I have sat at this computer four times this week to write this post. Twice tonight, even. I just don't know what to say. I want to break this game down, I really do, but I just don't know if I understand what we need to to do win. You might think I'm crazy as hell, but truthfully, I really don't know.
Anyway, I'm going to give it a shot. Please feel free to disagree with me if you think I'm way off base.When Kentucky has the ball:
What a difference a year makes, huh? Instead of fighting Vandy this year to be the bottom dweller of the SEC, Kentucky has made a very impressive jump to become a team to be respected if you're an offensive player, and damn near feared if you happen to be on defense. Their QB, Andre Woodson, is a great one and even though I find him to lack a bit of toughness, he has the brain to eat your zone alive if you give him time to throw.As The Good Senator points out
, their running game is effective against middle-of-the-road to crappy teams and is only mildly effective against opponents with a winning record. Their playmaker with the ball in his hands absolutely has to be Rafael Little, who scoots and scats his way all across the field and eventually over the goal line.
One thing Kentucky uses a lot is their second and third check-down receivers. Woodson is nearly NFL ready at being able to see when his first option is covered and then move his mindset to his second and third targets. The only time I haven't seen him be able to do this effectively was against USC earlier this year, but other than that, he's done very well at finding the people he needs to find when his first option is covered.
Part of his ability to run the offense the way he has is his elusiveness. Not necessarily like D.J. Shockley elusive, but he has great pocket awareness and can buy some time with his feet to allow one of his WRs, TEs, or RBs to find a soft spot in a zone, sit in it, and wait on the ball.
So how do we stop this offense? Well, to me, it's not necessarily pressure more than it is confusion. When USC and MSU beat Kentucky, they were so deep in ole A-Dub's head that they probably knew how he liked his eggs in the morning. We have to create that same kind of chaos. We need to allow him to form a nice pocket from our rush and then bring a LB or Safety up on a delayed blitz. It also wouldn't hurt to bring six to the line and only rush three.
We have to get pressure up front, though for anything to be effective. If he has time to pass, we'll play more nickel, which will open up the running game. I don't buy it that Rafael Little is hurt, and I expect him to see plenty of minutes this Saturday. Some have said we need to shut down the run first and then work on the pass, but I disagree. I don't think UK's rushing attack is good enough for them to rely heavily on it, but their QB is good enough to put the game on his shoulders to win.
Basically, if I'm talking to the Defense before they go out, all I'm saying is "He's just like Brandon Cox...but a better QB."When UGA has the ball:
More of the same, more of the same, more of the same. PLEASE!!! We learned last week what an impressively balanced attack can do against a stellar Defense, but this time around, UK is not the same Defense Auburn is. They tend to give up lots of ground yardage to teams who rush effectively and don't suck (see: Arkansas). If you need any proof, read that UK boasts the 97th best rushing Defense in the nation
This is another game where we could easily run to set up the pass, but I still think Bobo has it in him to let Stafford make the call. If Stafford gets out there and on the first play he think's they're going to put eight in the box, then buddy you can believe we're going deep. This is Stafford's Offense now and he is going to run it how he pleases.
Not only is it Stafford's Offense, but it might as well be his revenge game. UK lit him up mightily last year in the facial area
and did some damage that I'm sure only beer could cure. Thankfully, he found some in Talladega
, and he's all better now. Anyway, in order for us to win this game, he has to consistently throw the ball effectively and win the game on first and second downs. If we stay ahead of the chains by rushing well, and then passing for 10+ yards at a time, I think we cruise to a pretty impressive victory.Special Teams:
Us...you know about us. We're good.
Them...Well, they're the 37th best punting team in the nation
(UGA is 18th), so they're averaging only about 38 yards a kick. It's not amazing, but it's not horrible either. They also rank 66th in punt returns
(UGA ranks 16th), so it's not like they're running it back every time they touch the ball. I say the gameplan is to kick it deep and see what happens.What I think will happen:
Well, I think it's up to the fans. Will they show up early? Will they be in their seats in time for Senior Day? I hope so and my gut tells me they will. These last three UGA games have been something different for this team. It's not a damn dance, or a gimmicky trick to sell black clothing, it's something different. It's a feeling that has come over Athens lately that basically says, "this team loves to play football, and damn it, that's what it's going to do."
I say UGA busts out to an early lead, only to ease up some and possibly lose a turnover or two to let UK get a couple of scores on the board. However, the crowd and the fans all know what's at stake and they won't let the players get down. I don't see this being our best day of football, but I don't see this being a repeat of UT from earlier this year. Past this game, there's nothing more to focus on except beating the hell out of the Jackets. Everything else will fall into place in the SEC race. We just have to take care of our business first. Like I said, I think we struggle some, but not too badly. It's just tough to recreate the same kind of hype and energy after last week's game.
All in all, Dawgs win, but Kentucky gets more points than they probably should.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!).
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football