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Wes Holtzclaw - The Georgia Sports Dawg
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- Georgia Bulldogs: Three Keys to Spoiling Auburn’s National Title Run
- Should The Dawgs Start Preparing for 2011?
- Georgia Bulldogs: Five Keys To Victory In The “Cocktail Party”
- Georgia Looks For Help In SEC East Race
- Georgia Bulldog Football: 2010 Is Hard To Watch
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Published by Wes Holtzclaw | Filed under Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs enter the “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” this weekend with two goals in mind. One is to become bowl eligible for the 14 consecutive time and two is to spoil the National Title hopes of the Auburn Tigers.
It would not be the first time Georgia came into this game and ruined Auburn season. The latest was 2006 when the Dawgs went into Jordan-Hare unranked against the No. 5 ranked Tigers. The Dawgs left with 37-15 victory.
You can throw out records, rankings and home field advantage in this series. The Dawgs own a 14-9-2 record in Jordan-Hare while the Tigers own an 18-11 record in Athens.
It seems as though anytime these two teams meet it is for the right to win or play for the SEC Championship. This year if Auburn wins they clinch the SEC West title and set up a championship game with either Florida or South Carolina.
Sitting at 5-5 on the year, will Georgia catch Auburn looking ahead at Alabama or even Atlanta for the title game?
Will the Cam Newton investigation be too much of a distraction this week as more and more news comes to the forefront?
The following are three keys that Georgia will need to spoil Auburn’s National Title run and save Georgia’s season with what will become their signature victory of 2010.
1) Aaron Murray vs. Auburn’s Secondary: Aaron Murray has had one of the top freshman seasons in Georgia history. Currently Murray sits at a 61.5 completion percentage, 2307 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is the top freshman in the country when it comes to his 155.33 efficiency.
Auburn’s secondary has been toasted all season long. They give up 241 yards a game through the air which ranks 11 out of 12 in the SEC and 91st in the country.
They have given up over 200 yards passing to Clemson, Louisiana-Monroe, Kentucky and Tennessee-Chattanooga. They have given up over 300 yards passing to Arkansas State and South Carolina and over 400 yards against Arkansas.
Auburn’s corners have stated several times in the media this week that “Georgia has the most skilled receivers that they will or have faced this year”. If Murray is able to get the ball to Green, Durham and King consistently down field it could be a big day for Georgia.
2) Georgia’s Front Seven vs. Cam Newton: Cam Newton has been a huge surprise for the Auburn Tigers this season. If anybody knew that Newton would put up the kind of numbers he is putting up this season, they would have to wonder why Tebow started ahead of him at Florida. He has destroyed all of Tebow’s stats that made him so special during his Heisman campaign.
Newton leads the SEC in rushing, yes that’s correct, he leads the entire conference in rushing. He has led the Tigers to become the 4th ranked run offense and 6th ranked offense in the NCAA.
Georgia comes into this game with the 13th ranked run defense and 15th ranked defense in the NCAA.
This has to be the best matchup and most crucial aspect of this game. Auburn’s 307 rushing yards a game vs. Georgia only giving up 108 rushing yards a game. Whichever one wins this battle will come out on top.
3) Special Teams play: Special teams could play a major role in this game for Georgia. Blair Walsh enters the game making 17 out of 20 of his field goal attempts. If the game is close at the end he has the ability to kick from beyond 55 yards for a game winner.
Drew Butler has been amazing once again with his ability to change field position. The defending Ray Guy award winner has 41 punts this year with 17 inside the 20, 14 fair catches and six touchbacks. That means only four of his punts have even been returned this season. This could be huge if Newton and the Tigers have to drive the entire field with each possession.
Auburn’s kickoff coverage unit has given up over 120 yards of kick return yards in eight of their games and over 150 in six of those contests. Brandon Boykin could be licking his chops when he gets his hands on the ball. He is sure to break Georgia’s school record for return yards for a career in this game. If he is able to take one back for a touchdown in this one it could be a big enough boost to send Georgia to a victory.
Notes to Ponder:
Coach Mark Richt has had good success with a 4-2 record against ranked teams on the road.
Georgia has won the last four in this series with a chance to ruin Auburn’s SEC and NCAA title hopes if they can make it five in a row.
Auburn has been in some tight games against teams you would not think they would have had trouble with this year. They have had to come back and defeat South Carolina, Clemson and Kentucky.
Three of the Tigers wins have been by three points (Mississippi State, Clemson and Kentucky).
Published by Wes Holtzclaw | Filed under Georgia
Goals such as going undefeated and playing for the national title, playing in a BCS bowl, winning the SEC championship, winning the SEC East and the list goes on.
With each week of the season, you either continue moving towards no. 1 or you start to scratch the goals off that are no longer attainable. With the loss to South Carolina, the undefeated season was scratched off the list. The loss to Arkansas scratched off the National Title goal.
Even after four straight losses several goals were still attainable, including winning the SEC and playing in the BCS.
But with the 34-31 OT loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday, the Georgia Bulldogs can now officially cross out the SEC championship, the BCS bowl, and the SEC East championship.
Is there anything left to play for this season? Should the Bulldogs start to prepare for 2011?
2011 will be a year where the Georgia Bulldogs will set up for a possible National Title run for several reasons.
1) The Schedule – gone are the cross country trips and tough out of conference games, in are Louisville, Coastal Carolina, and New Mexico State.
Their SEC schedule also sets up nicely with Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vandy, and Kentucky all set to have so-so years once again to go along with seven out of Georgia’s twelve games being played between the hedges, including the South Carolina, Miss State, and Auburn games.
