Week 3: Georgia Preview

I guess it's time to lighten things up just a little and get back to the routine.  It is Tuesday after all, and that means it's time to preview the Georgia Bulldogs, this Saturday's opponent.  If you think LSU has been a bit enigmatic, you should check out this Georgia team.  Here are Georgia's point totals in their 4 games, in order:  10, 41, 52, 20.  There are no patsies in there.  Those are all at least somewhat decent teams that Georgia has played, and they lit it up in two games and were anemic in two others, losing one.

Georgia really could be sitting at 1-3 or even 0-4 right now.  South Carolina probably outplayed Georgia, but could not get that last score to win the game, thanks to Rennie Curran.  Arizona State had a chance to beat the Bulldogs, but couldn't quite get over the hump.  Arkansas piled up yards by the armload, but collapsed towards the end as the Bulldog defense finally started coming up big.

The LSU fanbase, which has always seemed to suffer from catastrophe syndrome, is ready to write off this game, but that would be a huge mistake.  Georgia has been sloppy, and their defense has been porous.  NOPE takes us through the numbers in his FanPost.  The situation for the fans has gotten so difficult that it is probably a fortunate thing that this game is being played in Athens.  I'm afraid that playing at home could have been a disadvantage for us this week.  In fact, Georgia's fanbase is in much the same position ours is in, wondering why their team can't do some of the little things right.

Any preview of Georgia has to start with the guy who is clearly their best player.  Wide receiver A. J. Green.  Heck, he might be the best offensive player in the conference.  He's averaging 6.3 receptions per game, which leads the conference.  He's averaging 107 yards per game receiving, which is ridiculous and is leading the conference by 20 yards.  He catches everything thrown his way.  He has about 40% of Georgia's receiving yards and he's scored about 1/4 of their offensive touchdowns.  

That is insane for a wide receiver.  Wideouts just aren't, individually, that big of a factor in an offense.  They only touch the ball a few times per game, even the good ones, usually.  A. J. Green is different.  He was one of the 3 best wide receivers last year and he has stepped up game to another level to where he is clearly the best wide receiver in the conference by a significant margin.  

Elsewhere in the offense, Joe Cox has admirably replaced the departed Matthew Stafford.  He is completing 60% of his passes, averaging almost 9 yards per attempt, and has a TD/Int ratio of almost 2:1.  Unfortunately, that includes 5 interceptions, but he has been very productive.  His big weakness has been his lack of mobility, as he has -38 yards rushing on the season.

The leading rusher on the team is Richard Samuel, who has emerged as their go-to rusher.  He's gotten about half their rushes, and he averages about 4.5 yards per carry.  Georgia's rushing game is really not all that productive, much like LSU's.

 

We mentioned how Georgia's offense has been erratic.  Well, let's look at Georgia's defense.  Here are their point totals given up, in the same 4 games in which they scored such a strange variety of points:  24, 47, 31, 17.  One week they're scoring tons of points and giving up tons of points.  The next they're in a pitchers duel.  No one has a good explanation for it.

One very big area of worry for the Tigers is that Georgia's defensive line is going to be the best we've seen so far this year.  They are led by senior tackle Geno Atkins, who is an All-SEC calibre player.  The middle of our offensive line, which has been suspect to say the least, has not had to block a player as good as Atkins.  The good news is that Georgia does not get a lot of sacks, only 5 on the year so far.  Incidentally, that's the same number of sacks we've had.

The offensive line will also have its hands full with linebacker Rennie Curran, who currently leads the SEC in tackles with 40.  This is a Georgia defense that is a little hard to get a read on, and this perhaps explains their weird point totals given up.  They don't get a lot of sacks.  They don't get a lot of interceptions.  They give up almost 250 yards per game passing.  They've created only 3 turnovers all year.  Yet they have some undeniably good players out there.  Rennie Curran's been a beast since his freshman year.  Geno Atkins is a serious player.  Rashad Jones is an All-SEC calibre safety.  The unit just isn't playing well together.

Maybe it has something to do with Willie Martinez.  I think Georgia fans would have something to say about that.

This is a crossroads game for both teams.  Neither team is playing at close to championship level, but neither team has really suffered a bad consequence for it either.  Despite the loss to Oklahoma State, Georgia is still right in the thick of the SEC race, though they are not playing nearly as well as Florida is.  LSU, despite not putting together a really good game in any of its previous 4 contests, is still a top 5 polling team, and is still undefeated despite playing 2 conference game and a quality OOC opponent.  

Neither team has played great, but neither team has suffered for it.  This is the weak where the football gods will smite one of these teams in punishment for its inconsistency and imperfection.  LSU can't block and Georgia can't produce a turnover or stop a quality offense.  Maybe one of these two teams will solve their problems and fill the holes in their team this week.  

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