Well the wounds have been licked and the time has come to go out and prove that 'Bama was a fluke. At least that's what we're hoping for at least. I'm actually kind of proud of the rhetoric I've been reading on the message boards. Unlike the days leading up to the 'Bama game, the Dawg Nation knows this game is HUGE for us and we're going to be in for one helluva fight.
Now, on paper you would think that UGA should dominate UT in all kinds of ways. However, statistics don't win football games, as we all know. They might set up game plans, but the plays have to be made on the field.
When UT has the ball:
Tennessee has had all kinds of problems this year offensively. If there's one thing you can say about Phil Fulmer, however, it's that despite all their offensive woes, they still have their crappy offensive coordinator. Dave Clawson has not done anything worth noting as of yet and it turns out that UT's best game offensively so far has been against UCLA in a LOSS. They have been barely worth noting the rest of the season, including an absolutely putrid performance last week against Northern Illinois. I'll say that again...NORTHERN ILLINOIS.
Let's be honest though, UT has recruited well over the years and if they have anything, they have big uglies on the Offensive Line that can make holes when necessary. On top of that, they have enough of a QB (regardless if it's Nick Stephens or Jonathan Crompton) that can hand it off to their talented, and fumble-prone, running backs.
Expect UT to not try and get too cute right when they come out of the gate. If I'm UGA, I'm giving UT the ball first and putting 7 in the box to force Nick Stephens to try short passes like John Parker Wilson. However, this time around, we've hopefully learned enough to keep from getting our asses handed to us by the dreaded "3-step drop." I swear, after reading so many articles about the 3-step drop, you'd think it was something brand spanking new.
UGA's got to get after Nick Stephens and put as many on the line as possible before the snap. Whether we bring the heat or not is irrelevant, but with a QB that's playing in the biggest game of his career (which also happens to be the SECOND time he's ever started a game), we have to make him think we're coming after his ass and scare him to death. On top of that, we need to press UT's receivers and dare them to beat us deep. The best way to combat the dreaded 3-step drop? Kill the timing by bumping the WRs.
When UGA has the ball:
People think that UT has a craptacular defense. For the most part, I would agree based on the scores I've seen and the games against Florida and UCLA. However, statistically, UT is a very good defensive team.
As important as it is for us to come out and confuse UT's offense, our Offense has to be absolutely mind bogglingly (not a word) good. We have to be able to set up the run first (from all aspects of the game) and then pass with high efficiency. Stafford needs to really rely on those short to intermediate passing attempts and the WRs have to help him out by getting open early and catching the ball when it's forced in there instead of being laid in the basket.
The best thing to mention is that we get Brannan Southerland back after his foot injury, which has kept him out so far this year. He's the most dominating blocker we have and he will be crucial in taking pressure off of the O-line to spring those big runs. Plus, he's a great safety valve coming out of the backfield for Stafford.
In the running game, I expect us to pound the rock much more often in this game than we have so far. This game is the first in a stretch of games in which none of them are easy...for the rest of the year. It's imperative that we get Knowshon his reps, but Caleb King and Richard Samuel need to get theirs as well. Trust me, games will be won and lost on the legs of Knowshon, but he has to be fresh and healthy enough to get us through this stretch. Expect heavy rotation of RBs on Saturday.
Also the O-line has to begin playing like they've done this for years. There's no more scheming around other defenses. It's not going to happen. Those guys have got to stand up, hit someone in the mouth, protect Stafford and open up gaping holes. It's a lot to ask from a young unit, but it's necessary.
Well, Walsh is good and I think we've found some new options for punt returner in Prince Miller and kick returner in Richard Samuel. So in those aspects, I think we're going to be OK. However, our punting has got to be drastically better than it was against 'Bama and our coverage is getting there, but it's still got a ways to go.
As far as UT goes, I know that they're getting Britton Colquit back after his suspension, so you know their punts will be good. Hopefully we can GATA and block another one this week.
What I think will happen:
Look, I'll keep this short and simple. This is a game that means a lot to us on many different levels. This is a revenge game, it's a game where we have to prove to the world we weren't a fluke and it's a game where we can show the maturity that we need to show in order to make it through this brutal stretch of games.
We need to come out aggressive as hell. More importantly, we need to be aggressive from toe meets leather until the Chapel Bell rings. UT is going to play us tough because they have to. Phil Fulmer is fighting for his life here. A loss to UGA puts UT at 2-4 on the season and puts them in the Peach Bowl AT BEST. At worst, it costs Phil Fulmer his job in the middle of a season. Either way, it makes UT a very dangerous team between the hedges.
The biggest difference? UT traded David Cutcliffe for Dave Clawson. THAT will be the difference in the game on Saturday. I fully expect the Dawgs to GATA and score our points. We'll be in a fight, but I fully expect us to play fundamentally good football, cut down on the stupid penalties and come out with a hard-fought, solid win.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!).
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football