I wrote this preview on Wednesday due to my thinking that I'd have an extremely busy Thursday, but that turned out not to be the case (see: SWEET!). Anyway, this will be all you get until probably Monday because I'll be in Athens through the weekend (again see: SWEET!).
Enough meaningless babble about me, let's talk about the Chippewas.
When CMU has the ball:
Well, where does it always start? The Offensive Line of course (and you thought I was going to say "QB"). CMU has a potent Offense, but they are lacking in the weight department up front. Our tackles match up favorably to their big uglies, and while CMU does have a high powered passing attack, its running game is not up to par. We should easily be able to rush 4-5 players every down and leave plenty of guys in coverage to try and stop the passing attack led by Dan LeFevour.
Speaking of Dan LeFevour (like how I did that?), this kid has Tebow type stats, which is impressive in the SEC, but so-so overall when you look at the MAC Conference as a whole. That's not to say that CMU is a crap team in a crap conference, but it sure is a lot easier to be responsible for 46 TDs (27 passing, 19 rushing) when you play powerhouses like the Ohio Bobcats, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo Bulls (you know, the team almost always in the ESPN Bottom 10...though missing from the list currently) and other schools with "Kick Me" as their motto.
Again, not to take anything away from Dan LeFevour, who may or may not be a sexy pick in this year's NFL Draft, but I don't see CMU being able to move the ball effectively against the speed we have on Defense. However, we HAVE to be able to tackle and cover more effectively than we did last week. CMU will not get their yards on the ground, but they will get them through the air. We just have to make sure that when LeFevour gets his 200 yards passing, it's not followed by "and 4 TDs." I think as long as that doesn't happen, we should be fine.
However, what CMU does present is a nice opportunity to play a spread offense early in the season and find out what our weaknesses are. As we all know, the spread is a timing based offense, so my guess here would be to bring 4-5 players as long as we get pressure and bump the receivers at the line, who match up well with our *somewhat* undersized DBs. Look for us to really get after LeFevour and if bringing 4-5 Dawgs every down doesn't work, then we'll bring more. If Martinez is smart, and I think he is, then disruption will be the downfall of this team. If he's not, then we'll play a soft zone the whole time and get gashed up and exhausted by the 3rd quarter.
When UGA has the ball:
Well, one thing's for sure; we have an Offense. Putting up 45 on GSU isn't anything to give medals over, but it is a pretty good start for a UGA team that typically doesn't fire on all cylinders right out of the gate. Getting Knowshon into rhythm early will be key as his yards against a poor CMU Defense will help open up a mean play action attack that will completely carve the CMU Secondary.
The player I'd watch out most for with CMU would be #48 Nick Bellore. Last year as a true freshman, he started all 14 games for CMU and racked up over 100 tackles. This year, he's already shown he can do some damage as he tallied 16 tackles last week against Eastern Illinois. Again, it IS Eastern Illinois, but those are Rennie Curran type numbers and sometimes, the numbers are important ladies and gentlemen.
Now, on the UGA side of the Offensive Line, I look for Stafford to have a marquee day. With Knowshon getting most of the attention, Stafford should probably to look to make a statement with his progression from last year to this year. He's leaner, but stronger and that translates into a more hungry and more accurate QB. I really like what he showed against GSU, and while we're still not going to open the playbook at all in anticipation of showing South Carolina TOO much, I think we're looking to prove we can nail the fundamentals and make you look foolish by keeping you from defending the most basic post pattern.
All in all, Knowshon will still prove to be electric, but I'd be surprised to see him put up gaudy numbers this week. We've still got a lot to prove against South Carolina in two weeks and there's no since in having them work incredibly hard to defend the run. They know who Knowshon is, so it'd be wise of us to give them a little passing film to sweat over as well.
Well, my questions about Blair Walsh were answered. He can boom it in the endzone (though I wish Coach Fab would let him do it more often) and he can nail it from 50+. It's still yet to be seen if he can do it at an opponent's stadium when everyone wants him to miss it instead of make it, but for right now, I'm certainly pleased with the results. While I want the kid to get as much experience as possible, I'd still take him kicking 6 PATs than 6 FGs any day.
Punting wise, CMU has not shown so far that they can even carry Brian Mimbs' jock strap. Last week they averaged 32 yards a punt, which means if they bring the same kind of game to Sanford, we'll have good field position all day. Again, if you had to ask me, I'll take a fair catch on the 50 way before I take a 15 yard return from the 20 to the 35.
As far as the return game for CMU goes, Antonio Brown did well for them last week getting an average of 20+ yards in the punting game and a little over 17 yards on kickoffs. We should be able to contain him better than Eastern Illinois, but he might give the Fighting LeFevours a decent return here or there, so don't be surprised if he does.
What I think will happen:
Unless you've been living under some sort of rock for the past week, you'll notice that UGA slipped to No. 2 in the Coaches and AP polls without having lost a game. It turns out that polls are "fluid" and that winning doesn't mean "not losing."
Honestly, I couldn't be happier about being No. 2, because what I saw out of UGA last week was not a team that "wanted it" in terms of a crystal football. While I would never condone hanging 70+ on a Div-1AA team, I would say that establishing dominance is something that needs to be done. There's something about a team not wanting to get embarrassed that leads to them playing tight and taking less chances. Hell, just ask any team that played Florida from 1996-2000.
We need to make a statement in this game and let South Carolina know that we're not to be taken lightly. I'd rather have Gamecock fans wondering how they're going to stop our passing/rushing/special teams attack instead of wondering how much they're going to win by because "UGA ain't nothing special." While we won't open the playbook up too much, I do expect a "statement" to be made by doing little things right.
All in all, Central Michigan is a good team and shouldn't be taken lightly, but we're a better team and we need to be respected AND feared after this weekend.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!).
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football