This is one helluva stat.
This, remarkably, will be the tenth consecutive meeting between the teams in which both are ranked. The lowest Georgia has ever been ranked coming into a game against LSU is #18. #13 for LSU.
And, yet, there’s surprisingly little rancor between the two fan bases. As Poseur writes, “Even then, it’s hard to find an LSU fan nursing a grudge against Georgia or vice versa.” (It helps that both sides share passionate dislikes of Auburn and Florida.) Hell, I was rooting for the Tigers to beat ‘Bama and if they wind up as SEC champs, I’ll certainly be hoping they spoil Dabo’s mood.
Anyway, as we’ve done in the past, GTP and And The Valley Shook! have swapped Q&As in anticipation of tomorrow’s meeting. I did two of ’em over there, one straight and one tongue and cheeky. Here’s what ATVS’ Zach Junda had to say in response to my curiosity:
1. I can’t even begin to tell you how jealous I am of the LSU offense’s prowess this season. How in the world did Orgeron become convinced to ditch the Tigers’ traditional approach and bring in Brady to rework everything (especially considering how poorly the Canada experiment went)?
I know right! We can’t believe it either. Orgeron deserves all the credit in the world. He hired Canada, saw it wasn’t working and pulled the plug immediately. He saw that the Ensminger offense wasn’t good enough to beat Alabama and went out and gambled on a 30-year old wunderkind. O said in the press conference when he was officially named coach at LSU he was going to run a spread offense and hire the best minds in the game. It took some time and some experimenting but he kept his word.
2. If I could only bring one thing to an LSU tailgate that would be guaranteed to impress everyone, what would it be?
I’d say bring something that would unite Georgia and LSU. And what do the those two fan bases hate? The Florida Gators. Who have those teams both beaten this year? The Florida Gators. The solution would be bring some fried alligator, it makes for a wonderful appetizer and olive branch.
3. Is it just me, or does Grant Delpit’s game seem a little off this season? How banged up is he now?
It’s not just you. He’s a Thorpe Award finalist which is surprising, frankly. Maybe it’s a makeup for the Thorpe award he should’ve won last season. Anyway, there’s a few reasons why Delpit hasn’t looked like the Delpit we saw in 2018. John Battle graduating means he’s had to play more of a centerfielder role and get the other DBs lined up. He’s best suited as an in the box, attacking safety. Battle gave him that freedom; losing that changed his game. Then there was the ankle sprain he suffered late against Auburn. It was most noticeable against Ole Miss. I lost count of the number of times John Rhys Plumlee blew past him. He was basically playing on one leg that night and it showed.
But things have started to turn in his favor in recent weeks. He took the week off against Arkansas and looked healthy against Texas A&M. And the emergence of true freshman safety Maurice Hampton Jr. has really helped out the secondary as a whole and Delpit specifically. Hampton is a two-sport star and will be playing baseball for the Tigers come spring. He’ll man the outfield so on the gridiron he’s literally playing center field. That LSU has a second coming of John Battle has allowed Delpit to look like…well, Delpit.
4. Honestly, this is a balanced looking LSU defense to me – 4th in the conference in defensive yards per rush and 5th in defensive passer rating. If you had to point to the area of greatest concern, considering what Georgia prefers to do on offense, what would that be?
I’m concerned Georgia is going to lean into the strength that is their offensive line and try and wear down LSU with its running game. Texas had 121 yards on the ground; Vanderbilt got 145; Florida, Miss State, Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas all eclipsed 100 yards. This is a run defense that can be had. And remember, Georgia was having its way with LSU in Baton Rouge before inexplicably abandoning the running game early. The question will be, can the LSU offense get out to a big enough lead that Georgia has to abandon the run.
5. Tell the truth – would beating the Dawgs this Saturday mean as much as beating Alabama did?
No, absolutely not. For one, I think it helps that LSU not only beat Georgia just last season, but they beat them pretty soundly. And for another…I mean those guys have just been making the entire state miserable for about a decade. Alabama spoiled what would have been the greatest season in school history in 2011, kept LSU from possibly winning a second straight championship in 2012, ruined Leonard Fournette’s Heisman hopes in 2015 and shut out the Tigers in consecutive home games in 2017 and 19. That win was a long time coming and in a way, nearly washed away all the bitter disappointments suffered for eight long years.
6. One statistical area where I’m a little surprised is in sacks allowed, as LSU’s offensive line has given up three times as many sacks as has Georgia’s. Where’s the vulnerability, since Burrow poses something of a run threat?
So the offensive line play has been up and down, with probably more ups than downs but the downs have been real stinkers. In the opener against Georgia Southern, LSU could only average 3.7 yards a carry against a Sun Belt team. Against Texas it was 3.5. Burrow also got sacked five times against Alabama. But the good performances have been really, really good. Burrow wasn’t sacked once against Florida, I don’t think the Gators even registered a pressure. And against Arkansas, Clyde Edwards-Helaire got 181 yards on SIX rushes. So the quality of the line depends on who LSU’s got up front. In the games that the line has been strong were the ones where left tackle Saahdiq Charles wasn’t withheld for a “coach’s decision.” With Charles hopefully back for the year, it lets Adrian Magee slide back into his natural left guard position. Add in Austin Deculus getting healthy again and manning the right tackle spot we should see the best yet of the offensive line.