2) Starting Depth Chart – even though the Dawgs will lose talent on both sides of the ball, they will also bring back eight or nine players on offense and defense that are or have been starters at Georgia.
The offense will more than likely be with out A J Green (The only thing Georgia fans can hope for is a lockout in the NFL in 2011 so that Green could stay for his senior year) and Kris Durham at wide outs but players such as Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten, Logan Gray, Israel Troupe, and Marlon Brown have all played the last few years and will be looking to step up to the challenge.
The Dawgs will have Aaron Murray, WaShaun Ealey, Caleb King and Carlton Thomas also returning in the backfield with their sights on improving how the Dawgs moved the ball this season.
Even though two starters (Clint Boling and Josh Davis) will be gone off an offensive line who will consist of all seniors next season. Former starters, Trinton Sturdivant and Tanner Strickland, will fill the holes left by Boling and Davis with out the team missing a beat.
Defensively the Dawgs will lose seniors DeMarcus Dobbs, Darryl Gamble, and Akeem Dent. Even though these players will be missed, coach Todd Grantham has rotated players in and out all year long giving the back ups just as much playing time as the starters.
3) Bye Week – The 2010 season has provided the longest stretch before a bye week in years. The Dawgs bye week is the week before their rivalry game with Georgia Tech, the 12th game of the year.
In 2011, the bye week will be where it should be, in front of the Florida game. Georgia needs to be able to be fresh and healthy when they play the Gators and the best way to accomplish this is for the bye week to be before this game.
Should the Dawgs worry about any of this now?
I say NO!!
Georgia still has a few more things on their list that they can play for during the 2010 season.
1) Auburn Game - Georgia can still win out and finish the season 8-5. They would have to defeat Idaho State, Auburn and Georgia Tech during the remainder of the regular season and then win the bowl game to accomplish this feat.
This would also keep Georgia’s streak of at least eight wins in a season going at 13 straight years.
Also, how special would it be to go into Jordan-Hare Stadium and beat no. 2 ranked Auburn, in their house, to ruin their National Title hopes?
2) Bowl Game and Winning Record – to accomplish this Georgia has to defeat Idaho State and either Auburn or Georgia Tech. If they are able to win two out of their final three games they will finish the regular season 6-6 and will be offered a lower tier bowl invitation with the chance to finish the year 7-6.
However this year ends, Georgia should never concede the rest of their season just to focus on the next.
My bet is that the Dawgs pull together, win out and finish 8-5.
Published by Wes Holtzclaw | Filed under Georgia
Both teams trail the SEC East leading South Carolina Gamecocks by a half of game in the standings. Depending on what the Gamecocks do over the next few weeks, this game is considered an elimination game from the East race giving the losing team four losses in conference.
On paper this game is a even match-up, but considering where both of these teams are at this moment, the Bulldogs are considered the favorite to leave Jacksonville with the victory.
With that said, there are five keys Georgia must accomplish if they want to leave Jacksonville as a team gunning for a spot in the SEC championship game.
1) Stop the Run - the Bulldogs enter the “Cocktail Party” ranked no. 12 in the nation against the run giving up an average of 99 yards a game. With all of Florida’s struggles on offense this season, the run game has been there bread and butter.
With RBs Demps, Gillislee and Moody banged up with nagging injuries, the Gators may turn to recently reinstated Chris Rainey to share the load with freshman Trey Burton. Burton has been Meyer’s “Tebow” like option, running the zone read play, but has been unable to muster the type of game that he had against Kentucky.
Can Georgia’s front seven play disciplined football and slow down Florida’s run attack?
2) Preventing the Big Play - the Bulldogs secondary has been susceptible to the big pass play all season long. One reason the Gators have lost three straight games has been their inability to post big plays in both the run and pass game.
If the Dawgs can prevent the Gators from plays over 20 yards, they will be able to keep the momentum on their side. Two players that coach Richt will count on to make plays this Saturday will be Justin Houston and Akeem Dent.
Houston leads the SEC in sacks and Dent has been the most consistent player on the defensive side of the ball. If both of these players continue to play at a high level it could be a long day for Brantley and the Gators.
3) Turnover Margin - Last season Georgia struggled in the turnover margin category in every game. Most notably was the four interceptions Joe Cox threw in the second half against the Gators.
So far this season the Dawgs are at +8 in turnover margin on the year and +9 over the last three victories. Florida is +4 in turnover margin on the year, but they are -6 over the last three losses.
The turnover battle will definitely be a deciding factor in who will come out the victor.
4) Special Teams Play- Georgia has arguably the top special teams unit in all of college football. They currently have the reigning Ray Guy award winner (P-Drew Butler) and a kicker who was a finalist for the Lou Groza award (K-Blair Walsh).
Most importantly they have the top returner in CB Brandon Boykin, who returned his fourth kick return for a touchdown against Kentucky. His 100-yard return tied him for the SEC record for kick returns for touchdowns and he is only a sophomore.
If Butler is able to switch the field position and Boykin is able to give the Dawgs good field position on kick offs, it could be a good day to be a Georgia Bulldog.
5) Aaron Murray - the deciding factor for Georgia in this game will be the quarterback play from Murray. He has shown game after game that he is solid quarterback even though he is a freshman. He currently is the most efficient freshman quarterback in the country.
He has continually made right decisions in the pass game and his athletic ability has given him the ability to escape pressure and run for first downs, with many of his runs resulting into touchdowns.
If Murray is able to continue to play at a high level and not make mistakes the Dawgs will win this game big.