Before I get started, is it just me or does this week not feel like the week before a big game? The problem with Vanderbilt is that EVERY team in the SEC looks at them like they're Vanderbilt of the old instead of Vandy of the new. The truth is, I don't hate them too much and I like to see them do well against other teams. Hell, I'm their biggest fan in regards to them becoming bowl eligible; just as long as they don't do it against us. I know I'm a bad fan.
So, even though I should be worried about playing yet another Top 25 team, another SEC foe and another team with a scrambling QB and scrappy Defense, I'm not. I should be worried about all these things, but I'm not. It's dangerous and crazy for me to do these things. So starting right now, I'm worried about Vandy. Worried as sh*t about Vandy.
As always, you can read Jody's Information Overload here
and Doug's preview here
When Vandy has the ball:
Vandy's Offense is probably one of the worst, if not the worst in the nation, and the stats back up the former of the two statements. Vandy is near the very bottom in Offensive statistics, but they have the amazing ability to make big plays at the right times.
Vandy's in the catbird seat of the SEC right now even though no one gives them a chance to win it all. Hell, you could say the same thing about UGA and Florida as well. Right now, you've got a helluva matchup setting up in Athens and we all know how the last two games have gone for UGA vs. Vandy. Vanderbilt runs a spread-type Offense that is a light version of what Wake Forest has done. Under Bobby Johnson, the idea is to get fast players and teach them fundamentals to make up for their lack of size. It's working amazingly well for them so far, wouldn't you think?
For Vandy, it begins and ends with QB play. Mackenzi Adams has technically been the backup for the past two seasons, but he's always come off the bench strong. In fact, he played very well against UGA last year and has played lights out in most of their games this year. Not in terms of statistics (more of that "but he's not good 'on paper' is he?"), but in terms of making plays when he needs to make plays. Just ask Auburn and they'll tell you.
Vandy runs an option-type-zone-read-type Offense that creates a lot of balance between QB rushing yards and RB (led by Jared Hawkins) rushing yards. In Vandy's win against UGA back in 2006, the QB (at that time it was Chris Nickson) ran all over UGA and we were not prepared for that kind of speed from a QB or a RB, AND NEITHER OF THEM ARE FAST! They were just faster than what we expected.
Luckily, we have a HELLUVA D-line that is absolutely gobbling up rushing yards and spitting them back up as losses. Another wonderful thing about what's going on is that UGA is facing a team that has been absolutely horrible in throwing the ball.
So what do we do? Well, Vandy's going to try to spread us out by running a lot of 3 and 4 WR sets out of the shotgun so that we're off-balance against the run and in tough situations against the pass. The good news is, we are talented enough to keep this from being a major problem as long as we isolate the big play. If Vandy is in a 3rd and 9, or even a 3rd and 1, we have to get them off the field and keep them from converting. If we can keep them from getting into a rhythm and keep them from gaining confidence. If we get them on the ropes, we should be able to keep them there relatively easy.
We really need the Secondary and the LBs to step up and give some solid support to the D-line who will have their hands full. The key is going to be to keep passing plays under 4 seconds. Keeping a passing play under 4 seconds means we have either sacked the QB or forced him to throw to a covered man. We've got to keep the pressure on the QB at all times and trust the blitzes. Not only trust the blitzes, but love the blitzes.
When UGA has the ball:
Well, we pretty much just need to do more of the same. I know a lot of folks weren't happy with the play calling efforts of last week, but I was actually a big fan of the job that Bobo did. Aside from Stafford making a mental error or two, we actually called plays that gave us an opportunity to let our playmakers create. We ran toss sweeps, quick throws to WRs with tons of cushion and stuck to the short and medium range passes.
Although the injury to Vince Vance sucks, I really think that we'll be fine with Boling at that position. The main thing we can't have is more injuries to the line. We are as razor thin on the Offensive Line as we were in 2003. The plan right now is to keep up the short to medium range stuff and keep those toss sweeps coming because it gets our speed guys on the outside and limits the chances for Stafford to be sacked.
Again, I know that many think Bobo did a poor job last Saturday, but that last drive by UGA in the 4th Quarter was a thing of beauty in my eyes and it's a staple of winning the Richt way.
Vandy is smallish and somewhat young on Defense, but they have a ton of speed and are very fundamentally sound. They are big threats in turnovers and sacks and we've got to be very smart with the football (aka run the hell out of it) in order to win this game. Knowshon should see 20-25 carries for us to win and we should absolutely run it to the outside to give guys like Brannan Southerland and Shaun Chapas a chance to pave the way with speed and big bodies.
How about that Blair Walsh? Kid is going to be a good one, based on what we've seen so far. Hopefully the game won't be like last year's in the sense that we have to kick a game-winning field goal. But, if we do, I don't feel as nervous as I did earlier this year.
What's the best way to hide your poor kick off coverage? Well, you give your punter very little work to do (because you're too busy SCORING) and you kick the ball out of the endzone. I'm happy with that overall plan.
That also helps us keep the ball away from D.J. Moore, who is Vandy's very dangerous return guy. Yeah, we should kick it AWAY from him.
What I think will happen:
Well, right now, the spread is UGA -14.5, which means for all intents and purposes, we will not cover the spread. Vandy always plays us close and I expect Saturday to be no different. While I don't think we'll necessarily be in danger of losing, we could easily give this game away if we lose focus and forget how to play fundamentally good football.
On paper (I love that phrase) UGA is incredibly more talented than Vandy in a lot of aspects, but it's important for us to remember that Vandy has a TON of fight in them and they know how to come from behind and win. In fact, all of their victories to date have been in come from behind situations, they are on bowl-eligibility's door and they are not afraid to kick it in.
Look for a very workman-like performance from UGA. we're not going to amaze anyone, but we're going to play fundamentally smart football, grind the clock and be as efficient as possible until 60 minutes are up. It's time to put on the hard hat, because we've got some work to do to win this one.
Until next time kids.
Be safe (and Go Dawgs!)
Labels: College Football, Game Previews, UGA Football