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What Does UGA Have to do on Offense to Beat Clemson?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Cincinnati v Georgia Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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We’re just over three weeks away from the Georgia Bulldogs kicking off against Clemson in Charlotte. Bulldog supporters might be better at worrying than any other group in the country, and playing #2 Clemson in the season opener already has the UGA faithful channeling their inner Munson.

I wanted to find out for myself what to expect from the Dawgs in the Queen City. Can Georgia move the ball on Clemson the way they will need to in order to win this game? That’s what we aimed to figure out on this week’s Dawg Sports Live.

To find the answer I dug back into last season and watched hours upon hours of tape on Clemson. The Tigers lost to both Notre Dame and Ohio State in 2020, and I wanted to see if there were any similarities in the tactics that the Irish and Buckeyes deployed on offense.

There were three things that really stood out about both of those Clemson losses. We got into what they are, and examined whether or not UGA can replicate them.

As we show you on the show, Todd Monken is the exact right guy to have at the helm. His playbook already includes all the concepts that the Dawgs will need to run in order to carve up Clemson.

#1 Use tight-ends and big WR’s to exploit man coverage. Once the defense adjusts use them some more…

Clemson got eaten alive by Ohio State and Notre Dame’s tight ends in their losses last year. The Buckeyes and Irish both used their big bodied skill guys to burn Clemson early. They used them to box out smaller corners against man coverage, and then they used them on crossing and seam routes when Clemson adjusted to zone coverage and the TE’s were matched up on slower linebackers and safeties in the secondary. Not every program has the luxury of tight ends who are 6’5” and run a 4.5 forty. Georgia has three or four of them. Watch the show for clips of UGA running the EXACT same concepts that ND and OSU ran with their TE’s.

#2 Negate Clemson’s front seven by running right at them

ND and OSU absolutely GASHED the vaunted Clemson front seven at times in their games. It bears mentioning that Clemson was down a few guys up front in their first matchup against ND. The Tigers basically shut the Irish out the second time they faced them, but Clemson was at full strength for the CFP semifinal and the Buckeyes gutted Clemson over and over. Everyone remembers the 6 passing touchdowns that Fields had against the Tigers, but far too few noticed the 31 carries and 193 yards that Trey Sermon had from the running back position.

In total Ohio St rushed for 254 yards at a clip of 5.8 yards a carry. Notre Dame had 208 yards on the ground against Clemson and went for 5.2 yards per an attempt. That ground success kept Clemson off balance, and it allowed both teams to control the tempo of the game.

That success came off of inside zone concepts and both teams were particularly successful when they brought in tight end heavy sets and ran right up the middle. Georgia does this extremely well, and the Dawgs have a stable of backs who are great at running these concepts. Watch the show to see how UGA can control this game with its running backs.

#3 Pass protection on 3rd down opened up everything else

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is known as one of the best coordinators in the sport. At 2.5 million a year he is paid better than any assistant in the country. I’m going to go against the grain here and tell you that Venables can be had if you do a couple things right.

Venables is a bit old-school in his mentality, particularly on 3rd downs. In the ACC, Venables can count on his front four getting pressure on its own. He can also count on his secondary being better athletes and holding up in man coverage. Against other high caliber teams that’s not the case.

Venables brings blitzers on almost every 3rd-and-long against OSU and ND. Both teams held up in pass protection early and picked on the man coverage with speedy WR’s and 50/50 balls downfield to big receivers and tight-ends. Venables continued to blitz, but he adjusted his coverage in the back end to a zone. The Tigers dropped back away from the line of scrimmage in their zone, sometimes as much as 10-12 yards.

OSU and ND beat it two ways. The first was using dump offs to athletic skill guys with the ability to run after the catch. The second was crossing and option routes that allowed their pass catchers to find holes in the zone.

Ohio State is one of only a few teams in the country that has the same type of athletes on offense that Georgia does. Notre Dame had a veteran offensive line that was very strong in 2020, but UGA has much more skill talent than the Irish did.

Simply put, Georgia can do the same things to Clemson that those teams did. Again, the video above shows you how Georgia is already running those same concepts in their own offense. It’s worth a watch.

Dawg fans can sleep well at night knowing Todd Monken doesn’t have to change a thing about his system to put up boatloads of points on Labor Day weekend.

Dawg Sports Live is now in podcast format on Apple and Spotify. Just search for “Dawg Sports Live,” and hit subscribe or follow to get new episodes automatically download on your devices. You can also find us on YouTube. Please click here and subscribe to the channel. Have thoughts or questions? Leave us a comment on the channel.