It’s the Friday Tailgate, your home away from home on the Internet while you wait for the ‘Dawgs and Irish to get things underway. Maestro, do you remember the music?
I have to be honest. After a full week of build up I’m just ready to get this one underway. We’ve analyzed this game within an inch of its life, but I think all of that comes down to a few key points.
If Georgia runs the ball at will, this one is never in doubt. The ‘Dawgs are averaging 7.61 yards per attempt, and that total goes up to a terrifying 8.51 yards per rush if you confine it to the top five tailbacks on the team to take out garbage time. I don’t know that Notre Dame is ready for that.
If Georgia stays -1 or better in the turnover department, this one is unlikely to be close. The best way I can see for Georgia to keep the Irish in this game is to give away possessions on which they could be scoring points. If Notre Dame is -1 or worse in the turnover department, things could get ugly.
Finally, if James Coley is dealing, this one isn’t close. It’s going to be a delicate play calling balance for the UGA offensive coordinator. Given his druthers Kirby Smart would love to just pound on the Irish for five yards a carry all night. The visitors in turn are going to take some chances to staunch the Red and Black rushing attack. Look for them to bring eight men into the box, run blitz, and try to attack from different angles to keep the collective paws of that huge Bulldog line off the Notre Dame front seven. That’s going to create some opportunities to catch the Irish guessing wrong. If Coley dials up the right wrinkle and it’s executed properly, big plays should result.
The more I look at the matchup of the Georgia receivers with the Irish secondary the better I feel. I’m just not sure schematically that Brian Kelly’s guys are ever going to be able to be comfortable with playing free pass coverage. There’s a big difference between covering the UGA outside receivers with two safeties and a floating linebacker versus covering them on an island and with one safety over the top because everybody else is up to stop D’Andre Swift and friends.
Those are my “final thoughts” from this week. Feel free to drop yours in the comments below, or go off on any other tangents that tempt you. Until later...