After a month of watching others have all the fun in such exotic destinations as the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and the Plaid Daddy of them all, the Belk Bowl, it’s finally Georgia’s turn to take the bowl stage. You can read my discussion with TCU writer Mason Chreen here. In addition to Mason’s thoughts, here are 4 keys to the game that will go a long way toward deciding who walks out of Memphis with the win.
Run. The. Dang. Ball. TCU ranked 70th in the nation in rush defense against a schedule that quite frankly wasn’t loaded up with teams who focus on running the ball. But late in the season Oklahoma State gashed the Horned Frogs for 334 yards on the ground and Kansas State pummeled them in the season finale by running for 336. With a month of rest for the offensive line and Bulldog tailbacks there’s no reason not to line it up and see if TCU can stop some I formation football. TCU’s best defenders are actually at middle linebacker, so if the ‘Dawgs can have success up the gut early, things look pretty good.
Throw a wrinkle. This season Jim Chaney has had Terry Godwin throwing passes, tried to lob a touchdown pass to Jacob Eason, and has delivered Isaiah McKenzie the ball in everything but an Amazon box. I expect that with this much time to prepare he’s come up with a couple of tricks to try. The key for Georgia will actually be executing those because, as you may recall, Godwin still hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass and Eason still ain’t caught one.
No chill for Kenny Trill. You may recall TCU quarterback Kenny Hill from his days a freshman starter at Texas A&M, where it seemed at one point he’d be the heir apparent to Johnny Manziel. If Manziel’s legacy was leaving College Station before achieving his full potential then, well, mission accomplished. Hill has been an electric playmaker for TCU this season, passing for over 3000 yards and rushing for over 500 and 9 touchdowns. He’s also thrown 13 interceptions. Georgia struggled at times this season to contain mobile quarterbacks and Hill may be the most mobile they’ve faced this season. Coach Tucker’s unit must get to Hill when he drops back and make him pay for leaving the pocket.
Show up. Outside of the big New Year’s bowls and the playoff most bowl games are won not by the team which was superior in the regular season, but by the one who bothers to show up for the bowl game. Georgia’s last trip to the Liberty Bowl was an embarrassing loss to end a disappointing season, a game in which it was obvious many UGA players would have rather been somewhere else. TCU sits at 6-6 and is trying to avoid a rare losing season. They’re playing a team from the SEC, against which Big XII teams and fans seem to have a perpetual aversion. TCU has motivation. If Georgia doesn’t find an equal amount, this one could get ugly.
We’ll be back with the second half thread shortly. For now, it’s . . .um . . .well . . .IT’S FRIDAY AFTERNOON-ISH IN MEMPHIS!!!!!