How does one start a post like this? We've talked about the beginning of this stretch of games all year. As UGA fans, it's all we've heard about since before the season began. Hell, I think it ended as soon as LSU won the championship last year.
So what's different from then to now? Well, our Defense is not exceeding expectations by any means and, to be honest, neither is LSU's. Our Offense is better than expected, and LSU's is about where we thought they were.
Yet, I'm more worried about this game than any other game we've played this year. I'm optimistic that UGA can come out with a win, but it's going to be a damn hard fight in order to get one.
No sense in wasting any more time worrying. Let's get to the X's and O's. As always, Jody's Information Overload can be found here
and Doug's preview can be found here
When LSU has the ball:
You have to wonder at this point in the season if LSU would be a top 5 team if Ryan Perrilloux would've gotten his sh*t together. However, Miles has done a superb job keeping LSU in games with the 2 QB system. Part of that lies in the balance that LSU has in the running game, led by big MOFO Charles Scott. Scott reminds me of T.J. Duckett in some ways because he's a big bruiser that runs downhill and invites contact. You can't forget Mr. Track Star himself, Trindon Holiday, who is small and quick in the mold of a Darren Sproles without the strength.
LSU has a decent set of WRs as well, who all possess speed, but suffered from a case of the drops last week against South Carolina. They're big though, with Brandon LaFell being their main target and the one who is on the receiving end of a good share of passes.
What scares me the most? An O-line primarily recruited and partially coached by Stacey Searels himself. If I'm correct (and I may not be on this), LSU still employs the same zone-blocking scheme that Searels coaches at UGA today. If LSU is anything on Offense, it all starts up front behind those big uglies.
The way UGA beats LSU in this matchup really lies in our D-line. If they can step up and get consistent pressure while not giving up large chunks of rushing yardage, we should be OK. However, we've got to be just as balanced in the Secondary as well, since our tallest CB (Bryan Evans at 5' 11") is a good 4 inches shorter than LaFell. Tim Jennings proved years ago that small CBs can play big, but we REALLY have to play big in the Secondary to have any shot as well.
Pressure up front is key, though, and we need to do our best to make LSU as one dimensional as possible in order to win.
When UGA has the ball:
The craziest thing about this year has been the role reversal from having a dominant Defense to a great Offense. It really struck me today when a poster on the Dawgvent listed about 20 reasons why he "guaranteed" a win against against LSU and you had to get all the way to #13 before he even mentioned the Defense. Granted, it's message board chatter, but it still holds some weight because statistically, we're more set up to win a shootout than we are a defensive struggle.
More-so than LSU, our success depends SOLELY on the Offensive Line. As always, in Stacey Searels we trust, but we are facing one of the more dominant D-lines in the conference, and one that gets all-world Defensive Tackle Ricky Jean-Francois back. It doesn't stop there, though. LSU is very deep on the D-line and it's going to take all we have up front to keep pace.
I expect us to see a lot of toss sweeps again in the running game, especially since we'll see Brannan Southerland back at TE after Chandler had a setback this week and will see little, if any, time. We need those dominating FBs out on the outside to try and spring Knowshon, which also gives some of our better WR blockers like MoMass opportunities to block downfield.
In the passing game, Stafford's got to limit the turnovers. The LSU fanbase is like a starved pit bull and if you turn the ball over, you feed the beast. Stafford, in my opinion (as well as Jody's), is the key to this game. He's the leader on this team and he'll be the one to calm everyone down when that crowd is trying to break our spirit.
Well, we've talked about Blair Walsh being relatively unproven until he kicks that crucial field goal in Death Valley. Now he gets his chance. Brian Mimbs also needs to have a big day as well, because there will be some times where we can't get anything going and we'll need to make LSU drive the length of the field and earn their points.
LSU is just as balanced on Special Teams as we are. They have a solid FG kicker and are decent in the return game. While they're not as solid on Special Teams as, for example, Florida, they're still formidable in that area.
A LOT of pressure is on Remarcus Brown to do some great things on kickoffs. He's definitely the man now and we are going to rely heavily on him to put us in decent field position. We'll really need to be strong in this area, like every other area, as well.
What I think will happen:
Man, I really think this is going to be a tough one for us. While I'm not ready to predict a loss, I am ready to say that if we don't bring our best football to Baton Rouge, we'll walk away with a loss. The thing that scares me the most are the distractions we've had this week. From rumors about Kiante Tripp, to injuries that include Aaron White's shoulder and Akeem Hebron's season-ending ankle dislocation, I'm super worried about our focus. I'd be lying if I said that I think we spent enough time game-planning for this contest. Add in the fact that our most crucial game of the season is next week versus Florida, and even I'm completely distracted.
Expect UGA to come out and really try to establish the ground game. A lot of speculation this week has included questions about whether or not we take the ball if we win the coin toss. My opinion is that we choose to kick and see how our Defense is going to stack up against their Offense. LSU fans are always crazy, but to me, they'd be slightly LESS crazy after about 3-4 minutes into the contest and an LSU Offensive drive that stalls. Of course, people have asked the question "How Loud is Loud?" and the truth is, no one really knows.
We'll have to stop LSU on the first drive and then score first and make them play from behind. However, we've got to put in 60 good minutes of football in order to pull off a win...just ask South Carolina about that. This game is won and lost on the feet of Knowshon and our O-line. I think we go out, stop LSU, score first and then just try to keep the game in check for most of the way.
I don't think we blow them out by any means, but a workman-like performance ain't gonna fly either. UGA's gotta hit LSU directly in the mouth and we've got to have a "man-enough" mentality here. I think regardless of the distractions this week, we actually do that and we walk away from Baton Rouge with a hard-fought win. It'll be ugly because it always is, but I think our talent on both sides of the ball outshines what LSU has.
The biggest part of what we do needs to be to find the spark that ignited our run the rest of the way down the line from last year. It's imperative that we start playing not to lose and start playing to win. We've got to get mean and stay mean as hell for the next month.
I think we can do it and I think we do it here. We'll definitely earn the win, though.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!)
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football