Texas A&M football: 5 biggest concerns I have about Georgia
While Alabama and LSU have opted for the spread offense in an attempt to outscore the opposition, Georgia and head coach Kirby Smart are proving that you can still win big in the SEC with a strong defense and a smash-mouth style offense. Fresh from claiming a 3rd consecutive SEC East title, the Bulldogs host Texas A&M on Saturday Between the Hedges.
With Aggies’ coach Jimbo Fisher still looking for a signature win in his second season in College Station, Saturday’s opponent provides the perfect opportunity. A 2-touchdown underdog, Texas A&M heads to Athens seeking to extend a 4-game winning streak. But in order to accomplish that feat, the Aggies will have to overcome these 5 big concerns.
1. That run defense
Georgia leads the SEC in total defense, but its run defense is incredible. Third in the nation against the run, the Bulldogs are yielding just 75.5 yards per game on the ground. In half of Georgia’s 10 games, it has limited the opposition to 50 rushing yards or less. Only 3 times this season has an opponent rushed for more than 100 yards. And the Dawgs just allowed their 1st rushing TD last week against Auburn. If the Aggies are to be successful Saturday, they must find a way to open running lanes for both Isaiah Spiller and Cordarrian Richardson. Each are coming off 100-yard games.
2. Bulldogs’ ball-control offense
Something has to give; Texas A&M and Georgia rank 1-2 respectively in the SEC in time of possession. Georgia likes to control the football with a solid run game and then let the defense keep the opposition off the field by limiting opportunities. The Bulldogs average holding the football for 33:26.6 while the Aggies average an SEC-best 33:55.7. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out the combined total is about 7 minutes longer than a normal game. So one of the two offenses is headed for frustration and fewer opportunities than it is accustomed to.
3. Turnover ratio
One of the bigger stats Saturday will be turnovers. While the Bulldogs are 2nd in the SEC in fewest turnovers (8, Alabama has 7) the Aggies have given it away at least once in every game but one (Mississippi State) this season. By contrast, Georgia has not turned the ball over in its past 4 games and in 6 of its past 8 has not fumbled it away or been intercepted. If the Aggies hope to extend their win streak Saturday, they’ll have to hold onto the football at all cost because an opportunistic Bulldogs defense will certainly be hunting it.
4. Red-zone conversion
While Texas A&M has done very well in the red zone, scoring 89.9 percent of the time, Georgia leads the nation in red zone conversion. The Bulldogs have scored on 97.5 percent of their opportunities; that breaks down to 39 scores in 40 chances. If that’s not concerning enough, the Bulldogs have converted every red-zone opportunity since the opening game. Since converting on 5-of-6 red-zone chances against Vanderbilt in the 2019 opener, Georgia has scored on all 34 red-zone opportunities (24 touchdowns). Slowing down that onslaught will be a giant task for the Aggies’ defense.
5. Between the Hedges
Georgia is tough to beat at home. Sure South Carolina recently snapped the Bulldogs’ 16-game home win streak with a 20-17 double-overtime triumph. Prior to that, Georgia had not lost a home game since the 2016 season finale, a 28-27 heartbreaker to Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs have won 18 of their past 19 home games and hold one of the more impressive home field advantages. For the Aggies to have a chance, they’ll have to find a way to tune out the noise and remain poised and focused for 60 minutes.