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These 3 Georgia Bulldogs need big games vs. Mississippi State
The game with Mississippi State this weekend is shaping up to be one of the toughest of the season for the Georgia Bulldogs. To come away with a win at Sanford Stadium and remain undefeated, Georgia will need some of its top players to be on their A-game. Here are three players Georgia needs to step up against Mississippi State:
John Atkins — Stopping quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is priority No. 1 for the Georgia defense. Priority No. 2 is stopping Aeris Williams, a bruising, grinder of a tailback. Atkins can help achieve both of those goals. He can eat up space on the interior line, plug holes and leave Williams no room to run. If he can penetrate on passing plays, he’ll flush Fitzgerald out of the pocket and into the path of Georgia’s excellent outside linebackers.
His contributions might not show on the stat sheet, but Atkins is one of the most important players on Georgia’s front seven and a big reason why Georgia is ranked fifth nationally in run defense. He’ll have the opportunity to prove that once again versus Mississippi State.
Lorenzo Carter — The degree to which Georgia is able to contain Fitzgerald on the ground will go a long way toward determining which team wins this game. And the degree to which Carter is on top of his game will go a long way toward determining whether Georgia contains Fitzgerald.
Discipline will be a huge factor for Georgia’s defense in this game. If he or any of the outside linebackers overplay Fitzgerald, it could turn into 10 yards or 20 yards or a touchdown. As fun as it is to watch Carter dive-bomb quarterbacks, he’ll need to be discerning and pick his spots or risk letting Fitzgerald get downfield.
Nick Chubb — Stopping the run is only half of Georgia’s equation for success. The other half is establishing the run. Chubb is the best bet to do that against a Mississippi State run defense that is ranked 27th nationally in rushing yards allowed per game. The senior tailback is showing signs of returning to pre-2015 knee injury form.
Chubb’s 131 yards against Samford were his most since he ran for more than 200 against North Carolina in 2016. His 8.1 yards per carry against Samford also was his highest single-game average since 2015. Another 100-yard outing could do wonders for Georgia’s offense. The Bulldogs are 16-3 in games in which Chubb has rushed for 100 yards or more.
In his own words: Dan Mullen
Mississippt State coach Dan Mullen spoke quite a bit about Georgia in his Wednesday news conference. Here, from Seth Emerson of DawgNation, is what he had to say on a few topics concerning the anticipated SEC game Saturday in Sanford Stadium.
On the number of Georgia 4- and 5-star players (54) vs. Mississippi State 4- and 5-star players (16):
“To me, it means they have an awful lot of talent on their football team,” Mullen said. “Besides that, probably not that much else to me, but you look, they have a tremendous amount of talent at every position. You have 54 if you say 4- and 5-star; only 11 guys are on the [field] at a time, or 22 on offense and defense. That means everybody on their two-deep is a 4- or 5-star potentially. So, that means one guy comes out, another 4-/5-star comes in. You can see that on film, that they’re an extremely talented football team.”
On freshman quarterback Jake Fromm’s decision-making ability:
“I think he’s done a great job. He’s a competitor. He’s used to winning. And he has that winning attitude,” Mullen said. “And I think their coaching staff does a good job of putting him in position to be successful. By building confidence, and not making it too complicated to him, so he can find a way to make good decisions and build on his confidence.”
On the defense designe by Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker:
“In the different checks that they have to make, the fitting every single play, you just see them improved,” Mullen said. “Obviously, it’s a very good scheme, and I know Kirby’s a great coach and did a great job when he was at Alabama. And you can see the defense growing into that same style at Georgia.”
What Georgia is doing to get the best out of Jake Fromm
You should read this post from Ian Boyd of Saturday Down South on how Georgia has adjusted its offense to emphasize the strengths and hide the weaknesses of Fromm. Here’s a short summary from Boyd on the challenge that Georgia faces in this regard:
The Georgia staff has two key areas to resolve with Fromm at the helm against better opponents. The first is easing pressure off the run game so that opponents don’t load the box and take away the Nick Chubb/Sonny [sic] Michel tandem. The other is easing the pressure off a freshman QB who’s not yet ready to carry the weight of the team.
A surprising stat
Anecdotally, I would have sworn that Georgia’s had more success running to the outside than running between the tackles. But, at least regarding the Samford game, I would be dead wrong.
Jason Butt of The Telegraph put together an excellent film study of the Samford game and concluded Georgia found the most success on the ground when it ran the ball straight up the gut. UGA ran for 30 yards at 6.0 yards per carry when going left and 50 yards at 5.6 yards per carry when running right. But, as Butt notes, runs up the middle made up the bulk of Georgia’s rushing production.
The first team ran the ball 24 times for 168 yards on designed plays up the gut. At 7 yards per carry, this was where Georgia had its greatest success. And like you saw on Chubb’s 2 touchdown runs, the line may not have gotten the preferred push the coaches wanted, but it was able to keep the opposing linemen from touching Chubb.
Dawgs on Twitter
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Just another day at the office. 💼
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Meet assistant coach Charlie Tamayo who is an accomplished international level gymnast and a well-known elite female gymnastics coach. pic.twitter.com/cw3Hcja4kZ
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Dog protects baby from the clutches of the deadly vacuum cleaner pic.twitter.com/W5PLYpkjB1
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