Ok so I know that after watching Iowa State upset Oklahoma State I should be more worried about Kentucky. I am not. However it does serve as a good talking point for Richt to the players before the game. I however am a fan and my not being worried about them means nothing to the game. With that said here are my keys to the game.
1. Run the ball, then run it some more - I love the way that Murray is playing right now. I love the way the receivers are playing right now. I even like the way the team has gotten much better at blocking on passing downs. Kentucky is average against the pass. I think we could pass for 300 yards and light up the score board on Kentucky throwing the ball if we choose. So why do I think we should run the ball? First of all while Kentucky is average at pass defense, they are awful in run defense. I also think that passing the ball leaves a team more open to mistakes. A tipped pass, an errant throw etc. can quickly turn into 7 points for the wrong team. One incompletion on first down puts a team behind on the downs. It gives the other team hope. Running the ball time and again against an over matched opponent demoralizes them. I will take a quick 7 in the passing game but to me nothing says domination like 10 running plays in a row to put the ball in the end zone. At a certain point everyone in the stadium knows what is coming and the defense realizes they can't stop it. That is the quickest way to rip the heart out of a team, especially one that has been beaten badly time and again during the season.
2. Don't turn the ball over - Kentucky has won 10 games in two years. They are 9-1 when winning the turnover battle. That means without the aid of turnovers they have only won one game in two years. Tonight when Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State it was mainly because they turned the ball over 5 times. If Georgia holds onto the ball and does not set Kentucky up with great field position the defense can win this game almost by themselves.
3. Get to the quarterback - In a conference that is dominated by defense Georgia is the best at sacking the quarterback. Kentucky is the worst at giving them up. Kentucky is also starting a freshman at quarterback. Georgia should be able to get to him and force mistakes.
4. Go for the early knockout punch - Early in Georgia's eight game winning streak they had a tendency to get the lead and then relax a bit. Against New Mexico State and Auburn that changed. They saw the chance to put teams away early and did. Kentucky has been very bad during all parts of the game but especially early on. They have scored 6 td's in the first half of games this season while giving up 17. Georgia has given up 8 first half td's (only one in the first quarter) while scoring 27 first half touchdowns. If Georgia can keep that trend up it could put Kentucky far behind early in the game and make Kentucky completely one diminsional as they try to come back. Once that happens the pass rush, key number 3, becomes even more deadly. The other reason to go for the early knockout is that when a team has been struggling and you let them hang around they start to truly believe they can pull the upset. Once that happens it becomes very hard to put them away.
5. Rest the starters as soon as possible - There is no magic number for when a coach should pull his starters. You do not want to pull them too early and risk the other team getting making a come back and having to fight it out at the end of a game that was well in hand. On the other hand the next two weeks promise to be physical games, GT's offensive blocking scheme takes its toll on a defense while either AL or LSU play the most physical style of game of anyone in the country. Getting the starters out of the game early to rest them and protect them from injury would be a great luxury if Georgia can take care of business early in the game to allow mass substitutions.