Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thoughts on the Dawgs and Boise

A few things about Saturday's Boise State vs Georgia match up:

1)“It's not the heat, it's the humidity” is cliché because it's true. There's no getting around that. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying through their teeth. That said, the 5:30pm start time is going to help Boise and Georgia. The heat/humidity combination would have affected the Dawgs too (anyone who claims otherwise is lying through their teeth as well). Would it have affected both teams the same? Well, that's debatable.

If I am reading right, Boise subs fairly liberally. That would help, though it doesn't necessarily equalize things. I don't think Boise's talent pool is as strong or deep as Georgia's, but it's not just about Talent. Weather may play a role, but I don't think it will be a huge one.

2)Boise has more talent than most people realize, and is probably bigger than most people realize if it's true that Dawn Hawkins is a master of understatement. That would seem to align somewhat with what I've been reading when skimming Bronco commentary in various outlets in any case. They have an interesting offense – run & play action. They do a lot with their formations and motion true, but it's pretty fundamental from a strategy standpoint. Grind down the other team on the ground, and when they move the safeties in too close, go for an uppercut.

3)Georgia's OL is supposed to be a strength of the team. For the first time in eons, it's a two-deep that has a good deal of experience. Line play was decent last year, though. The Dawgs allowed 21 sacks (a huge improvement from the 47 in 2003, when it was one and two-year players on the 2-deep for the most part). The team yards-per-carry was only 4.3 last year – hardly otherworldly. Georgia sometimes had trouble in critical short yardage situations, and it experienced serious red zone woes. This is not a line that was dominant last year. Rather, it's play was steady. There is potential to dominate, we'll see how that plays out.

4)If you listen to the AJC, Georgia's red zone woes are apparently due to the fact that Richt calls a screen pass about 55% of the time in the red zone. It's true that red zone play calling has been a problem at times in Richt's tenure, though, and the woes of the previous two years have roots here.

All off season, Richt has said the play book would be very similar to last year's, with some changes. The Staff have made it known that Georgia's talented staple of backs (Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, Kregg Lumpkin) will sometimes be sharing the backfield. Creative use of “they who need a group nickname” could be critical to Georgia's success this year.

But Georgia is going to have to hit big plays in the air too, and Richt knows this. This is especially true since Boise will be happy to keep putting players into the box until there's no more room for anyone to stand. Georgia also likes to make heavy use of the play-action. If some Wrs don't step up, Boise will be able to focus on Leonard Pope and Georgia could be in trouble.

5)Georgia's special teams have been a mixed bag the last two years. Punt coverage and return was borderline spectacular last year – Tyson Browning had some big early punt returns but lost his job to Thomas Flowers thanks to fumble issues. All Flowers did was lead the SEC in return average. Kickoff coverage & return left a lot to be desired. The coverage will be especially important as Boise is dangerous on returns, spearheaded by Quinton Jones. The Dawgs desperately need to get a spark out of the KR game.

6)Given that Boise likes to run, left, right, middle, around, under, beyond, and even occasionally meander off tackle, the play of Georgia's front seven is going to be critical. It hurts that Kedrick Golston will miss the opener. For better, for worse, freshman sensation Jeff Owens is now the #3 DT behind Gerald Anderson and Ray Gant. Keep an eye on the strong side linebacking position. Brandon Miller is the starter with Danny Verdun-Wheeler as the backup (but it's close right now). Miller looked like he struggled to me on defense when he got in last year, but he did wreak some havoc on special teams. He was voted most improved player in the spring and has incredible physical tools. Weekside and Middle will be manned by Jarvis Jackson and Tony Taylor. Both are coming of serious injuries (Jackson off season shoulder surgery, Taylor missed 2004) but are talented. Georgia needs a big day from these guys to help contain the Boise attack.

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