Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SECCG Thoughts & Prediction

I've already said this once before, but no matter what happens Saturday, I am thrilled with the results of this season.  To think that we would be here after some of our early season showings seemed like far fetched fantasy up until after the Florida game for me.  So I am proud as can be of what the whole team accomplished the past 10 games.

All that being said, my thoughts on the game this week pretty much mirror what SimpleMan posted yesterday.  If we played LSU 10 times, at most I think we'd win 2 of them.  LSU has just been so impressive this year.......if you take out the Alabama game, who most people would agree is the only team that is the same caliber as LSU, the Tigers' worst victory this year is by 13 points, and that is pretty amazing.  Even your elite undefeated teams usually have one game a year where a lesser opponent sneaks up on them, and they end up only beating them by a slim margin, but LSU has simply taken care of business every time they've stepped on the field, and have essentially been at least 2 touchdowns better than everyone.

It may sound a little odd coming from me, because I typically hate when we play really conservative, but I honestly believe our only chance at winning this game is to come in with an ultra-conservative offensive game plan, and outside of maybe taking one or two well-timed shots, sticking to that game plan.  What LSU has seemed to do to almost everyone this year is "out-patient" their opponent.........they just sit back on offense with a mostly conservative, patient approach, until the opponent's offense finally tries to press the issue.  Then, their defense and/or special teams typically steps up and makes the plays that blow the game wide open.  Just one example is when they played Auburn, who started trying to press the issue, threw a pick-6, then the game blew open from there.  The one opponent who managed to stay as patient as LSU was Alabama.......both teams essentially used the same philosophy.......safe, conservative playcalling, relying on the defense to win.  Both teams were able to maintain that patience all game long (with the controversial interception by LSU at the goal line as the possible lone exception - and ultimately could be looked at as what decided the game.  Had 'Bama been more patient there, they likely would have at least ended up with a FG, which changes the complexion of the game). Of course, two patient offenses like that is what results in a 9-6 final score, but that's probably what we need if we are going to have a chance in this game.  If the final score gets up into the 20's or 30's, it's going to be because LSU's total is that high, and we won't win.

Blutarsky posted today that he feels our WR's have the potential to be effective against the LSU secondary.  I don't disagree if you are looking strictly at the wide receivers vs. their DB's, but what I can't get past is the part he touches on at the end of his post:
And while I’m on the subject of pause for thought, I sure hope somebody in the Georgia offensive brain trust is working on a way to give Justin Anderson some help handling Barkevious Mingo.  That is one scary match up if you’re trying to keep Aaron Murray upright.
Bingo.  The more times we drop back to pass, the more times Murray is going to be hurried or sacked, and the more likely we are to throw a game-changing pick-6, or LSU cause a sack with a fumble that can change the complexion of the game (yes, I realize that technically that's the case against any team - the more times you throw, the more times bad things can happen - but it carries far more weight against a D like LSU).  Murray has been able to step up and slip away from the pressure in our past few games, but that is much more difficult against LSU.  If their guys are getting in the backfield - and they will - they're much more difficult to get away from than what Murray has been seeing.  But the more we run the ball, and use a quick passing game instead of deep drops by the QB, we can limit those potential game changing plays for their defense, rely on Butler to have a great day punting the ball, and rely on our Defense which certainly matches up well against their offense.

But even though our Defense will hold their own, I can pretty much guarantee you that LSU is going to be conservative with their offensive game plan early, just like they have all year, limiting the opportunity for our defense to create big plays for us as well.  As long as the game is close, we have to match their patience with the playcalling, and hope to catch a couple of fortunate bounces as the game wears on.  Here are the things that I say have to happen - and ALL of them have to happen - for us to win:
  • LSU has to be off their game at least a bit - if they show up and play to their full potential, the rest of this list really doesn't matter.
  • Crowell has to play the full game, and be able to handle at least 22-25 carries without losing steam. 
  • The offensive line has to play the game of their lives, especially in pass protection.
  • As referenced above, Butler needs a great game
  • The place kickers having a great game would be helpful too, especially in a low scoring game
  • Our defense will hold their own, but the offense has to avoid putting them in impossible situations, or giving up points directly.
  • Hold LSU to 17 points or less.
In the end, I just think they are too good and too deep for us, and I think eventually we'll start to press on offense and make some critical mistakes.  I see this game being close through 3 quarters, but ultimately being another fairly convincing win for the Bayou Bengals.  What I also see it being though is a tremendous learning experience for our team, as the majority of them will be coming back next year.  They need to see what it takes to be the best, digest it, then put in the work during the offseason to reach that level.  With the growth we have seen this year, if the attitudes remain the same, I see no reason why next year can't be a special, special year.  But for this year's SECCG, I'm calling it this way:

LSU - 27
UGA - 13


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