Georgia Pass vs. LSU Pass Defense
David Greene is possibly playing the best football of his
career right now. Last week's performance against USC was
incredible, especially under pressure. He went 7-for-7 on
3rd downs and threw for two touchdowns against a USC defense
that has owned him the last two years. The thing that Greene's
has shown this year that wasn't particularly good the two
previous years is his downfield touch. He killed Clemson with
a deep pass and hit South Carolina last week on two deep passes
to Reggie Brown, who seems to be his new go-to-WR since Fred
Gibson has been out. No more are the days of short, quick
passes. Greene's ability to catch the blitz and get rid of
the ball are tops in the SEC, bar none. Fred Gibson is out
for the game but that isn't a HUGE mark on this offense as
seniors Michael Johnson/Damian Gary and Junior Reggie Brown
are all capable backups. Don't forget about true freshman
Sean Bailey either as he hasn't seen much action as of yet
but could be a big surprise in the clutch.
LSU's secondary has played quite good coming into the game.
Last week against a rather solid Western-Illinois saw Corey
Webster intercept two balls (three for the team). Speed and
experience are their biggest assets. This team is very quick
as well as full of hard hitting players. If you want to disrupt
the Georgia passing game you are going to need to beat on
their WRs or Greene. The cornerbacks for LSU will have to
execute their blitzes perfectly, because if they don't, Greene
will beat them deep. The UGA OL has played well this season,
but they haven't been thrown around that much. Challenging
them to pick up new formations will be something that LSU
needs to throw at them. With Gibson out, height is now in
LSU's favor, as none of the UGA WRs are over 6'3 and have
seen lots of front experience in big games.
LSU Pass vs. Georgia Pass Defense
Slight Edge: LSU
Matt Mauck may not have all the stats or awards, but he gets
the job done. LSU's hasn't played many hard-nosed teams yet
this year but Mauck has been quite impressive when given the
chance. Last week saw him throw for over 300 yards and four
touchdowns. In also doesn't hurt to have maybe the best Wide
Receiver in the country in Michael Clayton on your team. Want
to see domination? Look at his stats the last three games.
He caught for 162 yards against WIU, 162 against ULM, and
109 yards against Arizona. If Clayton plays, there may not
be an answer to him, no matter who plays against his side.
Mauck's knock in the beginning of this year was that he wasn't
a good down-field passer. Well in truth, he doesn't have to
be. LSU is loaded at WR and have plenty of guys who can make
YAC. When you have the team speed at WR that LSU does with
Green, Clayton, and company, good things will happen to you.
Mauck has proven he can come into the big game and get it
done and against a UGA defense that is playing very well,
he will need to have his "A" game or it could be
a long game. Reading the blitzes and capitalizing on their
youth is going to be a huge factor.
Georgia's pass defense has been much better then expected
with all of their injuries and suspensions. They shut down
Clemson's air attack along with an onslaught of MTSU and USC
quarterbacks. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder deserves
all the credit. Sean Jones is quickly turning into an incredible
cornerback. He had two INTs last week, and the rest of the
secondary players aren't making any mistakes in coverage formations.
Many variation blitz packages were thrown at Clemson and USC
to perfection. This has been the main reason for the small
amount of passing success against them. Though Georgia did
get beat in a few one-on-one situations against USC, none
were of much importance, and they were done when the game
was already in hand. This week, expect UGA to start slow and
cautiously move towards the aggressive side. It's important
to see how Mauck responds to certain plays. Is he really that
mobile? Can he pick up certain packages? The LBs for Georgia
have plenty of speed so that takes off a vast amount of pressure
on the short pass-game.
Georgia Run vs. LSU Run Defense
The Georgia running game was supposed to be a weak link this
year but Micheal Cooper is doing everything he can to not
hear any of that. Cooper was again impressive, rushing for
71 yards and on the first drive scampering for 43 yards. If
Cooper can continue his success, it will take off a huge amount
of focus off Greene. Not only does UGA have Cooper, though,
they also have capable backs in Ronnie Powell and true-freshman
Kregg Lumpkin, who saw his first action last week. I don't
expect to see much switching against LSU. Richt will try and
solidify the game with Cooper. The offensive line for UGA
has been getting continually better, but they haven't faced
a DL like LSU's. UGA will need to stay injury free and hope
that none of their young guns get flustered.
