Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keys to a Georgia Win - Mississippi State edition

1. Which offensive line overcomes the adversity they have faced? Georgia started the season very thin on the offensive line, starting during the spring with the loss of Trinton Sturdivant. Injuries to Gates and now Burnette have not helped. Eligibility issues with Kolton Houston add to the problems. Last week with Burnette out led to the starting five having to play every snap against Ole Miss. Burnette is questionable to return and Gates still has a sore ankle. Mississippi State has had their own issues with injuries on their offensive line. Their starting right guard, Tobias Smith, is out of the season. Their starting left tackle, James Carmon, had a knee injury and is expected to return this week. He will probably be moved to guard though so that their starting center Saulsberry, who has also missed playing time due to injury, can move from guard back to center. In the end each team is only missing 1 starter (2 for Georgia if you count TS) but the depth is very thin. Neither team is going to win a lot of games with their offensive line but their lines can lose them the game. Whichever line can be most consistent throughout the game will have a huge advantage.

2. Make Relf beat you with his arm. State is at their best when they can establish the run and then pass when they choose to keep teams off balance. If Georgia can slow down the rushing attack and form Relf to pass out of necessity it will have a big advantage.

3. No more freebies. Georgia has given up 13 touchdowns in 4 games. Georgia has given up a 48 yards punt return that set up a 28 yard touchdown drive for Boise State. South Carolina scored on a 68 yard fake punt. Ole Miss had an 81 yard punt return for a touchdown. Boise had a short field touchdown set up by a turnover. South Carolina scored two defensive touchdowns and again from the five yard line after a fumble. That is seven out of thirteen allowed by Georgia this season. Take away those points and Georgia's defense would be tied for 8th in the nation in scoring defense at 11 points per game. They more than provided the difference in the South Carolina Game and the 14 points given up on a short fields was exactly how much Georgia lost by.

4. Make the routine plays. Against South Carolina it was a fumbled handoff with no contact from the defense. Walsh has missed 5 field goals. I have not seen an exact count but there have been multiple drops on passes that should have been caught in each game. I would say at least 10 total on the season, those 10 would raise Murray's completion percention from 63% to 73%, which would have led to at the very least more first downs giving the offense more chances to make plays. Charles drop against Ole Miss led to their interception of Murray. The defense dropped two interceptions that hit them in the hands against South Carolina. Against weaker teams this mistakes may not cost you the game. Against quality teams these "simple" mistakes, unforced errors, will get you beat more often than not.

5. Finish drives. Georgia has scored on only 80% of drives inside the redzone, that should be close to perfect as a FG is almost assured from there. They have only scored touchdowns on 10 of 15 drives into the redzone, they need to get that closer to 80%.

6. Offensive start to match the defense. In the first quarter this season the defense has played lights out, giving up only seven points total in the four first quarters. The lone touchdown came with 3 minutes left in the first quarter against Boise State after forcing 3 punts. Only against Coastal Carolina, with 21 points, has the offense taken advantage of this to build a big lead. If the offense can come out clicking as well as the defense has been Georgia can jump on top of a State team that has been struggling and put doubt into their heads.

Prediction. Part me thinks this is the game that Georgia really hits it stride and the dominance they have been showing statisically finally shows in the final score but I think just like last week against Ole Miss they are facing a team desperate for a win and that is always a dangerous thing. Final score 34-17 but very close until the fourth quarter.

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