It’s been a few weeks since our Georgia Bulldogs took the field, and only a few bad things have happened in the interim. And mostly good things have come to pass in the Classic City. But what can one say about a game that has already been hashed out on this blog and others over the past 4 weeks?
Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Monday:
1) Oklahoma Defense Jedi Mind Tricks. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, don’t even bother and just skip to #2.
Let me be clear, I think Oklahoma has some stud athletes along the defensive line, in the middle, and on the back end. And I think they have very good football players up front who perform well. And contrary to what some would have us believe, I fully accept that these guys give full effort when the ball is snapped. So I’m not worried at all about the Sooner D playing soft on purpose, or the coaching staff feathering the tackling throttle once a lead is established, or any other such nonsense. We will get their best effort, I’m not worried about that.
2) Javon Wims not getting his. The senior wide out had a breakout year, leading all Bulldogs in receptions, receiving yards, yards per game, and tied for touchdown receptions. Wims basically caught 3 balls a game at an average of 16 yards each time. Considering the Bulldogs only averaged about 12 completions a game for an average total of 170, this was significant output. But Wims did not have a reception in the SEC Championship game versus Auburn. We all remember Fromm’s fade to Wims in the closing minutes that was fortuitously broken up by Auburn. I felt bad for the kid, I really did.
But I am not worried this will be repeated. With our backfield back to full strength, tight ends that made a late season appearance (Nauta TD in SECCG), Swift who is a weapon out of the backfield, Hardman/Godwin slotting it up, and Ridley and Crumpton as viable targets, Oklahoma won’t be able to shut Javon down. Plus, the guy has proven he can play the jump ball as well as anyone and has created separation and great hands all season long. He will get his.
3) The Georgia Bulldog defense. Our extremely deep defensive line is built to contain gaps and stop the run. Our pretty deep but extremely fast and physical linebacking corps is built to fly to the ball, occasionally blitz, and is very adept in pass coverage. If our secondary can play with discipline and keep the Sooners in front of them, I think we will do very well. Penalties as much as anything has kept opponents’ drives alive and kept our defense on the field. If we play with composure and physicality, and don’t commit the bone-head personal fouls, I like our chances.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) Baker Mayfield extending plays. We know he’s got the gaudiest quarterback numbers out there. We know he’s thrown for more touchdowns, yards, completions, etc. than anything we’ve seen before (the snark is just because we’ve all heard it, not because it isn’t true. It is definitely true). I won’t break down the obvious strength vs. strength numbers here (DawgInStLouis did yeomans work in earlier post comments to this end.) We know he’s run for plenty of first downs, touchdowns, and back-breaking plays. See, I’m not worried about us not tracking him down from behind (see: Smith, Roquan; Carter, Lorenzo; Walker, D’Andre, et al).
But what I am worried about is how he actually likes to stay in the pocket. In this fan’s opinion, I think he takes off when he sees the defense turn their backs or the play busts. I also think he likes to throw his receivers open, and can buy plenty of time by joysticking up and back, left and right, waiting for his guys to get some separation. And his experience and repetitions with this lineup means they are of one mind, thus he will be patient and buy time. And he can buy time aplenty even without leaving the pocket. That is a tough task for any secondary to deal with – you can only track a speedy wide out so much.
2) Red Zone quick slant. I admit I have only watched about 20 minutes of live Oklahoma football (I turned in to the Okie State game because the ESPN ticker couldn’t keep up). But I have seen plenty of highlights here and there. And what I see a lot of is touchdown passes from the red zone. And it seems they run this quick slant/skinny post to perfection.
Without the benefit of film, I’m just guessing they do one of a couple of these things: line up with 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB. Shotgun snap, and while the H-back/TE and RB hesitate as if to counter, which holds the linebackers, Mayfield spins the ball 10-15 yards to the back of the end zone where Andrews or one of the WR are catching it in stride. A perfect bifurcation of the secondary and the linebackers. Or the corners from the safeties. Whatever it is, I seemingly saw it dozens of times through the season. It is just as much commentary on that Oklahoma offense is clicking. Whether the time off allows them to sharpen their timing or gives them some rust, we must wait and see.
3) Fullback Dmitri Flowers. Oklahoma has a real weapon coming out of their backfield, and it isn’t Rodney Anderson. The Sooners have Anderson taking over the primary spot, with Sermon and Adams not far behind in terms of rushing production. Mayfield is no slouch himself. Flowers has only 27 yards in 13 attempts on the ground – not exactly prodigious, but fullback rushing can be very situational.
However, the man is 4th on the OU team in receiving yards, while only catching about 2 balls per contest. That tells me they sneak him out into wide open seams, while defenses are focused on the Wide Outs and Tight End Extraordinaire Mark Andrews. He’s 6’2” and 247 pounds with very good speed. With their big O-line, there won’t be any Bulldogs hanging around with no responsibilities. Our boys will be busy.
What worries you about Monday’s game in the Granddaddy of Them All? Leave them in the comments below. And as always…