LSU's front few are very experienced and talented. Marquis
Hill and Marcus Spears are two studs with good speed and great
tackling ability, even in the middle of a pack. The first
few games have seen the LSU D-Line hold the other teams main
running backs in check (64 yards, 61,yards 21 yards). A major
quality of this defensive front is the size and athletic ability
that all bring. None of these big boys are people that will
just be thrown around, and they are going against a Georgia
offensive line that is brand new this year. LSU needs to start
the game off with a thunder that Georgia's line hasn't seen.
They need to try and overwhelm them quickly. Doing this can
change the game very quickly into LSU's hands.
LSU Run vs. Georgia Run Defense
Georgia's rush defense has been excellent. Losing Jonathan
Sullivan to the pros was a huge blow, yet David Pollack and
company haven't lost a beat. Though Pollack had no specific
stats to speak of against USC, his presense was unreal in
many players. He blocked running plays, rushed the QB, and
forced the USC backup to throw an INT across his body. Let's
not forget Robert Gathers who has another good day and continues
to be under-rated. The DL was the main reason why Clemson
and USC had no running games of which to speak. They will
be facing a top-notch OL that has a good amount of experience
and some solid depth.
Sharone Carey had a breakout game last week with over 120
yards on 21 carries, while usual starter Joseph Addai struggled
with the ball, fumbling twice. Addai and Carey are strong
RBs who combine great speed with good field-vision. Carey
was a huge recruit out of HS who eventually landed at LSU
and is still trying to make a name for himself. A running
game against UGA is needed - Mauck can't do everything by
himself. The OL hasn't really been tested this season and
this is definitively their first challenge. The Offensive
line at LSU is very experienced and knows how to push their
weight around. Wilkerson and Whitworth are two of the best
O-linemen in the SEC, and they will need big games if they
want to stop Pollack.
This was quite easy. Georgia easily out-distances LSU in special
teams. Billy Bennett was possibly one of the best kickers
in Division 1 last year and has continued his superior kicking
ways this year (7-of-8 FGAs, longest only 42), while new freshman
punter Gordon Ely-Kelso was last week named "SEC Special
Teams Player of the Week", averaging over 41 in five
attempts. Though having Fred Gibson out as a return man is
hurtful, Damian Gary is still a very good replacement at KRs
and PRs, too.
LSU is coming off a nightmare of a kicking game last week.
Kicker Ryan Gaudet has now missed field goals in two of his
first three games. Punter Donnie Jones has done an incredible
job punting the ball, averaging over 50+ yards in the first
two games and not even punting last week. Having that ability
to launch the ball over 50 yards is a huge advantage to LSU
especially at home. Having Carey return the ball is also a
plus for LSU - he can be dangerous.
may be one of the hardest games that I have ever had to predict.
Both teams bring incredible talent and speed to the game.
Both teams have great coaching staffs. Both teams have future's
that continue to get better by the season.
But I see the big difference being the play of David Greene.
He has just been incredible in his 3 years at Georgia. He
can read a defense, fake audible, and kill you down the field,
in the short field, or wherever. He has a coach that he can
relate to and a backup who changes the perception of the offense.
His running game has surprised everyone this year and given
him breathing room for his passes. If Cooper, Powell, and
Lumpkin can muster up a good running attack, the game should
go well for Georgia.
But let's not forget LSU. They have a QB that has also won
the SEC. He has a 9-1 record when starting and has played
maybe his best football this year. Mauck is healthy and mature
enough to handle the spotlight as the #1 guy. LSU has more
speed then Georgia. Their secondary is lightening fast while
their WRs are maybe the best in the SEC. Dropped balls were
a problem to start last year off, but not this year. Addai
and Carey are a heck of a 1-2 combo AND it helps that they
have a strong offensive line that can give them holes. Don't
be surprised to see a 50/50 game unless one takes over. Coin
be sure not to include this game on your card.
PICK: Georgia - 27, LSU - 20