From mgoblog comes some really excellent scout work on Georgia’s offense and defense. Don’t worry; there’s nary of shred of Roll ‘Bama Roll-esque arrogance to be found. Nor is the author guilty of donning Maize and Blue glasses in delivering his reports.
In fact, I’d say both are characterized by a healthy amount of respect, particularly when it comes to the Dawgs defense. Here’s how he concludes that post:
Let’s now circle back and talk about Michigan’s matchup with Georgia specifically. The way these two teams play is a strength on strength matchup, with Michigan wanting to run the football and UGA wanting to stifle the run. Even with their explosive passing game, the Crimson Tide’s RBs rushed for just 3.5 YPC (this doesn’t count the Bryce Young runs) on the Bulldogs. Go week by week of Georgia’s results, you’re not going to find any teams who were able to consistently pave this defense on the ground. That’s not to say you can’t get wins; Michigan’s the best rushing offense the Dawgs will have seen and I have no doubt that Michigan will get its wins in from time to time. I would just be extremely surprised if they are able to hammer Georgia on the ground the way they did Ohio State.
Beating Georgia is going to take a balanced, well-designed gameplan with a high level of execution. When Georgia is stifling Michigan’s runs, they’re going to need to have plans ready to get chunk gains through the air and more importantly, are going to need Cade McNamara to step up and rise to the occasion. I’m not sure they need him to be Bryce Young-good to win, but it feels like McNamara having the best game of his career is a prerequisite to win this game. Similarly, Josh Gattis needs to be equally as good for the Wolverines to win. All the speed in space stuff we’ve seen this season feels notable here, targeting the boundary with Henning end arounds, screens to Donovan Edwards off orbit motion, QB design runs for McNamara with the receivers split out wide + the JJ package all needs to be meshed in along with the typical Harbaugh power running base offense. I’d like to see plenty of tricks too, including another flea flicker.
Quality pass protection is absolutely crucial too. I like Michigan’s chances of picking up a lot of the Georgia four-man rushes, given what we’ve seen from the Wolverines on tape this season. But they won’t pick up all of them and that’s where Cade’s ability to stand in the pocket and get the ball out the moment before he gets popped is big. We saw him do that pretty well against Michigan State back in October, and he’ll need to do it again. Getting the ball out in a hurry has been one of Cade’s signature traits and it’s absolutely essential that that continues tomorrow. He can’t get unnerved by the illusion of pressure, and he has to be willing to take a beating. Everyone has to. This is going to be a physical football game and every player on Michigan’s roster has to be ready for that.
I think the ideal Michigan game plan looks something like this: targeting the off coverage when it’s there to get easy yards underneath through the air, crafting a pretty balanced-run pass mix that includes jet sweeps and other run plays in space outside the tackles, to then create the ability to hammer it more on the ground up the middle. Once you get a couple wins on the ground, perhaps take a PA shot down the field, looking to generate a big play. The scripted drive needs to end in points, and as we pointed out on Tuesday, getting a lead early in this game is really crucial.
Minimize the big negative plays (I don’t want to see a lot of sweeps/tosses that require the OL to try to get into space and block UGA’s athletic LBs, frankly), protect the QB, and hope for a big game performance from McNamara. This is a great defense, even if Alabama made them look vulnerable. A lot of the ways that Alabama made them look vulnerable (Heisman QB and legit first round NFL WR) aren’t super applicable to Michigan. But there is enough on tape to believe that an incredibly savvy game plan from Josh Gattis and superb execution from the players can lead to this game ending the way we want it to. And hey, it would be nice if the defense/special teams could help the offense out through good field position or even banking a few points straight up.
That’s a lot of words to say Michigan is going to have to bring its A game to have a decent chance at winning, but it’s certainly far from inconceivable that it can happen.
If you’ve been reading here, his take on the offense won’t come as a surprise.
I’ve seen some people make comparisons between Georgia and Iowa and while I don’t think it’s a terribly good comparison, I don’t think it’s a bad one either. Adjustments for talent are necessary because Georgia is stacked with blue chips and Iowa builds its whole defense around the knowledge that they’ll never be able to recruit high level athletes to play in Iowa City. But the way Michigan approached the B1G Championship Game is the same way they ought to approach the Orange Bowl in your author’s opinion. The best way to beat Georgia’s offense is to get them out of their comfort zone, and that requires forcing them to play from behind…
… Outside of Bowers, I feel good about Michigan’s ability to handle Georgia’s WR, with the slight exception being if Pickens is suddenly the 2020 version of himself again. Good tackling is crucial on the RBs, who can grind out those free yards, but Georgia as a team is much more Wisconsin than Ohio State. They’re not going to torch you unless it’s off play-action or an RB getting free. They’re much more likely to break your will and stomp you than run circles around you. If Michigan comes in with a good game plan and holds up against the run, I like their chances of holding Georgia to under 30, perhaps under 25. The question, of course, is whether you can even score 20 against that defense.
Spend a few minutes reading both.