This is Dr. Tom Jackson. If you’ve ever attended a Georgia football game, then you’ve probably heard his iconic phrase “Keep your seats everyone…the Redcoats are coming!” ringing over the PA system as the band takes the field for a performance.
This week, the entire Bulldog nation has been sitting on the edge of its metaphorical seat, waiting for LSU.
College Gameday is currently set up in the Meyers quad on the heart of campus. The ironic part is that the Meyers Community dorms actually house honors students, and I’ve heard from a few friends that some of them aren’t too excited about the commotion going on outside their windows.
For now, they’ll have to get over it, because the rest of us who bleed red and black are as excited as we can possibly be.
So what’s going to happen tomorrow?
It’s hard to tell. For starters. I’m sure the Georgia home crowd will be just as rowdy as they were (maybe more so) in the Bulldogs’ 41-30 victory over South Carolina.
And that’s a good place to start: South Carolina.
You see, the Gamecocks and Tigers are fairly similar teams. Both have talented defenses, even if they are a bit inexperienced. And both run pro-style offenses that try to run the ball right down your throat.
Georgia handled the first test, but what makes LSU more of a challenge?
For one, the Tigers are just more talented in general. Running back Jeremy Hill is a horse on offense, and stud receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry can hurt you anywhere on the field.
I asked Brad Nessler, the ESPN play-by-play announcer for the South Carolina game, about them specifically and how these games might be similar.
“[Those guys] have had some great catches this year,” Nessler told me. “I think [the South Carolina game] really could be a preview [for LSU].”
The one glaring difference, though, is at quarterback.
Not to beat a dead horse too badly, but I’ve mentioned before that Todd Grantham’s defenses have almost universally struggled against mobile quarterbacks. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw had 75 yards on the ground (and over 300 total). His back-up, Dylan Thompson (a pocket passer) never saw the field, though he has in every other game this year.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had two rushing touchdowns to go a long with 42 yards on the ground in the Tigers’ opening win against the Bulldogs.
Fortunately for Georgia, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is anything but mobile. He fits the mold of “pocket passer” to a T.
On a smaller scale, North Texas was the same way. Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson is another pocket passer who doesn’t scramble much. The Georgia defense stifled him all afternoon (the rain helped), and the Mean Green only managed 7 rushing yards on the day.
I think the ability to focus on one less threat (QB mobility) will finally give the young Georgia defense their chance to break through. They won’t dominate, but they’ll finally make some plays.
The Bulldogs will win if they can stop the run. That starts with the defensive line, which is very deep for Georgia, rotating six-to-eight guys throughout the game. They’re led by senior defensive end Garrison Smith, who has 12 tackles and half a sack so far this year.
If they can stuff the run, outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd can try to disrupt Mettenberger’s timing in the passing game. Do that, and you’ve got a recipe for long third downs and a few turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, Georgia needs to establish the run. We saw against South Carolina how good Murray can be in the passing game, and how explosive the offense can be in general. What most people don’t point out is that the offensive line and running backs were grinding out the tough yards, winning the battle in the trenches.
Give Murray a running game to lean on, and you’re toast. The play-action pass will eat you alive. Just ask the Gamecocks.
Put simply: they need to run the ball, and keep LSU from doing the same. They need the spark they had against South Carolina. They need the excitement and the home crowd bringing the heat.
Keep your seats everyone. LSU is coming.