1. Georgia OL versus Tennessee DL. Honestly everyone should just have this as the key to any Georgia game the rest of the season. Let me put it this way, if Georgia could trade any grouping on the team for any group on a team like Alabama's it wouldn't take two seconds to know which group to switch. That includes Bama's linebackers even though Georgia has been operating without 50% of the starters from the Boise game and will not have more than 50% of them in any game until most likely the UF game. Of team's Georgia has played Tennessee's starting defensive line is only bigger than Coastal Carolina's. On the inside Tennessee will start 270 lb Malik Jackson and 293 lb Daniel Hood, not big but not tiny either. Georgia's 3 interior starters average about 315. (about 310 if Burnette starts for Gates). The big mismatch comes on the outside where Georgia will have 345 lbs at OT while Tennesse's defensive ends are 255 lb Jacques Smith and 265 lb Ben Martin. In the run game this should for sure favor Georgia as they can use the size to open up holes for Crowell and company. The question though is can the Dawgs use their size advantage in the passing game? Will the smaller Tennessee ends be too quick for the behemoth Georgia tackles or will the big uglies be able to get their paws on the Volunteer midgets?
2. Get pressure on Bray. Georgia has put pressure on the QB for the last 4 games. The last two games they have started to explode in getting sacks. With Washington, possibly their best pass rusher, out for the next two weeks who will be the guy to step up and put pressure on the QB? Jones is second on the team in sacks but they will need someone on the other side to help out. Georgia does not have to sack Bray often but they can't allow him to be comfortable in the pocket. Against Florida, the only team this season to pressure Bray, they were able to force him into his only 2 interception of the season.
3. Throw the Tennessee receivers timing off. Much of Tennessee's passing game is based on timing. Bray will be looking to hit a spot before the receiver makes any type of move into that space. If the corners can re-route receivers it will throw off his timing. The other effect of this is as Bray has to check off his first and second reads it will give the pass rush time to get to Bray.
4. Take advantage of mistakes. Last week Georgia forced two turnovers inside the Mississippi State 20 yard line. The turnovers led to two field goal tries and only 3 points. When chances like that come the offense must make Tennessee pay. Touchdowns in those situations can break the other team while FG's, or missed field goals, can actually have the opposite effect turning what should be a big swing for UGA into a positive for the other team.
5. Big play on special teams - Boykin, you are due.
Prediction - 35 - 24 Georgia wins.
These next two items are more keys to the season. When researching information for my game keys I started to think about just how much different the offense looks when Crowell is in the back field. I went through every drive this season to try to see if it was just my eyes or if the numbers back it up. The numbers may be slightly off as I did it all by hand and at work but I did my best to make sure I had them correct, at least given the information available on the play by play boxes on espn.com . Hopefully I will be able to do more expansive work with this as the season goes on and I can work out a spread sheet to keep a running count instead of having to go back redo earlier games. Here are some of the results:
a) Get Crowell involved in as many drives as possible. The first thing I did was divide up drives by times Crowell had more carries than anyone else on a drive and times others did. Taking out the drives where Crowell led the number of carries with 1 carry (11 times) that left me with 28 drives he led the team in carries and 26 that someone else did. Georgia got into scoring position (FG range) 60.7% of the time Crowell had the most carries versus 41.7% of the time when he didn't. Crowell led UGA to TD's on 35.7% of his drives versus 30.7% for others.
b) Get A first down on every drive. I also discovered that for all* Georgia drives if they got a single first down** they scored a TD 44.4% of the time and got into scoring position (FG or better) 66.7% of the time. I do not know how this compares to other teams but if you told me we would average 2 TD's and a FG for every 4 possessions I would take that in every single game.
*I did not include drives at the end of halves/games where UGA in some way ran out the clock.
**I included Boykin's touchdown as a drive that got a first down since it did not really fall into the category of 3 and out, turnover on downs, or ended in a turnover.