Thursday, September 29, 2011

Looking Ahead to the Pseudo-Dogs

I have not been able to watch a lot of Miss State's games so far this year.  I saw a good bit of their game against LSU, and managed to catch the 4th quarter of last week's game against La Tech on replay, but that has been about it.  However, I truly believe that this is one of those games where we control our destiny.  If we do what we need to do, our superior talent should take over and win this game.  That's not to say we should expect to blow them out - if LSU couldn't blow them out, then I sure don't expect us to - but I do think that the line set by Vegas for this game (started at UGA by about 7.5, currently at 6.5 on most lines) is a reasonable one.

There will be a number of keys to the game including improving our red zone offense (touchdowns, not FG's, fellas!) and special teams.  But as I look at it, this comes down to one major key:  containing the run on the outside - more specifically, whichever side Jarvis Jones is not lined up on.  Our Defense has done a great job on stuffing the runs between the tackles this year, even Lattimore couldn't find much success there.  However, whichever side has had Cornelius Washington or Chase Vasser lined up has been shown to be susceptible to giving up big runs on the outside.  You can bet Dan Mullen knows that, but you can also bet Todd Grantham does too.  The chess match of how Mullen attacks that weakness and how Grantham seeks to shore it up will be very interesting to watch.  Our defense is pretty good right now, but is on the verge of becoming very good if this area can be sufficiently addressed.

In their last 2 games (LSU & La Tech), QB Chris Relf has been held to 10 and 20 yards rushing, respectively.  And when he is being contained as a runner, he has not shown the ability to overcome that and still be a productive passer, as he only passed for 96 and 164 yards, respectively, in those games as well.  Vick Ballard is a solid RB, but if we can keep him in the range of 75 yards rushing or so, and limit Relf's ability to gain rushing yards on option plays and scrambling out of the pocket, there's no reason we can't put up a solid win against these guys.

A few other things I would like to see are:
- Murray settling down more and continuing to improve his timing with the WR's.  He has had a tendency all year to wait until the WR gets open before throwing it, rather than anticipating what the WR is going to do.  As a result, by the time the ball gets there, the defender has already had time to recover and either make the play or make a tackle to prevent a big gain.  If Murray can start anticipating that a little better and giving guys a better chance to gain yards after the catch, that will elevate the offense to another level.
- As I mentioned earlier, no special teams breakdowns.  This is pretty self explanatory.
- Touchdowns in the red zone.  As SimpleMan pointed out earlier this week, our TD's against Ole Miss were either on long plays, or were aided by penalties that kept the drive alive in the red zone (the pass interference on the pass to Crowell jumps to mind).  We need to show the ability in the red zone to line up and convert.  If we are attempting 5 field goals in this game, that won't bode well for the final result.

As for my prediction, I think this will be a one score game late in the 4th quarter with us tacking on a late score to put the game out of reach at the very end.  I'll go with UGA 29, Miss St 20.  I won't be at the game this weekend due to family obligations, but will be watching and cheering, I hope all you folks who are there will be loud and boisterous when Miss St has the ball.


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