Georgia’s Run Defense vs. LSU’s Rushing Offense
Georgia boasts the third best rushing defense in the conference, only giving up 94.8 rushing yards per game. LSU, as we all know, is bull-headed with a game plan that comes as no surprise, and they will run the football 75 percent of the time…maybe more. With the combination of Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue, this LSU rushing attack is quite a monster. Factor in Jordan Jefferson running the option, this Georgia defense will play man coverage and load the box, and the Bulldogs will make Jefferson beat them through the air. This is the biggest matchup of the football game, right here.
This leads into the next key to look for:
Can Georgia Stay Physical For Four Quarters?
With LSU’s rushing attack mentioned above, the Tigers just physically make you say ‘Uncle’ sometime around the third quarter. It is no mystery; LSU will run right at you hoping to wear you down by the fourth quarter to physically impose their will on you late in the football game. They run the ball when you know it’s coming, and thus far, few teams have been able to stop it. The Tigers just kill your will because they just pound the rock until you throw in the towel. Georgia has a strong cast of front seven, either in the 3-4 or 4-3, and they have shown the ability to stop the run for the majority of the season. But they haven’t seen a rushing attack like this, and can the Bulldogs put a stop to it for four quarters? That’s the question.
Special teams will be fun to watch this weekend. First, you have Georgia’s kicker, Blair Walsh, who has struggled mightily throughout this season. He will have to be key because Georgia will need as many points as they can possibly get against a defense like LSU. This game features two punters – LSU’s Brad Wing and Georgia’s Drew Butler – as two of the best in the country. And of course, the punt and kick returners will be dynamite. LSU’s Tryann Mathieu (punt returner) and Morris Claiborne (kick returner) have both had monster, clutch returns at different points during this season. Georgia’s Brandon Boykin (kick returner) is one of the fastest players in the country as well returning kicks, and punt returner Branden Smith is electric with the ball in his hands as well. This should be fun to watch special teams, and momentum can absolutely shift very quickly with these four guys fielding the kick off or punt.
LSU (+15) and Georgia (+10) are sitting atop the SEC in turnover margin, and it’s no coincidence that these two teams are in the SEC Championship. Much like the LSU-Alabama matchup, turnovers played a big significance in the outcome. That will obviously be the case in this football game as well. These are very opportunistic defenses that will take advantage of turnovers. The team that protects the football better this weekend will be the winner…as is the case in most big games.
Aaron Murray vs. LSU Secondary
This LSU secondary is downright scary talented. From the Honey Badger to who I think is the most talented corner in the country in Morris Claiborne, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray will have his hands full. While LSU’s defense will get after Murray, wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell, Tavarres King and Michael Bennett and tight end Orson Charles will have to get open. Let’s remember, West Virginia threw for nearly 500 yards on this LSU defense, but they could not run the football. In order for Aaron Murray to be effective, Georgia will have to run the football with Isaiah Crowell in order for Murray to become that much more effective. It’s called balance, and it will be tough to achieve tomorrow. Murray has thrown an SEC-leading 32 touchdowns on the season, and he is playing lights out right now.
It should be fun, and these defenses will be ready to go. I assure you.