This preview is one that I'm going to consider to be the toughest one to write to date. As always, there are other previews out there you should check out, namely Jody's Information Overload
and Doug's Preview at Hey Jenny Slater
Before I go forward, I'd like to pass along to our Dawg Brethren to be on their best behavior this weekend. I'm not saying that you shouldn't talk sh*t (I mean we all know that you're going to do that), but go into Tempe, have a good time and get to know the folks out there because they'll be coming to Athens next year. Everything I've read from any ASU message board has been their fans welcoming us to their city and wanting us to party and celebrate a good football game. I can't fault them for that, so make sure you "Do Unto Others" this weekend, OK?
Now, let's get to talking about UGA whoopin' that ASU ass in between the pleasantries of Tempe:
When ASU has the ball:
It seems as if the college football world is on the fence about Rudy Carpenter. The stats say that he's an extremely accurate passer and the leader of this Offense. However, if you go back to 2007, the stats would say that when he's hit early and often, he gets rattled and becomes wildly inconsistent. I say Carpenter is the kind of head case you'd expect out of a QB who probably thinks he's better than he actually is. No disrespect to Carpenter, but I watched that USC game last year on Thanksgiving and all I saw was Carpenter bitching at the refs, his O-line and the Trojans.
So, now that you know Rudy Carpenter is high on my "douche bag" list, I have to give him his props as a QB. If he can keep his head in the game, he's a very accurate passer and does a great job of eating up a zone scheme. Let's not forget that he's being coached by a good coach in Dennis Erickson. He's a vagabond, but he's a good coach.
Now, as far as the running game is concerned, there isn't any. Don't get me wrong, they have guys that can run the ball, but so far this year, the ones who haven't been sidelined by injury haven't produced up to par.
So, the deal is that the Defense should be able to contain the run like last week, but if you think that ASU Off. Coordinator wasn't licking his chops while seeing UGA get carved up last week, you'd be dead wrong. Carpenter is a very effective passer in all aspects of the game and he will find ways to get to him if we don't get pressure. However, as Mark Richt noted, he's good against the blitz as well. So, what do we do?
Well we have to get pressure with our front four and maybe only bring five on certain downs. Yeah, we can blitz, but we're not going to be able to blitz every down. We'll have to twist linemen and delay a linebacker (hopefully Curran) to confuse this young O-line and keep them guessing throughout the game. With the threat of the run being taken out of the equation, we have to have the mentality of "we dare you to beat us with your arm in under 3 seconds." If we can get consistent pressure and just enough to rattle Carpenter, history has shown that he'll become erradic and start making some costly mistakes.
The players that need to step up are Bryan Evans, Prince Miller and whoever else might play in the nickel slot. Asher's going to have his guy locked down, but the other side is a major concern for me, especially on big plays. Other than that, our Defensive Ends have GOT to record at least two sacks in the first half if we're going to establish any kind of "we're going to get you, Carpenter" mentality. If we can get him thinking about what side he's going to get hit from rather than what guy is going to be open, we win the battle on the Defensive side of the ball.
When UGA has the ball:
It all starts with Knowshon Moreno. When KnoMo touches the ball, good things tend to happen. Other things that tend to happen include the opposing Defense keying in on the run, which obviously opens up our dangerous play-action pass. The real key here is going to be whether or not our Offensive Line can dominate given the recent shake-up in starters. Look for B. Jones to start at Center, with Boling and Anderson on the right and Vance and C. Davis on the left. Hopefully the shake up will give us a chance to get some road graders up front that will blaze the path for us.
So, what we need to do is get the ball often to Moreno and let him electrify the crowd out there in the first half. Then, as time wears on and ASU thinks we're not going to abandon the run, we need to start lighting it up short, middle and long. The key to this game is going to be our 3rd down conversions. The way we do that is to run it first and second down and then leave ourselves in third and short situations. If we can do that, we'll put together long, sustaining drives that will keep our Defense fresh and wear out their Defense in the process.
The players that really have to step up in this one is everyone that plays on the O-line. Whoever it may be, they have to give Stafford time, protect him from all sides and allow him to step into his throws. When Stafford's mechanics stay true to form, he has an excellent shot of completing the types of passes that no one else in the country can make.
Well, I think we're as solid here as we could be. Brian Mimbs is showing out and Walsh has been able to make the kicks we've asked him to make. However, we've got to find a way to kick the ball deep on kickoffs and do it in a way that allows our somewhat-questionable coverage to pin ASU's return man in a very tough situation.
As far as ASU is concerned, the goal is to get them to punt and punt it often. Sorry for my laziness, but I haven't done extensive research on their kicking game, so I'll just say this: I'll give up ASU's kicking knocking it through the uprights all game long as long as none of those kicks come up on a point after try. Sounds good to me. How about you?
What I think will happen:
In my opinion, UGA fans are overly optimistic after ASU dropped last week's game to UNLV. I hate to say it, but ASU is a much better team than UNLV and they basically just got caught with their pants down. If we think that we're going to waltz in there and basically steamroll a team with a moderate defense and a very good offense, we're dead wrong. Granted, when we play a stout defense, we've struggled a bit (with the USC game being the only indicator of this, however), but this game has all the makings of UGA fans seeing the Dawgs grasp the lead only to have ASU respond.
While I don't expect a high scoring affair, I really do think that we'll get our points and ASU will get theirs as well. Their Offense is too good for us not to let them score some and their Defense is only fair enough to give us an opportunity to get our points, too. The key to this game is for UGA to go out there and score early enough to give us a decent lead going towards halftime. I imagine if we see a 10+ point lead going into the rest of the game, we might just see things turn out really well for us.
However, with the size of the game and so much pressure on both teams to make a statement with this game, I really see it being quite a tight affair until the Dawgs open it up later with better conditioning and superior talent. Don't get me wrong, though, ASU's going to make a game out of it. The good news is that no matter what happens, we're going to find ourselves still in the think of the SEC hunt and hopefully we can be focused enough after whatever happens to get ready for a big game next Saturday against Alabama.
Until next time kids.
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football