s D line can stop the run if Steele is correct. I think it’s a mixed bag with both teams’s O and D lines. It’s in that milieu that the game will be decided.

  11. sUGArdaddy

    We will beat them mercilessly. They will not be able to tackle #3. The heisman campaign will be in full speed by 11:30 pm in 8/31.

    Marshall might go for over a hundy, too. Mercilessly. 38-17, and that might be with a cheap, late one by tajh and company.

  12. adam

    I keep thinking back to WVU beating them 70-33 and WVU not having a defense. We should just score as much as we possibly can and, if the defense gets a few stops, we will win by 20+. We can score 70 on these guys and it’s in our best interest to put that kind of pressure on Clemson. Boyd is good and Watkins is very good, but those 2 are their entire offense. They won’t play another back like Gurley in their careers. Let’s score some points, folks.

    • Cojones

      That WVU game disturbs my innerds when it is used to compare teams. They will say the same about us while using the SC game as reference. You have to look at both teams’s body of work for last year and try to surmise what our new D will do. As our D goes, so go the Dawgs.

  13. Tom

    Defensive game. UGA 10-Clemson 6

  14. TDawg

    I’ve been to death valley several times and their crowd will be loud and ugly orange. However, the Defense has heard all the talk about giving up a lot of points to Clempson. They will show up with attitude and make some turnovers and sacks against the tigers. Our offense may start out slow in the first quarter, but we will put at least 35 on the board. Clempson may get a late score to get 21 or 24.
    Final: Dawgs 35 tigers 20

  15. JasonC

    I’ll believe UGA has the #3 OL when I see it. I’ve heard “OL will be a strength” for the team too many times, only to see it be a weakness. I want them to be a strength and there is potential for them to be a strength, but execution must match potential for it to be a strength.

    Need to keep Boyd 1-dimensional and not let Watkins get hot. He’ll get his, but we can’t let him become a game-changer.

  16. Hobnail_Boot

    Dawgs play nickel and spy Boyd.

    Close for a half. UGA pulls away, 45-27.

  17. Tyler

    Everyone wants to point to Clemson beating Lsu from last season as proof that Clemson is the real deal and can hang with the SEC. What they don’t point out is Clemson barely managed a win to start the season over the worst auburn team in the history of football.

    I think it’ll be close for a half, maybe three quarters. But the dawgs are going to whoop that urnge azz

  18. Mean Machine

    Am I the only one who thinks our front seven will be better this year? Look, I’m not close to saying that 9 of these guys will go in the draft some day like last year’s squad. But, we have 8 more defensive players on scholarship than we did last year. We have roughly the same number of players in the secondary, which means we have 8 more players on scholarship in the front seven, many of which will play. We’re much deeper on the D-line for sure.
    Without much of an established running game and without a dominant O-line, added to the lack of real star power on the Dawgs’ D, I think it’s the perfect opportunity for the Dawgs to pin their ears back and get after Boyd. We get burned a few times in the process, but our offense is much better, and the defenses are not as close as people lead on. 38-24 Dawgs.

    • Will (the other one)

      Against the run I can’t imagine them being worse. Not sure how much of it was lack of conditioning vs. RG not being the best DL coach, but we were awful vs. the run last year. How bad? Worse than any of the Willie 2 Thumbs’ years. Worse than the Kevin Ramsay year.

  19. uglydawg

    Clemson will be like Nebraska.
    Georgia uses ball control to shorten the game and cram it down the orange gullet. By the middle of the third, Clemson’s defense is beaten by the pounding from Gurley and Co….Georgia 35, Clemson 24.

  20. fetch

    Yeah, I think Swann can hold his own against Watkins and if our front can get some similance of a rush that hurries and contains Taj, I think the rest of the secondary can tamp down their passing attack. I think the difference in the game is Gurley/Marshall, but the real key is our pass rush.

  21. erikm0602

    This is pretty easy. I mean, who here has actually ever watched UGA football? They will lose a close one to Clemson, get hammered by USC, and then win out to play in the Outback bowl and lose to Wisconsin.

    • virginia baird

      All I have To Say To You “Is You’re Full Of it”!! I don’t know who you are BUT YOU”RE NO DAWG!!

      • Macallanlover

        Not only is he not a Dawg, he is an idiot as well. While it is true UGA and Clemson have had some close battles in the past, Dawgs:

        1. Have won the last five against Clemson
        2. Dominate the all-time series against both them and SC
        3. Richt is 15-1 against the ACC
        4. Until we gifted MSU a win, hadn’t lost a team representing the Big ? since 1957, and is 8-2 all time against that conference.
        5. Have never lost to Wisconsin

        Just a few facts the troll didn’t bother to research, but thanks for playing. History doesn’t help your prognostication, but anything can happen in the future. You just wouldn’t have any money if you bet like you fantasize.

        • erikm0602

          I will take this history instead: when was the last time UGA started in the Top 5/Top 10 and finished there? Richt can’t handle the pressure and expectations.

          They will have a chump season, everyone will call for his head, he will put together a great recruiting class and everyone wants to keep him, then the next year they win the East, get beaten by Bama, win the capital one bowl, finish #5, and everyone can’t wait until the next year because they are going to be so good. Rinse, repeat. How is that for history?

          David Greene and Co, great junior campaign then choke

          Matt Stafford and Co: great Soph campaign, then choke

          Aaron Murray and co: great junior campaing and oh so close and then choke senior year…oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet.

    • Skeeter

      And here I had a good buzz goin’.

    • fetch

      If “winning out” involves a third straight (almost 4th straight) win in the cocktail party, wins over LSU and Aubie, and another thrashing of GT, I might would take this. Of course, that would most likely mean another trip to the SEC CG and NOT an outback bowl birth.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Sorry, fetch. I didn’t read down far enough to see your post first but you know what they say about great minds…..

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      You do understand that you are predicting a 10-2 regular season, 7-1 in the conference and a likely SEC East title, don’t you? If that happens the Dawgs play in the SECCG. A scant 5 years ago LSU won the BCSNC with 2 losses.

      • erikm0602

        Yes, LSU did…not UGA. Bama, Florida, and LSU will always have to do less to get into that game than anyone else. Why? Because they are champions. They don’t chronically disappoint like UGA. The love successful teams get from the media will always get them into that game.

        In anticipation of your idiotic rhetoric, let me point out the teams ahead of UGA all losing but then they get jumped because “they didn’t win their conference.” Flash forward…Alabama v LSU BCS NCG. Point, case, victory. Thanks for playing.