Ian Boyd thinks Georgia’s best hope for slowing down Oklahoma’s juggernaut of an offense is to deploy its 2-4-5 nickel package more than usual.
This set allows them to keep Carter and Davin Bellamy on the field, bumps strong side end Jonathan Ledbetter inside, and relegates a nose tackle to the bench. They could stick with their normal three-down front and replace both OLBs with DBs, but that would not get the best 11 on the field. Carter and Bellamy can drop into coverage, so this allows Georgia to bring three/four-man pressures that include Smith (5.5 sacks on the year), hopefully flushing Mayfield toward OLBs.
The advantage that SEC teams typically have over Big 12 squads is on the lines, where future pro pass rushers can bust protections without blitzing and thwart a spread offense’s desire to flood the field with receivers. That’s more difficult against OU, which has a strong OL and a QB who’s extended plays against good lines like Ohio State’s, TCU’s, and Auburn’s. Georgia has to get as many of its best athletes on the field as it can to send pressure at Mayfield.
We’ve seen a few national champs with balanced offensive attacks that feature smart, veteran passers throwing to receiving corps keyed by problematic TEs. If Georgia is going to put a stop to that, it’ll need to attack Mayfield and cut off the head of the snake. And to do that, it’ll need to exemplify the SEC’s reputation for having the biggest and most freakish athletes in the trenches.
I don’t think there’s any question that Bellamy and Carter have to step up and provide the kind of games they did against Notre Dame and in the SECCG for Georgia’s defense to be effective against Mayfield and Company. (I’m taking it as a given that Roquan will be Roquan.) But I’m wondering if D’Andre Walker and Walter Grant won’t need to have a couple of moments of their own, too.
It’s gonna be a helluva chess match, that’s for sure.